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When you think of skiing close to Mont Blanc, France’s Chamonix will probably come to mind first of all, but if you have a case of been-there-done-that, there is a new hotel to check out this season in the Italian town of La Thuile, which will still give you the proximity to Il Bianco, or “the White One” as the mountain is called.
And if it’s new experiences you are looking for, Nira Montana, as it’s called, fits the bill in other ways too: you may not have yet had a chance to stay at a Nira Hotel, a small group with only a few properties, disparately encompassing Nira Alpina (in the Swiss ski resort of St. Moritz), Shanti Maurice (a beach resort on Mauritius), and Nira Caledonia (a city hotel in Edinburgh, of all places).
If a ski trip is on your wish list this holiday season, these resorts have got you covered...maybe not with the powder you're hoping for since that's up to the weather gods, but they have amped up their offerings for the 2014-2015 ski season.
The Lodge at Vail: Half of this resort underwent a renovation in 2008 but now, the rest of The Lodge has gotten an upgrade including the guests rooms which now feature light-colored walls and "soft alpine tones." But we're most interested in the tech upgrades which includes headboards equipped with power outlets, USB ports and old-fashioned reading lights. The large TVs are also compatible with Apple and Samsung products for future smart TV options. The Lodge is offering a variety of specials with rates up to 25 percent off, so long as you book before certain dates.
Limelight Hotel in Aspen: This Downtown Aspen hotel has put all new carpets, drapery and furniture into its 126 guest rooms. The hotel is also offering three new on-mountain adventures, ranging from a pricey powder tour that gives guests a guided tour of the mountains on a snow cat and 10-15 untracked powder runs to a behind-the-scenes tour with Aspen Mountain Ski Patrol. Rates at The Limelight start at $495 a night during the weekend in January but you can save on that rate, if you stay longer.
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A suite at Westin Changbaishan...or is it the Sheraton?*
Apparently skiing is becoming a big thing in China. We got sent a report explaining that the number of skiers per year has actually risen from a meager 200,000 in 2000 to well over 5 million in 2005. Meaning the ski trend in China right now may be about as hot as the sheep hotel thing going on in Japan.
So it kind of makes sense that, for its first-ever dual-branded resort, Starwood has chosen to open up a giant ski resort complex in the Changbai Mountains that will house both a Sheraton and a Westin hotel. The Changbaishan resort will have a total of 553 rooms (split pretty much evenly between both hotels), and both properties will open their doors in August. Ready to book a trip? Our question is: how do you plan on deciding which one to stay at?
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While it's possible to find passable skiing conditions any time of year, depending on location, it's winter time that ski aficionados spend the year anticipating with zeal. Europe, with its bounty of snowy climes, is home to some of the world's best and most exclusive ski chalets—locations that provide near perfect powdery conditions for "woosh-wooshing" downhill.
We've sussed out some of the continent's most luxurious ski hotels for this feature; they're places you can kick back with spiked hot cocoa if you so choose, yet still get you up close and personal with slopeside action. Take note, Jonny Moseley-types.
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It may be hard to think about planning a ski vacation now when we've still got to get through Festivus, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year's Eve but just in case someone gifts you with a snowboard or a new pair of ski goggles, we thought it best to compile a quick list of Ski Hotels to consider for the 2011 ski season.
Now, this isn't the end-all, be-all list of Ski Hotels for the season. We'll be highlighting more and more all over the world as we head into January. But for now, we picked these ones because they they are very new to the slopes (some just opened last week!) and also because they have that all-important ski-in, ski-out access.
1. MONTAGE DEER VALLEY: This luxury hotel in Park City just opened last week at the Deer Valley Ski Resort and while the joint is sold-out in January during the Sundance Festival, it's still open for powder-seeking missions in February.
Getting to the Slopes: The Montage is located directly adjacent to three of Deer Valley's high-speed chairlifts and also has a 7,000 sq. ft. Compass Sports shop and complimentary ski valet service.
Respite from the Slopes: Standard rooms start at a generous 600sq.ft. with separate sitting areas, gas fireplaces, 42" LCD TVs, private balconies or patios, deep soaking tubs in the bath and heated floors. Once you step off the slopes you can step into the Spa Montage which features 35,000sq.ft. of treatment rooms, a 25-meter spa lap pool, a trio of hot tubs and indoor/outdoor pools.
Socializing after the Slopes: The hotel also has two restaurants on-site (upscale dining but in a casual atmosphere), a Buzz coffee shop and the Daly's Pub and Rec, a modern gastro pub which is where we imagine we'd spend most of our time.
Room Rates: A hefty $675 a night for a standard room but look for special packages like the Montage Memories rate that includes valet parking and daily breakfast.
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Well it's a Montage Hotel, did you really expect lower room rates?
The Montage Deer Valley has stayed true to its December 2010 opening date and in hitting up the hotel's website today we see that the luxury ski resort in Park City will open on December 15 with rooms starting at $675 a night for a Resort king or two queens.
Prices go up from there but only the view changes as all of the standard rooms start at a generous 600sq.ft. with separate sitting areas, gas fireplaces, deep soaking tubs in the bath and heated floors. A Vista room gives you views of the resort grounds and mountains for $755 a night while the Peak rooms give you panoramic views of the ski slope or valleys for $835 a night.
But once you enter the suite category, that's when the rooms jump to a whopping 1,050-1,200sq.ft. with living and dining areas, fireplaces and 1.75 baths. Those start at $995 a night on December 15.
It only opened in December, but earlier this week things looked dicey for the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe. On Tuesday, news outlets including The Sacramento Bee reported that the hotel had gone into default. Apparently the property itself did not go into bankruptcy, however its developer "put nearly $1 billion worth of Northstar real estate development into bankruptcy reorganization."
This doesn't mean the new Ritz-Carlton had a bad ski season, though. Spokesperson Steven Holt said, "We've had an amazing winter." But can strong business save the ski resort from bigger-picture real-estate woes?
It’s -9ºF in Lake Tahoe today. But that didn’t stop folks from coming out to celebrate the opening of the new Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Late Tahoe. The area received over 30 inches of snow at the summit in the 48 hours leading up to the resort’s debut. Which makes us wonder: Is there anything the R-C and their concierges cannot do? (Maybe the Ritz-Carlton in NYC could do something about this rain?)
The Ritz-Carlton Highlands was five years in the making, and offers the all-important ski-in, ski-out experience for all those CEOs with too much time on their hands. (On the upside, the construction created over 350 jobs in Northern California this year. Yay, employment!)
You may be feeling impoverished at the moment, but the ski season is about to start and the Alps don’t do poor, darlings. Neither do the people who ski there – which is why ulra-lux chalet company CK Verbier is opening a fourth chalet for the 2009 season.
We say “chalet” but Sagittaire is more like a private hotel – for a start, it sleeps 31, and it’s split into three apartments with a pool, spa and gym to share between them.
Each chalet comes equipped with a 24-hour chauffeur, host and personal chef, as well as access to the CK Verbier wine cellar, which, they reckon, is “one of the finest private wine collections in the Alps”. Seeing as the lowly house bubbly is Krug (you get a bottle on arrival to start you off), we’re thinking their booze standards are pretty high.
Date for your diaries: December. Les Airelles in Courchevel has just been given five star status by FAGIHT, the Federation Autonome Generale de l’industrie Hoteliere Touristique (which, for those of us who don’t speak French, is an association of seasonal-opening hotels).
Les Airelles is one of six Courchevel gaffes on the FAGIHT’s books (there are 11 across the country) to be awarded five stars. And it’s not that surprising; it’s coming to the end of a three year, €35 million revamp, which will be unveiled when it opens for the season in December.
Rooms and suites have been refurbished, there’s a Valentino boutique, a 7000 square foot "spa and snow cave" (for between saunas), and a huge playroom for children. Best of all, though, is the 5900 square foot apartment on the top floor: it will have four bedrooms, a private movie theatre and spa, and a jacuzzi that fits eight on its 1600 square foot terrace. Sod the snow cave, we’ll be in the hot tub.
We’ll admit we’ve never totally gotten behind the whole “Christmas in July” concept, but we may have to change our tune. Our newfound festive spirit comes courtesy of Vail Valley’s new Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, whose Christmas in July promo offers half-price rates for November and December stays that are booked this month.
Perched at the base of Beaver Creek, the typically-pricey Westin Riverfront’s half-off prices are pretty good for ski season, starting at $149 for studio suites, $219 for one-bedroom condos, $329 for two-bedroom condos, and $549 for three-bedroom condos. All options feature fireplaces, living areas, and fully stocked kitchens. Rates must be booked by the end of July and are available for visits between Nov. 20 and Dec. 25, 2009.
The confusingly named Rusty Parrot Lodge & Spa (Who ever heard of a lodge being named for a tropical bird? In Wyoming?) is welcoming the new Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Tram, an engineering feet years in the making:
Two years in construction, the new tram is one of the most expensive and technically challenging aerial trams in the U.S. Twice the size of the original, the new tram will carry 100 passengers and cover 4,139 vertical feet--the longest continual vertical rise for a ski lift in North America--in nine minutes to the crest of the Tetons where untracked powder awaits.
Right then. A ten-minute ride scaling a mountain so that you can plummit down it. Those of us with a fear of heights probably won't be skiing. But those of you who get excited about this sort of thing will want to hit up the Rusty Parrot because, get this, they are giving you free ski rental. FREE!