From Whistler to Vail, North American ski resorts celebrate snow season with everything from new runs to snowcat DJs.WHISTLER: In British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb (whistlerblackcomb.com) unveils an $18 million lift expansion with two new high-speed chairs. Get an off-slope adrenaline hit with Superfly (superflyziplines.com), now operating Canada’s longest ziplines.
JACKSON HOLE: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (jacksonhole.com) adopts radio frequency lift ticket technology this year, with reloadable ID cards that trigger quicker access to the chairs.
Strength-in-numbers affiliations are increasingly linking ski resorts, offering season-passholders more variety for their investment. Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass (epicpass.com) covers 26 resorts in four counties, newly including Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah. The Mountain Collective (mountaincollective.com) expands to include Mammoth Mountain in California, Snowbird in Utah, and Whistler Blackcomb along with Aspen Snowmass, Jackson Hole, and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows in Lake Tahoe. Season passes at any of the 12 Powder Alliance (powderalliance.com) properties cover all member resorts including Crested Butte in Colorado, Snowbasin in Utah, and Mt. Hood in Oregon.
STEAMBOAT: Steamboat Ski Area (steamboat.com) will open its 13,000-square-foot restaurant, Four Points Lodge, at a 9,716-foot elevation for barbecue with a view by Christmas 2013.
LAKE TAHOE: Heavenly Mountain Resort (skiheavenly.com) launches a mobile DJ station aboard a snowcat primed to complement the high energy near popular ski lifts and après ski parties. Walking distance to the gondola, The Landing Resort & Spa (thelandingresortandspa.com) on the waterfront opens a Greek tavern and 88 rooms with gas fireplaces and marble bathrooms.
ASPEN: At the base of Aspen Mountain, The Little Nell (thelittlenell.com) unveils two top suites remodeled with stone fireplaces and bronze chandeliers. Nearby, celebrity chef David Burke aims to open the farm-to-table-focused David Burke Kitchen (davidburke.com) in January. A brilliant program from the Aspen Animal Shelter (dogsaspen.com) allows locals and visitors to “check out” a dog by the hour or day for an invigorating hike or just to pal around. The pooch sports a clever Adopt Me vest and becomes a walking billboard in its search for a good home. At The St. Regis Aspen Resort (stregis.com/aspen), a butler can streamline your ski and snow experience, arranging every detail including which mountains and runs to tackle, rental gear and storage, lessons, and where to eat après ski. Try the Chefs Club by Food & Wine (chefsclub.com) right on site, where four impressive Best New Chefs curate seasonal menus and make guest appearances throughout the winter. Also at the resort, the new Family Traditions experiences please all with snowmobiling, dog sled tours — even a winter hot-air balloon adventure.
BEAVER CREEK: Unbuckle your boots for smoked pork or lamb burgers at Beaver Creek’s (beavercreek.com) new on-mountain Talons restaurant, featuring a smokehouse and indoor/outdoor bar. The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch (ritzcarlton.com/bachelorgulch) emerges from a $15 million facelift with new restaurant Buffalos, 180 refreshed rooms and suites, and enhancements to the Great Room, Lobby, Club Level Lounge, and Ritz Kids areas. The already-amazing resort now exudes even more mountain elegance since the Bilkey Llinas Design firm worked its magic, and the property is celebrating with new Peak and Pinnacle ski packages including lift tickets and spa treatments. Not to be outdone, Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek (westinriverfrontbeavercreek.com) continues to update and impress. Become more balanced and calm with the new Chakra Blessing treatments at world-class Spa Anjali. Indulge in modern Mexican cuisine — and visit your personal tequila locker — at the new Maya restaurant. When the evening’s done, retire to your guest residence with a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms, views of the mountains, a saline- water pool, and three dreamy infinity-edge riverfront hot tubs. The residences are so popular, Westin unveils additional one-bedroom units for purchase this winter.
BRECKENRIDGE: Breckenridge Ski Resort (breckenridge.com) will add 543 new skiable acres — 400 served by lift and the balance hike-in terrain. Three new above-tree-line bowls include a pair for intermediates.
KEYSTONE: All-ages-friendly Keystone Resort (keystoneresort.com) debuts a new family ski trail with slow-zone rollers, mini moguls, and bank turns.
SILVERTON: In southern Colorado, Silverton Mountain (silvertonmountain.com) adds a new overnight heli-ski trip to its adventure menu, dropping guests, guide, and gear into the backcountry within its 22,000 acres.
VAIL: Vail Mountain (vail.com) upgrades two lifts, including the six-pack Mountaintop Express, boosting its capacity by one-third to 3,600 riders per hour. Four lanes of ziplines offer new downhill thrills. Make plans now to attend 2014’s months-long 20th Anniversary Vail Jazz Festival, with more than 30 live performances spanning jazz, blues, Latin, swing, Brazilian, gospel, and bebop. Expect headliners like Marcia Ball, Monty Alexander, Curtis Stigers, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Byron Stripling. (vailjazz.org).