KILLINGTON, Vt. (TheStreet) -- Why drive through inclement conditions, stay in some fleabait motel, drive again to the slopes and spend the day riding lifts and lugging gear from the parking lot? Just ski in and ski out.
At least 30% of winter travelers are going to be spending more on their excursions this year than they did last year -- roughly $1,850 per family of four according to the
Spending and Savings Tracker. While most of those spendthrifts plan to take a longer trip (23%), dine out (20%) and take in more activities and entertainment, a small but savvy minority (16%) plan to dump their extra travel dollars into better accommodations.
There are still ski-in/ski-out lodges available this winter that are so fancy skiing could get dropped from the agenda.
Our response to that: It's about time. Leave the moth-eaten motor lodges to skiers younger and poorer than yourself and invest in accommodations that not only have adequate space for you, your family and your gear, but have many of the comforts of home with immediate access to the slopes and trails.
asked its friends in the vacation rental industry for some of the best ski-in, ski-out locations still available for the upcoming season. They returned us a list that spans most of North America and splits the flags between casual and luxuriously comfortable. With an assist from the folks at
, here's our mountain of available ski-in, ski-out spots:
Steamboat Springs, Colo.:
This is a region that doesn't do anything halfway, and its rental properties are about as impressive as the peaks themselves. The
on HomeAway is an 8,000-square-foot palace with eight master suites, eight bathrooms and two half-bathrooms and a position 60 yards above the Thunderhead Lodge ski lift. Its 88 windows look onto an unobstructed view of the Rockies. The access to the slope is nice, but the six-burner Viking stove in its four-workstation kitchen, three bars, pool table, two 60-inch, 1080p-resolution televisions, 24-pair boot dryer and eight-person hot tub are how the chalet earns its $1,000- to $4,000-a-night fee.
Yet, somehow, the chalet looks like a guest house when compared with the 9,400-square-foot
Over The Edge House
on last-minute rental site PackLate, also near the Thunderhead lift. Built like a modern fortress directly overlooking the slope, Over The Edge has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms, 14-foot ceilings in the main room, fireplaces, two LCD televisions, a pool table, poker table, shuffleboard deck, hot tub, Jacuzzi tubs and kitchen with Wolf and SubZero appliances. That doesn't include the downstairs recreation area with a 52-inch LCD television attached to a
PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii. On the same level is a theater with a 140-inch screen and seating for 16. There are two weeks of availability left in February and March, and each can be had for $4,100 to $4,300 a night.
It gets a little cozier in Telluride, where the five-bedroom
ski-in/ski-out townhouse in Mountain Village has four bedrooms, five and a half bathrooms, a gas fireplace, pool table, hot tub and televisions in all rooms for $600 to $1,500 a night. Also unlike its upscale neighbors in Steamboat Springs, Castellina A is available through PackLate for much of the winter.
If the townhouse seems a little tight, however, HomeAway has more deluxe accommodations at the seven-bedroom
, a 13,000-square-foot estate worthy of the Trapp family. Perched over Mountain Village's Lift 4, the Valmore has direct access to the mountain's See Forever ski run from a room with ski racks, boot dryers, heated seating and floor drains. Within the Alpine estate, there's an eat-in wine room with space for 1,000 bottles, five fireplaces (excluding the outdoor fireplace), a three-bay garage, steam room, two laundry rooms and -- our personal favorite -- a circular wet bar with multiple televisions that appears to have been stolen from an airport lounge. The lodging fee of $5,000 to $7,000 a night also includes a heated patio with hot tub and a heated auto deck. If you're spending that much on vacation, there's no way you're shoveling.
You might have to clear the driveway for the folks staying at the 17,000-square-foot
, though, located on Mountain Village's Double Cabins ski run and fetching $12,500 a night during the high season. This 21-person estate -- modestly considered a 10-bedroom -- also includes a guest house and coachmen's house that expands capacity to 35. That's just window dressing once you consider the amenities, which include a stone-grotto hot tub with waterfall, formal and informal dining rooms, an observation tower, a library, concierge service, two elevators, 15 flatscreen TVs, 2,300 free movies on demand and a pool table that originally resided in the Clinton White House. We can see where the "ski-out" part would get tricky.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.:
Ski-in/ski-out doesn't have to be the most expensive proposition, especially not in Jackson Hole. Starting at just $495 a night, a group of 12 can stay in a
from FlipKey with lofty ceilings, a stone fireplace, outdoor hot tub, Wi-Fi and laundry. Sure, you have to stay for a minimum of four days, but a trip out to minimally populated Wyoming involves that long a stay for most folks anyway.
Whistler, British Columbia:
The great part about skiing at an Olympic venue the season after the event is taking advantage of all the upgrades Winter Olympics athletes got first crack at. The bad part is that everyone else has basically the same idea, which is why even ski-in/ski-out renters can't get too picky. A
700-square-foot, one-bedroom, two-bathroom condo
from ClearStay on the Whistler Blackcomb resort may sound more sparse than your own home, but it has an indoor hot tub, slopeside deck and a $148- to $408-a-night price tag comparable to a far less comfortable hotel.
Of course if you want to trade faux-Olympic glory for a fireplace, you can trek over to Kamloops, B.C., to stay in a 2,500-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom
overlooking the Blazer run at Sun Peaks Resort. For $350 to $786 a night, you get a large hot tub, HDTV and a roaring fire to warm your feet by. All of that hurts a lot less than falling down a mountain like Lindsey Vonn.
The East Coast may get derided as the Least Coast or Ice Coast, but it knows how to keep a well-monied, scarcely athletic skier satisfied. The seven-bedroom
villa on FlipKey dispenses with all the rustic, fake-Alpine timber-hewn nonsense and gives visitors a modern, luxurious space with cathedral-style ceilings in the living room, two fireplaces, wine fridge, a 50-inch plasma television, hot tub, sauna and housewide sound system with multiple iPod docks. The weekly $7,000 to $18,000 fee also includes the pool table and full wet bar.
For East Coast skiers, there's something to be said for the creature comforts of the New England resorts -- even when that creature's the deer whose antlers are now your cabin's chandelier. The five-bedroom ski-in/ski-out
chalet in Killington
offered by ClearStay is a Vermont classic: a peak-roofed cabin with an exterior of floor-to-ceiling windows and an interior with a stone fireplace, LCD televisions in every room and
Sunday Ticket package so you're not stuck watching the Giants, Jets or Patriots. The six-person hot tub and shuffleboard table are nice touches, but for $812 to $1,600 a night the rare trailside access is what separates this place from every other ski cottage and leaf-peeper palace in a 50-mile radius.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.
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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet.com. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, The Boston Phoenix, Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent.