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Beaver Creek Gets More Ritzy

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Ten years ago, I stayed at the then-relatively-new Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, at the base of Colorado’s Beaver Creek resort. The ski lodge was a new concept for the Ritz-Carlton, and I loved everything about it: ski-in/ski-out access, a great room with a huge stone fireplace, an outdoor fire pit for roasting marshmallows. Thankfully, all of that’s still there, but last month, the hotel put the finishing touches on a big renovation. Since I was out in Colorado, I went to take a look.

The big news? A brand-new, three-meals-a-day, open-kitchen restaurant called Buffalos, which serves up its namesake in several forms, like a buffalo steak and eggs, a bison burger, and something I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did: bison tartare (washed down with a few Colorado craft beers). The hotel’s other restaurant, Spago, didn’t exist when I first visited, but since 2007, it’s been turning out Wolfgang Puck’s sensational seasonal dishes. And as I sampled his stupendous pumpkin-filled pasta, bonus—Puck himself was dining with his family a couple tables away.

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Sneak Peek: Breckenridge’s New Peak 6

It’s not every day that a ski resort massively expands out its skiable acres. Maybe it opens a new lift or on-mountain restaurant, but for a resort to increase its footprint by 20% is an enormous undertaking. Yet that’s exactly what Colorado’s Breckenridge Ski Resort is doing with its new mountain, called Peak 6, which opens on Christmas Day. And since I was out in Colorado, I stopped by Breck for a pre-opening look.

First off, the stats: Peak 6 brings 400 acres of lift-served terrain and 143 acres of hike-to terrain (skewing intermediate but pretty evenly split between intermediate and expert trails), three new bowls, eight new cut trails, and two new chairlifts. In all, it’s one of the biggest ski-area terrain expansions in North America in the past decade. And it’s on top of Breck’s existing five peaks, 2,900 acres, four terrain parks, a 22-foot superpipe, 11 bowls, and the highest chairlift in North America.

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Vail's Epic Pass Announces Global Ski Race

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Just last week, we wrote about saving big on ski passes by purchasing them early from Liftopia and Epic Pass. Now, Epic Pass has announced a new competition—fittingly dubbed the Epic Race.

The first ten people to ski all 26 resorts included in the Epic Pass will win a pass for life. That means free lift-tickets to some of the world's top ski destinations: U.S. mountains include Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge. In the French, Swiss, and Austrian Alps, passholders can enjoy the slopes at mountains such as Courchevel, Verbier, and Stuben.

Registration for the Epic Race starts November 1. Learn more here.

Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure, and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

Now is the Time to Buy Ski Passes and Save Big

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It's hard to believe, but this winter's ski season is almost upon us. Not exactly known for being an affordable passtime, skiing does offer big savings to those who plan in advance.

Know when and where you want to go? Book early through Liftopia.com and access deals that can be up to 80 to 90 percent off rates you'd find at the slopes. Simply choose your region and your dates—the site partners with over 250 resorts across North America. Acting fast helps, as the disocounts for popular destinations and weekends can sell out early.

GetSkiTickets.com offers similar savings with nearly 50 resorts in U.S. and Canada, including biggies such as Park City, Squaw Valley, and Mount Sunapee. The site sells discount lift tickets, season passes, lessons and rentals.

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TODAY Show Video: Spring Break Getaways

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It's not too late to get away this spring. We've found five travel deals within $200 a night, from a ranch in Jackson Hole to a beach resort in St. Kitts.

St. Kitts: St. Kitts Marriott Resort
Set right on Frigate Bay Beach, this resort offers plenty of ways to play and to relax. Swim in one of several pools, work out at the fitness center or spinning center, or enjoy the on-site casino. There's also a championship golf course, as well as water-sports such as snorkeling. Go to the Emerald Mist Spa for a bamboo massage and a papaya pineapple polish, and feel free to bring your kids along as well for a princess manicure. Doubles from $199/night in April.

Florida: One Ocean Resort & Spa, Jacksonville
While the 193 rooms and suites all come with full or partial ocean views with floor-to-ceiling windows, put in a special request: the balcony rooms on the hotel's east side overlook the beach, and rooms on floors 6 to 8 have the best views. You'll begin to unwind immediately thanks to the butler service that helps with unpacking your bags and so much more. The Spa at One Ocean Resort has more than 40 marine-inspired treatments, such a Seashell Massage and a rubdown designed especially for windsurfers. Head to the nearby Beaches Town Center for shops and art galleries, or go down the coast to historic St Augustine. Doubles from $179/night.

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CNN Video: Spring Break Getaways

Watch T+L's Nilou Motamed discussing spring break getaways to Puerto Rico, Jackson Hole, and Washington, D.C. on CNN.

Also, check out our Most Crowded Spring Break Destinations.

Après-ski? Après Vous: 5 Great Après-ski Traditions on the East Coast

Whiteface Lodge

Last month I reported on great après-ski traditions at resorts out West. Don't worry, East Coasters, here are four top-notch resorts closer to home, each with an après-ski scene to rival anything in the Rockies.

 
In the Adirondack region of New York, Whiteface Lodge's signature après-ski drink is the Campfire, a soothing blend of bourbon, local apple cider, scotch, and sage. Where better to enjoy a liquid Campfire than by an actual campfire? The Lodge agrees, and has built two large lean-tos around a fire pit. Cushy seating, blankets, and mountain views allow guests to relax under the stars while still enjoying the comforts of resort life. And a direct phone line to the hotel concierge means that a Campfire by the campfire need never be far away.

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NYC Restaurant Hosts Ultra-Luxurious Culinary Ski Trips to French Alps

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Sometimes we all need a little more luxury in our life. Maybe even a lot more luxury. That’s what Donna Lennard, owner of New York’s il Buco restaurant group, must have had in mind when she announced her latest culinary endeavor—a food, wine, and ski adventure at private chalets in the heart of France's Alpine resort town Courchevel. This ultra-extravagant vacation is also ultra-expensive (sticker shock: $50,000-$150,000 per chalet per week).

Why so pricey?

For starters, it's in a great location. Courchevel is part of the famed Les Trois Vallées region, which is the world's largest connected ski area and offers hundreds of miles of ski runs that connect three Alpine valleys.

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6 Great Après-Ski Traditions Around North America

Basecamp

After an invigorating day on the slopes, who doesn’t love a good après-ski drink or bite? Each of these hotels takes the tradition to a whole new level, with fun activities and tasty tipples.

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe has a “marshmologist” on hand every evening leading the Art of the S’more program. The whole family learns how to roast the perfect marshmallow, and adults can enjoy the delicious S’moretini. On the other side of Lake Tahoe, newcomer Basecamp (pictured) offers its guests plenty of beer pairing options, including beer and beef stew, as well as the extremely popular beer and croute au fromage (a hearty Swiss dish of melted cheese over toast). Yes please.

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The Alpina: New Luxury Ski Resort Opens in Gstaad, Switzerland

Alpina Gstaad

The jet-setting ski-crowd has been flocking to Gstaad, Switzerland for decades, but it’s been a century since a proper grand hotel entered the scene. (The early 20th century saw the openings of the Grand Hotel Park in 1910, the Grand Hotel Bellevue in 1912, and the Gstaad Palace in 1913.) Enter the brand new luxury resort, Alpina Gstaad, which opened its doors last month.

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