Magazine article Sunset

Powder Rooms

Magazine article Sunset

Powder Rooms

Article excerpt

Baby, it's cold outside! Here are 14 escapes, from the Sierra to the Rockies, that make the most of our snowy season.

Let the snowbirds crowd the Sun Belt; we're aching for a snowy white winter. We've got our fingers crossed that this year's promised El Nino will deliver one, complete with powder-packed ski slopes, sled-friendly hillsides, and snow-crowned pines. And we're ready with this list of the West's best winter retreats: 14 cozy spots where you can ski, snowshoe, or just laze by a fire while watching the fluffy flakes fall.

BEST FOR ROMANCE

Mountain Home Lodge

Leavenworth, WA

In the shadow of the Cascades, Mountain Home Lodge's two private cabins make quintessential winter hideouts--the kind that celebrate nature's ruggedness while providing luxurious ways to experience it. Since the steep road to the resort (perched 1,000 feet above Leavenworth) is impassable in winter, the only way up is by private snowcat. Once you arrive at your snowy aerie, you can spend days enjoying 30 miles of ski and snowshoe trails, then at night sleep in an artisan-built pine king bed. Rates include breakfast, lunch, and a nightly four-course dinner. Cabins from $625; mthome.com.

Washington School House

Park City, UT

Cross mountain cool with the romance of a Paris apartment, and you get Park City's Washington School House. The boutique hotel occupies an 1 889 schoolhouse with 16-foot-high ceilings and limestone walls. The former classrooms are now 12 rustic-chic suites with reclaimed barn wood floors set off by crystal chandeliers, down-feather beds, and Pratesi linens. Soak in the heated pool terraced into the hillside, or have cocktails in the stylish ski lounge, then amble into downtown Park City, just a few hundred yards away. Rooms from $850; washingtonschoo/house.com.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Field, B.C.

Tucked high in the Canadian Rockies, Emerald Lake Lodge is a secluded getaway that's loveliest in winter, especially if you want to unplug. All rooms include wood-burning fieldstone fireplaces and breakfast nooks with coffeemakers. What none of them have: Wi-Fi, cell service, or TV. Surrounded by deep snowbanks, the lodge's 13-acre peninsula is a paradise for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Glide around the lake, then enjoy hot toddies in the main lodge, a hand-hewn timber structure dating back to 1902. Rooms from $149; crmr.com/emerald.

BEST FOR FAMILIES

Basecamp Hotel

South Lake Tahoe, CA

The Family Room at Basecamp Hotel is like something a kid would dream up: ladders climbing to twin bunks facing a big flat-screen TV, paired with two queen beds topped by wool camp blankets. It's one of 74 rooms in this modern, edgy remodel of an old-style motor lodge within walking distance of the slopes at Heavenly Mountain Resort. For aspiring young cold-weather campers, The Great Indoors Room comes with an indoor tent, faux-fire pit, woodsy wall mural, picnic table, and glow-in-the-dark ceiling stars. Outside, the playful spirit continues, with communal firepits for roasting s'mores. Rooms from $129; basecamphotels.com.

Tamarack Lodge & Resort

Mammoth Lakes, CA

It's rare to find a historic lodge that feels cushy by today's standards, but the 35 studio to three-bedroom cabins at Tamarack Lodge are comfortable hideaways with kitchens, fireplaces, firewood-stocked porches, and iPod docking stations tucked amid the requisite knotty-pine paneling and plaid. They're great for families with young kids--think timeless but indestructible, with sturdy coffee tables for games. The best part? Having your own cabin in the snow means enough space for kids to be kids. Build snowmen and launch a snowball fight before heading to the lakefront dining room and putting your feet up near the fire. Cabins from $179; tamaracklodge.com.

BEST BARGAIN

Free Spirit Spheres

Qualicum Bay, B. …

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