There may still be snow at the summit of Aspen Mountain, but down below on the patio of The Little Nell resort, the crowd enjoying après-hiking, après-shopping, and après-festival cocktails has swapped down jackets and ski goggles for shorts and sundresses.
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Aspen’s most luxurious resort draws guests seeking five-star service and see-and-be-seen ambience whatever the season. Not surprisingly, The Little Nell was one of six properties in Colorado to make it into America’s best mountain resorts, a list of 20 hotels in the Rockies, Tetons, Adirondacks, and beyond, culled from our reader-selected World’s Best Awards Survey. From hip to historic, romantic to kid-friendly, these properties all provide a literal breath of fresh air, dramatic views, and a convenient base for getting an adrenaline fix.
Yosemite National Park plays host to one of these great mountain resorts, the Ahwahnee, set amid towering cliffs and waterfalls. It’s easy to set out from here to the trailheads for El Capitan and Half Dome, but it can be tempting just to linger at this recently renovated landmark that blends Art Deco and Native American influences—especially when there’s a view of Half Dome right from your window.
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While the western mountains go for high drama, the Great Smoky Mountains are hazy and undulating, known for folk art, bluegrass music, and 20-year-old bourbon. Set on 4,200 acres, Blackberry Farm’s 51 Anglo-American rooms are spread throughout the main house, three guesthouses, and 20 cottages. The best place to hang out is on one of the rocking chairs positioned on the front lawn for the biggest local attraction: sundown over the Smokies.
Then there are the mountain resorts that families return to year after year for their cozy, casual vibe and roster of activities. At Mirror Lake Inn Resort and Spa in Lake Placid, NY, our readers’ No. 9 choice, you can start your day with a morning canoe ride and then test your mettle on the only bobsled, luge, and skeleton track east of the Rockies, at the nearby Lake Placid Olympic site.
Want to know which mountain resort was voted No. 1? Read on for all the winners. —Donna Heiderstadt