A snow beach or ice bar? S’mores made at a fire pit overlooking river ice floes. Perhaps a sleigh ride dinner. Where would you go for an après ski treat?
Definitely for s’mores, said Lauren Ikeman, 10, staying with her family at the ski-in, ski out Grand Hyatt Vail where unlimited s’mores kits are one of the amenities included with the $35 resort fee. Parents can grab a drink (perhaps spiked hot chocolate) at the ice bar or a glass of Champagne before watching the traditional opening of a bottle with a saber. There’s ice skating, axe throwing and a new expanded Market Cafe where families can grab a latte, pizza, burger, or self-serve ice cream with all the toppings before playing foosball or video games.
Meanwhile, the new one-of-a-kind Snow Beach on top of Aspen Mountain is creating a lot of buzz with beach-themed cabanas where guests are treated to drinks and food pairings.
This winter and coming spring, outdoor-oriented vacations have never been so popular, especially at snow resorts. Hotels, from high end to budget, are upping their game with new off-the-slope experiences, expanded spa and fitness offerings, “residences,” where families can spread out in homes-away-from homes with all resort amenities, even a private chef and ski concierge to take care of your gear at the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail where there are 24 homes to choose from with up to six bedrooms.
There are innovative food concepts too — like Sakaba, the onsite sushi concept that receives fresh fish from Japan every day at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch where they are also hosting a Ramen pop-up certain nights. The Yoshimi Pop-up at the Grand Hyatt Vail has proved so popular that it will become a permanent hotel restaurant this summer.
Jessica Gaeta was back for a repeat visit to the Grand Hyatt from New Jersey, with her dad, son, stepmom and aunt. She loved the ski-in, ski-out convenience where she could just leave her skis and boots and retrieve them the next morning. Her non-skiing stepmom and aunt loved all there was to do — yoga and spin classes, the spa, snowshoeing from the hotel, the hot tubs with their view of the White River and frequent shuttles to Vail Village to shop. That the resort is dog friendly is a plus for her son, Jack, she said, who made friends with every pooch he met.
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, Colorado, just a gondola ride from the Beaver Creek ski resort, features a 27,000-square-foot Athletic Club and Spa With more than 60 group classes weekly and an outdoor heated lap pool. Olympian Mikaela Shiffrin, a Vail Valley native, trains regularly at the Athletic Club and holds exclusive events at the resort, offering training tips for guests. The concierge can arrange anything from a sleigh ride dinner, snowmobiling or dog sledding. There are also units with full kitchens.
Vermont’s Topnotch Resort and its Stowe environs touts ice fishing for pike, salmon, or trout on some of Vermont’s most scenic lakes, horseback riding through the snow, snowmobiling and ice climbing, among their off-the-slope offerings. Snowshoers can follow the scenic 5.3-mile Stowe Recreation Path that stretches from the base of Topnotch’s driveway to Stowe Village. Topnotch has its own equestrian center for riders of all levels and pony rides for the youngest.
Woodward Copper Colorado and Woodward Park City in Utah offer indoor action sports sessions including skateboard, BMX, cheer and tumbling Woodward’s progression-based facilities help kids to learn new skills and achieve their goals safely.
Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah has a year-round art studio, as well as a winter Zip tour. Adrenaline junkies will also be able to zipline over the trees and mountains at Hunter Mountain in New York State’s Catskills, the highest and longest zipline canopy tour in North America. There’s also ziplining at Big Sky Montana or at the Mount Washington Resort in New Hampshire.
For those who want to learn more about winter wildlife, take a guided snowshoe tour at Sundance during which experts will teach you about winter wildlife and head out on the trail to locate owls.
But there are plenty of options for those on a budget, too. The Pad Hotel and Hostel in Silverthorne, Colorado, at the gateway to Colorado’s Front Range resorts, offers private rooms, as well as dorm lodging with the A Bar, riverside and rooftop with kombucha and Summit County’s first draught craft cocktail menu. There are partnerships for those who want to head into the back country, snowshoe, ice climb or learn avalanche safety. Rates start at $50 for dorm rooms
Families love the dog- and kid-friendly Beaver Run condo resort at the base of Breckenridge’s Peak 9 for its convenience and kids-eat-free deals. Kids love the indoor complimentary mini-golf.
Try skijoring, which combines cross-country skiing and dog sledding at Minnesota resorts or Dog Sledding in Minnesota’s million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Lodge rates start at $159.
The Appalachian Mountain Club’s 100-square-mile wilderness in Maine can be toured via groomed, backcountry ski trails on day trips. Many families enjoy trying to ski between rustic lodges and private cabins, where home-cooked meals are served to overnight guests. Read about a weekend getaway to an AMC club.
There are plenty of options too for fun in the snow for those with special challenges at adaptive resort centers across the country, including new Adaptive Equity Initiative at Crested Butte Mountain Resort where a full-day rate has been reduced to $125 — the cost of a lift ticket, including a full-day lesson and adaptive equipment.
Ready to try something new?