The Love Connection

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A fireplace, a room with a view and a world-class ski resort. What better way for a couple to spend Valentine's Day-or any winter weekend-than at a romantic ski hotel? A hideaway that offers peace and quiet aplenty, a sense of ski history and style. Service is paramount. Pampering is the rule. And while the hotel can be over the top, it needn't break the bank.

Short of a dozen roses, here's a dozen getaways for Valentine's Day that are the romantic essence of skiing. All packages are based on February rates.

Eastern Trio
Let's start with three retreats in Vermont. Edson Hill Manor (800-621-0284) is a brick and log Tudor-style building five and a half miles from Stowe that dates back to 1940. A pine-paneled living room invites guests to sit down to a game of backgammon after a leisurely dinner in the award-winning dining room. Its four carriage houses offer privacy, but you can also choose a room with a queen-size bed and a fireplace in the main house, where the rate is $70 per person including breakfast, $90 if you want dinner. If you need a break from Stowe's downhill, try Edson's cross-country trails on the property's 225 acres.

For an old-fashioned Vermont bed-and-breakfast stay, you can't do much better than the Lareau Farm Country Inn (802-496-4949). This 1832 Greek Revival farmhouse is just five miles from both Sugarbush and Mad River Glen. The rooms-decorated with period wallpaper, collectibles and antiques-retain their 19th-century charm. Start the day here with a generous homemade breakfast and end it with a twilight horse-drawn sleigh ride. For Valentine's Day weekend, $100 per night gets you a room with a private bath and breakfast.

In the heart of West Dover, Vt., is the West Dover Inn (802-464-5207), a picture-perfect New England inn. Dating from 1846, this Greek Revival building was a former stagecoach stop and is on the Register of Historic Places. The Inn has the charm you'd expect from such provenance: Antiques, hand-sewn quilts and brass beds set the tone. It's less than four miles to Mt. Snow, and the rates, which include breakfast, start at $110 per night.

Rocky Mountain Magic
Out West, start your search for romance in Vail at the Sonnenalp Resort's Bavaria Haus (800-654-8312). Owner Johannes Faessler, whose family owns the Sonnenalp in Bavaria, has taken pampering to new levels. Rooms are done in Bavarian style and have fireplaces and balconies. The spa is one of the most luxurious in any ski town. After a massage or a soak in an outdoor Jacuzzi, lounge by the open fireplace in your terry-cloth robe. Rates, based on a minimum seven-night stay, are $400 per night, including a lavish European-style buffet breakfast.

Located on the banks of the Gore River, the Black Bear Inn (303-476-1304) is a charming log lodge with spacious cabin rooms. You'll be welcomed by comforters and cozy furniture, but no televisions or radios to spoil the peacefulness. The great room has many windows and couches, the better to soak in the views. Located in West Vail, about two miles from the resort, the Inn is delightfully removed from the bustle of the ski area, but the free town bus makes for a painless trip to the hill. The $195 rate includes a full breakfast for two and afternoon hors d'oeuvres and drinks.

In Telluride, the Hotel Columbia's (800-201-9505) attention to details-fireplaces, over-stuffed chairs, luxurious bathrooms and balconies with views of the San Juans-ensure a comfortable stay. And its proximity to the Oak Street lifts and the new gondola-only a few blocks-make for a carefree jaunt to the hill. It has just 19 rooms plus two suites, and offers fine dining in the Cosmopolitan restaurant. Rates start at $215 per night, including breakfast.

When the snow falls in Wyoming, those with a yen for romance head for Spring Creek Resort (800-443-6139), a rustic retreat with staggering views of the Tetons. Located between the town of Jackson and Jackson Hole Resort, Spring eek offers log cabin-style accommodations with woodburning fireplaces. Spring Creek's Honeymoon Package provides four nights in a deluxe room, champagne on arrival, dinner for two at the Granary restaurant, daily breakfast, a sleigh ride, transfers, shuttles to town and all taxes and gratuities. Rates are $270 per couple for the first night, $165 for additional nights.

Aspen has more than its share of romantic retreats but the sybarite's choice is The Little Nell (888-843-6355). This hotel is among the best in the world. Simply envision subtle luxury, and you'll find it here. Impeccable service, Jacuzzis, steam showers, Frette robes and a wonderful sense of being cocooned, set the Nell apart. There's no need to leave the premises because both of its fine restaurants serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then again, the views of Ajax should be enough to lure you up the hill. Rates at The Nell start at $450 per night.

In sharp contrast and five blocks away is another Aspen choice, the Hotel Jerome (800-331-7213), which wraps you in Victoriana. Rates for the three-night Romance package start at $445 per night, including daily breakfast, a three-course dinner in the Century Room and a bottle of champagne.

Idaho's Sun Valley still packs a wallop of glamour, and the Sun Valley Lodge (800-786-8259), the first bona-fide ski lodge in the U.S., is the place to go. Built in 1936, there's magic in the great sun room with the grand piano, in the Duchin Bar and at the outdoor rink rimmed with twinkling lights that has become the hotel's trademark. The basic rooms with their French Provincial furniture are comfortable for a getaway, especially at $139 per night. But if it's a special occasion you're celebrating, consider booking one of the two bedroom cottages with fireplaces ($550 per night).

In Lake Louise, Canada, the cognoscenti cozy up at the Post Hotel (800-661-1586), a Relais & Chateaux property. This alpine chalet-style hotel features wood-paneled rooms, an indoor pool and Jacuzzi and arguably the best dining in the Canadian Rockies. The slopes of Lake Louise are just a few miles away, and Sunshine and Norquay are an hour away-and the mountain scenery is some of the best. Rates start at $124.

Just an hour from Salt Lake City, Sundance (800-892-1600)-Robert Redford's retreat-is possibly the most laid-back ski resort around. The cabins are country-elegant: Rough-hewn pine interiors and rustic furniture are the theme. For a break from the mountain, take a tour of the 15 kilometers of cross-country trails or wile away the evening over dinner at the Tree Room. As of this winter, snowboarders are welcome, too. Rates start at $195 per night.

Savvy Shorts

In Training
The fine art of getting out of Gotham and to the slopes is now a lot easier for the legions of Manhattan skiers and snowboarders. Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl has teamed up with Amtrak's Empire Service to offer train travel to the Catskills this winter. Trains run twice daily on Fridays and Saturdays, and once on Sundays, from New York's Penn Station to Hudson, N.Y. A motorcoach meets the train for the short transfer to the mountain. The basic fare is $26, one-way. Call (800) USA-RAIL. For lift, lodging and rail packages, call (888) AMTRAK1.

Sweet Swiss Deal
Who says Switzerland has to break the bank? You can ski the jet-set retreat of Gstaad for as little as $587 if you know where to stay. The trick is to grab a package in the neighboring towns of Chateau d'Oex or Rougement. The deal includes seven nights' accommodations, daily breakfast and dinner, six half-day group lessons and a six-day pass good for all lifts in the Gstaad Super Ski Region. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy. For more information, call Switzerland Tourism at (212) 757-5944.

Peaking At The Vail Resorts
Now when you ski or snowboard at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge or Keystone, you can earn points toward price discounts. Staying at participating lodges, lunching at selected on-mountain restaurants or taking ski and snowboard lessons also earns them. Here's how it works: A full-day adult lift ticket is worth 1,000 points while a stay of three nights or more at a select property is 3,000 per stay. Redeem points for lift tickets and discounts on lodging, ski and snowboard school lessons. To purchase a one-day adult lift ticket, you need 10,000 points during non-holiday season and 20,000 during prime times. You can keep points from one season to the next and accrue them as a family. Call (800) 525-2257.

The Threes Have It
If Whistler and Blackcomb beckon but the budget says stay home, wait until March 30. That's when the "3 for 3 for $333" kicks in at ChateauWhisler Resort. Three nights of accommodations and three dual-mountain lift passes cost just $333 per person, based on double occupancy. Call (800) 606-8244.rticipating lodges, lunching at selected on-mountain restaurants or taking ski and snowboard lessons also earns them. Here's how it works: A full-day adult lift ticket is worth 1,000 points while a stay of three nights or more at a select property is 3,000 per stay. Redeem points for lift tickets and discounts on lodging, ski and snowboard school lessons. To purchase a one-day adult lift ticket, you need 10,000 points during non-holiday season and 20,000 during prime times. You can keep points from one season to the next and accrue them as a family. Call (800) 525-2257.

The Threes Have It
If Whistler and Blackcomb beckon but the budget says stay home, wait until March 30. That's when the "3 for 3 for $333" kicks in at ChateauWhisler Resort. Three nights of accommodations and three dual-mountain lift passes cost just $333 per person, based on double occupancy. Call (800) 606-8244.