By Christina Valhouli
There’s something wonderfully comforting about an old-school ski resort. They’re not hip, they’re not cool, and that is precisely the point. If you’re looking for a Norman Rockwell-inspired place to enjoy a winter break, complete with antlers, cocoa by the fire, and plenty of plaid, check into one of these traditional ski hotels. And before you go, remember to swap the skinny jeans and aviator sunglasses for a fleece and some L.L.Bean boots to really look the part.
1. Whiteface Lodge
Lake Placid, NY
Tucked into the woodlands of Lake Placid, New York, the Whiteface Lodge is built in the style an Adirondack great camp, so there is plenty of wood and natural material. During the day, guests can enjoy ice-skating or bowling at the indoor alley, and there’s also a family games room. At night, tuck into s’mores by the fire pit, or warm up with a cognac at one of the handcrafted lean-tos dotted around the property.
2. Gstaad Palace
This grand ski resort is one of the few family-owned hotels in Switzerland and comes with a storied past: During World War II, the Swiss government hid much of the country’s gold reserves in the hotel’s bunker. Today, the Gstaad Palace offers all of the traditional Swiss trappings, complete with chocolate, cheese, and plenty of wine. The in-house La Fromagerie restaurant, with wood-paneled walls and gingham-covered tables, is the place to gorge on fondue or raclette. The hotel also offers an igloo experience for those looking to channel their inner Eskimo.
3. Trapp Family Lodge
The hills are alive . . . in Vermont. The Von Trapp family, famously portrayed in the classic movie The Sound of Music, opened this ski lodge in the 1950s and it’s still today owned by family descendants. The main building is designed in classic Austrian style and fans of the film should time their visit to coincide with the weekly screening of the movie (held on Thursday nights). For a classic winter experience, cross-country ski or snowshoe to the Slayton Pasture Cabin, located three miles from the Trapp Family Lodge, where guests can warm up by the fireplace with a hot cocoa or a bowl of soup. Horse-drawn carriage rides are also available, or come back in early March for maple sugaring season.
4. Fairmont Château Lake Louise
Located on the shores of Banff National Park’s Lake Louise and set against the backdrop of the Rockies, this Fairmont hotel looks like a fairy-tale castle, thanks to its towers and turrets. While skiing is the big draw here, activities on offer cover all the winter classics, from sleigh rides to ice-skating. Cross-country trails can be accessed just outside the resort. Inside, the decor is traditional, thanks to an abundance of oil paintings and polished wood. The in-house Walliser Stube restaurant serves classic Alpine cuisine, such as fondue and raclette.
5. Hotel La Perla
Think of this family-run hotel as being happily stuck in the past, but with plenty of surprises. Located in the heart of Italy’s Dolomites, the Hotel La Perla exudes a classic Tyrolean style, with plenty of exposed beams, plaid, and checkered fabrics. It’s also a bit glam, with crystal chandeliers dotted liberally around the hotel. While the decor can be a little nutty (like the over-the-top grotto pool), the food is taken very seriously. Menus are proudly Italian and ingredients are sourced locally where possible. The massive buffet breakfast serves up farm-fresh eggs, cheese, and yogurt. Dinner options include the Osteria Le Murin, housed in a former mill, as well as the Michelin-starred La Stua de Michel restaurant, which features a 30,000-bottle wine cellar. Don’t miss the horseshoe-shaped bar, which serves everything from fresh juices to classic cocktails.
Christina Valhouli has written about travel, beauty, and lifestyle trends for The New York Times, the New York Post, and Departures. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo credits: Courtesy of Whiteface Lodge; Gstaad Palace; Trapp Family Lodge; Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel; Hotel La Perla