When it comes to skiing in the U.S., Colorado is king thanks to the bluebird days, dry powder and lively ski resorts. With more than two dozen choices, narrowing down the options is tough, but here are five of our favorites.
VAIL SKI RESORT
Colorado’s largest ski resort, Vail is known for having the most groomed terrain in the world, plus legendary back bowls. Plus, the quintessential village doesn’t skimp on shopping opportunities.
Eat: A recently added ski-in, ski-out fine dining option, The 10th overlooks the Gore Range from the top of Gondola One at Mid Vail. The cuisine gets its inspiration from French, Swiss, Italian and Rocky Mountain alpine cooking—think brick-oven pizzas, molasses spice–rubbed elk loin and sautéed spinach with pumpkin seeds.
Stay: The Four Seasons Resorts and Residences Vail is as luxurious as it gets. Don’t miss the Brew and Renew treatments in the spa, which incorporate products from Vail-based Crazy Mountain Brewing Company. Also noteworthy is the hot chocolate, here known as “Haut Chocolat.” Involving a silver tray, a traditional French hot chocolate pot and a dark chocolate lattice, the presentation is as beautiful as the must-try drink is delicious.
BEAVER CREEK RESORT
This family-friendly resort boasts 1,800 acres of skiable terrain, which includes plenty for all levels. At 3 o’clock, everyone at the base of the Centennial Express Chairlift gets a warm chocolate chip cookie.
Eat: During the winter months, a sleigh pulled by Sno-Cat will deliver you to Beano’s Cabin. It’s worth the journey to this White River National Forest outpost, where grand antler chandeliers hang from wooden beams across the soaring ceiling. Exchange your boots for a pair of the provided cozy slippers before settling in for your five-course dinner.
Stay: Located slopeside, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa boasts spacious rooms, the luxurious Allegria Spa (with water sanctuary Aqua Sanitas), and top-notch service. From 4 to 5 p.m., the free S’mores Happy Hour includes chef-made marshmallows in flavors like strawberry, toffee and Grand Marnier.
CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT
Once a coal mining town, Crested Butte is now a celebrated ski resort—but its historic Victorian storefronts and spirited local characters live on. Although it’s known for its extreme terrain, there are dozens of greens and blues, too.
Eat: New this season and located mid-mountain, the Umbrella Bar at Ten Peaks features glass walls, a 35-foot diameter retractable umbrella roof and a 2,400-square-foot deck area for outdoor seating. In honor of the umbrella being manufactured in Austria, the bar serves Austrian mulled wine (known as Glühwein). Other menu items include fish tacos, grilled panini sandwiches and gourmet sausages.
Stay: An ideal location just steps from the ski lift makes the Lodge at Mountaineer Square a sure bet for skiers—and the impeccable service doesn’t hurt, either. Hop on the complimentary bus shuttle when you want to hit the town of Crested Butte.
A longtime host of World Cup races, celebrity-friendly Aspen is famed for its black diamond terrain; variety of glades, bumps and steeps; and fashionable après-ski scene that’s just as legendary as the powder.
Eat: Dine at the popular White House Tavern, a Carpenter Gothic–style house built in 1883, where crowd-pleasers include the French Dip Au Jus and the Macho Salad, loaded with roasted chicken, mixed greens, avocado, dates, goat cheese, toasted almonds and freshly shucked corn.
Stay: At the beautiful St. Regis Aspen Resort, an “altitude concierge” will assist you with adjusting to the thin air 8,000 feet above sea level with a personal oxygen machine, a selection of nonalcoholic and noncaffeinated beverages, and ideas for low-impact activities and food to eat to lessen the effects of altitude sickness.
WINTER PARK RESORT
Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort also happens to be the closest major destination resort to Denver International Airport. Winter Park averages more than 320 inches of snowfall and 300 days of sunshine a year.
Eat: Stop by the casual Goodys Mountain Creperie at the base of the mountain for all-day breakfast, lunch or just a beverage to keep you warm. On the sweet side, crepes include the S’more (chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers) and Banoffee Pie (bananas, creme patisserie, caramel sauce, pecans), while the savory options feature ingredients like melted brie, grilled chicken and sautéed spinach.
Stay: Just 700 yards from the ski lifts, TimberHouse Ski Lodge lets you unplug and focus on the reason for your getaway, without the distraction of TVs and telephones. Each stay includes mountain breakfasts and dinners, plus tea served with a snack in the afternoon.