The Least Annoying Ski Weekend Ever

Skiing is an expensive hassle. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s how to make it less of one
On the mountain at Vail Resort Photograph by Benjamin Rasmussen for Bloomberg Businessweek

Lake Tahoe, Calif.
Days: The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, is the nicest hotel on the lake and the closest to the airport (from $369 a night). Slopeside at Northstar California, it offers ski-on, ski-off access, maximizing mountain time. Tahoe is Shaun White’s home resort, and aspiring X Gamers can sign up for the Burton Snowboard Academy near the hotel’s back door ($250 for a full-day lesson). For wilderness runs, ride the lifts to Monument Glades.

Après: Take the 15-minute drive to the PlumpJack Squaw Valley Inn, a cozy establishment that attracts pro skiers but is better known for its wine cellar. Too sore to leave the hotel? Book the private chef’s table at the Ritz’s Manzanita and watch as chef Traci Des Jardins prepares a personalized tasting menu (from $75 per person).

Get a head start on the morning powder by purchasing in advance a “first tracks” ticket for access to the Northstar slopes at 7:30 a.m., an hour and a half before the masses arrive ($185, including breakfast; available Feb. 16, 23; March 9, 23).
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Days: Upgrade to a mountain view room at the Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, a log-and-stone lodge on the edge of Grand Teton National Park ($899). In the morning, take the Big Red tram up to Rendezvous Bowl or Tensleep Bowl, some of the best terrain in Jackson Hole (lift ticket, $105). Winter is the time to watch Wyoming’s wolves stalk their dinner in the National Elk Refuge. Sign up for an expedition led by the Four Seasons’s wildlife biologist, Tenley Thompson. Guests ride in a luxury SUV equipped with gourmet provisions ($199 per adult, $99 per child).

Après: Teton Village’s new Wool & Whiskey is part high-end clothing store, part saloon. Up front, shoppers browse clothing by John Varvatos, Filson, and Relwen. In the back, three fingers of Basil Hayden’s Kentucky bourbon poured over chilled soapstones (they don’t dilute it) is available for $15. Carb loaders: Get a table at Il Villaggio Osteria for house-made sausage and pastas.

Tip: East Coasters can finally go nonstop: In December, United Airlines started offering direct flights from Newark to Jackson Hole.

The Orange Bubble Express at Canyons Resort
Photograph by Michael Friberg for Bloomberg Businessweek
Park City, Utah
Days: The Waldorf Astoria Park City ($179) is at the Canyons Resort, which underwent a major renovation last year. Avoid the trek to a rental in the base village by calling Black Tie Ski Rentals, whose staff will come to your room, fit you for equipment, and deliver boots and skis the next morning ($59 a day for the premium package). The hotel is a short gondola ride from the toasty Orange Bubble Express, the first enclosed, heated ski lift in North America (the seats act as butt warmers).

Après: High West Distillery and Saloon is the world’s only ski-in whiskey distillery, located in a 100-year-old livery stable just off Park City’s Main Street. Order the High West Flight ($13) for four-ounce pours of craft batches. For dinner, head to the newish Talisker on Main, which offers an outstanding tasting menu featuring local ingredients for about $100 a person.

Tip: New Yorkers can catch Friday’s 6:55 a.m. flight out of JFK (about $400, one-way) and ski for free by noon using Park City’s Quick Start program. Register at and bring your voucher and boarding pass to the resort.
Vail/Beaver Creek, Colo.
Days: The Bavarian-inspired Arrabelle at Vail Square is the friendliest ski resort for smartphone addicts ($749). Order room service or book a massage using the hotel’s own app—even the nearby gondola is equipped with Wi-Fi. The ski concierge will have your boots and skis ready first thing in the morning. After a day on the hill, simply ski into the hotel, then head up to the rooftop hot tub. In Beaver Creek, book a room at the Osprey at Beaver Creek ($748), the closest hotel to a chairlift in North America: It’s 10 steps from the lobby to the Strawberry Park Express.

Après: If the thin air on the Beaver Creek trails bothers you, stop by the slopeside Ritz-Carlton Moet and Chandon Bubbles Bar, where you can get a 15-minute hit of pure oxygen and some Champagne. Then visit chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s eponymous restaurant, which opened last winter and serves such Japanese-Peruvian dishes as salmon fillet with wasabi pepper ($32). The Arrabelle’s SUV will shuttle you back and forth.

Tip: Vail’s EpicMix app uses technology in your lift ticket to track your day. The app lets you compare your time with Lindsey Vonn’s. (You’ll lose.)
Aspen, Colo.
Days: The 124-year-old Hotel Jerome ($695) underwent a total renovation last year. At the spa, experience the Sanctuary of the Mountains, a Ute Indian ritual purification of the hands and feet (80 minutes, $225). The Aspen lift ticket ($114) grants access to four mountains. After mastering Aspen Mountain’s mellow rollers, move over to Snowmass, where a short hike off the High Alpine lift leads to Headwall’s powdery chutes between banded cliffs.

Après: Don’t feel like dealing with the night lift? Ski to the Oasis, a pop-up Champagne bar on Aspen Mountain’s slopes. It opens at 1 p.m. and has lounge chairs and a solar-powered sound system. Find it on Twitter (@TheLittleNell). In Snowmass, the Viceroy’s Eight K restaurant serves New Orleans-inspired food, such as red snapper with butternut squash puree, black kale, and roasted pecans ($33).

Tip: Craft brew lovers stay at Wildwood Snowmass, a hotel that opened last December and features a beer hall by Colorado’s New Belgium Brewing (pints, $6).