What better way to round out the list than with this compact but elegant Northern Catskills resort, where the families of New York City, Long Island and New Jersey's bedroom communities can make the scene in under three hours. Readers' comments attest to that family appeal: The ski school is outstanding, the staff amiable and the terrain just the right size for keeping young skiers accountable and within walkie-talkie range. The repeated comparison is to nearby big brother Hunter Mountain, which has a reputation as a more, shall we say, PG-13 experience. If Windham's terrain is more domesticated, there are plenty of brief expert pitches to keep Dad's dander up, and runs such as Upper and Lower Wolverine offer the perfect combination of bumps, steeps and wide-avenue cruising. True, you'll ski the hill to death over the course of a single weekend, and the climate this far south demands that Windham remain under the snow gun for a good portion of the season. True as well, the town of Windham is sleepy enough to put Rip Van Winkle himself down for another 20-year Catskill catnap. "Not much here but the hill,'' sums up one reader. The up-side: The area is blessedly free of the outlet stores and chain restaurants that clutter the landscape near other resorts. And within a few minutes' drive, visitors have access to a smorgasbord of ethnic dining that attests to the Catskills' tourist heritage, with several types of surprisingly authentic Italian, Greek and German cuisine.
WHAT'S NEW No more boring run-out on The Wheelchair lift, which serves expert terrain (the base terminal has been moved up the hill); a base lodge at the tubing park.
A GOOD DEAL President's Week skiing at non-holiday rates; and a $99 night-skiing eason pass (good Thursday-Saturday for almost four months).
MEDALS SILVER Access, Service.
HIGH/LOW RANK Access (19), On-Mountain Food (30), Service (36); Challenge (64), Terrain (69), Scenery (71).
DON'T MISS The well-stocked jukebox at The Brooklyn Bridge on Route 23.
READER REMARKS (+) "A nice family-friendly mountain, plus a good handicapped program. Easy commute from the Big Apple."
(-) "Crowded on weekends. Not much challenging terrain or vertical."