JEFFERSONSVILLE, Vt. —
Ski resorts across New England are taking guests back up the mountain when the sun goes down to enjoy peak-top dinners under starlit skies. Here are some of our favorite elevated dining experiences (all prices per person), where getting to and from dinner is often as exciting as the meal.
Waterville Valley Resort
Live music, fireside dining, and a torchlight parade make the Starry Nights experience at Waterville Valley in New Hampshire a standout. If you’re lucky, an inky sky will be littered with stars as you ride up the Valley Run Quad lift and ski over to the Sunnyside Timberlodge, along a torchlighted trail. Inside the lodge, trade your ski boots for a pair of souvenir slipper socks, cozy up to the roaring log fire, sip a glass of wine or local beer, and listen to live music. Dinner may include entrees like herb-crusted tenderloin, lobster ravioli, or cumin-dusted swordfish. Indulge, of course, but remember you’ll need to ski or ride back down the trail. The dining experience ends with a Torchlight Parade down the Valley Run trail to the base of Mount Tecumseh. 800-468-2553, www.waterville.com, $135, must be 16 or older.
Allyn’s Lodge at Sugarbush in Vermont looks a lot different at night, when it’s transformed into a quiet bistro with twinkling tea lights. The Remote Fireside Dining experience begins with a ride on the Lincoln Limo, a cushy, 12-passenger snowcat. You’ll ascend in heated comfort to the top of Gadd Peak. The pampering continues inside the lodge, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and chunks of bread dipped in rich, gooey fondue, warming up by the stone hearth, followed by a three-course dinner. But then you’ll have a decision to make: Do you take the Lincoln Limo back down or ski under the stars, on a hushed, near empty, freshly groomed trail? Either way, dessert will be waiting when you return to Timbers Restaurant. 800-537-8427, www.sugarbush.com, Allyn’s Lodge $200; Tour de Moons $60.
For the Snowshoe Adventure Dinner at Smuggler’s Notch, you’ll ride the last chair to the summit of 3,010-foot Sterling Mountain, and catch the final daylight views of the surrounding mountain peaks, valleys, and dramatic gorges. Warm up with a hot chocolate (with a nip of something alcoholic added, if you like) inside the cozy cabin. When you’re ready, head back outdoors for a guided snowshoe hike, traversing the summit trails, with views of mountain peaks and valley lights. After working up an appetite, you’ll head back to the cabin for a multicourse dinner prepared by the resort’s Hearth & Candle restaurant. Beverages are BYO, so don’t forget that Bota Box! And, don’t get too comfy. You’ll be snowshoeing back down the mountain to the base lodge, where a shuttle will return you to the village. 800-419-4615, www.smuggs.com, $69, including snowshoe rental.
Ever wanted to ride in a snowcat after hours as it clawed its way up a mountain slope? The Snowcat Dining Adventure at Okemo in Vermont combines a cat ride with a gourmet, five-course dinner. You’ll ride the cat from Jackson Gore to the Solitude Mountain base for dinner at Epic restaurant, helmed by talented chef Jason Tostrup. You may have stopped at this busy mid-mountain lodge for lunch, but it’s a different space when the sun’s gone down, the crowds are gone, the tables are topped in white linen, and soft candles light the room. Enjoy cocktails (there’s a full bar) before Tostrup’s dishes arrive: perhaps a pumpkin bisque or sweet Maine crab tartine to start, followed by dishes like braised Wagu beef shoulder, roasted branzini, and grilled quail. The menu changes weekly, highlighting fresh ingredients and Tostrup’s whims. There are special nights held throughout the season, including a beer pairing dinner on Jan. 17 and a special Aphrodite Valentine’s Day Dinner, an entire meal featuring popular aphrodisiacs. 802-228-1600, www.okemo.com, $125.
Even if we didn’t love skiing at Sugarloaf in Maine, we might make the trek for the resort’s popular Bullwinkle’s at Night. The experience begins the moment you board the red, 18-passenger Bombardier snowcat for the climb to Bullwinkle’s lodge. The lunch hot spot by day sits three-quarters of the way up the mountain, and is nearly unrecognizable on Saturday evening when it turns into a rustically elegant dining room, in view of dark mountain peaks and distant valleys. The six-course meal is worthy of the setting. Starters might include a crab bisque or charred fennel and lemongrass soup, followed by appetizers like lobster tempura rolls or pan-seared foie gras. Entrees include wild game and local selections, including porcini-dusted tenderloin, roasted rainbow trout, and apricot-braised lamb shank. 800-843-5623, www.sugarloaf.com, $99.
There’s no other mountain dining experience quite like this one: an indulgent, five-course dinner served in the remote Ledgewood Yurt, surrounded by dark, snow-covered Vermont woods. The round, canvas-sided yurt sits along Killington’s Northbrook Trail, far from the lively base lodge crowds. Bundle up! To get to this woodsy, nighttime oasis, you’ll take a 15-minute-or-so snowcat-drawn sleigh ride through the woods. Once inside the yurt, heated by a woodburning stove, you’ll be toasty warm. While the surroundings are rustic, the menu is anything but. Expect such dishes as sturgeon served with lobster and truffled spoonbread, veal sweetbreads with pork belly confit, and bison rib-eye. Desserts like the molten lava cake will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy for the sleigh ride back to the lodge. 866-809-9147, www.killington.com, $119-$129.
Kids love having dinner with Eddy the Yeti, the fun-loving, furry mascot at Sunday River in Maine. Family buffet-style dinners are held throughout the winter season, and getting there is half the fun. When the other lifts close for the day, Peak Dinner diners board the Chondola for the trip to the mid-mountain Peak Lodge, with great views of the Mahoosuc Mountain range along the way. But kids don’t have all the fun. A variety of adult-centered themed dinners are held throughout the winter season, including comedy dinners with live, stand-up comedians, mystery theater dinners, guest chef dinners, and special occasion events, including Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve dinners. 800-543-2754, www.sundayriver.com, prices vary.