America's Best Mountain Resorts
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
Triple Creek Ranch, Darby, MT
This adults-only mountain retreat on thousands of acres sets a romantic mood by outfitting its 30 log cabins with wood-burning fireplaces and hot tubs. You can take a free birding and nature tour in the Bitterroot Valley to look for peregrine falcons, hawks, and eagles as well as elk, moose, and possibly even a bear or wolf.
Four Seasons Resort, Jackson Hole, WY
A ski-in, ski-out lodge at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain that offers year-round active adventures (from rafting to geocaching). Premium Rooms, on the fifth to eighth floors, have the added draw of mountain views from a furnished terrace and a living area with gas fireplace.
Sonnenalp Resort of Vail, CO
Most of the rooms and suites at this Bavarian-style lodge have fireplaces, handmade furniture, and heated floors in the marble bathrooms, and all have views of the mountain or Gore Creek. Fuel up for a day out skiing or hiking at the hotel’s impressive breakfast buffet, and don’t miss the Bavarian Benedict, served by special request from the lederhosen-wearing staff.
Little Nell, Aspen, CO
Aspen’s only ski-in, ski-out property has adventure specialists who can arrange activities like trout fishing at limited-access spots and 92 revamped rooms by designer Holly Hunt. Premium mountain-view rooms average 660 square feet and face Aspen Mountain; those on the fourth floor have vaulted ceilings. As cozy-chic as the rooms are, you may prefer being seen at the glamorous bar, sipping a signature Montagna Martini.
Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN
Blackberry is like a south of the Mason-Dixon Line edition of a Currier & Ives print: ribbons of white fences, a pond stocked with catfish, and houses constructed from Tennessee fieldstone. Set on 4,200 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains, Blackberry’s 51 rooms are done in a plush Anglo-American idiom. Hill Cottages have vaulted ceilings, indoor-outdoor fireplaces, and screened-in patios, and rockers are positioned on the front lawn for sundown over the Smokies.
Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, NY
A rustic, all-suite lodge outfitted with white-pine beams and cast-iron fireplaces, abutting the six-million-acre Adirondack Park. Rooms have full kitchens and private patios; some overlook Whiteface Mountain itself, others face McKenzie Range and the year-round outdoor pool. In winter, you can take advantage of complimentary snowshoes for exploring the property’s trails.
Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, UT
This comfy-luxe Norwegian-style chalet halfway up a peak at Deer Valley ski resort evokes holidays from a century ago. If you arrive in winter, valets will unload your skis from your car and free guides will show you around the mountain. The lodge is equally charming in the summer, when concerts are held at the outdoor amphitheater.
Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC
West-facing rooms offer the best mountain views from this mansion on 8,000 acres that showcase the Biltmore House, George Vanderbilt’s 1895 château surrounded by Frederick Law Olmsted–designed gardens. Rent bikes to take advantage of the Biltmore’s 22 miles of trails—or head further afield to explore the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa, Adirondacks, NY
Families return year after year to this 131-room lakefront complex in the Adirondack Mountains, drawn by the casual vibe and roster of activities. Book the Cloud Splitter Rooms for great rates and top-notch views.
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch,Beaver Creek, CO
With a giant lodgepole-and-timber cabin in traditional National Park–lodge style, the Ritz-Carlton is Beaver Creek’s answer to convenience and luxury. It dominates the base of Bachelor Gulch Mountain, creating a postcard-pretty image as skiers schuss down the Cabin Fever trail to it. The 180 guest rooms have a rustic look, while the marble bathrooms all have soaking tubs. Pick a resort-view room ending in -01 or -10 for a terrace or a window seat and great views of the Eagle River Valley.
Topnotch at Stowe Resort & Spa, Stowe, VT
As the first full resort to open in Stowe, Topnotch was able to claim a prime location at the bottom of Vermont’s tallest peak, enclosed by maples and pines. The après-ski gets as much attention as the actual schussing here—a hot-stone massage in the 30,000-square-foot megaspa is most welcome after a day on the slopes. In the summer or in leaf-peeping season, you can hike the hillside trails and shop for cheese and crafts in the white-steepled town.
St. Regis, Aspen, CO
A 179-room brick hotel between Aspen Mountain’s two main ski lifts whose two-story loft suites with fireplaces, living rooms, and lofted bedrooms cater to families and groups. A jazz band performs every Friday and Saturday at the Shadow Mountain Lounge, and the Remède Spa has treatments that will ease any adjustment to the 8,200-foot altitude.
Alyeska Resort, Girdwood, AK
This 301-room château-style hotel occupies an enviable location 40 miles south of Anchorage in the Chugach Mountains of Alaska’s south-central coast. It’s just below a ski mountain with steep terrain and deep snowpack and, in 2012, a revamped high-speed lift.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort& Spa, Beaver Creek, CO
This 197-room, native-stone-and-timber Park Hyatt at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain (just 200 feet from ski school) caters to families while still pulling off a luxurious experience. Wander past the lobby’s elk-horn chandelier to rooms with oversize beds and baths featuring products from the hotel’s Allegria Spa. Families should opt for the 13 double rooms that connect to king rooms; all overlook the slopes.
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa, Vail, CO
Right outside downtown Vail, this resort’s deck looks onto an infinity pool, outdoor fire pits are surrounded by rocking chairs, and all spaces treat guests to views of the mountain and Gore Creek. Then there are the alfresco candlelit dinners, and pampering treatments such as high-altitude hydrating massages available at the Aria spa.
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, VT
This Austrian-style chalet on 2,400 acres in the mountains above Stowe village is one of Vermont’s top ski centers. The second-floor premier rooms in the newer Millennium wing can be interconnected, making them ideal for families. And the three-mile, 800-foot vertical ski to the Slayton Pasture Cabin is worth it; those who make the trek are rewarded with homemade soup, house-baked bread, and hot chocolate served fireside.
Jenny Lake Lodge, Jackson/Grand Teton, WY
The Water Lily cabin has a bedroom, a parlor, a wood-burning stove, and a jetted tub. It’s just one of the log cabins clustered at the base of the Tetons. You can learn about the surrounding area thanks to National Park guides who host evening natural history talks and outings.
Beaver Creek Lodge, Beaver Creek, CO
A contemporary chalet, connected to the slopes via escalator, the lodge offers a chic home-away-from-home vibe: each room has a sofa, fireplace, and kitchenette. Book a creek-side suite for the view overlooking Beaver Creek. Spend some time perusing the western artwork at the Grand Bohemian Art Gallery, one of the area’s best.
The Ahwahnee, Yosemite, CA
This 1927 historic landmark in Yosemite Valley is surrounded by forest, waterfalls, and towering cliffs and near the trailheads to El Capitan and Half Dome. The property underwent a renovation in 2010 that gave interiors an English country-house vibe: hand-loomed fabrics, stenciled walls, and hundred-year-old rugs. iPod docking stations and flat-screen TVs provide 21st-century comforts—not that they hold a candle to that view of Half Dome out your window.
Salish Lodge & Spa, Snoqualmie, WA
This contemporary chalet overlooks Snoqualmie Falls in the Cascade Mountain foothills, with a stellar selection of wilderness offerings, from guided bike rides to kayaking. You can also enjoy happy hour at The Attic, which overlooks the falls, with a Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company microbrew.