You ski Killington, (ranked 66 for value in SKI Magazine's Reader Survey), because it offers more skiing and terrain variety than anywhere else in the East, coupled with a high capacity lift system. Six interconnected mountains provide a smorgasbord of topography and conditions, allowing you to explore more than 72 miles of trails. The beast of the East beckons with its nightlife, restaurants, and accommodation choices. There are hotels and inns, but also plenty of condos and private houses for rent. The weekend crowds are the downside, and the fact that it ranks 66 in value should tell you that you're going to have to pay for Killington's pleasures. But it won't cost the moon. At the 103-room Inn of the Six Mountains (800-228-4676), you'll find indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and an upscale country inn decor. You'll pay $139 midweek, $179 weekends to stay here. At the Fall Line Condominiums (800-343-0762), you'll find typical Vermont-style condominiums in a town-house style structure. Every unit has a fireplace and comes with either a whirlpool bath or a hot tub. Come on the weekend and it will run you $161 per person, per night. On weekdays, it's just $137. Come for a five-night Skiweek and you'll pay just $108 per night. You get a lift ticket with that deal as well.
Crowds forsake Mad River Glen, which SKI's readers ranked second for value. The expert terrain here beckons diehards to "Ski It If You Can." They come for the nation's last surviving single chairlift, which insures low skier density. The eccentric charms of the Basebox, the mountain's main lodge, and the midweek $29 lift ticket are other reasons to come. But it's the laid-back atmosphere and friendly greeting that are hallmarks of this bastion of trees and bumps, where you'll find no boards, and little grooming. Accommodations tend to be classic Vermont farmhouse inns without stuffiness or pretension, places without televisions and phones in the room. The 1824 House Inn (800 426-8936 www.1824house.com/) is listed on the National register of Historic Places and has just eight guest rooms, with featherbeds and antiques. A three-night package with a three-day lift ticket thrown in starts at $259 per person. Otherwise, it's $110 per room on the weekends, based on a two-night minimum. The 1832 Greek Revival farmhouse that is now the Hyde Away Inn and Restaurant (800/777-HYDE/www.hydeaway.com) feature antiques in its 12-rooms. It will set you back just $95 per night with breakfast, or $85 if you're willing to share a bathroom.