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Aspen

Backyard_Firepit_in_Snow_Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

If your husband, girlfriend, friends, or family members love to ski and snowboard — but you’d rather have a root canal than slide down a steep hill with plastic sticks on your feet — you just need to rethink what a vacation to a snowy, slope-y destination can truly entail. Many resorts these days offer gourmet food, trendy bars, and spas galore, and the destinations below allow you to turn a ski trip into a getaway you’ll actually enjoy.

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Alpino Vino

Telluride Ski Resort

Great food? Check. Incredible views? Check. Easy access? Well… you’ll have to work a bit for it. These seven back-country restaurants require patrons to board a snowcat or step into a pair of skis — but the effort will be totally worth it.

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Powderhorn MountainSkiing can be glamorous and exciting, and unfortunately, expensive. But as the season wears on, discounts start to pop up for both lodging and lift tickets. Since it looks like most of the major ski destinations will have snow through the beginning of April, here are a few deals to consider for a March trip. This is only a selection, so if your favorite destination isn’t listed, be sure to dig deeper at your favorite area or mountain to see what’s on offer.

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AspenNot that anyone has ever accused Aspen, Colorado of not having enough restaurants, but we’re excited about chef David Burke’s new venture in town — his first restaurant in the western U.S.. Debuting in late March, David Burke Kitchen Aspen is set to be one of the hottest openings of the season. We recently chatted with the restauranteur and former Top Chef contestant about dry-aged beef, his favorite hotels, and why a Sam Adams at a local bar is the best beer you’ll have in Aspen.  Read more

Aspen SkiWhen we think of iconic winter destinations in the United States, Aspen, Colorado immediately comes to mind, especially among well-heeled travelers. It is the most expensive town in America, with last year’s lowest single-family home priced at $559,000 (located, incidentally, in a trailer park). It is also the location of America’s most expensive house, which went on sale a few years ago for $135 million.

What does all this mean for tourists? Well, it’s expensive, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Read more

Countdown Entertainment, LLC

3, 2, 1 . . . Happy New Year! Whether counting down to 2013 at tried-and-true celebrations like New York’s annual Times Square extravaganza, or by eating a grape for every stroke of midnight in Barcelona, your adrenaline is sure to be racing as 2012 winds down at our favorite locales for New Year celebrations. We love the ultimate party city, Vegas, for its most over-the-top show of the year; partying heartily in Berlin’s massive open-air fiesta; schussing the slopes of the majestic Rockies; and even standing under the breathtaking fireworks cascade over Sydney’s harbor. Should you agree that one day of feting simply won’t suffice, experience the celebration Scot-style, with merrymaking in Edinburgh that lasts four long days, or head to bustling Hong Kong to experience what’s billed as the world’s largest Chinese New Year celebration, spanning more than three weeks of festivities. Beach-lovers can also experience sandy revelry with a twist on December 31 in Rio or Miami.

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best apres ski spots

iStock International

Peak ski season is in full swing, with a winter wonderland welcoming enthusiastic snow-lovers to carve out many of the world’s best slopes. But the exhilaration needn’t end when the pistes close: Let your hair down under that ski hat and discover our favorite après-ski scenes around the globe, including two Colorado Rockies’ resorts that cater to both the refined and the rowdy, a glamorous casino-dotted ski town straddling the Nevada and California borders, and a Canadian gem that pulsates with live music and good times. Or, check out the Eastern seaboard at Killington, where you’re guaranteed to have a “killer” time. Of course, no list would be complete without a sprinkling of alpine villages – we’re keen on four evergreen après-ski hot spots that have provided tried-and-true nighttime fun to generations of skiers. And, for those of you who refuse to let summer signal your last descent, we’ve even thrown in one South American ski town where you can get your après-ski fix between June and September.

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Get away to the luxury town of Aspen, Colorado, and stay in a 4-star hotel at the base of the mountain. The recently-renovated Sky Hotel, A Kimpton Hotel, is offering rooms for as little as $169 per night this fall – a savings of 65 percent on winter rates.

The Sky Hotel is a sleek boutique with an updated design aesthetic, and features evening wine receptions, high-speed wireless Internet, and a heated sundeck with outdoor fire pits, a heated pool, and sweeping views of the Aspen Mountain. There is also a 24-hour fitness center and a trendy lounge and restaurant. All rooms feature luxurious linens, iHome clock radios, and plush bathrobes. The Sky Hotel is only three blocks from downtown Aspen’s upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment.

These low rates with the “Nip & Tuck Package” are available Sundays through Thursdays from September 4 through November 21. Weekends and summer rates are available for more, also at a discount. To book, visit the Sky Hotel website or call 800-882-2582 and mention the rate code TUCK.

See our Aspen destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights.

AspenI’ve been to Aspen once before and I am pleased to say the charming Western town in Colorado continues to lead as America’s premier glitz and glamour ski destination. I’m not sure which is more impressive – the natural beauty of Aspen’s mountain ranges or the not-so-natural plastic surgeries of its many patrons! Of course, one comes to Aspen to ski the four mountains, and my favorite continues to be Snowmass, followed by Ajax and Highlands. (I have not tried Buttermilk.) Snowmass is 25 minutes from Aspen and there are regular shuttle buses from the center of town.

I found a wonderful lunch spot, Lynn Britt Cabin, at mid-mountain of Snowmass. It’s a charming restaurant, with linen covered table tops, that features some hearty goulash, bison stew, and an extensive wine list. Like Cloud 9 restaurant on Highlands Mountain, Lynn Britt is one of the more special places to stop for a bite after a good morning of ski runs.

I was lucky this trip in that snow had fallen the week before and so the mountains had excellent powder. The light snow of Colorado is unique; Europe, California, and the U.S. Northeast can’t compare. The busiest and best month to come is March; days are longer than in January or February, the temperature begins to get a bit warmer, and there is usually a good snow base.

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Limelight LodgeIt may be a skier’s delight come December, but Aspen has plenty to offer in the fall, too, from hiking to horseback riding. Make your base at the Limelight Lodge, a 126-room hotel at the foot of Aspen Mountain. Take advantage of free loaner bikes, a generous breakfast spread, and not one but two rooftop lounges. For stays from September 5 through November 30, guests can get 20 percent off stays of two or three nights and 25 percent off stays of four or more nights.

THE VALUE: Rates start at $130/night.

THE CATCH: Blackout dates include September 15-17, 22-24, and 29-30.

THE DETAILS: Book online on Limelight’s website.

WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights to Aspen.

For general trip-planning information, see our Aspen Travel Guide.

Aspen ski hotelWith several of the big ski resorts out west already reporting significant snowfall, it’s time to start thinking about your ski and snowboard plans for the winter. Hitting the slopes on vacation doesn’t have to mean a hard hit to your wallet, however, with these “ski free” packages from hotels in some of North America’s premier ski destinations.

Limelight Lodge, Aspen This family-owned lodge in central Aspen sits at the foot of the namesake mountain. The hotel’s Ski Package offers two free lift tickets for each day of your stay minus one (e.g. two 2-day passes for a three-night stay). Including the ski passes and accommodations, a three-night stay costs $915 and a four-night stay costs $1,315 – a savings of 30 percent. Three-night minimum stay required; some blackout dates apply. www.limelightlodge.com

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Cadillac EscaladeCar rentals, parking, and taxi rides can be quite costly when traveling around major cities. You can opt for public transportation, but we’ve found hotels that offer guests a lift to their destination—for free—and in some pretty spiffy rides to boot. See the savings for yourself; it might make sense to skip that taxi ride altogether.

The Hotel: W Fort Lauderdale, Florida
The Wheels
: The 300-horsepower Acura MDX’s take guests to destinations within a 5-mile radius of the hotel. Just dial the Acura Experience desk, reserve your personal driver and the fully stocked SUV is yours.
Room Rate
: $249
Taxi cost from hotel to the Museum of Art
: $6
Hotel parking fees
:$30 per day
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Portillo, Chile With Ski BumsNew Year’s might seem far off, but for powder hounds, it can’t come soon enough – especially when there are deals to be had for booking some of 2011’s roster of gay ski weeks early. Some even start happening before your hangover has had time to subside. Details below.

Never been to a gay ski week? Looking for something more low key? Ski Bums, the nation’s largest LGBT ski and snowboarder organization, runs group trips across the country and select worldwide pilgrimages (Courchevel, France and heliskiing in Sweden are on tap for in 2011), as well as day trips from NYC, creating what amounts to a mini gay ski week in the process. A new California chapter launches next Friday, October 8 at Gym Sportsbar in WeHo, so West Coasters can start feeling the chilly thrills soon. Both black diamond masters and bunny hill newbies are welcome.

sky-hotel-resize.jpgIn honor of its new status of Green Seal eco-certification on the Silver Level, Aspen’s Sky Hotel is offering a special deal for similarly eco-minded guests. The Green Sky Package ties in 20 percent off room rates, a free Green Seal cocktail (a fruity mix of vodka, Malibu, Midori, and pineapple juice) at the hotel’s 39 Degrees lounge, and free valet parking. On top of that, the hotel will plant a tree for every guest to book the package. Special bonus points go to drivers of hybrid or electric cars, for whom Sky Hotel will donate 5 percent of the room rate to the Aspen Valley Land Trust.

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viceroysnowmass_edit.jpgA shoe-in for LEED silver certification, the luxury Viceroy Snowmass resort glistens on the sweeping slope of Assay Hill in the Aspen area of Colorado. Muting Aspen’s reputation as an extravagant celebrity destination, the Viceroy sells opulent ambiance complimented by pragmatic and intimate design at reputable prices. Through June 16, the Springtime in Snowmass package offers guests discounted room rates starting from $150 (regularly $225) on their beautiful studios and apartments, along with 30 percent off all massages, facials, rituals, and manicures and pedicures at their 7,000-square-foot spa.

For reservations visit www.viceroysnowmass.com, or call 888-328-1724.

About the Resort: The brainchild of respected architect Jean-Michel Gathy, Viceroy Snowmass is a wonder of sustainable design, with 30 percent more efficiency than traditional edifices. It comprises 173 residential ski-in/ski-out accommodations outfitted with fireplaces, private sundecks, full or convenience kitchens, flat-screen televisions, DVD players, and wireless Internet. Indulge in local, seasonal offerings at their restaurant, grab a snack at the poolside café, or break a sweat at the state-of-the-art fitness center – better yet, stroll down one of the newly thawed hiking trails.

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