While it's no secret that North America boasts many incredible skiing destinations, choosing the location that packs both great snow and slopes with great service, good food and other desirable features can be overwhelming. Thankfully, the readers of SKI magazine have taken much of the guesswork out of the equation, and with many of these resorts opening this week, now is the time to look at places to stay.
Each year, the publication compiles a list of the top 20 ski resorts across North America as rated by its readership. They take into consideration such aspects as grooming of the runs, ease of access, service level, as well as lodging and dining options.
And there is no shortage of fractional living in many of these resort towns. Each offers luxurious, beautifully appointed living spaces, some as large as 6,000+ square feet. In addition to stunning mountain views, many of these abodes provide such exclusive features as gourmet kitchens, private hot tubs and home theater systems. Some are situated right next to the runs or by the lifts, and offer true ski-in/ski-out accommodations.
Most of the properties offer amenities on par with a five-star hotel. On site spas, heated pools, state-of-the art fitness centers and the 24-hour concierge service found at some clubs, can make fractional home ownership a dreamy experience. Of course, no ski vacation would be complete without relaxing in comfortable après ski lounges and dining at some of the many fine restaurants available in each town.
Topping SKI magazine's list is Deer Valley, Utah, which is known for its outstanding level of service. Offering a range of runs, for novice to advanced skiers, these six mountains were the site of the 2002 Winter Olympic events. In addition, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and even heli-skiing are some other winter-themed activities visitors can enjoy.
Potential members can opt for Equity Estates Empire residence located right by the Northside Express. The Lodges by Quintess is a spacious 5 bedroom home that looks out over the Wasatch mountains. Exclusive Resorts' offers townhome dwellings while The Residences at The Chateaux mimic the feel of a French Chateau.
As home to the biggest single ski area in the U.S., Vail, Colo., is the magazine's number 2 pick. The resort offers visitors nearly 5,300 skiable acres and many miles of mountainside. Three diverse areas include impressive chutes, seven bowls and powdery, white clearings that provide a range of possible skiing adventures.
Exclusive Resort's Vail residences are in the Arabelle at Vail Square, right next to the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Quintess has large, spacious homes at Lionshead and 3 bedroom residences at the Ritz-Carlton Club, the new Four Seasons Residence Club Vail and The Willows of Vail all offer exceptional service and posh yet comfortable dwellings. Other residence clubs available include Austria Haus Club, the brand new Sebastien, One Willow Bridge Road and Club Residences at Vail Mountain Lodge that offer luxurious accommodations and stellar service.
Number four on the list is Snowmass, Colo. At 4,406 feet, this mountain offers 91 trails. Twenty-one chairlifts give visitors ample time to enjoy the cruisers, glades, steeps, terrain parks and halfpipes available. While there, children can enjoy the "Tree House" camp/club and ski school. Snowmass visitors are also a short shuttle ride from Aspen (number 11 on the list) which also offers world-class skiing, restaurants, shops and art galleries.
Take advantage of Equity Estates Snowmass' residence in the heart of base village with its heated outdoor living area. Choose Exclusive Resorts 3 bedroom residences at the Timbers Club. Luxurious yet comfortable décor is featured at The Timbers Club at Snowmass as well as The Residences at Snowmass Club.
Since the 1930s, Sun Valley, Idaho, has attracted skiing enthusiasts from around the country (number five on the list). Upon first encountering the mountain, visitors have noted, "This combines more delightful features than any other place I have ever seen in Switzerland, Austria or the United States for a winter resort." Skiers can enjoy the challenge of Bald Mountain ("Baldy") with a summit of 9,150 feet and Dollar Mountain's 6,638 feet peak.
The Hemmingway's Private Residence Club features eight four-bedroom residences, a grand clubhouse and a private pool facility. Or opt for the rustic yet elegant décor of Abercrombie & Kent's Sun Valley home in the heart of Ketchum. Each of Les Saisons Private Residence Resort homes feature inviting living areas with stunning views of either Bald Mountain or Trail Creek Summit.
SKI magazine's number six pick is Park City, Utah – just down the road from number one pick Deer Valley. This resort offers eight peaks and nine bowls with 114 trails for skiers of varying abilities. Not only home to the annual, famous Sundance Film Festival in January, this town offers world-class shopping and art galleries.
Surround yourself in the rustic opulence of the Deer Valley Club which features 30 condominium units, The Sky Lodge is part of stylish boutique hotel where owners can relax in the rooftop SkyBlue lounge.
Number seven on the list is Beaver Creek, Colo. With 149 trails of beginner, intermediate and expert terrain, skiers can experience Strawberry Park's gentle, groomed runs as well as Grouse Run's challenging bump runs and glades. In addition, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating activities can round out a winter-lover's vacation.
The Ritz-Carlton Club Bachelor Gulch provides scenic views of the mountains. Park Plaza Beaver Creek residences feature luxurious condominiums with granite countertops and restful, neutral décor. Hyatt Mountain Lodge offers fireplace repose after a day on the slopes.
Steamboat Springs, Colo., ranks number 8 on the list. Featuring a range of mountains which offers 2,965 acres of permitted terrain and its signature champagne powder for both skiers and snowboarders, this resort town also features horseback riding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides and hot springs.
Quintess Christie Club provides a spacious, elegant four-bedroom home with ski-in/ski-out access to Right O' Way ski run. Members can opt for the rustic appointments including exposed timber beams, cozy fireplaces and relaxing neutral tones of One Steamboat Place, Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and The Porches Private Residence Club. The Christie Club's private clubhouse incorporates a heated outdoor pool, state-of-the-art fitness center and private ski locker rooms.
Telluride, Colo., is SKI magazine's number 10 ski resort destination. With more than 2,000 skiable acres, this Rocky Mountain destination offers varying challenges for skiers and snowboarders alike. In addition, the newly opened Revelation Bowl is modeled after European mountain terrains for advanced and expert skiers.
Equity Estates Telluride's 3,400 square foot dwelling features amazing drop-away views (pictured above) of the Valley Floor and San Sofia Ridge. Quintess offers the Tomboy Mine Retreat and the Yankee Girl Mine, both with rustically elegant appointments and ample living space. Each of Exclusive Resort's 12 residences feature spacious, inviting great rooms for large gatherings. The Club at Tristant , outfitted with log and stone features, provides its members with a private ski lift. Fairmont Heritage Place Franz Klammer Lodge offers a world-class, private spa. The River Club, the Inn at Lost Creek and Ballard House Telluride all offer earthy yet elegant accoutrements and luxury amenities.
There are other private residence clubs and destination clubs with residences in Aspen Mountain, Colo. (number 11), Heavenly, Calif. (number 13), and Mammoth Mountain, Calif. (number 17). And, of course, don't forget the non-winter activities visitors can enjoy such as mountain hiking, boating, fly fishing and golfing.