Cozy Nostalgic or Cutting-Edge Modern? What’s Your Ski Resort Style

By David ArkinNovember 21, 2023No Comments

Cozy Nostalgic or Cutting-Edge Modern? What’s Your Ski Resort Style

By Shilo Urban
Photo courtesy of Aspen Skiing Company

Whether you love the striking natural scenery, the feeling of flying down the slopes or the après-ski diversions after a day of thrills, a ski trip is an inspiring winter vacation. Ski resorts come in all shapes and sizes, from mountain gems full of vintage charm to modern snow meccas with next-level perks. Discover the getaway that fits your style and make your escape this season.


Uncrowded and unpretentious, these throwback ski resorts value friendliness over flair. Mellow moods, pro-family policies and local character(s) bring fans back year after year — and remind us what the mountains are really all about. You won’t find private butlers and designer chalets, but you will have easy parking and untracked turns. If you want to avoid the commercialized ski industry at a hassle-free resort, these old-school havens harken to a bygone era when it was all about the snow.

Alta Ski Area – Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Located in one of the snowiest spots on the planet, Alta is blessed with 540-plus inches of powder on average every season. But it’s not just the quantity, it’s the quality: super light, deep and fluffy snow that makes it feel like your skis are floating. And skis are what it’s all about — no snowboards are allowed. Opened in 1938, the privately owned resort retains its fiercely independent spirit. Five on-mountain hotels provide ski-in/ski-out access; the European style Alta Peruvian keeps it real with communal dining and the historic Alta Lodge overflows with retro-fantastic charisma. Cap off your night at the Sitzmark Club, an intimate lounge with a wood burning fireplace and sunken bar. alta.com 

Vibe: Old-world cozy 

Best for: Traditionalists and soul seekers

Sunlight Mountain – Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Untracked runs and zero lift lines await you at this Rocky Mountain jewel. Sunlight shares the White River National Forest with its glitzy neighbor Aspen — for a fraction of the price. Along with a welcoming, down-to-earth ambiance, you’ll encounter gentle beginner hills as well as the steepest lift-accessible terrain in Colorado (a 52-degree drop). Keeping track of your friends and fam is a breeze because all 72 trails lead back to the same simple base lodge with a cafeteria, bar and boot warmers. Still cold? Soak in two geothermal springs in the town of Glenwood Springs, a popular jumping-off point for skiers and boarders. Several hotels here and in nearby Carbondale offer kids-ski-free specials, including the Glenwood Hot Springs Resort and The Hotel Colorado. Sunlightmtn.com

Vibe: Easygoing all day

Best for: Busy families that want to relax

Mad River Glen – Waitsfield, Vermont

America’s only ski cooperative is also one of the few places left with a single-seat chairlift, which climbs 2,000 feet in under 10 minutes. The tranquil journey reflects the resort’s laid-back ethos, but don’t let the friendly atmosphere fool you: Mad River Glen has some of the most formidable slopes on the East Coast. Limited snow-making and grooming keep the terrain more natural, creating a classic ski experience and a closer connection with the mountain. Daily numbers are capped, and snowboarding isn’t allowed. With no on-site lodging to retire to, everyone gathers at Stark’s Pub for old-fashioned camaraderie over grilled cheese sandwiches. Complete the experience by staying at a rustic-cool farmhouse such as the Inn at Round Barn Farm or Mad River Barn. madriverglen.com 

Vibe: Authentically indie 

Best for: Purists and the ski-obsessed


From fast-moving bubble lifts to heated gondolas with Wi-Fi, these sleek and stylish mega-resorts let you schuss on the forefront of innovation — and luxury. After your ski valet buckles you into your boots, you’ll glide down meticulously groomed slopes with powder hunters from around the globe. Top-shelf après-ski action awaits in the evening, buzzing with beautiful people, pop-up champagne bars and extravagant spa treatments.

Aspen Mountain – Aspen, Colorado

One of four resorts in the celebrated ski destination, Aspen Mountain (known as Ajax to locals) debuts 20% more terrain this season and a high-speed quad chairlift. But the real scene is down below, in the swanky après-ski environs — such as The Little Nell, posh Aspen’s poshest hotel: think modern art, Sno-Cat tours and gourmet wagyu cuisine … for your dog. Linger over caviar and private wine tastings at the Michelin- recommended restaurant Element 47, whose cellar holds 20,000 bottles. Indulge in a CBD oil massage or join a ski patrol sweep of the slopes. Get early access to the mountain before it opens every morning; your ski concierge will be waiting with your boots already warmed and anything else you need: sunblock, lip balm, a double espresso or even a pain au chocolat. aspensnowmass.com

Vibe: Exclusive luxury and savoir-faire

Best for: Connoisseurs and VIPs

Big Sky – Big Sky, Montana

Discover the world’s most technologically advanced chairlifts at Big Sky, including four with weatherproof blue bubble tops. Ramcharger is the largest, an ultra-fast ride for eight that features extra-wide, ergonomic heated seats with cushy headrests and footrests. Or hop on the 75-passenger Lone Peak Tram (new this year) to the resort’s most extreme triple black diamond runs. If you chicken out, you’ll still enjoy the all-glass viewing platform at the summit. With nine high-speed lifts to choose from (out of 24), you’ll have shorter wait times at the bottom and more time on the mountain. Retreat to the five-star hotel Montage, a slopeside stunner where you can savor sound healing treatments in the spa and sip Dom Pérignon by the glass at the uber-hot hangout Alpenglow. bigskyresort.com

Vibe: Trailblazing winter wonderland

Best for: Bucket-listers and trendsetters

Sölden – Sölden, Austria

Tucked above a tiny village in the Ötztal Alps, this impressive mountain boasts not one but two glaciers — plus high-tech automatic snow- making and one of the fastest ski lifts around. The Giggijoch gondola carries 4,500 people up top every hour, and free Wi-Fi lets you post selfies on the way. Not everyone skis at Sölden; some just ride 10,000 feet above sea level to ice Q, a glass-walled restaurant that seems to hover amid the snowcaps (you may have seen it in the 2015 James Bond movie “Spectre”). Down below, smart snow-making machines are silently monitoring the temperature and humidity, ready to spring into action if needed. Bunk down in the lap of luxury at the Hotel Das Central, a palatial wooden hotel with a three-story Venetian-style spa. solden.com

Vibe: Euro-chic Alpine style

Best for: Jet-setters and international spies