While technically the only things you can’t ski without are two planks and a hill, it’s also true that the sport is far more enjoyable when accompanied by boot-warming ski concierges, 24-hour room service, hot-spring-style whirlpools and après-ski massages at a lavish spa. These are just a few of the amenities that put North America’s three Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star ski resorts head and shoulders above other mountain properties. For the most luxurious downhill getaway anywhere, head to one of these elite ski-in/ski-out hotels that top our list of the continent’s best.
View the full list of official 2015 Forbes Travel Guide Star Ratings here.
The Little Nell
Tucked between downtown Aspen and Aspen Mountain, The Little Nell has been the epitome of Colorado chic since opening in 1989. Its current “Aspen modern” aesthetic—think cream, chocolate and blue palettes on leather chairs, velvet banquettes, recessed gas fireplaces and contemporary art—comes courtesy of celebrity (and part-time local) designer Holly Hunt, who reimagined the hotel’s guest rooms for its 20th anniversary. VIPs splurge on the Paepcke Suite; at 2,500 square feet, it’s the hotel’s largest, and the space is powered, right down to the heated marble flooring and walls, entirely by its own solar panels. Some of Aspen’s best dining options call the hotel home, from Five-Star Element 47 and its local, seasonal fare to après hot spot Ajax Tavern and its signature double cheeseburger with truffle fries. Four bars, including the Oasis, a pop-up champagne and caviar bar found somewhere (depending on the day) on Aspen Mountain each weekend, offer more options for warming up post-run. You’ll need it after a long day that begins with The Little Nell’s exclusive, complimentary First Tracks program, which gives hotel guests access to the mountain before the gondola opens to the public. Insider access is the norm here; the hotel will also arrange for you to join the mountain’s groomer snowcat or ski patrol sweep on their morning and evening missions. No possible perk goes unturned—The Little Nell is a place where even your four-legged sidekick gets his own personalized brass ID tag and puppy jet lag kit.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole
Fresh off a room renovation in late 2014—the first major transformation since the hotel opened in 2003—Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole is as luxe as ever, with new in-room technology and locally inspired décor to boot. The 124 rooms and suites offer the best of both worlds; you’ll enjoy only-in-Wyoming perks such as Cache Creek Apothecary bath products in an alpine meadow scent, but also the Four Seasons amenities you know and love, including the recently introduced, customizable Four Seasons Beds. Lying on your perfectly firm mattress topper while streaming music from your smartphone to your room’s TV, you may be tempted to hibernate here—but you have a Four-Star spa, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and (only one mile away) Grand Teton National Park to explore. The hotel’s in-house ski-rental shop has everything you need for a day of downhill, cross-country or snowboarding, including a ski concierge to book your lessons or arrange an in-room boot fitting. Beyond the lifts (three chairlifts are accessible directly from Four Seasons), the resort provides access to an exhaustive list of winter activities, from heli-skiing to dog sledding to wildlife safaris, plus plenty of on-property allures. The hotel’s Westbank Grill and The Handle Bar, new two seasons ago, are both worthy restaurants for dinner. Westbank Grill’s roaring fire and mountain views are the perfect backdrop to its regional meat, game and fish dishes, while The Handle Bar serves elevated pub grub (Snake River Wagyu sirloin, cast-iron venison, salt-broiled bone marrow) in a mountain-modern space. Stop in for après to select a tipple from the extensive whiskey and beer menus, and toast to your Five-Star Jackson Hole vacation.
Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley
Park City’s only Five-Star resort also holds the title of World’s Best Ski Hotel from the 2014 World Ski Awards held in Austria this winter. All of the accolades make sense the moment you arrive at the property, where a soaring chalet entrance and heated walkways lead to guest rooms that are individually decorated to reflect the lodge’s mountain spirit, with exposed beams and stone fireplaces (there are more than 145 hearths onsite). The hotel, named after Olympic gold medalist Stein Eriksen, who won the slalom competition in his hometown of Oslo in 1952, is as renowned for its service as for its mid-mountain location and amenities, which include Five-Star The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge and Four-Star Glitretind Restaurant. At the latter, seasonal menus specialize in hearty local fare to fuel your adventures, so dig into succulent dishes such as roasted Utah lamb and Rocky Mountain elk. When it’s time to hit the slopes, Stein Eriksen’s ski valet service and ski locker room strip away the sport’s stresses; with boot warming, weather and trail conditions, and complimentary hot chocolate, you’ll stay toasty until you hop the adjacent Viking Lift. Non-skiers will find plenty to love here as well. In winter, horse-drawn sleigh rides depart nightly; come summer, fly-fishing, horseback riding and mountain biking are just a concierge call away. And though Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley feels like a tucked-away secret, you’re only five minutes from downtown Park City, reachable by the resort’s complimentary shuttle, of course.