Ultimate Guide to Luxury Skiing in the East

Written by Alexa Owen • Jan 23, 2017

One doesn’t usually think of New England as a luxury skiing destination: we’re here to change that.

Photo: Stowe Mountain Resort

While the luxury ski vacation was born in Europe and later popularized in the Rocky Mountain West, New England reigns as a top destination for the understated luxury getaway. A ski history that dates back to the early 1900s complements modern developments with a beautifully quaint historic charm totally unique to this part of the world – that’s really why we love it so much. In the East, you’ll find everything from old farmhouses remodeled into elegant spas, cozy country inns boasting restaurants with top chefs from worldwide cities, and hundreds of miles of farmland worked by 7th generation New Englanders. The East offers comfort without compromising character, all with world-class skiing and riding.

Why luxury in the East? Go for the five-star hotels, but also the elegant B&B’s. Experience farm-to-table gourmet meals without the pretense of big cities or resorts. Indulge in romantic adventures or family-friendly activities. Tour the Green and White Mountains by sleigh, snowshoes, or snowmobiles. Shop high-end boutiques for unique home décor and imported European cashmere. Most of all, relax in the laid-back pace of the mountains with genuinely friendly locals who call these resort towns their home.

In this guide, you’ll find the best of what luxury skiing in the East has to offer. We’ll tell you where to go, what to do, and how to do it in style. You’ll get the insider scoop on best restaurants, nightlife, and shopping. We’ll also tell you where to find the best snow on the occasional New England powder day, and where to warm up afterward with a good drink. Keep reading for our complete guide to luxury skiing in the East.

Stowe

Photo: Stowe Resort

Stowe is a gem among Vermont ski resorts – not only for its surprisingly challenging slopes, but also the well-developed infrastructure and quaint yet upscale town. It’s logged many “firsts” in the history of skiing in the East, but has just more recently put itself on the map in terms of a destination luxury resort. Especially popular with groups, the Stowe Mountain Lodge at the base area serves as the hub of resort life, while refurbished inns dot the surrounding area and offer their own spa services, activities, and fine dining restaurants. Foodies in particular will delight in the gourmet farm-to-table offerings: a handful of fine chefs from around the world now call Stowe their home, and have opened fantastic restaurants.

Best For: group getaways; foodies; small town character with big resort amenities

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at Stowe Mountain Lodge for modern digs, full service spa, and slopeside access.

Ski…the glades of Goat for one of the toughest runs on the East Coast.

Dine…at award-winning Michaels on the Hill for a European bistro farm-to-table meal.

Après...at The Matterhorn with live music and craft beers: the party starts at 3 and goes into the night

Shop...at Little River Hot Glass Studio for unique hand-blown glass gifts and décor.

Nightlife…party at the Rusty Nail if for live music and a rowdy crowd.

Off The Slopes…opt for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through covered bridges and open snow fields with Gentle Giants Rides.

Lodging

Stay slopeside for easy access to the slopes, spa, and mountain activities; for romantic getaways, opt for one of the award-winning historic inns.

Resort

For the resort experience, stay at the luxury Stowe Mountain Lodge, which offers guests a spa, fitness classes, two restaurants, and slopeside access.

Boutique

Opt for a room at the Stoweflake Resort & Spa for a quiet getaway in nature a short drive from the resort; amenities include a full-service spa and outdoor adventures on 60 acres of beautiful Green Mountain forests.

B&B

Field Guide is one of Stowe’s contemporary hidden gems: stay here for modern digs and light-filled rooms, complete with casual fine dining restaurant and upscale common spaces with board games and books.

Dining

Photo: Michael's on the Hill

Farm-to-table dining has always been in style at Stowe; enjoy gourmet eats prepared with farm fresh ingredients by chefs who have studied at the best culinary institutes across the country.

For the classic white-linen meal book a table at Solstice, inside Stowe Mountain Lodge; locally sourced, artisan-inspired cuisine in a hip atmosphere makes for an elegant dining experience.

Take a scenic drive to nearby Bistro at Ten Acres, where chef Gary Jacobsen crafts delectable roast meets, fresh seafood, and bistro favorites; everything here is handmade from scratch, and you can make a night of it with a stay in one of the boutique guest cottages.

Chef-owned Michaels on the Hill serves up sustainable, un-processed European comfort food inspired by small towns in the Swiss Alps; the circa-1820s farmhouse provides a gorgeously quaint setting for a unique dining experience.

Nightlife

Cozy up fireside with a hot cider at a restaurant lounge, or venture out to one of Stowe’s legendary bars for something more lively.

Step inside a bit of Stowe history with a visit to The Whip, inside the historic Green Mountain Inn; this is a favorite local spot for its roaring fireplace and softly lit dining room – good for a glass of wine and entertaining conversation from old-time Vermonters.

Signature cocktails and regional microbrews fill the menu at Hourglass inside the Stowe Mountain Lodge; open until midnight, this is an ideal spot for a post-dinner drink or late bite at the bistro-style bar.

The rowdiest place in Stowe is the Rusty Nail, which features live music shows on weekends and a rowdy bar scene late night; head here to mix with party-going locals and tourists alike.

Shopping

Leisurely drives through the countryside are half the pleasure of destination shopping around Stowe; the Spruce Peak base area and downtown also offer superb gift and clothing options.

Drop by Bunya Bunya for clothing and décor in a cozy boutique storefront; the space and products are inspired by bohemian lifestyle with a unique New England twist.

The Little River Hot Glass Studio is a gem when it comes to hand-blown glass ornaments and beautiful bowls and décor.

Drive 6 miles outside downtown Stowe to the Nebraska Knoll Sugar Farm, where the Coty family has been tapping maple trees and producing the finest syrup and candies since the ‘80s; a visit includes a full tour of the classic maple syrup production.

Tips

Stowe is part of the Mountain Collective Pass, which offers pass holders access to a select amount of days at some of the nation's top ski resorts; if you plan to travel this winter, consider purchasing.

Renting equipment on-site at Stowe is quick, easy, and convenient -- make pickups the night before getting out on the slopes if possible.

Whiteface

Photo: Whiteface Mountain

Whiteface was made popular during the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the world flocked to Lake Placid and Whiteface Resort. The ski area today is popular among ski racers for its unparalleled steeps, and by tristate area ski vacationers looking for something off the beaten New England path. Whiteface tops our luxury skiing list mostly for the setting of Lake Placid: a laid-back New York town tucked into the beautiful Adirondacks. Hit the slopes for the morning, the spa in the afternoon, and stroll around town at twilight before indulging in dinner and wine tasting at one of the area’s award-winning restaurants. The rustic charm of this part of the East is irresistible, and well balanced with hometown activities like hockey, ice skating, and dog sledding around the lake.

Best For: romantic getaways; history and hockey buffs; rustic elegance

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Lake Placid Lodge for a quiet getaway with on-site dining and activities.

Ski…the cruisers off the Summit Quad for an alternative from those “Iceface” steeps.

Dine…at The View for award-winning local fare in the most elegant setting in Lake Placid.

Après...at Lake Placid Pub and Brewery with local craft beers overlooking Mirror Lake.

Shop...the Adirondack Store & Gallery for unique home décor and elegant gifts.

Nightlife…opt for lake views and crafty cocktails at Top of the Park.

Off The Slopes…Tour the Olympic Training Center to see where some of the world’s top athletes train in skeleton, bobsled, biathlon and freestyle skiing.

Lodging

The most popular spots are surrounding the Lake, while other luxury options have their own secluded grounds close to downtown; expect Adirondack character with lodge-style luxury accommodation.

Resort

The Whiteface Lodge is the epitome of Adirondack luxury, and is especially great for big groups; the suites are gorgeous, and the on-site spa offers tired skiers rest and repose after a long day on the slopes.

Boutique

The Lake Placid Lodge offers an especially romantic sanctuary that includes a main lodge, private cabins, and rooms with stunning views; there’s also on-site dining, massage treatments, and guided winter activities.

B&B

It’s hardly a B&B, but we had to include The Haus Lake Placid, an eco-chic getaway built on sustainable values and boasting mountain views; downtown restaurants and shopping are minutes away.

Dining

You’ll find fine meats and seafood at most Lake Placid restaurants, along with elegant rustic décor; local, sustainable ingredients are growing more popular for restaurant menus.

Book far in advance for an unforgettable dinner at The View; the multi award-winning restaurant is the finest in lake placid, and serves delectable eats sourced from local and free range farms.

Dine at Kanu Lounge for wood-oven fired pizzas and a small selection of hearty entrees; the real draw here is the atmosphere and drink menu – you’ll love lounging on the leather couches with a signature cocktail.

Maggie’s Pub, located in the Lake Placid Lodge, boasts rustic wood décor, roaring stone fireplace, well-stocked bar and upscale pub fare; be sure to try the short rib ravioli with truffle jus – it’s a local legend.

Nightlife

Photo: Top of the Park

Nightlife in Lake Placid isn’t defined by its clubs, but rather the extensive activity offerings like hockey games, ice skating, theater, and upscale bars with lake views; that said, we did (of course) include the one nightclub where you can dance the night away.

For local and regional live music acts, drop by Smoke Signals, which doubles as a popular BBQ restaurant and bar; it has a great local vibe.

Top of the Park invests in top shelf spirits and is known for their signature cocktails and view of Mirror Lake; head here for a comfortable atmosphere with plenty of class.

Lake Placid’s hot spot for dancing and DJ’s is Roomers Nightclub; the crowd is mostly 20- and 30-somethings, and you’ll find good drink specials most nights.

Shopping

Lake Placid has a number of souvenir shops sporting 1980s Olympic fanfare, but be sure to stop into the boutique stores that stock unique art, crafts, and décor.

Canvas moose print pillows and natural log ice buckets are just the basics at the Adirondack Store & Gallery; this is your one-stop destination for the chicest mountain town gifts and décor.

The environmentally friendly Lake Placid Chocolatier is a favorite among locals and tourists alike; don’t miss the sea salt butter crunch dark chocolate – it’s divine.

Men and women alike can pick up local bath, body and homecare products at Pure Placid; products are crafted from the highest quality sources in local Adirondack mountains.

Tips

Experts mustn't miss a pass down Cloudspin, the infamous 1980 Olympic Downhill run.

Be sure to take at least one day off from the slopes to tour around Lake Placid -- there's a reson this place was voted best for off-hill activities in the 2017 Ski Magazine reader's poll.

Okemo

Photo: Okemo Mountain Resort

Known mostly for its mellow slopes and family-friendly atmosphere, Okemo doesn’t get much attention as a luxury getaway – which is part of why we love it as a luxury getaway. Over the past five years, the sleepy town of Ludlow has played host to entrepreneurial efforts that have up-leveled the food and shopping scene, while mainstay luxury inns and B&Bs continue to bring back pleased ski vacationers year after year. New restaurants like The Downtown Grocery and Stemwinder bring delectable eats in casual fine dining spaces; a comprehensive resort base area at Jackson Gore boasts an ice rink, restaurants, spa, fitness center, and luxury inn; the nightlife stays true to strong Vermont roots with craft local beers and wild Friday nights. With character and a cultural richness unlike any other Vermont ski resort, Okemo truly offers something for everyone.

Best For: small town getaways; families; understated elegance, dining, and culture.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Jackson Gore Inn for the full resort experience, complete with spa and 2 fine restaurants.

Ski…the Southface area when big crowds set in on the main mountain – glades and groomers are both prime.

Dine…at The Downtown Grocery, which crafts its delectable farm-to-table menu completely from scratch.

Après...at the longtime local favorite Tom's Loft Tavern; the party starts when lifts close and lasts past midnight.

Shop...unique local arts and crafts at Depot Street Gallery.

Nightlife…head to The Killarney for live music and an impressive selection of whiskeys and craft beers.

Off The Slopes…indulge in the spa services at the Spring House, which also houses a swimming pool, sauna, and fitness center

Lodging

The Jackson Gore base area offers the main slopeside resort accommodation, while you’ll find unique luxury digs in and around the town of Ludlow.

Resort

Book a studio suite at the Jackson Gore Inn with mountain views, fireplace, and cozy living room; this is the prime ski-in/ski-out hub of the mountain.

Boutique

The Pointe Hotel is ideal for couples who want to step away from the ski scene while at Okemo; the full resort features luxury rooms, spa, restaurant, and picturesque setting 10 minutes from the ski area.

B&B

You’ll find homemade meals, privacy, beautiful views and country charm at the Andrie Rose Inn, which is located downtown in an 1829 farmhouse.

Dining

Photo: The Downtown Grocery

The food scene around Okemo has seriously up-leveled in the past 2 years, and bistro-style restaurants are popular amongst the more traditional steakhouses and taverns.

The Downtown Grocery cures meats in-house and sources ingredients from regional farms; start with seared local pork belly and acorn squash, then opt for grilled Atlantic swordfish with sweet corn succotash and smoked tomato jus.

Indulge in American bistro cuisine and an award-winning wine list at the Coleman Brook Tavern inside the Jackson Gore Inn; Chef Scot Emerson prides himself on sourcing sustainable ingredients and has been featured in multiple regional magazines.

You’ll find a warm local crowd gathering in the dimly-lit dining room of DJ’s Restaurant on a Friday night; this Ludlow mainstay boasts traditional steaks and seafood and genuinely friendly staff.

Nightlife

You won’t find uber-chic nightclubs in downtown Ludlow, but you will find a few fantastic bars that get packed on weekends; live music is popular, as are specialty Long Trail beers on draft.

Tom's Loft Tavern is famous for its après (and après après) atmosphere: put your song in the jukebox queue and get comfortable with rubbing shoulders with all sorts of local and tourist folk – if you fancy a dance on the bar late-night, no one would mind.

A slightly more reserved scene can be found at The Killarney, a traditional Irish pub with fine spirits, live music, and a shuttle service that goes to all Okemo resort lodgings.

For a quiet drink in a new local favorite spot, drop into Stemwinder, which boasts fine domestic and international wines and delicious small bites in a modern rustic space.

Shopping

Chain stores don’t really exist in downtown Ludlow, which is why we love it: opt for these shops instead, which stock local, handmade products sold by longtime Ludlow business owners.

The best place to go for fine wines and local artisanal cheeses is the Wine & Cheese Depot, which now shares a door and business with Stemwinder.

The sign outside Singleton's General Store says it all: “Smoked Bacon, Maple Syrup”; make the 10 minute drive into tiny Cavendish for the best bacon and cider donuts you’ll ever have (along with Carhartt clothing and hunting gear).

The Depot Street Gallery is famous for handcrafted art made from recycled goods – like silverware; this is a beautiful one-stop-shop for unique gifts and high-end local art.

Tips

The base lifts open at 7:45, which means you can get a run in before the usual crowds; there's also the option for the Gold Pass, which lets you skip lines all season.

Note that Okemo is now famous for its bubble chairs, and lapping these lifts -- like the Sunburst 6 -- is a great way to get your runs in without having to stop to get out of the wind.

Bretton Woods

Photo: Bretton Woods

New Hampshire’s largest ski area, Bretton Woods boasts more than extensive skiing and riding and the best snow quality in the East according to the 2017 SKI Magazine reader’s poll. This top destination resort features a luxury hotel, extensive year-round activities, charming perks like horse-drawn sleigh rides, and access to half a dozen of New Hampshire’s most charming small towns. It’s a popular destination for families, but also couples seeking a romantic getaway to the White Mountains. Refurbished historic inns dot the surrounding valleys, and service at the fine dining establishments and bars is unparalleled when it comes to ski resorts in the East. At just over 2 hours from Boston and under 6 hours from New York City, it’s an ideal option for anyone in the tristate area looking for a New Hampshire luxury adventure.

Best for: short getaways from Boston and New York; luxury lodging and dining

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Bretton Arms Inn for a quiet alternative with access to resort amenities.

Ski…the cruisers of Zephyr High Speed first thing in the morning.

Dine…at the Bretton Arms Dining Room for contemporary eats in a beautifully elegant dining room.

Après...vintage style at Slopeside, the local go-to bar in the base lodge.

Shop...for antiques and home décor at Just L in nearby Littleton.

Nightlife…Don’t miss a cocktail at The Cave, an historic speakeasy with good drinks and live music.

Off The Slopes…tour the grounds around Mount Washington Resort with a horse-drawn sleigh ride.

Lodging

Most ski vacationers opt for a luxury room at the Mount Washington Hotel and affiliated accommodation; 20 minutes from the resort you’ll find low-key yet up-scale country inns.

Resort

The Mount Washington Hotel is the premier luxury lodging option at Bretton Woods, featuring 200 luxury rooms and suites, a 25,000 square foot spa, year-round zip-line, and the best restaurants in the area.

Boutique

Opt for a room at the Bretton Arms Inn for something more private than the Mount Washington Resort, but just a short walk away from all the offerings.

B&B

Book a suite at Jackson’s Bernerhof Inn, which features individually styled rooms, wellness studio, and prime access to Bretton Woods, Attitash, and Wildcat mountains.

Dining

Fine dining in the Bretton Woods area features modern American cuisine and chefs that source from local farms when possible; we recommend venturing to neighboring country inns for a few meals to indulge in quintessential New England charm.

Pine paneling, wood-burning fireplaces, and upscale country inn décor invite you to a delectable meal at The Horse & Hound Inn; the small but mighty menu features all fresh, local ingredients in the coziest atmosphere in the White Mountains.

Stickney’s Restaurant is a modern steakhouse in an expansive dining room inside the Omni Hotel; casual fine dining features the best steaks and chops in the area in front of a roaring fireplace.

The Bretton Arms Dining Room is the most upscale option in the area, featuring fine meats and seafood sourced from local farms; expect entrees like pumpkin spiced duck breast with stewed apricots and maple brined half roasted chicken.

Nightlife

Photo: Omni Resorts

The Omni Mount Washington Hotel boasts 2 favorite Bretton Woods bars, while more options abound in nearby Franconia.

The Cave is not-to-be-missed for its historic speakeasy atmosphere and totally unique architecture: stone walls, leather bar stools and gorgeous wooden bar set the scene for live music and fine spirits.

For friendly local crowd and live music on weekends, head into downtown Franconia to Fiona’s Irish Pub, which boasts a contemporary Dublin vibe and upscale pub atmosphere.

Lounge in cushy chairs and cozy spaces at the Rosebrook Bar; ideal for cocktails and small bites, the ambiance is elegant – ideal for a quiet drink and mountain views.

Shopping

Beyond the base village, there’s not much in terms of shopping in the little town of Bretton Woods; enjoy an afternoon drive to nearby towns for antiquing, art galleries, and hand-crafted gifts.

For modern antiques, head to Just L in neighboring Littleton; the Main Street storefront stocks beautiful antique furniture and refurbished decorative trinkets.

Don’t miss a trip to Bethlehem for a tour of the Local Works Marketplace and Gallery at WREN; the marketplace features work from over 300 regional vendors and proceeds support community members in need.

An afternoon drive into nearby Jackson is worth the visit to Ravenwood Curio Shoppe, which boasts a huge selection of antique furniture art, wall sculptures, and hand-blown glass.

Tips

Bretton Woods terrain is best for beginners and intermediates; go for the experience, not the challenge.

This resort is quite kid-friendly, and you'll find plenty of family-focused activiteis pre-organized to meet your needs.

Stratton

Photo: Stratton Mountain Resort

Stratton is a favorite among folks from the tristate area -- especially because it's one of the closes major resorts to Connecticut and New York. It's gained a repuations for glitz and glamour when it comes to East Coast ski resorts, and this has continued to shape the resort, base village, and surrounding area. We like Stratton for its mix of ski town party-going atmosphere and surrounding area of quiet, historic Vermont. The base village is highly developed, and resembles those of resort villages in the West, while just 15 minutes from the access road you'll find local art galleries, miles of rolling farmland, and the best restaurants you've never heard of. Head to Stratton for a luxury getaway with friends or family, or that Rocky Mountain resort vibe in the convenient heart of New England.

Best For: Big resort amenities and infrastructure; luxury country inns; families and friends

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Reluctant Panther Inn for luxury rooms and on-site restaurant in a quaint country atmosphere.

Ski…the upper half of the mountain to avoid crowds; the cruisers off Snowbowl 4 are great for intermediates and beginners.

Dine…at Verde, a contemporary American bistro with Italian tastes.

Après...at Grizzly’s, the local hot spot for craft beers and live music.

Shop...at TSE Cashmere for quality sweaters and clothing for both men and women.

Nightlife…Wind down with a quiet drink at the beautiful Bar 802, which features fine cocktails, stone fireplace, and leather lounging chairs.

Off The Slopes…Take a dog sled tour of Green Mountain backcountry with Green Mountiain Mushers.

Lodging

Most luxury offerings will be found in Manchester, while groups sometimes opt to book a private slopeside home.

Resort

For the luxury resort experience, stay at The Equinox; the on-site spa and heated pool offer rest and repose after days on the slopes, while the restaurants feature some of Southern Vermont’s favorite cuisine.

Boutique

Southern Vermont’s favorite boutique inn, the Reluctant Panther Inn features 20 luxury rooms, gourmet restaurant, and easy access to downtown Manchester and Stratton Mountain Resort.

B&B

Book the Tamarack Suite at the Deerhill Inn in nearby Dover; a wood-burning stone fireplace and cozy lounge area make for the perfect evening after a day on the slopes.

Dining

Stratton area restaurants boast classic Vermont cuisine with focus on steaks and seafood; upscale pub fare is popular in the village, while neighboring Manchester offers additional options.

Verde blends fine dining cuisine with homey favorites; don’t miss the venison with sweet potato and medjool date sauce – it’s one of the best tastes of Vermont you’ll ever have.

Venture out to the Chop House at Equinox Resort for award-winning steaks; chefs keep things classy and simple with your choice of chop or seafood, and sauces and sides to add.

The Fire Tower Restaurant & Tavern offers delectable bites like smoked chicken risotto and wild-caught roasted halibut; the space is excellent for hosting large groups.

Nightlife

Photo: Stratton Mountain Resort

Stratton bars are surprisingly casual, and this seems to suit most who escape to the mountains for the weekend; for quieter scenes, check out hotel lounges and Bar 802.

At the base of the resort you’ll find Grizzly’s, which is renowned and beloved for its casual atmosphere and stunning views; it’s a great option for late-night shenanigans, as it’s open ‘til 2am.

Cozy and sophisticated, Bar 802 is your destination for craft cocktails and excellent wines; kick back in the leather seating for a quiet drink after dinner, and upscale small bites for a late-night snack.

Downstairs at Mulligan’s you’ll find the Green Door Pub, which features local Vermont beers on tap, live music on weekends, and a lively après crowd that parties into the night.

Shopping

The Village at the resort base has a good stock of outdoor gear and clothing, while nearby Manchester offers shoppers quintessential Vermont art and antiques.

Located in a beautifully historic part of town, the Manchester Hot Glass Studio & Gallery features glassblowing classes, perfect gifts, lighting, and custom orders.

Comollo Antiques & Fine Wine is a not-to-miss shop in Southern Vermont; quirky and eclectic, you’ll find a huge selection of antiques selected by passionate owners Clarke and Barbara Comollo.

TSE Cashmere stocks fine quality sweaters, clothing and home goods from a convenient location in the heart of Stratton Village.

Tips

Note that if you opt for lodging without a spa, you can still indulge in day spa services in Stratton Village (or book a massage therapist at your mountainside getaway).

Stratton is a Vermont favorite for its terrain parks; be sure to follow the mountain's recommendation for progression -- some of the advanced jumps are truly expert-only.