The 2012 ski season has kicked into gear, so if you’re looking to hit the slopes with your partner, but are also seeking romantic aprés-ski ambience and excellent dining, here are my suggestions for the best U.S. ski resorts for grown-ups – from the Adirondacks to the Rockies.
Jackson Hole, WY: Combine a funky cowboy-town vibe with world-class resorts – and add in a majestic setting against the stunning Grand Teton peaks – and you have Jackson Hole.
This mix of casual ruggedness and sophisticated luxury is a seductive backdrop for not only top-notch skiing, but also couple-centric post-sunset pursuits such as spa treatments, fine dining (options include Rendezvous Bistro and the Blue Lion), and even the kitschy but legendary Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. If nature is your thing, you can ditch the skis for an afternoon and enjoy a wildlife safari. Stay at Hotel Terra (from $217/night with their fourth-night-free promo) for ski-in/ski-out ease and contemporary Western design that is both inviting and eco-friendly, or Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole (shown above at left, from $549/night), an art-filled, five-star property (also ski-in/ski-out) with an earthy palette and Native American touches.
Lake Placid, NY: Adirondack decor – thick woolen throws, iconic wood-slat chairs, and canopied beds made from carved birch limbs – has a charm that’s undeniable. You can enjoy it right at the source by skiing Whiteface Mountain and then relaxing in this friendly small town that hosted both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics (at the Olympic Center, you can also ride a bobsled faster than you can drive a car through town). Stay at Mirror Lake Inn (from $320/night), where you should splurge on the lakefront Adirondack Suite and dine on excellent regional cuisine in The View, or the exquisitely romantic Lake Placid Lodge (from $400/night), with its roaring fireplaces and fabulous beds (shown above), which are particularly inviting in winter.
Park City, UT: Known as the see-and-be-seen setting for the annual Sundance Film Festival (January 19–29, 2012), this charming town, settled in 1884 and located within a 45-minute drive of Salt Lake City, is also the gateway to several fabulous ski areas, including Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley, and The Canyons. Park City itself is brimming with atmospheric shops and eateries, so there’s plenty to keep you busy off the slopes. And like Lake Placid, it has an Olympic bobsled run (from the 2002 Winter Games) on which adrenaline-loving couples can ride at up to 80 miles per hour. Stay at the The Sky Lodge (from $575/night), a chic and contemporary downtown hotel (there’s a shuttle to the slopes) that’s both social and sophisticated, or Stein Eriksen Lodge (from $672/night), a chalet-inspired luxury resort (shown at left) offering rustic elegance just steps from the lifts in Deer Valley.
Stowe, VT: If you want a quintessentially Vermont vibe, with covered bridges and horse-drawn sleighs (shown at right), this historic town set below Mt. Mansfield (the state’s highest peak) is an excellent option. The town itself has old-school charm, while the slopes are ideal for beginners and experts alike. Stay at Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa (from $269/night), a full-service, dog-friendly resort with classic decor and a 50,000-square-foot spa, or Topnotch Resort & Spa (from $225/night), featuring a pretty country aesthetic, a 35,000-square-foot spa, and Norma’s Bistro, serving fresh, contemporary cuisine.
Taos, NM: This low-key resort area tucked into the Sangre de Cristo mountains northwest of Santa Fe offers 110 trails set amid the Southwest ambience of art- and heritage-rich Taos. Pueblo architecture and excellent cuisine (don’t miss the authentic Mexican on offer at Orlando’s New Mexican Cafe or the sublime flavor combinations at Joseph’s Table) make it a cultural as well as outdoorsy mecca for couples. Stay at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa (from $149/night), a New Age-inspired resort and spa with both contemporary rooms and romantic, culture-inspired suites (including the Kama Sutra Suite, shown above), set amid lovely landscaped grounds.
Telluride, CO: Less of a scene than Aspen, but equally as scenic, and boasting two towns connected by a gondola (Telluride and Mountain Village), this ski resort in southwest Colorado is ideal for couples who want to mix adventure and relaxation. Telluride is picture-perfect, with old-time saloons and cool art galleries, while Mountain Village offers a more modern vibe and easy access to Telluride Ski Resort. Stay at Lumiere Telluride (from $325/night), the area’s newest ski-in/ski-out property offering contemporary designer decor (shown above right) and a sushi bar, or the Inn at Lost Creek (from $250/night), a romantic, 32-room inn in Mountain Village touting fireplaces, mini-kitchens, and balconies.
See our Jackson Hole Travel Guide, Lake Placid and Whiteface Travel Guide, Park City Travel Guide, Stowe Travel Guide, Taos Travel Guide, or Telluride Travel Guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rate on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.