You've waited all year: our annual roundup of the latest and luxest at top ski resorts nationwide. It’s all downhill from here.
This year, the top U.S. ski resorts are offering striking upgrades to further elevate your winter getaways to even higher levels of mountain luxury. We’ve vetted the finest offerings on or near the slopes in six buzzing ski states to curate this exclusive register of all that’s new and noteworthy where the powder is most posh. Along with superb lodging options and VIP-level packages come new-arrival restos, lively après-ski spots, can’t-miss events and hot nightlife. Even better? Uberlocal intel, off-the-grid ski runs and tips from local ski celebs. Enjoy the ride.
CALIFORNIA | NEVADA
The legendary skiing at Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes is reason enough to book the first flight to the Golden State. Located within the Sierra Nevada range (the most popular ski destination in California), Lake Tahoe boasts nine premier ski resorts situated around the lake. And with a variety of terrain and snow conditions, combined with sophisticated amenities and nonstop nightlife on the Nevada side of the lake, this is one area where you can have it all. Meanwhile, Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort, located in the Eastern Sierras, boasts the highest summit of any California resort (at 11,053 feet), 3,500 skiable acres, 400 inches of annual snowfall, and steeps and bowls for a variety of skill levels.
North Lake Tahoe: Sugar Bowl Resort
MOUNTAIN MAKEOVERS This season, Sugar Bowl Resort is celebrating its 75th anniversary with top-notch regional bands at the Mt. Judah Lodge and new signature events. Silver Belt Banzai (a modern reincarnation of a classic ski race at Sugar Bowl) will now feature finish-line Jumbotrons, more festive pre- and post-race parties and a historical element that pays homage to the original Silver Belt races from the 1940s. Meanwhile, B4BC’s Shred the Love (an annual rail jam event), will feature music by a national act, a larger auction program and an even bigger competition venue. And special guest-appreciation days offer discounted throwback pricing on lift tickets. Coinciding with the anniversary is the new $3 million Crow’s Peak chairlift—a fixed-grip Doppelmayr triple—that offers lift-served access to the previously hike-to advanced and expert terrain on the Strawberry Fields area of the mountain. Accompanying enhancements include two new groomed runs; tree skiing through glades, chutes and cliffs; and a wind-protected area on inclement-weather days.
ALL-IN APRÈS Mellow Fellow GastroPub just opened a new location in Kings Beach in North Lake Tahoe. Stop by for the selection of American craft beers and locally made sausages.
If you’re looking for some additional exercise after hitting the mountain—or if you just need some R&R—be sure to check out the new $4.5 million Sport Haus Fitness and Aquatic Center, available for use to lodge guests. Centrally located between Sugar Bowl’s lifts, the resort’s lodge and the snowbound village, it includes two lap lanes, outdoor hot tubs, fitness facilities, a yoga studio, spa treatment rooms and an athletic training space.
LOCAL LORE John Monson, director of sales and marketing for Sugar Bowl Resort and Royal Gorge Cross Country Resort, picks his top five must-do’s:
1. Take the hike to Lunch Rock, across the Judah Ridge from Summit Chair. It’s perhaps the most remote and peaceful spot on the entire mountain, where you can choose to leave the resort for a fantastic backcountry run down to Donner Lake, or drop in to the Judah Bowl and back into Sugar Bowl.
2. Take the Elevator Shaft into the Silver Belt Gully. It’s a unique spot in ski country, complete with huge walls and a narrow entrance into a classic descent.
3. The new Crow’s Peak chairlift provides access to steeps, chutes and powder in classic old-growth groves.
4. The Mt. Disney Sun Deck is a great place to take a mountaintop break and enjoy the panoramic vistas of Donner Summit.
5. The Belt Room Bar captures the classic vibe of Sugar Bowl, with great beers on tap and, of course, Tahoe’s best Bloody Mary.
RUN OF YOUR LIFE It’s tough to beat the Lake Run. And although Sugar Bowl’s four peaks with 100-plus trails across nearly 1,700 acres offer plenty of action, it’s sometimes nice to enjoy backcountry powder with the professional guides at Backcountry Adventure Center’s Alpine Skills International.
North Lake Tahoe: Northstar
ALL-IN APRÈS The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe, located midmountain at Northstar, has two new dining options: Backyard Bar & BBQ, offering ski-in/ski-out outdoor dining and saloon-inspired cocktails, and Café Blue (offering fresh-pressed juices and smoothies, paninis and Blue Bottle Coffee). Other après offerings at the hotel include Marshmology (roast s’mores with handcrafted marshmallow flavors at the fire pit at 4pm) and The Après Experience, featuring nightly culinary events (such as Barrel-Aged Cocktails) at the Manzanita restaurant. Guest rooms from $499 per night
RUN OF YOUR LIFE East Ridge, located along the ridge line of Northstar’s Mount Pluto, is a great place to take in the views of Tahoe’s Crystal Bay. Cruise the entire length of East Ridge’s intermediate groomed trail, or try the advanced options of Powder Bowl, The Chute or Tonini’s.
South Lake Tahoe: Heavenly
SUITE STAY The Landing Resort & Spa—Lake Tahoe’s only five-star luxury lakeside property—opened last December with 88 lavish guest rooms just three blocks from Heavenly Village. Amenities include marble bathrooms with heated floors, 55-inch wall-mounted TVs, plush terry robes, fireplaces and private decks with stunning views. Grab a seat in one of the private alcoves (each with its own fireplace) at Jimmy’s Restaurant, located within the resort. Be sure to check out the backlit, onyx-walled bar with a 250-label wine cellar. And don’t miss the 3,600-square-foot rooftop deck or the full-service spa and hair salon. Guest rooms from $290 per night
Also set in the heart of South Lake Tahoe is the newly renovated Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel. The $5 million face-lift includes upgrades to all 400 rooms in the nine-story, all-suite hotel, including new decor and 42-inch flat-screen TVs. Presidential/patio suites from $549 per night Keep an eye open: The former Horizon Casino is currently under a $60 million renovation to become a Hard Rock Hotel, scheduled to open this winter season. It will offer upbeat gaming action, multiple restaurants, an upscale bar, lounges, and both indoor and outdoor concerts.
ALL-IN APRÈS Thanks to a $15 million investment, a stunning new shopping area—dubbed The Chateau—mirrors the popular Heavenly Village shopping area with 27,868 square feet of vendors, boutique shops and restaurants near the California-Nevada state line. Also new is the Cold Water Brewery & Grill in the midtown area, and Mexican food restaurant Azul Latin Kitchen in the Village. Heavenly Mountain Resort is also having a new midday beach party at East Peak Lodge on Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 3PM.
Located at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe casino, and featuring more than 6,700 square feet of hoppin’ nightlife and live-entertainment space, PEEK Nightclub’s new footprint includes 40 intimate VIP sections. Look for big-name DJs this season from Las Vegas, Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
Opal Ultra Lounge located at Montbleu Resort Casino & Spa, offers a sensual nightclub vibe. Significant improvements to the Pinnacle Room VIP area include soft lighting, oversize couches, marble tables and a glass-rail balcony area that overlooks the dance floor. Regional and national DJs get the blood pumping and the dance floor packed.
LOCAL LORE Johnny “Tahoe” Norman, snowboard instructor at Heavenly and nightlife ambassador for visiting VIPs, gives you his picks for an unforgettable stay:
1. Take Orion’s Run to Comet chair to dip into the trees, then take the Dipper chair to Mott Canyon.
2. A stop-off at Booyah’s Exotic Burgers and Brews for limitless burger combos and microbrews.
3. For sunny afternoon cruising, Dipper Run on the Nevada side is always well-groomed and offers compelling challenges.
4. For powder days, Pinnacles on the California side has plenty of trees, stashes and open runs.
5. To finish off the day, Unbuckle at Tamarack has half-priced drinks, live DJs, dancing, great appetizers and the the Heavenly Angels.
RUN OF YOUR LIFE Ridge Run, featuring amazing views of Lake Tahoe, will take your breath away. Lesser-known areas include the tree-skiing pod areas of Aries Woods, Ridge Bowl and Dipper Bowl. The perfectly spaced trees allow you to make your own path and forge ahead off-piste.
ALL-IN APRÈS A new 2,500-square-foot day spa at the Sierra Nevada Resort features a juice bar and sauna, and treatments and wraps that highlight locally sourced ingredients. Try the Skiers and Hikers Sports Massage ($125 for 80 minutes).
For a sumptuous meal after hitting the slopes, try the new Mammoth Tavern. Enjoy dishes like shrimp ceviche and braised short-rib grilled cheese, paired with artfully crafted cocktails.
For something a little different, head over to Mammoth Rock ’n’ Bowl. Featuring two restaurants, 12 bowling lanes, three golf simulators and games galore, this is the spot to show off your après-ski skills.
LOCAL LORE Professional snowboarder Kimmy Fasani chimes in on her favorite Mammoth must-do’s and tips:
1. Dave’s Run off the top of the mountain is one of my favorite runs. It’s long, wide open and has a great view. I love starting my day off with a few leg-burner runs, and this does the job.
2. Chair 5 gets you to the top of some of the best powder riding and/or groomers on the mountain. Smack in the middle of the mountain, this chair makes it easy to get plenty of laps in on a variety of different terrain.
3. Roberto’s Cafe, a Mexican-food restaurant, offers a great upstairs hangout, bar area and a full menu. It’s a perfect spot to unwind.
4. After a fun day on the slopes, I love heading to the hot springs off Benton Crossing Road for a nice soak in the natural pools, or I head to Snowcreek Athletic Club for a mellow yoga class.
5. Stellar Brew is my go-to for a grab-and-go breakfast because they have a great variety of healthy breakfast burritos, and their drink selections are top-notch. If you’re looking for a sit-down breakfast, my favorite is Good Life Café.