It’s not that Jay Peak Resort doesn’t have lodging. It’s just never had very good lodging. But that will change in February, when the Northeast’s snowiest ski resort opens its first luxury hotel, the Tram Haus Lodge (doubles from $129; 800-451-4449). Jay may be small (just 485 acres), but it’s big on vertical (2,153 feet) and sees 377 inches of snow a year. Locals chalk it up to the “Jay Cloud,” a perceived geographical anomaly that they claim channels moisture directly onto Jay’s slopes. While it’s strange to hear skiers praying for clouds, at least now you’ll have a comfy refuge should the weather really turn nasty (jaypeakresort.com).
Used to be, whenever Cannon Mountain skiers got a craving for the backcountry, they’d hop the Taft Slalom run over to nearby Mittersill, whose tree stashes had been abandoned since the ski area closed in the ’80s. Now you can hit Mittersill legally. Earlier this year, Cannon acquired the rights to its 130-acre neighbor and will begin running a weekend and holiday shuttle between the two hills this winter. It also thinned Mittersill’s glades and brush, and set aside $3 million for a new double chair (slated for 2010–11). Trail names are TBD—which means you’ll need good old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity to find your way around (cannonmt.com).
In the ’60s and ’70s, Saddleback Maine charged as much as neighboring Sugarloaf for lift tickets. But years of neglect left the resort a tangled mess of poorly cut trails and aging lifts. Enter the Berrys. Since buying Saddleback six years ago, the family has been quietly restoring this 4,120-foot peak to its prime. They’ve increased the skiable terrain by 46 percent, put in two new high-speed quads, and will open a 44-acre glade this winter. Strangely, the hill price has hardly changed: A lift ticket costs just $49, some 35 percent less than similar Maine resorts. Of course, word is getting out. Skier visits are creeping up, and for 2009 the marketing team expanded their target area. All the way down to Boston (saddlebackmaine.com).