Snowmass has always offered a quiet reprieve from the hustle and bustle of downtown Aspen. Which is a nice way of saying that, other than skiing, there’s absolutely nothing to do here. Or there wasn’t. Last season the resort completed a $1 billion renovation of its tiered base village, bringing in new restaurants and bars like Junk and Sneaky’s Tavern. And this winter marks the opening of Snowmass’s first ski mountain hotel from luxury chain Viceroy (doubles from $370; viceroysnowmass.com). The LEED-silver-certified, 173-room retreat rides the line between luxe and eco-friendly, with interiors that blend reclaimed locally sourced wood with embossed crystal. Of course, since these amenities lie 3,000 vertical feet below Snowmass’s marquee Hanging Valley Wall—a collection of rocky chutes loaded with deep, light snow—their impact on the ski experience itself is minimal (
Across the Rocky Mountains, wannabe ski pros like to boast about the tallest cliffs they’ve hucked and the steepest slopes they’ve run. Unless they come from Sun Valley. Here in America’s first destination ski resort, braggarts still obsess over the holiest of old-school grails: vertical. “Sun Valley remains the best place in the world to rack up vertical and get your legs tired,” says Reggie Crist, a former Olympian and longtime resident. And starting this winter, the vert chase gets easier when the resort launches its first ever gondola. The Roundhouse will whisk skiers 2,000 vertical feet up Bald Mountain to its namesake restaurant, sparing them a windy, two-chair ride. Also on tap: a new 58,000-square-foot golf and Nordic center with 25 miles of cross-country track for those of us who don’t mind a little horizontal too (sunvalley.com).
Great skiing, tough liquor laws—for years, Utah has been fighting this seemingly irreconcilable dichotomy. But in 2008, legislators began to loosen the rules (sayonara, sidecars!), and now comes the state’s first legal distillery since 1870. Best of all: It’s reachable by ski. Access High West Distillery and Saloon’s bar and tapas restaurant (it’s the old converted livery building, skier’s right) via the Quittin’ Time run in Park City Mountain Resort, where you can drink small-batch whiskey that comes straight from cask to table (highwest.com). The bourbon’s no joke—owner Dave Perkins studied with master distillers in Kentucky—and the Swiss-trained chef pairs fondue and raclette dishes with guests’ choices of whiskey or vodka. Now if they could just do something about those shot meters (parkcityinfo.com).