The tools are picked up, construction is finished and the new Copper Mountain Village is here. Chronically criticized as a resort with "limited dining and nightlife," Copper counterpunches with its new hub, which boasts 14 restaurants and 21 lodges. Though it needs some seasoning, the village has skiers applauding "a beautiful new base area." The first step in Copper's renaissance was upgrading its frontside lifts a few years back: replacing a quad with a high-speed six-pack to whisk skiers to the summit in nine minutes. From there, skiers enjoy 2,433 acres of "spacious and challenging terrain" that's "set up perfectly for families." While some gripe it's "too crowded on weekends," others reassure "the liftlines move fast." Copper's most touted feature is the "mountain's great layout" because it "separates the beginners from the experts and leaves plenty of room to ski at your own pace." One reader even guarantees "you can always find great snow somewhere." Off the slopes, you can try Copper's 35-foot climbing wall or head to the Athletic Club and Spa. Copper has always had a killer mountain, now it adds a new base village to raise it to the elite ranks. As one reader says: "Dollar for dollar, Copper is the best mountain anywhere." -D.S.
WHAT'S NEW West Lake Market, a kind of retail U.N. at the new village, including a Russian nightclub, an Irish pub, a Mexican restaurant and a variety of shops. There is also an ice-skating rink and a fire pit.
A GOOD DEAL Kids 13 and younger ski free when an adult buys a lifts-and-lodging package for at least three nights.
MEDALS GOLD Grooming, Terrain, Challenge, Value, Lifts, Access, Terrain Parks; Silver Snow, Service, Weather, On-Mountain Food, Lodging, Family Programs, Scenery.
HIGH/LOW RANK Access (5), Terrain Parks (7), Lifts (13); Lodging (27), Challenge (29), Scenery (35).
DON'T MISS Copper après legend Moe Dixon, who performs after the lifts shut down at J.J.'s, located at the base of the Super Bee lift. If the ski with the shot glasses comes out, be afraid. Be very afraid.
READER REMARKS (+) "New village is a big plus." "Very easy access." "High altitude makes for great snow and scenery." (-) "Hard to get from parking to slopes." "Felt like New York City on the slopes."
Great Lodging Deals here.