for its West-Coast accessibility and plentiful lodging. Make reservations at the old-world-style, slopeside Mammoth Mountain Inn or the Village Lodge and conference center. In the market for ski-in/ski-out luxury? Try the Juniper Springs Resort. Nordic know-it-alls flock to the historic cabins at Tamarack Lodge, located on the shores of Twin Lakes, and cross-country ski or snowshoe from their own front door. Groups enjoy reduced lift tickets with a 14-day notice and one free life ticket with every 25 purchased.
Park City’s QuickSTART program lets you convert your airline boarding pass into a same-day lift ticket to Park City
Mountain Resort, The Canyons Resort or Deer Valley Resort. Touted as the most accessible ski resort in North America (the slopes are a mere 35-minutes from Salt Lake City airport), Park City also lays claim to more than 100 bars and restaurants, a “ski-in” distillery and a wholly unaffected Main Street après ski scene. Check here
for special lift ticket pricing for groups over 25.
No catalogue of ski destinations is complete without a reverential mention of the rustic, wind-in-the-hair bliss that is Telluride Ski Resort
. A little hard to get to — but isn’t that part of the commitment — this San Juan Mountain escape harnesses all of the hyperbolic adjectives ever used to describe downhill skiing and cranks them up to the top of the dial. Don’t be fooled by innocuous sounding trail names — Little Rose and Genevieve will test your mettle in ways you’ve never even imagined. In the evening, if your legs will still carry you, stroll through town and grab a microbrew at one of the watering holes operating from inside a historic building, or roll out in the morning to grab a coffee at one of the town’s locally owned whole-grain bakeries before hitting the slopes for another reality-testing day. The mountain offers groups over 20 not only a notable discount, but also one complimentary lift ticket for the smarty that had the good sense to bring you there. Call 888-483-5754 ext. 2 or visit here
. Lesser known gems
When the occasion calls for a more intimate experience than a sprawling resort can offer, a local resort with a family-style appeal can feel like you’ve landed just this side of paradise.
Bear Mountain and Summit Ski Resorts in Big Bear Lake, Calif., offer groups more ways to save money than the average … bear. To start, enjoy shorter lines, fewer crowds, and low combination lift and lodging rates with the resort’s Midweek Value program. Organizers will love Bear Mountain’s bulk pricing for businesses and schools through their Corporate Ticket Voucher Program, and the resort offers a one-time $10 voucher toward a lift ticket when you fill out a brief CORE marketing survey. Did we mention that boys and girls of all ages ski (or ride) for free on their birthday? bearmountain.com/bear-groups.php Whitefish Mountain Resort
(formerly Big Mountain in Whitefish, Mont.) is reputed in inside circles to have the top skiing in the country. Think no lift lines, southern facing slopes, moonlight skiing and endless sunshine. Alternately, the resort offers Snowcat adventures, dog sledding, Glacier Park Tours, snowmobile tours and an extensive spa menu. Call 800-858-3930 for discounted pricing for groups of 20 or more.
While it may be hard to believe that your whole group could ski for free, Elk Mountain Resort outside of Scranton, Pa., offers exactly that through their Midweek Group Special program. The skinny: if your group of 20 or more makes two individual trips to Elk Mountain, your third trip is on them. Not only does this equate to the best value for your group dollar, but Elk Mountain’s ski school and hospitality staff can provide group races, pizza or cocktail parties, and more. Also, get one free lift ticket with every 20 purchased. Contact email@example.com
or visit here
Vermont’s Stowe Mountain Resort
holds title as one of the most historic and iconic ski spots in the country. The environs inspire visions of slalom legends and a stroll through town inevitably includes a pot of fondue at the legendary Swisspot. The mountain welcomes groups with savings on lift tickets, rentals and lessons as well as optional ski-in/ski-out lunch buffets at the Toll House Lodge and après ski parties. Your group will love the thrill of competing in a professionally run ski race with bibs, timekeeper and two runs per person. (Min. 25 people, prices vary; call 800-253-4SKI.) For lodging, you can’t do better than Topnotch Resort
, named No. 1 by Condé Nast Traveler for outstanding service. Wisp Resort
in Deep Creek Lake, Md., (sometimes called the “Tahoe of the East”) is beloved for its winter-playground vibe, 132 acres of ski terrain and commitment to outdoor adventure through snowshoeing, downhill skiing, winter hiking, snow tubing and ice fishing. Just a 3.5-hour drive from Washington, D.C., Wisp entices groups of 20 or more with discounts on lift tickets, slope-side lodging and group function rooms. Non-skiers will love the mountain coaster, cross country trails, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and Sewickley Spa.
Spectacular sunrises are par for the course at Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort
in Snowshoe, W.Va., where the lodging sits at the top of the mountain in a cozy village setting. This inverted layout provides easy access to an array of downhill runs, including a couple black diamonds that could hold their own against their Western cousins. Save time and money by packaging your family's lift tickets and rentals with area lodging. Nearby Silver Creek
, is perfect for families and beginner snowboarders looking for green bunny slopes and softly arcing blue runs.
Ski the Continental Divide at the perennially inspirational Lost Trail Powder Mountain
, the Northern Rockies’ hidden jewel for alpine skiing on the Idaho/Montana border. Lost Trail earns loyalty with uncrowded slopes, consistently good snow conditions and deep discounts for families of 15 or more. For high-end luxury, make reservations at the nearby Triple Creek Ranch
where the rates include lift tickets and equipment as well as meals and activities.
Sitting quietly above Boulder, Colo., Eldora Mountain Resort
’s small, family-friendly atmosphere means zero glitz, but a world of folksy charm. The resort prides itself on affordability and customer loyalty, as evidenced by the staggering $29 non-peak group lift ticket rates and local group hotel rates as low as $15 a night per person. Check out favorite mountain offerings like the Women's Wednesdays Ski Lesson Series, which includes a full breakfast and lunch, full-day ski lessons and a take-home videotape of your experience. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit eldora.com
. Cross-country contenders
Head to Devil’s Thumb Ranch
in Tabernash, Colo., for 5,000 acres of some of the finest cross-country skiing on the continent. Situated at the foot of the Continental Divide, Devil’s Thumb’s world-renowned cross-country ski center adjoins the James Peak Wilderness Area. Need to get some work done between Nordic outings? Take advantage of Devil’s Thumb’s meeting center, built from two Civil War-era barns. Afterward, unwind in John L.'s Wine Cellar and Uncorking Room or the Ranch Creek Spa. Yellowstone National Park
’s breathtaking (and historic) Ahwahnee Hotel places you in prime location to cross-country ski through the park’s nearly 350 miles of trails and roads. Must do’s: the 21-mile, roundtrip, cross-country track from Badger Pass to Glacier Point and the 3-kilometer track to the scenic Old Badger Summit. Lessons, as well as ski tours and overnight excursions to Glacier Point and the Yosemite backcountry, are available at the Badger Pass Cross-Country Center & Ski School. Intrepid travelers will want to schedule time to undertake a weekend cross-country hut trip to the Glacier Point Ski Hut where excellent meals and some of the most fantastic views on the planet await. Reservations required: 209-372-8444.
Crash the border to the north for cross-country skiing with French-Canadian flair. The center of Montréal
may not seem like an obvious Nordic getaway, but kicking through the parks at Mont-Royal, Jean-Drapeau and Maisonneuve under the watchful eye of the Montréal skyscrapers makes for a memorable group outing with a metropolitan flair. Best of all, it’s free.
Take advantage of one of the rare gifts of this down economy — namely competitive pricing and eye-popping incentives — to transfer your ski getaway from the fantasy column to the realm of reality. Seem like the only questions left are High Sierras or Rocky Mountains? Deep winter hole-up or spring fling? Back-country slopes or big ticket glitz? Hut trip or hot toddys? Now we’re back to choice again, aren’t we? Not such a hard one when the options are this plentiful — and this perfect.