Ski lodges were accommodations with soul. Luckily, a few have survived.
Ski lodges were once cultural fixtures of our sport. They were communal places with common living rooms and big, inviting fireplaces. Lodge owners fueled guests with huge breakfasts and stick-to-the-ribs dinners. Entertainment consisted of card games in the parlor and tall tales swapped over cocktails by the fire. Though the master planning that prevails at today's resorts threatens to do away with the ski-lodge experience, a few lodges remain. Visit one and you can get a taste of the good old days.
Alta has a lot of old-style lodges. Of these, the 57-room Alta Lodge is a classic among classics. Breakfast and dinner are served family-style and are included in the room rate, just like the old days. The lodge has a basement ski room with vintage lockers, après-ski in the venerable Sitzmark Club, and skiing at the doorstep. Rates: from $316 for two. 800-707-2582, www.altalodge.com.
When land was being assembled for the Ritz Carlton (now the St. Regis Aspen), developers tried to buy out the Mountain Chalet. Owner Ralph Melville couldn't be bought. The hotel was built anyway, overshadowing the chalet-style lodge that Ralph built in 1954. The family still runs it, exhibiting a natural hospitality that predates the hospitality business. Rates: from $120 for two, with breakfast. 800-321-7813, www.aspen.com/mtnchalet
BIG MOUNTAIN, MONTANA
Built in 1980, the Kandahar Lodge has an old-school style and ambience, with knotty pine walls adorned with vintage photos and a stone fireplace in the sunken lobby. The dining room serves outstanding food, and the Snug, originally a BYOB hideaway, now offers full bar service. Rates: from $139 per person. 800-862-6094, www.kandaharlodge.com
CANNON MOUNTAIN, NEW HAMPSHIRE
The Kinsman Lodge was built in the 1880s as a bunkhouse for farmhands and has been in Sue Thompson's family since 1906. She now operates it as a nine-room inn, and the slopes are as close as when Sue was a kid. Rates: $65 for two, including full country breakfast, 603-823-5686.
When Max and Edna Dercum came to Colorado, they purchased an 1880s stagecoach stop, developed Arapahoe Basin, turned the stage stop into the Ski Tip Lodge, and later built Keystone. Though now corporately run, the 11-room inn still oozes atmosphere, and the dining room still serves some of the best meals at Keystone. Rates: from $75 with breakfast. 800-404-3535, www.keystoneresort.com
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CALIFORNIA
Once a haunt of Hollywood celebs, the Tamarack Lodge is now a resort with an 11-room lodge, 26 cabins, a renowned restaurant, and an on-site cross-country center. Guests hang in the lobby to enjoy a roaring fire, spiced wine, and classic books and games. Rates: rooms with private bath from $145. 800-237-6879, www.tamaracklodge.com
WINTER PARK, COLORADO
Built in the 1960s, the 32-room Woodspur Lodge is known for its homey living room, cozy guests-only bar, and huge fireplaces. Nestled among the pines with views of the Continental Divide, the lodge attracts a mix of families, twosomes, and singles. Rates: $164 for two, with breakfast and dinner. 800-626-6562.