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5 High-Speed Ski Lifts to Check Out This Season

ski lift

These new high-speed chairlifts shave minutes off those mountain rides—which means more time going down than up.

Resort: Mount Snow, Vermont
New Lift: Bluebird Express
Vertical Feet: 1,608
Duration: 7 minutes
Time Savings: 7 minutes

Resort: Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel, Austria
New Lift: Resterhöhe
Vertical Feet: 1,657
Duration: 5:45 minutes
Time Savings: 8 minutes

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Winter 2012 Ski Resort News

Campiglio Val Rendena Val di Sole ski trail

The 2011–12 season ushers in major improvements at these ski resorts.

Northstar California Resort, California
The News: Thanks to a $30 million investment, the mountain welcomes additional trails, a high-speed quad lift, a new 500-seat on-mountain restaurant—plus a 22-foot halfpipe designed by Shaun White. 5001 Northstar Dr., Truckee; 800/466-6784; one-day pass from $85.

Big Sky, Montana
The News: The remodeled, slopeside Solace Spa & Salon expands its treatment rooms and salon services, and Andesite Mountain adds 20-plus gladed acres. 1 Lone Mountain Trail, Big Sky; 800/548-4486; one-day pass $84.

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Best Mountain-Top Meals

Tamarack Lodge

A handful of on-mountain restaurants are reinventing the cafeteria concept.

Heavenly, California: Tamarack Lodge
Peak Pick: Seared peppercorn-encrusted ahi sandwich and house-made peach cobbler.
Getting There: California Trail, a blue run offering views of Lake Tahoe from 3,000 feet up.
Top of the gondola; 775/586-7000; lunch for two $32–$40.

Niseko Village, Japan: Goshiki
Peak Pick: Hokkaido-crab miso soup and local lily bulb tempura.
Getting There: Misoshiru (which means miso soup), a black diamond featuring Niseko’s signature powder.
The Green Leaf; 81-136/443-311; lunch for two $52.

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A Global Guide to Après Ski

Vosges hot chocolate at St. Regis Aspen Resort

Sip on Haute Chocolate: St. Regis Aspen Resort
Looking for something sophisticated to do post skiing? The latest offering at this newly redesigned resort is just your cup of tea, er, hot cocoa. The program features a flight of three kinds of hot chocolate, created by Vosges Haut-Chocolat exclusively for the resort (Australia lemon myrtle, lavender flowers, vanilla and white chocolate, anyone?)—plus gourmet grilled-cheese finger sandwiches. For those who still want a little booze après ski, go for the Spiked Flight.

Head to the “Beach”: Ski Beach at Canyons Resort in Park City, UT
This mountain hot spot—located between the base terminal of the new direct-connect gondola and the “Orange Bubble” enclosed heated-seat chair lift—comes complete with beach chairs, lifeguard stands, and fruity drinks (courtesy of The Farm restaurant). Sure, there’s no ocean, but if you use your imagination, that snow will start looking like sand in no time.

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T+L Trip of the Month: Big Sky Montana and Yellowstone National Park

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Don't miss Travel + Leisure’s December Trip of the Month, Big Sky Montana and Yellowstone National Park. In association with Travel + Leisure Elite Traveler, our travel club for deals on hotels, cruises, and more, the Trip of the Month offers T+L readers exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries from the world’s top tour operators.

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Vacationist Hotel Deals: Reasons to Book Now for Ski Season – Lake Tahoe + Vail

201111-b-sonnenalpjpgWant to save on your 2012 ski trip? Now’s the time to book your hotels. After Thanksgiving, rates can skyrocket, especially for experiences in some of the country’s best ski destinations, including Vail and Squaw Valley. “Consider Colorado, which had an awesome ski season last year thanks to La Niña.” A-List travel agent Michelle Bemis agrees that travelers should book now, “Airfares will definitely increase as the holiday season approaches,” she says. Get ready: Winter’s just around the corner.

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Snow? No. Discounted Lift Tickets? Yes.

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Like migrating birds and manufacturers of snow tires, skiers start planning for winter long before snow falls (or even, in my husband’s case, well before temperatures have dropped below 80°).

Liftopia, an online source for discounted lift tickets, has been around since 2006 but now represents more than 150 ski resorts.  A visit to their newly revamped site can transform the fall fantasies into actual slope time.  At resorts from Arapahoe Basin to Zermatt, you’ll find discounted lift tickets as well as deals on equipment rentals, lessons, and multi-day passes.

While many of the available discounts are as thrilling as waking up to fresh powder (e.g., up to 40% off at Snowbird, 23% off Sun Valley, 32% off Whiteface), the lift tickets in Liftopia's inventory are date-specific and sell out quickly.   So snag some now before the deals melt away.

Ann Shields is a senior digital editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Lodge.

Vail Resorts Gets Even More Epic

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Bringing social media to the skiing experience is just one of the ways Vail Resorts has stayed ahead of the curve. And they did it in dramatic fashion, with EpicMix, their app that tracks vertical feet and awards digital pins based on RF-enabled ski passes. Up to now, though, the all-important photography aspect has been missing from EpicMix. No longer.

Sure, you can snap smartphone pics, upload them to your account, and share them on Facebook and Twitter. But Vail Resorts has given the photo experience a couple unique twists.

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Last-Chance Spring Skiing

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I know most people in the U.S. are head over heels for spring right now, breaking out the shorts, the bikes, even thinking about the bathing suit. But I can’t quite let go of ski season. It was a record one this year and, of course, I wish I had gotten out on my board just a few more times. If, like me, you are holding on to the dream of just one more outing into the white stuff, there are a few places where you can make it come true.

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World's First Ski In-Ski Out Distillery

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The sun crouches behind the snow-capped peaks as I prop my snowboard against a wall and step into the world’s only ski-in/ski-out gastro distillery. After an epic powder day, a bevy of snow shredders trickle in for après ski cocktails in what has to be the most unlikely destination for a whiskey brew shop on earth. Utah. Despite it’s rigid alcohol laws, bartenders were muddling mint leaves for mojitos laced with a Utah-distilled, award-winning whiskey. As Julian Rubinstein notes in Travel + Leisure’s January issue, Park City is a town in transition.

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