We’re coming into a ski season of big, big news—all of it great for luxury-loving snow-sports enthusiasts. From resort expansion in Park City and Telluride to anniversary celebrations in Heavenly and Jackson Hole, and from new and newly refreshed hotels in Lake Tahoe and Vail to a blizzard of bespoke services and après-ski action everywhere, we present everything that’s hot (and cool) at our favorite U.S. ski resorts. We’ll see you on the slopes!
CA | NV
California and Nevada offer a wide variety of terrain that draws skiers and snowboarders from around the world. The Sierra Nevada range is the most popular ski destination in the area, thanks to the high concentration of ski resorts in Lake Tahoe. A few of our favorites—such as Northstar California Resort, Sugar Bowl Resort and Heavenly Mountain Resort—have some exciting improvements that are sure to up the ante on your ski vacation. And, in the Eastern Sierra, Mammoth Mountain offers steeps and bowls that appeal to athletes of all levels. The resort has several new après-ski spots that are sure to make the experience sparkle.
North Lake Tahoe
Mountain Makeovers Northstar California Resort has revamped its Big Springs Express Gondola at the base of the mountain in The Village at Northstar to enhance the guest experience. Meanwhile, at Sugar Bowl Resort, a new terrain park located below the Mount Lincoln Express Chairlift will include 43 classic features—all designed with flow in mind. The new Sugar Bowl Snow Park, which will start at the Upper Ridge Catwalk and continue down Chase Ridge, provides more terrain for skiers and riders to explore.
Suite Dreams Just in time for the ski season, The Resort at Squaw Creek, A Destination Hotel (rooms from $375 per night) will complete a $7 million renovation of its guest rooms. The 405-room resort, which offers ski-in/ski-out access to Squaw Valley, will now feature a new modern-meets-mountain aesthetic designed to deliver a sense of place. Expect to find soothing neutral textures and colors, warm wood tones, rich leather, mixed metals, natural stone and pops of color inspired by native wildflowers found in the area.
Bespoke Experience Northstar is offering a new private-lesson program called Primo (price upon request). After a consultation with the resort’s concierge (who can arrange guided tours, spa appointments and child care), guests receive priority lift access and a chance to dine at Schaffer’s Club, a private enclave.
Après Scene Throughout the season, Northstar will be hosting tōst—a bubbly celebration that redefines the art of the daily toast—on East Ridge run at 2pm. This daily celebration exudes California laid-back luxury while paying homage to the tradition of toasting a great morning on the hill. Look for select dates that will also feature live music.
South Lake Tahoe
Suite Dreams The big hotel news for ever-growing South Lake Tahoe is the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe (King suites from $525 per night)—formerly Horizon—which received a $60 million investment to its 25,000-square-foot casino floor, 539 rooms and four restaurants. Rumor has it that the hotel may be adding an indoor concert venue as well.
Recognized for its alternative-themed rooms, Basecamp Hotel (suites from $199 per night) added 24 new guest rooms this season, bringing the total room count to 74. This hip hotel also opened a beer garden, a 20-person hot tub, four more fire pits for roasting s’mores and two large rooftop decks with views of Heavenly Mountain Resort.
Harrah’s Lake Tahoe (suites from $279 per night) has invested $12 million in a fleet of new limos as well as upgrades to all of its 520 hotel rooms (including new bathrooms, furniture, lighting, carpets, bedding and appliances).
Meanwhile, MontBleu Resort Casino & Spa (suites from $259 per night) recently completed a $24 million renovation to its casino floor and all 437 rooms. The Scandinavian fantasy-themed design incorporates clean, contemporary aesthetics; all new furniture; HD flat-screen TVs; and fully remodeled bathrooms, counters and fixtures.
POSTMARC hotel and spa suites (large suites from $299 per night)—formerly the Fantasy Inn—reopened in mid-May with a complete renovation to its rooms. The new interior and exterior reflect the modern mountain town lifestyle with vintage Tahoe photographs and all new furniture, fixtures, carpet, paint and lighting.
Après Scene The Chateau at Heavenly Village is a $420 million, 11.5-acre redevelopment project located at the California state line across from Heavenly Village and the Heavenly Gondola. It opened last spring with 19,571 square feet of retail shops and restaurants, including the popular McP’s Taphouse & Grill that opened in mid-January.
Cold Water Brewery & Grill is a new restaurant and pub that’s the go-to spot for Sunday brunch. Check out the Bloody Mary bar with different mixes, vodkas, garnishes and salt-rim options.
For music fans, starting in January, Heavenly will host a series of outdoor concerts at the top of the Gondola, outside Tamarack Lodge. Featuring regional headliners, the Heavenly Concert Series will be from 1 to 3pm on select Saturdays throughout the season.
Bespoke Experience For a custom ski vacation in South Lake Tahoe, look no further than The Landing Resort & Spa’s Sierra Sophistication Ski
Getaway package for two (from $1,464). The posh package includes two nights’ accommodations in a premium king or queen room (complete with fireplace, luxe linens and walk-out deck), in-room fittings of performance ski or snowboard gear (plus ski valet service to and from Heavenly Mountain Resort), two days of skiing on Heavenly’s pristine slopes, in-room reflexology treatments from the Spa at The Landing and a $150 dining credit to be used at Jimmy’s Restaurant or for room service.
Hot Event Throughout the 2015 to 2016 ski and ride season, Heavenly will be celebrating its 60th anniversary—complete with special retro-themed versions of the legendary Unbuckle at Tamarack après-ski parties, free concerts and more. The Winter Ignite event series, which spans two weeks (Dec. 4 to 12), will kick off the season with on-mountain activities, such as pop-up DJ Cat parties and Unbuckle Après kickoff parties, plus off-mountain concerts.
Après Scene The Tasting Bar, located inside Bleu Handcrafted Foods, is a customizable tour of cured meats, artisanal cheeses, and the beer and wines that best complement them. The culinary tour is updated regularly and served atop Bleu’s custom charcuterie hanger ($6 to $40).
Back by popular demand, Skadi, which closed two years ago, has returned. Chef Ian Algeroen has opened the restaurant in a new location near the Village and is once again serving up authentic high-alpine cuisine. And Mammoth’s newest eatery in the heart of the village, 53 Kitchen and Cocktails, features a breakfast menu, a lounge menu and a dinner menu—all worth exploring. Try the White Lightening cocktail, made with moonshine, peach brandy, fresh lemon, orange bitters and egg white ($11).
Hot Event On April 23, 2016, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort will host Ezakimak—a winter adventure race with both competitive and novice classes. Participants will race from the base of Mammoth Mountain to an altitude of 11,053 feet on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or by foot or fatbike.
Colorado is home to 21 ski and snowboard resorts, making it a go-to destination for elite skiers and riders. There’s the luxe appeal of Aspen, the famous back bowls of Vail, the serenity of Beaver Creek and the renowned terrain at Telluride. Regardless of which resort you choose, you’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy. From major investments in new chairlifts and terrain enhancements to elevated on-mountain dining and culinary offerings, Colorado ski resorts are committed to raising the bar on the guest experience.
Mountain Makeover Snowmass recently received major upgrades, including a replaced and realigned High Alpine chairlift, new snowmaking equipment on two existing trails, and glading and trail work. The realigned lift and trail work means an improved guest experience in the High Alpine pod, allowing guests to ski from Rock Island, AMF and the Cirque without dropping to the lower mountain to access the High Alpine area. The new high-speed quad lift also makes for a quicker ride (down from 11 minutes to 5.6 minutes).
Bespoke Experiences Aspen’s grand dame, Hotel Jerome, An Auberge Resort (rooms from $675 per night), is offering a new Walking Concierge program (from $195). It includes a private walking tour to learn about the artistic side of Aspen, followed by a visit to the beautiful Shigeru Ban-designed Aspen Art Museum. The hotel is also offering a Find the Shrines Tour (from $700), a guided skiing tour to hidden shrines (dedicated to legends such as The Beatles and Marilyn Monroe) on Aspen Mountain. Or try the hotel’s Twilight Dinner Dog Sledding Ride experience (price upon request). It includes dinner in Hotel Jerome’s Library, a dog-sledding excursion through the forest and a Champagne toast under the stars.
New for this winter season, The St. Regis Aspen Resort (rooms from $599 per night, presidential suites from $2,000 per night) is offering an Altitude Concierge program (free; activities are priced by request) to help guests adjust to Aspen’s 8,000-foot altitude. Services include delivering a personal oxygen machine to a guest’s room, offering ideas for low-impact activities while in Aspen, curating a selection of nonalcoholic and noncaffeinated beverages, and hand-delivering special meals that lessen the impact of altitude sickness. The hotel is also offering a new High Society Ski Package (from $8,696, 970.429.9550). It includes four nights in one of the resort’s recently remodeled presidential suites (between Jan. 3 and April 17), a pair of limited-edition The St. Regis Aspen skis by High Society Freeride Company (additional pairs of skis $600), six lift tickets valid at any of Aspen/Snowmass’ four mountains, and a $35 food and beverage credit to the hotel’s Shadow Mountain Lodge.
Viceroy Snowmass is the first property in the area to offer ski-in/ski-out spa treatments. Nestled at the base of Assay Hill, the Spa at Viceroy beckons with 30-minute slopeside treatments that aim to reinvigorate skiers to get back on the slopes. One option includes the Kick Off Your Boots treatment ($95 for 30 minutes), which features a warm foot bath, exfoliation, a creamy lemongrass mimosa scrub, cuticle grooming, a hot stone massage and moisturizing cream.
Après Scene The Little Nell (rooms from $525 per night), Aspen’s beloved ski-in/ski-out property, is partnering with T-Lazy-7 Ranch to offer private yurt dinners (price upon request) at the ranch. Catered by The Little Nell, the dinners will include wines selected and served by one of the hotel’s sommeliers. Snowcat transportation is also included.
Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, the cozy European-style restaurant that’s located midmountain at Aspen Highlands, is undergoing a $1.1 million remodel to open up the space for the new season. It will now include two adjacent dining rooms, kitchen enhancements, new restrooms and upgraded features such as a cozy fireplace.
Viceroy Snowmass (rooms from $450 per night) is offering a tour of Snowmass Resort’s famous shrines (led by the resort’s executive chef and expert snowboarder, Will Nolan), followed by an après-ski cooking and cocktail lesson (from $650) in the kitchen with Nolan.
Mountain Makeovers This season, Beaver Creek is refreshing its snowmaking program by adding 23 fully automated fan guns to Red Tail and Centennial trails. Three mobile carriage fan guns will also be added, which will supply a new surface layer of snow atop the perfectly groomed trails. Beaver Creek’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system encompasses 650 acres of terrain across the resort, so guests can rest assured they’ll find untracked powder even on mornings when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.
Also new this season, Beaver Creek’s Ivy League Ski and Snowboard School (lessons from $190) is offering terrain-based learning for beginners. Skiers and riders learn correct techniques while navigating subtly sculpted snow features that help to control speed and body position—allowing guests to relax and have fun.
Suite Dreams The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa (one-bedroom luxury condos from $399 per night) recently completed nearly $7 million in renovations, including a major design revamp of all 230 luxe guest residences, public corridors and the ski-valet facility. And, for après, be sure to check out Parlor 126. This new hot spot, located in the resort lobby, offers a wide variety of handcrafted cocktails, an extensive wine and beer menu, gourmet pub fare and live music nightly during the ski season.
Bespoke Experience New for this winter, Beaver Creek will present the White Carpet Club ($150 for a family of four, three-day minimum)—an exclusive, private retreat within Beaver Creek Village—designed to provide guests with a tranquil vacation experience. Serving as a mini base camp in the heart of the village, the White Carpet Club offers a cozy lounge, spacious lockers, a boot-drying room tended by an ambassador, coffee and tea service, and an on-site concierge.
Après Scene Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is debuting a new beer hall theme this winter. Powder 8’s Kitchen and Tap Room will transform into a festive, German-inspired biergarten after 5pm—complete with craft beer, live music, games and German-inspired bites. The new Powder 8 Bier Hall will feature 16 premium beers on tap, from local to international microbrews and a gastro pub menu, including housemade sausages and mustards, brick-oven roasted pizza, calzones and meatballs.
SaddleRidge Restaurant offers a gourmet, ski-in/Sherpa-out option set among its private collection of Western artifacts (price on request). This is the first ski-in gourmet option for the public during the day at Beaver Creek—the others are for club members only.
To really kick off après celebrations, Beaver Creek is launching a new program this winter called Prost. It’s a daily on-mountain tradition where guests head to Spruce Saddle Lodge at the top of the Centennial Express Lift at 3pm for a complimentary pour of sparkling wine or cider, or possibly a La Marca Prosecco.
Hot Events The annual Audi Birds of Prey Men’s World Cup weekend takes place this year in Beaver Creek Dec. 4 to 6. The world’s fastest men take to the hill in downhill, super-G and giant slalom competitions. Birds of Prey will set the stage for not only the World Championships, but the entire 2015 to 2016 World Cup campaign. Look for teammates and Sochi Olympic medalists Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht who, along with the world’s best skiers, seek to tame Birds of Prey and become early favorites for World Championships medals. And, of course, there will also be plenty of world-class village entertainment on tap following the racing action each day. Jan. 21 to 24 marks a four-day Weekend of Haute Cuisine, Wine and Celebration ($50 to $200) on the slopes. The event lineup includes casual yet interactive and fun festivities—such as Après-Ski Burgers and Beers, a Snowshoe Gourmet Lunch, Ski.Eat.Ski, and the finale, Celebrity Chef Ski Race and Brunch—all wrapped up in one palate-pleasing wine and culinary extravaganza.
Mountain Makeover Telluride Ski Resort is adding new tower mounts for improved snowmaking within Hoot Brown Park, the resort’s largest terrain park. The park will also get new custom-made features that will provide additional challenges.
Suite Dreams Telluride Ski Resort recently closed a deal to take over operations of The Peaks Resort and Spa (suites from $309 per night), including the resort’s spa and fitness center. The ski-in/ski-out hotel features 177 guest rooms and a 42,000-square-foot spa with 32 treatment rooms, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Both the hotel and the spa are the largest in Telluride. This will be the second hotel deal for the resort, having purchased the Inn at Lost Creek in April 2013.
The really big hotel news, however, is the stunning renovation of Madeline Hotel and Residences (luxe king rooms from $389 per night)—Telluride’s only four-diamond full-service resort. Nestled in the heart of Mountain Village, the hotel recently completed the first part of a two-phase, $10 million renovation that includes upgrades and enhancements to the hotel’s restaurants, for-sale residences, ski services and more. The hotel, which offers 11 suites and 89 slopeside guest rooms, is also getting a new porte-cochere and outdoor pool, plus two hot tubs and three fire pits (to be unveiled in December).
Bespoke Experience Hotel Madeline’s ski valet facility has been redesigned for the season, with upgraded furniture, state-of-the-art ski and boot storage, and a hot chocolate bar. Meanwhile, the hotel’s new ski ambassadors invite guests to ski like a local with guided mountain tours offered Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays throughout the ski season ($15 per person for half-day session, private lessons from $525 for five people).
Après Scene Beloved local chef Erich Owen (previously at the helm of New Sheridan Chop House) will be heading up a new restaurant to be located in the former Honga’s/Roma Bar location. The name is yet to be decided, but the space will undergo a complete rebranding and remodel this fall (and will open in December). It will feature an upscale wine and cocktail lounge, an oyster and Champagne bar, an extensive and eclectic wine program, a full sushi bar and a fine-dining concept upstairs with composed plates, appetizers, sides and steaks.
Also at Madeline Hotel, the newly renovated Black Iron Kitchen and Bar (located in the former space of SMAK Bar) now includes outdoor fire tables, upgraded decor (dark woods, natural stone and steel) and a revamped menu that features modern mountain cuisine. But don’t fret—the popular SMAK Bloody Mary remains a standout on the menu. The hotel’s Restaurant REV also recently received a face-lift for the new season, complete with a new name (M Club), comfortable seating areas, an indoor-outdoor bar and a game room. A new executive chef, George Morris, heads up both new restaurant concepts. There’s also the new Madeline Studio, a yoga and Pilates facility located adjacent to the main hotel entrance, and a new salon (adjacent to Starbucks) that features three hair stations, mani/pedi stations and a luxurious retail boutique as well.
Mountain Makeover Vail Mountain Resort has replaced its Avanti Express Lift (on the front side of Vail Mountain) with a high-speed, six-pack chairlift that will increase capacity in an important access area of the mountain. The new lift will continue to provide access to intermediate and advanced terrain, and deliver skiers and snowboarders from Lionshead to midmountain.
Suite Dreams As the first hotel in Vail, The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort (rooms from $510 per night) is steeped in a long history of alpine charm and A-list guests. The gorgeous hotel recently completed a renovation, capping off a multiyear series of face-lifts to the hotel’s Cucina restaurant, Elway’s restaurant, outdoor pool area, International Wing and spa. Changes over the last year have focused on the 165 guest rooms, hallways and common areas.
The Sebastian-Vail, A Timbers Resort (rooms from $495 per night, executive suites from $795 per night) has unveiled its 84 redesigned guest rooms, and added a new category of one- and two-bedroom executive suites that draws inspiration from the hotel’s contemporary art-filled public spaces. All rooms also have high-end smart-tech touches like iPod home systems and flat-screen TVs.
Bespoke Experiences This winter, The Arrabelle, A RockResort (rooms from $1,307 per night) is offering spa-on-demand services (from $36). It’s like beauty room service: Guests have a choice of different spa offerings, including the Grand Luxe (think lavender and honey bath salts, honey oat pajama paste yogurt face mask, salted caramels and a glass of wine, $52).
Chic and savvy The Sebastian-Vail has introduced a new snow essentials room-service menu that operates much like a room-service hang-tag request service. However, this program offers specific options for slope-bound guests (such as hand warmers, luxe socks, Chapstick and sunscreen). Guests can also order post-ski products such as bubble bath, or pre-book spa treatments for when they return from a day of skiing. Additionally, the hotel has a new adventure concierge that can set up a variety of activities (try curling, ice climbing or night-owl adventures) and custom-fit all equipment.
Après Scene Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail has a new bar and lounge called The Remedy, and it’s sure to cure what ails its patrons. The hotel has invested more than $2.5 million to deliver a unique space featuring eclectic, custom-made furnishings and light fixtures, accentuated by white marble, walnut wood, saddle leather and industrial metal. The provocative bar program serves up pre-Prohibition classics and inventive concoctions, while culinary selections focus on artisanal flatbreads, small bites, shareable dishes and crudo. Also on offer: a range of small-production bottled beers; a curated wine list; an expansive rare whiskey collection; and an Après Whiskey Cart from which tableside cocktails will be made-to-order.
In addition to the fantastic snow—it’s so good, in fact, that it’s trademarked as The Greatest Snow on Earth—Utah boasts 11 ski resorts all within an hour’s drive of Salt Lake City International Airport. That means it’s a snap to fly in, hit the hill and enjoy some fantastic nightlife—all in the same day. And the biggest news to come out of the ski world this year just so happens to be centered in Utah. Hint: It has to do with the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States.
Mountain Makeovers Last fall, Vail Resorts acquired Park City Mountain Resort, which was big news in and of itself. However, the biggest news this ski season is the merger between PCMR and Canyons Resort, which now makes it the largest U.S. ski and snowboard resort. The combined resort, branded simply as Park City, features over 7,300 skiable acres, more than 38 lifts and seven terrain parks. A new eight-passenger interconnect gondola—called Quicksilver, which will transport guests from the base of the existing Silverlode Lift at Park City to the Flatiron Lift at Canyons—along with two new lifts on the Park City side, make up just some of the $50 million in single-year planned improvements for the 2015 to 2016 ski season.
Also in the merger news, Deer Valley Resort purchased Solitude Mountain Resort and is adding new terrain options (including a new ski run from the top of the existing Apex Express chairlift to the bottom terminal of the realigned Summit Express chairlift) and lifts (including the installation of a new four-person detachable high-speed quad following the removal of the current Summit double chairlift).
Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort is investing $35 million in capital improvements this ski season, including debuting The Summit at Snowbird (a mountaintop guest oasis that will greet Aerial Tram riders atop Hidden Peak), offering a 10,000-square-foot deck and 360-degree views from 11,000 feet. The 23,000-square-foot facility will house an upscale restaurant, a coffee/pastry shop and Ski Patrol, and offer seating for up to 400 guests within its two-story design.
Suite Dreams Snowbird is also completing a full remodel to its 350 guest rooms in the east wing at its flagship, ski-in/ski-out property, The Cliff Lodge (one-bedroom suites from $1,099 per night, theclifflodgeandspasnowbird.com). Room renovations include lush carpeting, elegant marble counters and imported tile in the bathrooms, the latest ergonomic mattresses, contemporary furnishings, modern entertainment systems, energy-efficient lighting and upgraded Wi-Fi.
Bespoke Experience Waldorf Astoria Park City (rooms from $449 per night) is offering a new Après Butler service (from $500) to elevate the guest experience to new levels of luxury. After guests finish a day on the hill and return to their room, they will be greeted by a lit fireplace, a personal cocktail kit (guests can choose their preferred libation ahead of time), and a custom après spread with cheese and charcuterie. The butler also leaves a note inviting guests to continue the après experience at the hotel’s Powder restaurant.
Après Scene At Park City Mountain Resort, a completely new restaurant, called Miners Camp, replaces the Snow Hut Restaurant. Located next to the base of Park City’s Silverlode Lift and the Park City terminal for the Interconnect Gondola, it will include 500 indoor seats, and a top-of-the-line kitchen and culinary experience. And on the Canyons Resort side, Red Pine Lodge will be renovated to include an additional 250 indoor seats.
Jackson, Wyoming, which draws visitors year-round, thanks to the nearby Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and the National Elk Refuge, is also home to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. The resort is named after Jackson Hole (a valley between the Teton Range and the Snake River). It boasts an abundance of steep terrain, with one of the highest vertical drops to be found (at 4,139 feet) and the most famous chute in all of North America—Corbet’s Couloir.
Suite Dreams Hotel Jackson (rooms from $225 per night, suites from $895 per night), which opened this summer, is the first luxury boutique property to be built in the Town of Jackson in more than 15 years. The hotel offers breathtaking views of the Grand Tetons, 58 stunning guest rooms and spacious suites, and contemporary Western design (think reclaimed barn wood and leather). Carefully hand-painted metal pays homage to the branding irons and early tools of the rugged ranchers and trappers who first settled the area.
Bespoke Experiences Amangani (superior suites from $750), a premier luxury destination in Jackson Hole, will launch a first-ever partnership with Foil—a renowned luxury developer of handmade, custom skis. Amangani guests will have exclusive access to test-ride and purchase Foil skis in the comfort of the Amangani Ski Lounge at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
At Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole (rooms from $580 per night), guests can take advantage of a few new elite experiences. New this season, through the resort’s Backcountry Experience program (from $2,780), local guides and athletes take guests on epic, customized skiing adventures. Upon returning to the resort, guests take part in an après mixology lesson (from $350), learning how to make signature winter cocktails, and enjoying inventive après fare by the pool bar and open fire pit. And for dinner, guests will enjoy the hotel’s redesigned Westbank Grill, a fine-dining restaurant that now features a new menu and an evolved culinary concept.
Hot Event Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is celebrating its 50th anniversary this winter season, complete with an exciting lineup of events and original artwork by Mike Tierney—all focusing on Jackson Hole’s boldness of spirit. Tierney’s “The Wildest Mountain Alive” painting serves as the visual centerpiece of the anniversary celebration, invoking a sense of adventure, courage and tenacity. The grand opening of the new Teton Lift (a high-speed quad lift that will carry skiers and riders 1,600 vertical feet to an area previously only accessible via hiking) is scheduled for Dec. 19, with a gala, fireworks, live music and more to complement the event. From Jan. 11 to 31, 2016, guests can show their season pass to any ski resort in the world and receive a 50 percent discounted lift ticket. The party continues with a throwback reunion weekend, taking place Feb. 5 to 7, 2016, with the famous Power 8’s Contest; and the third annual Rendezvous Music Festival, taking place Mar. 17 to 20, 2016, will be bigger than ever.