NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The cooler months usually bring thoughts of weeklong warm-weather vacations. But what if you've used up most of your vacation days and cold weekends are all you have left?We've lined up three weekend getaway ideas that are within a few hours' drive of New York City. You can ski in upstate New York, take ice-driving lessons in Vermont or get a chocolate bath in Pennsylvania. When it comes to luxury accommodations, what you would typically pay top dollar for in the summer or fall may just be this winter's best deals. These year-round destination resorts all made the AAA Four-Diamond list.
Lake Placid, N.Y. Whiteface Mountain, about 13 miles from Lake Placid, is the place to be in New York for skiing. Not only does it have the greatest vertical drop in the East, but its peak also offers the best views of the Adirondacks. The area is so inviting that it lured Ed Weibrecht, an avid skier, away from skyscrapers and big-city life. He quit his job as a telecom executive and bought Mirror Lake Inn in 1976. He has been running the resort ever since. "I had to make a decision -- either to end my career or stop skiing," Weibrecht says. "I decided to follow my passion." Today, Mirror Lake Inn is the No. 1 resort and top ski hotel in the Northeast as voted by Conde Nast Traveler's readers. From November until April (except during Christmas week and President's week), guests at Mirror Lake Inn can avail themselves of ski packages that combine accommodations with lift tickets to Whiteface Mountain. The resort also offers complimentary shuttle service from the steps of the hotel to the base lodge of the mountain. "The inn is run by skiers for skiers," says Weibrecht, whose son, Andrew, is an Olympic medalist with the U.S. Ski Team. "Skiers should know that we understand their needs -- from a speedy skier breakfast to relaxing lounges, spa and dining options in the evening." Mirror Lake Inn is within walking distance of downtown Lake Placid and the town's main attraction, the Olympic Center. Winter sports enthusiasts will find a collection of memorabilia from the Winter Olympics, which Lake Placid hosted in 1932 and 1980. More than a ski hotel, Mirror Lake Inn lets guests choose from other winter activities as well, such as skating and snowshoe trekking on scenic trails. For an additional fee, guests can take a dogsled ride or toboggan down the chute on Mirror Lake. Winter weekend rates in Classic Rooms start at $269 per night based on double occupancy -- a deal compared with summer rates of $399. For the more luxurious and spacious Classic Suites, winter weekend rates start at $465 The Adirondack Suite (pictured above) is a $725 per night suite with a stone fireplace, whirlpool bath and views of the Adirondack Mountains and Mirror Lake.
Manchester Village, Vt. How about a different kind of "road" trip? At The Equinox in the historic village of Manchester in Vermont, guests can sign up for the Land Rover Experience to get driving lessons in the best or worst winter conditions. Participants go behind the wheel of a new Land Rover and face numerous challenges on the property's 80-acre purpose-built course. The degree of difficulty is matched to the driver's skill, and more advanced drivers can explore the expansive trails through the mountains. "Guests can learn safe driving techniques on ascents, descents and side tilts," says Gerry McFarland, director of sales and marketing at The Equinox. "We give you a certificate of completion when you finish the course." The Land Rover Experience comes at $250 per hour and $400 for a two-hour lesson. Guests, however, can combine the off-road driving programs with accommodations. Winter weekend room rates for the Land Rover Experience package start at $450 per night and includes one-hour of ice-driving lessons for up to four people. A two-night stay is required. The Equinox is one of only four destinations in the U.S. that offer the Land Rover Experience. The other three are in North Carolina (Biltmore), Canada (Fairmont) and California (Quail Lodge).
Hershey, Pa. If pure relaxation is the theme of your winter weekend getaway, drive to The Hotel Hershey in Pennsylvania for unique spa treatments. Here guests can get a Whipped Cocoa Bath or a Cocoa Massage. Jennifer Wayland-Smith, former spa director, developed the foaming chocolate milk bath, which is now part of the spa's signature collections. The Whipped Cocoa Bath, a spa treatment akin to sitting in a cup of hot cocoa, is so unique that it was awarded a U.S. patent in 2004. The 15-minute bath costs $50, while the 80-minute cocoa massage costs $195. To intensify the guest's "chocolaty" experience, spa therapists light cocoa-scented candles during treatments. During the cooler months, guests can get seasonal treatments such as the Peppermint Hot Chocolate Immersion and Peppermint Mocha Manicure and Pedicure. Built in 1933, The Hotel Hershey is one of America's landmark hotels, with 276 guest rooms and suites. Aside from the spa, all hotel guests can enjoy the Hershey Resorts Advantage, which includes the best price on Hersheypark tickets and free admission to the Hershey Story museum. Winter room rates at The Hotel Hershey start at $279 per night. Spa packages that combine accommodations with spa credits and in-room spa amenities can also be booked directly with the hotel. -- Written by Marilen Cawad in New York. Follow @MarilenCawad