Truly old-school ski lodges are rare gems in today’s ski-resort world of boutique hotels and condo sprawl. Minimalist décor may be trendy and hip, but dark wood, antlers and antique skis on the walls, and a cozy fireplace somehow just feel right after a day of skiing. Way back in the day, the chic restaurants of the modern base village hadn’t arrived yet, so the only place to eat was in the lodge. Even today, a few of these lodges still offer packages with a meal plan.
As is more commonly still seen in Europe, these lodging and dining packages often result in guests becoming like extended families during their stay. While slow lifts and straight skis may best be left in the past, the traditional ski lodge can certainly be a worthwhile experience.
1. Alta Ski Area, Utah
Alta Ski Area is known for its overall retro-vibe (no snowboarding allowed, for instance). The resort is home to the country’s top spots for old-school lodges: Alta Lodge, Peruvian Lodge, Rustler Lodge, and Goldminer’s Daughter.
Alta Lodge can best summed up by its room keys— actual keys, not magnetic cards to swipe. The ski-in/ski-out lodge does have wireless internet access, but you will not find TVs in the rooms. Instead, guests gather around one big-screen TV and a library full of books in a welcoming family atmosphere. Though the lodge dates back to 1940, the facilities and 57 guest rooms are kept up-to-date. The dining room was even remodeled this ski season.
In the Peruvian Lodge, you won’t find TVs in the 80 guest rooms at the Peruvian Lodge either. The Peruvian opened in 1948 with unusual structural origins that go back a few years earlier to World War II. Two nurse barracks were sliced into four parts and hauled up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Alta where the structure was melded back together to form the original lodge building.
The Peruvian’s meal plan includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The lodge is very close to the slopes, but technically not a ski-in/ski-out. A free lodge shuttle is available for those who do not want to make the short walk to the lifts.
Alta’s Rustler Lodge opened in 1947. The 85-room Rustler includes a full breakfast and dinner at its rates. Among Alta’s lodges, the Rustler has the most modern and luxurious feel, but it has retained its traditional charm.
The Goldminer’s Daughter also serves as the public base lodge for the ski area itself. The largest of the lodges at Alta has 90 rooms. The rates include breakfast and dinner. Interestingly enough, a few of the kids at the Goldminer’s Daughter are not there just for fun during the day, but because the town’s “one-room schoolhouse” meets in the facility.
2. Taos Ski Valley, New Mexico
The St. Bernard Hotel at Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico offers famous all-inclusive “ski weeks.” The package includes lodging, lift tickets, lessons and three meals per day. The family-run establishment was founded in 1960 by Frenchman Jean Mayer. A member of the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame, Mayer is a legendary personal host for the communal dining experience at the St. Bernard.
3. Sugar Bowl Resort, California
Hotel at Sugar Bowl guests leave their cars behind to take a gondola up to this lodge on the slopes of Sugar Bowl near Lake Tahoe. Along with a location steps from the lifts, the hotel is connected to the Sporthaus spa and athletic training facility. The lodging options do not include a meal-plan package.
4. Purity Spring Resort, New Hampshire
It’s hard to get more ski-in/ski-out than a base area facility that also has 17 overnight guest rooms. New Hampshire’s King Pine Ski Area at Purity Spring Resort has 48 skiable acres and 350 feet of vertical.