Ski 101 in the USA: Which Locale is the Best Fit For You?

With snow starting to fall and winter approaching in full swing, ski season is back! With all the great ski destinations opening across North America, finding the best fit for you & your family can sometimes be tricky. That is why we have narrowed down a list of our favorite destinations and resorts for each type of traveler. Read on to see which may be the best fit for you.

Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado

The much lauded Aspen is composed of 4 mountains: Aspen (Ajax), Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. Ajax & Highlands are a better fit for advanced skiers, with Snowmass ideal for intermediates and families, while Buttermilk is best for beginners or those interested in park terrain. While each mountain is different, all are very much accessible from the convenient and vibrant ski town of Aspen. Flights are usually abundant during the winter season with all major legacy carriers flying there, however, due to a shorter runway, direct flights from the east coast are not possible to Aspen as they are to Jackson Hole or Vail.

Aspen is a step above the normal ski town when it comes to dining and entertainment options, making it a perfect fit for foodies and fashionistas. The restaurants, such as Meat & Cheese, Ajax Tavern, Matsuhisa and Clark’s Oyster Bar are among the best, the shopping is quite high end and there are art galleries abound.

The Little Nell, image courtesy of Jeremy Swanson

Many luxury accommodations exist in the area. In Aspen, there is The Little Nell, which is the only true ski-in/ski-out hotel in Aspen, and is the perfect option for those looking for a festive après vibe.

Hotel Jerome, a recently renovated Aspen staple with a Western feel located in the center of town, makes it great for those looking to explore by foot. It is only a 10 minute walk to the nearest ski lift plus the hotel offers complimentary shuttles to the mountain. Food and beverage is a highlight here; be sure to stop by J-Bar to try the famous Aspen Crud, a vanilla milkshake with bourbon that originated during the Prohibition Era.

The St. Regis Aspen, image courtesy of Josh Bishop

The St. Regis embodies alpine luxury with stone fireplaces, leather couches and faux-fur throws displayed around the property. The highlight of this property is its Remède Spa; after a day of skiing, treat yourself to one of their oxygen therapies or deep moisturizing treatments.

In Snowmass is the Viceroy, a chic resort conveniently located on the bottom of Snowmass Village, with ski-in/ski-out access to the mountain. All rooms have kitchenettes, and the larger units offer washer/dryer combos, a great feature for families and longer term stays.

Deer Valley, Utah

Deer Valley has built its well-deserved reputation as one of the top luxury ski destinations in the world. They limit capacity to keep the slopes more open and have truly top-notch hotels right on the mountain, including the elegant St. Regis, the family favorite Montage, and the alpine-chic Stein Eriksen Lodge.

Montage Deer Valley, image courtesy of Montage Hotels & Resorts

The terrain is ideal for beginners and intermediate skiers with impeccable grooming and great cruising runs, along with a highly regarded ski school for those just learning. An important note is that it is a ski-only mountain, with no snowboarding allowed.

Deer Valley is also known to have the best on mountain dining with incredible gourmet options, but in a casual ski-in setting. For those with a sweet tooth, we recommend trying Deer Valley’s famous “Double Chocolate Cookie.”

Deer Valley mountain is located just a few miles from the village of Park City, which is one of the great ski towns in the country. It has top notch restaurants and bars, one of our favorites being the High West Distillery with its fantastic whiskey and elevated gastro pub cuisine. The town of Park City also offers an array of activities with an adorable main street for those who want to spend some time off the mountain.

A major advantage of this mountain is its proximity to a major international airport (SLC). Transportation is a quick 45-minute drive along a well maintained I-80 and transportation both to and from the mountain can be easily arranged.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Although any type of skier could find runs that suit them at Jackson Hole, the mountain is geared towards the more advanced and aggressive skier with technical terrain and steep slopes. The mountain is fantastic from mid-December thru mid-March but would not recommend it beyond this time, as due to southeast facing slopes and relatively lower base elevation, the mountain could be difficult to ski for those not acquainted to heavier conditions. Additionally, the mountain is on National Park land and therefore can only operate a specific number of days due to government regulations – so if they get a lot of snow and open early, it will mean they will have to close earlier that season regardless of the conditions.

The outdoor pool at Amangani, image courtesy of Aman Hotels

The mountain is situated 30 minutes away from the town of Jackson, which has a quaint wild west vibe, along with plenty of great restaurants, bars and shops. Although no luxury accommodations exist in the town itself, the top of the line all-suite Amangani is located just 10 minutes away, and is the ultimate mountain retreat. Its large-windowed accommodations, many with private terraces, provide sweeping views of the Tetons, along with a year-round outdoor pool, with to-die-for panoramas.

Dining al fresco at Caldera House, image courtesy of the property

One could also spend an entire holiday at the base of the ski resort at Teton Village. It has luxurious accommodations such as the Four Seasons, a ski-in/ski-out hotel with 152 rooms all featuring balconies with either mountain or meadow views, and Caldera House, a boutique all two to four bedroom suite property steps away from the Jackson tram with an intimate alpine retreat feel.

Sled dog tour at Amangani, image courtesy of Aman Resorts

Additionally, for non-skiers, there is plenty to do in the area such as sleigh rides through the National Elk Refuge, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and more.

Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado

Vail & Beaver Creek are side-by-side resorts about 2 hours outside of Denver on the I-70 corridor, with both accessible via the same lift ticket. The skiing is incredible here, however, due to its proximity to Denver, it can get crowded on the weekends. Despite being a relatively easy drive from Denver, we recommend flying directly to Eagle/Vail airport to avoid the traffic and potentially hazardous winter driving conditions.


Sleigh rides at The Sebastian Vail, image courtesy of the property

Vail Village is one of the most charming base areas of any resort in the country, with excellent dining and entertainment options. The mountain accommodates luxury travelers well with options such as the Four Seasons a family friendly resort where all rooms have beautiful balconies and large marble bathrooms. The Sebastian, just outside Vail Village, is another boutique property with an impressive private art collection.

Après-ski at The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, image courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

Beaver Creek is a more intimate mountain that tends to fly under the radar with less crowded slopes. The Park Hyatt, located at the base of the mountain, and Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, located on the other side of the mountain, are two great ski-in/ski-out options that can also provide transportation to Vail if skiing there is preferred.

Because of their high base elevations, Vail and Beaver Creek are nice choices to be snow-sure in the early season and over the December holidays. Non-skiers will also enjoy many other activities in the area such as ice-skating, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing or just a relaxing day at the spa.

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is known as the ski capital of the East and is one of the oldest ski resorts in the US. It is spread across two separate mountains: Mansfield and Spruce Peak, with a lift connecting the two. The two mountains get over 300 inches of snow a year; amongst the highest in the East, and the terrain is well balanced making it a great fit for all types of skiers. The mountain has several well-groomed runs for beginners, more challenging intermediate runs and bumped-out black diamonds for advanced skiers. There are also great off-piste spots for intermediate skiers looking to explore the tree areas.

The town of Stowe is the idyllic New England ski town. It offers great restaurants, shopping and of course iconic breweries where you can try some of the best craft beer – we recommend trying the elusive Heady Topper IPA at the Alchemist Brewery.

The ice rink at The Lodge at Spruce Peak, image courtesy of the property

Ski accommodations in the East are not as luxurious as those found on the West Coast, but The Lodge at Spruce Peak offers the best experience out east if not renting a private home. It has ski-in/ski-out access to Spruce Peak, a spa and wellness center, a large outdoor pool and many multi-bedroom suite options.

 Contact your Marchay Travel Manager for more details and information.

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