For anyone who starts to get antsy for the slopes when November hits, earlier this week you received the best present on this side of Christmas: an unexpected 3-foot snowfall at Mammoth Mountain in California. Now that one mountain is open for business, we figured it high time to investigate the other towns worth visiting to get slicing early.
Check out these five ski locales where you can live the life of “slope luxury” at a bigger bargain.
Okay, so you might not want to splurge for the awesome helicopter tour you can take over Mammoth Mountain, but this cozy ski town offers a lot more than dollar-demanding adventure. Renowned Yosemite National Park is located just 45 minutes north, where you can get your free fill of the outdoors after hitting the slopes. If shopping is more your swim lane, check out the bevy of unique local stores the area has to offer (might we recommend the Mammoth Lakes Luxury Outlets?).
But when it comes to where to lay your head, the best part about one of our favorite resorts in Mammoth Lakes—The Westin Monache Resort—is its suite-style rooms. They epitomize spaciousness—which means there’s truly room for the whole family. Rooms start at just $283/night, and it has all the comforts of any home away from home. Make hot cocoa in your kitchenette, relax in front of the fireplace, or take a dip in your choice of two spa tubs.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming is a lot more than a cowboy town with ski lifts. Barring a big snowfall, explore all of the nature Laurance Rockefeller Preserve has to offer—without even getting out of your car. Or for a leisurely stroll, walk around the quaint Town Square, where you’ll be sure to see your fair share of horse-drawn carriages.
When it comes to ski resorts, Jackson Hole is a skiier’s paradise. Rusty Parrot Lodge and Spa is a local staple known for its understated luxury and charming comfort. The rooms—which start at $264/night—were designed with tired bodies in mind: lots of attention is paid to the bedding (think: down everything), perfect for sinking into after an exhausting day on the slopes. Room upgrades include private whirlpools and fireplaces.
If you’re looking for something even more affordable, not to fear. We’ll admit, The Rustic Inn originally made the list mostly because of its free buffet breakfast (nothing starts a day on the slopes out right like bacon and homemade granola). But, the price tag is also pretty phenomenal at just $149/night. Sure, it’s the only one on this list that’s not a 4-star hotel, but visitors have given it 4.5 stars, so they must be doing more than a few things right.
Lake Tahoe is not only home to a myriad ski spots, it also has just as much to take in off the slopes, as well as on. When you’re not showcasing your skills at Squaw Valley or a surrounding slope, you might want to check out Vikingsholm—a “castle” dating back to 1929 that is touted as a “blend of Nature’s spectacular beauty and man’s architectural ingenuity.”
The fun doesn’t have to stop when you put those skis away, either. Choosing what to do everyday at Harvey’s Lake Tahoe might be tough at this scenic ski resort. With a casino onsite, live entertainment, and a ski gondola next to the front door, the only thing you won’t be is bored. Oh, and did we mention rooms start at a gasp-inducing $149/night
A list of ski towns wouldn’t be complete without Aspen, Colorado. Not only is it home to ski spots like Snowmass and Buttermilk, but it’s also home to the John Denver Sanctuary, its namesake of course being the folk musician who spent much of his time in Aspen. The grounds are free to enter and beautiful to explore. If you’ve got a car, it’s also worth taking the 20-mile drive through Independence Pass—you’ll climb up to over 12,000 feet above sea level as you navigate along the Continental Divide.
One of our favorite Aspen hotels is also the the most expensive on our list. But, with ski-in ski-out access to Snowmass and easy access to three other area mountains, we couldn’t pass up Viceroy Snowmass. (Plus, it was ranked #4 among luxury hotels in Aspen by U.S. News & World Report.) Rooms will cost you about $468/night, and they all feature sleek, modern furniture, free wifi, luxury linens, and gas fireplaces. After a day on the slopes, you can also take a dip in the heated saltwater pool and grab a bite at one of several restaurants located within the resort.
Beaver Creek, CO
The name Beaver Creek makes you feel just as warm and cozy as you will in this town. Boasting great slopes at the Beaver Creek Ski Area, there’s also enough quaintness to go around off the mountain. We recommend trying Wolffe Tasting House for an evening brew and great eats.
When your day’s done, take a lift directly from the mountain to this chalet-style hotel—The Osprey at Beaver Creek—located in the center of Beaver Ski Resort Village. Starting at just $389/night, enjoy your room’s mountain views room and soak in the après ski at the resort ranked the #1 Best Resort in the U.S. by the Travel + Leisure readers’ survey in 2012. Soak in the heated pool or hot tub, unwind in the fitness center in the sauna or steam room, and dine at the tapas-inspired Osprey Lounge or venture (not very far) into town for plenty of dining options.
Do you have any favorite ski town steals? Tell us about them in the comments section below!