Swooshing down the mountain, having drinks around the fire and a cozy luxury cabin make a ski trip the quintessential winter vacation. With so many peaks and resorts to choose from, where to channel your inner Lindsey Vonn or Bode Miller is an exciting question. Here, we look at some of the most unique, over-the-top experiences on the North American slopes.
ELEVEN EXPERIENCE – Irwin, Colorado
Luxury travelers are looking for authentic, exclusive experiences, and when it comes to skiing no one delivers that better than Eleven Experience. All of its adventures are off-the-grid in remote destinations, but without sacrificing creature comforts and high-end touches. Its North American ski location just outside Crested Butte, Colorado, offers the most compelling backcountry cat-skiing in the country. The company has exclusive access to forestry land, so you literally have pristine wilderness to yourself.
During ski season, the 13,500-square-foot Scarp Ridge Lodge is rented to only one group at a time. Offering five king suites and one bunk room, the lodge also features a salt water pool, steam, sauna, indoor and outdoor hot tubs and an array of indoor amenities. There is no roughing it here.
Every stay is custom curated, from experiences to menus. Groups are led by highly skilled cat-skiing guides. With three guides per group, guests can ski at different levels and choose different terrain to suit their style. The slopes Eleven Experience has access to get twice the amount of snow of the nearby Crested Butte ski resort, resulting in very deep, light powder reachable only by snow cat. A typical ski day results in eight to ten runs, with après cocktails and snacks at a private mountain lodge.
Guests can also opt for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, dogsledding, ice climbing and ice skating.
HOTEL TALISA – Vail, Colorado
The sophisticated Hotel Talisa, Vail’s only ski-in/ski-out resort, recently was added to the venerable Luxury Collection. Nestled into a creekside location on the Gore Mountain Range, the property’s design is a mix of Colorado ski chalet and contemporary furnishings. A ski concierge is on hand to direct guests to the onsite chair lift, rental equipment and lift tickets. The area offers downhill and cross country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and more.
What makes Hotel Talisa stand out from other ski resorts in the area is the VIP amenities offered, starting with the gourmet s’mores butler who brings all the fixings to guests gathered around the fire pits.
After a long day on the slopes, the Aprés Everyday is the perfect wind-down. This fun happy hour features Champagne sabering, build-your-own hot chocolate and homemade chocolate chip cookies. The Moet Flutes and Frites is a weekly offering for guests to sip bubbles and enjoy traditional French fries.
FOUR SEASONS WHISTLER – Whistler, BC, Canada
With over 8,000 acres, Whistler Backcomb is the largest ski resort in North America and offers runs for all types of skiers. The Four Seasons Whistler is easily the most luxurious resort in town, but if you’re looking to take it over the mountaintop of opulence, elect to stay in one of the resort’s four private residences. These two- to four-bedroom homes are the ultimate ski oasis. You’ll have access to a ski concierge and use of the house car. After a long day on the slopes, return to your home and curl up by the fire while one of the Four Season’s talented chefs whips up a gourmet meal in your kitchen.
This couples’ excursion whisks you away from the resort via limo to a private helicopter for a scenic flight over Canada’s largest southern ice field. Led by wilderness guides, the adventurous couple takes a guided tour of an ice cave, ending in a cavern with a blue ceiling of ice for a romantic, decadent five-course Champagne dinner cooked by the hotel’s executive chef.
STEIN ERIKSON LODGE – Park City, Utah
If all-around luxury is a top priority, Park City’s Stein Erikson Lodge delivers in spades. The resort has been a Forbes five-star property since it opened in 2007. A $14 million renovation was unveiled for this year’s season, including an expanded ski locker room, new family pool, new game room and movie theater, and an onsite coffee house.
The lodge is known for its VIP Ski Valets, who do everything from helping select equipment to taking you and your gear to the slopes and assisting you with putting on and taking off equipment. Visitors have the opportunity to ski Park City Mountain Resort or Deer Valley Resort. The hotel has been named the top ski hotel in the world by World Ski Award twice.
Off the slopes, the Forbes five-star award-winning spa is the perfect antidote to hours of skiing. The signature massage and the ski boot relief treatment are tailor-made for post-skiing R&R. Gourmands will appreciate the pastry and chocolates the resort is known for, as well as the impressive private wine cellar, boasting more than 14,000 bottles valued well over $1 million.
WHITEFACE LODGE – Lake Placid, New York
Experienced skiers know it isn’t the same among both coasts: West Coast skiing is about elevation and powder, whereas East Coast snow is heavier and wetter. If you’re a fan of East Coast skiing, Whiteface Lodge in Lake Placid is a perfect place to hit the slopes. A former Olympian developed the Lodge, and much of the timber used in its construction was hand-milled onsite. Located in Adirondack Park, the all-suite resort is conveniently located to Whiteface Mountain, home of the greatest vertical lift drop in the Northeast and the longest intermediate run in the region. This winter, the resort offers the Ultimate Luxury Package which includes airport transfers and evening town car services in a BMW, VIP priority concierge service, two spa treatments, all breakfasts, a three-course dinner for two and luxury accommodations in a one- or two-bedroom suite.