Snowflakes are piling up at many major U.S. ski areas, and many of you are anxiously pulling your gear out of storage in preparation to hit the slopes.
In anticipation of the march to the mountains, we thought you might like to know what's new at select lodgings in some of America's favorite ski destinations. It's obvious they're going all out to make your trip to the slopes one to remember.
We start our journey in California with a brand new property, the Basecamp South Lake Tahoe (from $89/night), a friendly 50-room retreat that opened earlier this year in the heart of the Lake Tahoe Basin. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year, not just ski season, it's less than a five-minute stroll from the lake and the Heavenly Gondola.
While Basecamp's design could be called whimsical and woodsy, it includes creature comforts like 300-thread-count sheets, flat-screen TVs and in-room gear racks for all your stuff. Envisioned as a place for like-minded people to meet and share experiences, its public areas are the ones that really shine, though, from the communal dining table to the rooftop hot tub to the dual fire pits for roasting s'mores.
Also new is the Washington School House Hotel (from $436/night), a stunning conversion in historic Park City, Utah. Technically, it was open for part of last year's ski season, but given its late arrival, the schoolhouse turned chic ski lodging didn't get the attention it deserves. In a limestone structure dating back to 1889, what were once classrooms -- and the principal's office -- have been transformed into inviting accommodations boasting hardwood floors, luxe fabrics and imported antiques. Après ski, sip cocktails in the cozy lounge or take a dip in the heated pool built into the aspen-covered hillside.
Colorado's ski towns have updates galore to gab about. In Aspen alone, you've got renovations at two notable properties.
When it reopens this week, the prestigious Hotel Jerome (from $388/night) will reveal a brand new look to everything from its lobby and atrium to its 93 guestrooms and suites. It will also unveil, for the first time in its 125-year history, its very own spa, a milestone that is no doubt music to the ears of guests who spend all day schussing down the mountainside. The recently reopened St. Regis Aspen (from $329/night), has been refashioned with a $43 million makeover to be more in keeping with the grand mountain manor style St. Regis founder John Jacob Astor envisioned for the brand oh so many years ago. Not only has the interior been totally upgraded, but the hotel also has recently introduced a new restaurant concept in partnership with Food & Wine magazine. Called Chefs Club, it features an open kitchen, a chef's table and a menu overseen by a group of culinary artists dubbed by Food & Wine as the country's "Best New Chefs." In nearby Snowmass, the former Silvertree Hotel & Conference Center has been overhauled and relaunched as the Westin Snowmass Resort (from $89/night), complete with all of Westin's signature programs and amenities, including those dreamy Heavenly Beds that are so comfy you almost don't want to get out from under the covers. But you will, knowing that the hotel offers ski-in/ski-out access, along with its own ski concierge. Follow the Rockies up north to Essex, Montana, near the entrance to Glacier National Park, and you'll find the quaint Izaak Walton Inn (from $89/night). We bring up this family-owned retreat not just for its proximity to a wealth of backcountry runs and trails, but also to appease those of you looking for something a little different in your snow-centered stay -- namely, a host of old rail cars that have been converted into unique sleeping quarters, including two new cabooses recently transplanted to the site.
The refurbished Northern Pacific Bay Window Caboose, which sleeps six, and the Great Northern X215 Caboose, which sleeps four, both offer luxury accommodations boasting full kitchens, gas fireplaces and commanding views of the surrounding forest. This is also a spot for anyone who wants to get away from it all; with the exception of one rail car, there are no TVs here and you can't get cellphone service, although they do have pay phones and complimentary Wi-Fi access for guests in the Flagstop Bar.
Ski aficionados on the East Coast are in for a treat now that the 234-room Mountain Club on Loon (from $136/night), located in New Hampshire's White Mountain region just two hours from Boston, has finally completed the $9 million upgrade it began in 2007. The ski-in/ski-out hotel and spa sports everything from new carpeting and temperature controls to updated wallpaper and kitchen appliances. General manager Bob Bielan brags that the redo has produced "a fresh look to rival the grandeur of our setting."