Winter Getaways for Skiers and Non-Skiers
Winter vacations at mountain resorts offer deep snow for skiers and
snowboarders, and enough activities and events to keep non-skiing clients happy, too. These are the top choices for clients who want a variety of on-mountain terrain, memorable activities for apres ski and/or for those in their group who don’t, and a touch of luxury, too.
Park City, Utah
This bustling town is home to two resorts – Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley. The Sundance Film Festival each January puts it in the spotlight, with screenings and red carpet events for everyone. The historic main street still has original buildings from the mid-1800s, when this was a rowdy and rugged silver mining town. Today it is lined with art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants that range from the honkytonk No Name Bar to the four-star Riverhorse on Main, and the Kimball Arts Center is both a museum and an arts education center, with classes year-round. A free shuttle bus eliminates the need for driving.
Upscale on-mountain properties include the Waldorf-Astoria at the Park City Mountain Resort and the award-winning Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley. His impressive collection of Olympic, World Cup and other skiing awards in his native Norway and the rest of the world fills two showcases in the lobby, and amenities including wood-burning fireplaces and private hot tubs on the deck. www.visitparkcity.com
This is the largest ski/snowboard resort in Alaska, with breathtaking vistas of surrounding glaciers and Chugach mountains. The new slopeside Black Diamond Club offers such premium services as access to the hotel’s helipad for heli and snowcat skiing, or just sightseeing. One of the most popular is “flightseeing” tours is the jaw-dropping scenery of Kenai Fjords of Kenai National Park, including glaciers and fjords.
The nearby city of Anchorage, just 40 miles away, features restaurants offering local salmon prepared myriad ways. Each March, Anchorage is home to the ceremonial start of the world-famous Iditerod dog sled race, with festive parades, concerts and other events, including behind-the-scenes tours to learn how these dogs are raised and trained. www.alyeskaresort.com
Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia
The two-mountain resort is one of the largest in North America, with a quaint Alpine -style village on the Whistler side. As the venue for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, visitors can take a ride in a lightning-fast bobsleigh on the iced track at Olympic Park or learn the sport of ice fishing on a local lake. The Whistler Film Festival immediately after Thanksgiving features nearly 100 feature films and shorts from more than a dozen countries.
The luxury Four Seasons Resort & Residences Whistler offers a private after-hours spa experience for a couple, with a couples massage followed by a private seafood and champagne dinner and private pool access. And the city of Vancouver is 90 minutes away via the scenic Sea to Sky Highway. www.whistler.com/activities
Palisades Tahoe, California
The adjoining resorts Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows merged last season under the new name – Palisades Tahoe – and a new base-to-base gondola this season to link them. A popular excursion is a guided sunset snowshoe tour to a mid-mountain chalet and a four-course Bavarian dinner, and there’s a special three-day pass for sightseeing, with unlimited access to the gondola, tram and funitel, a cable car that rides on two cables, not one. The the Olympic Museum at the former Squaw Valley showcases memorabilia and artifacts from the 1960 Winter Games.
The resort is around one hour from Reno, with its multiple choices for casinos and entertainment, and sightseeing cruises on cobalt blue Lake Tahoe. www.palisadestahoe.com
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Known originally for its challenging expert terrain, the resort now features enough beginner and intermediate terrain to serve any group of mixed levels, and glimpses of the Grand Teton from some runs inspire repeats. Downtown holds to its cowboy past, with wooden sidewalks and several spots for two-stepping to live music.
Just outside town, the National Elk Refuge is the winter residence for thousands of elk, with their magnificent antlers. A sleigh ride through the herd, especially at feeding times, is a must for any visitor. There also are sleigh rides on private ranches, but no elk. The National Museum of Wildlife Art, across the road from the elk refuge, contains a world-class collection of paintings and sculptures of animals, including works by such artists as Georgia O’Keeffe and Carl Rungius.
Yellowstone National Park is an easy – but long – daytrip from Jackson. A snowcoach tour (that’s a van on super-size snow tires) covers more terrain than a snowmobile group. Old Faithful and the colorful thermal pools are even more dramatic in winter, since the cold air creates more photogenic steam than in warm weather.
Upscale properties include the Hotel Wort, downtown, a member of the Historic Hotels of America group, and Spring Creek Ranch, at the base area. www.jacksonhole.com