As the fall air transforms into an awakening winter breeze, luxury travelers start thinking of many winter past times.
Skiing, snowshoeing, hot cocoa in the lodge — certainly a massage is also in order.
And of course, you must look good doing it all.
A luxury ski vacation requires so much more than a pair of skis and a fancy SUV to take you up the mountain.
Here at Estates & Wedding Events we want to provide you with the Ultimate Guide to Luxury Ski Vacations.
Here’s a quick breakdown on how this guide will work:
• The Top 7 Ski Destinations
• Must-Have Ski Accessories for 2013
• Tipping 101: What’s Appropriate on the Mountain?
• Testimonials & Stories
Let’s get started...
The Top 7 Ski Destinations
You have plenty of amazing global options when it comes to choosing the locale of your next ski getaway.
Here are our 10 favorites to help make the decision-making process a bit easier.
1) Vail & Beaver Creek — Colorado
When you think of skiing, Colorado has to be at the top of your list (and trust me, this won’t be the only Colorado destination mentioned here!).
Located two hours west of Denver in the Rocky Mountains, Vail and Beaver Creek offer classic elegance with modern amenities.
Both locations (they’re located about 15 minutes apart, but both offer shuttles that go back and forth throughout the day) have impressive ski lifts that are easy to reach from wherever you’re staying inside the respective village.
Vail, which recently celebrated its 50th birthday, has the stunning Arrabelle luxury resort, which literally surrounds Vail Village.
If you decide to stay in Beaver Creek, you can’t go wrong with the Ritz Carlton.
2) Lake Tahoe — California
Site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games, Northstar and Squaw Valley in beautiful Lake Tahoe is a skier and snowboarder’s paradise.
And if you’re looking for an amazing workout, try snowshoeing the many trails that weave in and out of the resorts.
When it comes to destinations, again, you can’t go wrong with the Ritz Carlton, but you might be intrigued to try out the Tahoe Mountain Club.
This rustic lodge offers plenty of options for children and a spa that is to die-for.
3) Telluride — Colorado
Driving into Telluride is like teleporting into an old Western town.
Located in the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is rich with old Western history — especially when it comes to the mining industry.
The small-town feel offers plenty of luxurious amenities and some of the world’s best skiing.
And if you’re a cross-country skier, you’re in luck.
Telluride’s backcountry is a never-ending landscape of adventure.
Make sure to book a room at the Lumiére Telluride, the luxury hotel of this Colorado town.
This boutique hotel only has 11 rooms and 18 one- to four-bedroom residences — perfect for a family gathering.
4) Whistler — British Columbia, Canada
Here’s another location where serious skiers and snowboarders can explore for a weeklong vacation.
The slopes appear to go on forever in Whistler, but the real adventure-seeker will want to mark off heli-skiing off their bucket list, as several companies in the area offer the heart-pounding adventure.
Where should you stay?
Look no further than the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
This resort offers ski-in/ski-out, the world’s greatest room service and if you’re in the mood to get married, there’s a lovely wedding chapel, too.
5) Stowe — Vermont
The valley between Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains is where you’ll find this gem of a destination.
Skiing on Stowe Mountain is a must, but no trip to Vermont is complete without a carriage ride through downtown and then onto some of the scenic trails.
6) Deer Valley, Utah
Located north of its rival Rocky Mountains is Flagstaff Mountain — the home of Deer Valley Resort — in Utah.
Forget skiing for just a moment and check out the Montage Deer Valley.
The Montage offers world-class amenities, including one of the best spas in the west, according to Condé Nast Traveler.
From the Montage’s website, the comfortable and relaxing, 600-square-foot rooms “offer rich estate-quality furnishings, commissioned artwork, comfortable sitting areas and gas fireplaces.”
7) Jackson Hole, Wyoming
You may not think that seasoned travelers have Wyoming on their “must-visit” lists, but Jackson Hole is a diamond in the rough.
As previously mentioned here at Estates & Wedding Events, Jackson Hole is a beautiful spring and summer getaway, but come winter, it’s simply amazing.
Ski in the morning, shop in the afternoon, eat at exquisite restaurants, schedule a massage for the next morning and repeat.
Before you ski down the mountain, take in the view from the gondola that appears to be making its way up the heavens.
On your way down, hang on.
Many of the slopes here are suitable for beginners.
Must-Have Ski Accessories for 2013
Did Santa bring you everything you asked for this Christmas?
If not, don’t worry; there are plenty of must-have ski accessories for the New Year.
We’ll break this list down from the “stocking-stuffer” category to the “true luxury traveler” category.
Stocking-Stuffer Ski Accessories
This category features accessories $20 or less.
A great ski accessory is a practical accessory.
Buff Headwear certainly qualifies under this notion.
At first glance, this $20 bandana looks just like that: A big bandana.
Upon further review, its functionality is astounding.
Wrap around your head anyway you desire.
It makes a great headband, full-face cover, scarf, pirate costume — you name it!
But after a run or two down the slopes, you’ll appreciate what it can really be used for:
A goggle wipe!
Wipe away the snow and slush and get ready for another trip down the mountain.
You’re bound to hit the slopes one day this ski season after a heavy snow.
Lots of powder that you can easily lose your poles in if you’re not careful.
That’s where Powder Baskets come into play.
These plastic, $7 ski pole accessories, simply slide onto your pole and hold in place, creating an extra barrier to prevent your poles from going too deep into the powder.
They’re little and cheap, but they are effective.
Make sure you bring a pole with you the next time you’re out looking for some powder baskets.
They won’t fit all poles, so you’ll need to do some work.
Luxury Travel Ski Accessories
This category features accessories a bit more on the pricier side.
Abs Vario Base Unit
A skier’s worst nightmare is an avalanche.
The Abs Vario Base Unit takes you out of that nightmare in a hurry.
The German-engineered and designed technology features twin air bags that inflate with a volume of 170 liters almost instantly when trouble is near.
All you do is a give a quick tug and you’ll be huge.
For almost $1,000, this might seem expensive, but if you’re a thrill-seeking skier, you never want to take any chances.
You get twin airbags for life from the company and an extensive emergency kit.
GoPro HD Hero2
Go Pro is the go-to (no pun intended) gadget for skiers who want to preserve their adventures in high definition.
What makes this $300 video camera so special is its ability to latch on to practically anything.
A popular choice is the helmet, giving your video the best possible first-person-point-of-view experience.
LifeProof iPhone Armband
Back in the day, skiers didn’t have to worry about bringing anything but their skis, poles and some warm winter gear with them up the mountain.
Today, you have your camera (and video camera) and smartphone.
And as pointed out on this blog, the iPhone tends to be the smartphone of choice for many people.
The LifeProof iPhone armband ($50) secures your iPhone and keeps it positioned when doing pretty much anything — including ski jumps — on the mountain.
The best part is that all of the buttons are accessible and easy to reach.
You can mount your iPhone face-in or face-out, with no worries about the display becoming scratched.
Throw on a pair of Bluetooth headphones and you’ll be set for the day.
Tipping 101: What’s Appropriate on the Mountain?
Going out to eat is easy: 20 percent for good service and 15 percent for so-so service.
Many restaurants even write out the tip for you.
But what about our Ski Butlers?
What about the people that are taking your bags and skis when you walk into the resort?
Throw in all of these people and the little service perks you receive along the way, and tipping becomes a bit more complicated.
Here are some general rules of thumb when it comes to tipping on your next luxury ski vacation:
1) Carry plenty of $1 and $5 bills.
You don’t want to get caught with a wallet filled with $20s and $50s when a bellhop moves your bag from the lobby to your car.
That’s way too much.
2) Be aware of consistent service.
There will be some concierge people at the resort whom you’ll have daily interactions with.
A valet man, maybe a waitress.
Tip these people a couple of dollars each day — no more than $3.
At the end of your trip, if they’ve treated you well, give them $20-$30 to show your appreciation.
3) 20% for spa treatments.
Spa treatments are tricky — you’re already paying a lot of money for services, but 20 percent is standard for what is expected, in terms of tipping.
4) Doormen: Be cautious.
A doorman in the mountains isn’t like a doorman in New York City.
The doorman at the luxury ski resort is the arranger typically, not the doer.
He will call the valet driver, make your reservations, or have a rental car arranged.
This service is commendable, but no more than $5.
5) Bellman earn per bag.
If you’re on a luxury ski getaway, a bellman can earn some great tips, but he has a lot of work.
Typically, you’ll have three to five bags per person for a weeklong ski vacation.
This means 12 to 20 bags with a family of four.
If the bellman is bringing all those bags from the lobby to your room, you should give him $2 per bag, which means upwards to $40.
Simply shake his hand and hand him the tip once he’s done.
6) When do I tip the concierge?
The concierge in a ski resort can be a huge help.
From making reservations to finding some great entertainment for the night, your trip can be significantly better thanks to him or her.
But for the most part, you only talk to this person on the phone, and rarely in person.
If your concierge has done a suitable job for you throughout the week of your ski vacation, write a small note, and put it in an envelope with $30 to $50, depending on the level of service.
8) Front desk staff should rarely receive a tip
Because they’re paid more than the service-friendly occupations.
However, if they go out of their way, make a smart decision and reward appropriately.
Stories and Testimonials
Here’s a quick roundup of news stories from around the Web that can help you plan and find the next best luxury ski vacation.
A roundup of great places and trends for the New Year.
Get the year off on a good foot by winning a shopping spree to Ibex Outdoor Clothing, the official wool-clothing supplier of Telluride Ski Resort.
A roundup of activities to get you outside of the home during the holidays.
These gadgets will make your next ski trip extra-enjoyable.
During the holidays, we can easily put on a lot of calories.
Here are four ways to burn them off today.