We love skiing with our hubbies. Hitting the slopes when the first lift opens; rejoicing over the blizzard conditions; hunting in the woods for untracked, virgin snow; downing a beer and a burger for a late lunch; shushing top to bottom with no stops. Sometimes, there’s an unwanted lesson thrown in. (“Honey, you’re leaning way too far back.”) There are other benefits, of course, but still. . .
So, at least once a year, we plan a girlfriend ski getaway. There’s something a little (a lot!) more relaxing about hitting the slopes with your gal pals. You don’t even have to ski that much to have fun — there’s snowshoeing, nature walks, concerts, ice skating, wine tastings, girl talk.
Here are four great spots for a girlfriend ski getaway in New England, where you’ll get the guidance you need, the coddling you deserve, and that special boost that only comes from sisterhood.
Stowe Mountain Resort
Pampering, upscale Stowe, Vt., sitting in the shadows of the Green Mountain peaks, is New England’s closest answer to Aspen. It’s home to art galleries, artisan food shops, craft breweries, trendy restaurants, fine country inns, upscale resorts, and the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, which hosts live concerts and performances throughout the winter. Skiing is primo at Stowe Mountain Resort, with 116 trails, where high speed lifts and a gondola get you up the mountain in a hurry. Did we mention that there are several top-rated spas in town?
Stay: The Stowe Mountain Lodge has one- to three-bedroom, ski-in, ski-out suites, with plenty of space and privacy for late-night talks (802-253-3560, www.stowemountainlodge.com). The hip and stylish Field Guide (802-253-8088, www.fieldguidestowe.com) is filled with contemporary furniture, bold colors and whimsical accents, like paper maché animal heads and furry foot stools. Suites can accommodate up to four, some with gas fireplaces, private decks, and soaking tubs.
Savor: Ravenous after a day spent outdoors? The Bistro at Ten Acres (802-253-6838, www.tenacreslodge.com) is consistently ranked number one in a village known for its culinary cache. Its friendly vibe and creative cuisine, including the signature braised pork shank and jambalaya (what better after a winter’s day on the slopes?), get rave reviews. The family-owned Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar (802-253-7773, www.harrisonsstowe.com) gets high marks for its hearty fare, Vermont microbrews, and reasonable prices.
Ski & Spa: Bond with your besties during a private group lesson (2-5 people, 1 hour, $250, 2 hours $435, 3 hours $620, 6 hours $925), then unwind at the Spa at Stowe Mountain Lodge (802-760-4782, www.stowe.com/activities/spa), with a Himalayan crystal scrub and body massage.
Okemo Mountain Resort
This southern Vermont resort will roll out the pink carpet for your gal gang, making a ski getaway as simple and relaxing as possible. Park your car in the underground garage; check in and let the bell hops schlepp your ski gear and suitcases full of bulky winter wear. No hurries, no worries. Everything you need is within walking, skiing, or shuttle bus distance, including a slew of restaurants and taverns, a fitness center, swimming pools, and hot tubs, and spa and massage services. The mountain has 46 miles of trails, and groomers lay corduroy on some of the best cruisers in the East.
Stay: Spacious two- and three-bedroom condos at The Jackson Gore Village provide plenty of space to unwind and catch up with your BFFs. Have your own private sundowner in front of a fireplace overlooking the slopes, before heading to dinner in the village.
Savor: Celebrate your friendship with apres ski cocktails and munchies at Siena (802-228-1440, www.okemo.com/dining/siena), often featuring live entertainment on Saturday nights. Put your parkas back on for Okemo’s Snow Cat Dining Adventure. You’ll ride the snow cat from Jackson Gore to the Solitude Mountain base for a five-course dinner at Epic restaurant, helmed by talented chef Jason Tostrup.
Ski & Spa: Time your girlfriend ski getaway to coincide with one of Okemo’s popular Women’s Alpine Adventures. Two-, three- and five-day programs, with personalized instruction and discounted lodging rates, are offered for all experience levels (www.okemo.com/mountain-info/ski-ride-school/womens-programs; $435-$820). After a day on the slopes (or not!), head to the Spring House Fitness Center and Spa for a signature Vermont Maple and Brown Sugar body scrub or a deep tissue massage.
If your soul sisters are adventure seekers, you’ve come to the right place. Unpretentious Lincoln, N.H., is a magnet for outdoor lovers. Draw on that special girl power to go ziplining across the Pemigewasset River; take a rollicking off-road trip in a six-wheel drive Swiss army vehicle; join a guided summit snowshoe hike, or snowmobile through the White Mountain National Forest. There’s skiing at Loon Mountain, with 61 trails spread across 370 acres, and 99 percent of the terrain is covered with snowmaking guns, in case Old Man Winter turns fickle.
Stay: Hang out with your best buds in one of the suites at the newly opened Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain (603-745-7500, www.riverwalkatloon.com), overlooking the slopes. One- and two-bedroom suites have full kitchens, and separate dining and living areas — perfect for sprawling out and getting in some quality girlfriend time. And, how convenient: Located off the lobby is the Seven Birches Winery. Grab a bottle (or two) after checking in, and return for an apres ski wine tasting.
Savor: No one’s counting calories this weekend, so go ahead and order for the table — jumbo-size taco salads and platters of St. Louis pork ribs at the Texas Toast Eatery & Pig’s Ear BBQ (603-745-9977, www.texastoastlincolnnh.com). It’s a great place for an early morning carb load, too. And because we know that guys aren’t the only ones who crave a good burger now and then, there’s Black Mtn. Burger Co. (603-745-3444, www.blackmtnburger.com). The hard-to-resist Smitty burger is layered between two grilled cheese sandwiches, topped with bacon.
Ski & Spa: The instructors at Loon are happy to customize a private group lesson for your girl tribe. Or, attend the Women’s Performance Ski Camp, held Feb. 25-26, with 12 hours of coaching spread over two days (Jan. 21-22 & Feb. 24-25, $285 including two-day lift ticket). At the two-day Women’s Droppin’ In Freestyle Camp, for intermediate skiers and snowboarders, you’ll be coached by Oakley’s pro women athletes (March 25-26, $325 with a two-day lift ticket). All that play deserves a session at the Solstice North Day Spa (603-745-7560, www.solsticenorth.com).
This pretty little self-contained pedestrian ski village, nestled in a picturesque, 500-acre valley within the White Mountain National Forest, offers the best of both worlds. There’s skiing on 265 acres, crisscrossed by 60 trails, and some top-notch, on-mountain instruction. But the mini Euro-style hamlet also offers the sanity-saving, relaxation you and your fave friends are craving. Gather the gang in Town Square for selfies, and to browse the village shops, including the Bookmonger, one of the best independent book stores in the state. Consider a twirl around the indoor ice skating rink or a dog sledding excursion. Then, head to your condo for some downtime with the gals.
Stay: You can walk to village shops and restaurants from the Town Square Condominiums (800-Go-Valley, www.waterville.com). The three-bedroom, two-bath townhouses, with full kitchens and separate dining and living areas, are perfect for relaxing with your wing women after a day on the slopes.
Savor: Mountain views and freshly prepared dishes draw crowds to the Coyote Grill (603-236-4919, www.wildcoyotegrill.com). The menu changes frequently but the shrimp risotto and buffalo meatloaf are favorites. Prefer to slip on sweats and relax? Order a take-out pie, salad, and pasta from Olde Waterville Pizza (603-236-3663, www.waterville.com/village/village-dining).
Ski & Spa: Waterville Valley instructors are some of the best in the business. Sign up for a semi-private group lesson for up to five people (1 hour, $177, 2 hours $321, 3 hours $466). Or, join the general group lessons offered twice daily (2 hours, $48). The resort also offers a Ladies Retreat & Clinic package (valid Friday through Sunday, Jan. 6-April 2, prices vary depending on lodging), including lodging, Saturday lift ticket, private clinic, a bottle of wine, and a $50 credit for dining at one of the on-mountain restaurants. Of course, this girlfriend getaway wouldn’t be complete without a little indulgence. The White Mountain Athletic Club (603-236-8303, www.wmacwv.com) has pools, saunas, steam rooms, and massage services.Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.