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Blame it on the unsteady economy, but a lot us are looking harder than ever for value. So here are 10 places that we think are great, without being expensive. These aren’t roadside motels or cheap condos. They’re a select group of inns and B&B’s with character, where most of the rooms can be booked for $90 to $150 a night for two throughout the ski season. You won’t find plasma TVs, health clubs or celebrity chefs, but comfort, charm and affordability are guaranteed. To achieve the latter, most of these properties are at least five miles from the slopes, but they know how to pamper. As Rhonda Fitzgerald, owner of the Garden Wall Inn in Whitefish, Mont., says, “We buy nice sheets and thick towels to make you comfortable. We just try to do a great job.”
Scandinavian pine and exposed beams set the tone at Alpine House, located two blocks from Jackson’s town square. Owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone are both former Olympians (she’s a biathlete; he competed in nordic combined). The inn has 22 rooms with pine trim and pastel colors, down comforters and plush robes. Most rooms have individual fireplaces or diminutive white porcelain wood stoves. You’ll also find a library stocked with well-thumbed mountaineering books, a spa room, a Finnish sauna and an outdoor hot tub. Mornings bring banana pecan pancakes or Rocky Mountain eggs benedict from chef Eric Bartle to stoke you for your first leap off Corbet’s. Details: 800-753-1421; alpinehouse.com; doubles from $110, including breakfast.
Fernie Alpine Resort, B.C.
The post-and-beam Alpine Lodge, a ski-in/ski-out gem in the base village, has eight guestrooms on two floors. You’ll find simple, solid wood furnishings in the rooms, which have views either of the mountain or the forest and trail network. The Great Room is where everyone hangs out around a roaring fire, swapping tales of adventures in Cedar Bowl and Boomerang Ridge. You’ll find an outdoor hot tub and steam room, but the biggest surprise is the Japanese-inspired fare in the dining room, with sushi nights a highlight (as if Fernie’s fabled 29 feet of powder isn’t reason enough to come to this Canadian Rockies hideaway). Details: 250-423-4237; alpinelodge.com; doubles from $102 U.S., including breakfast.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch
This horse ranch 10 miles from Winter Park does double-duty as one of Colorado’s best cross-country resorts. The ranch is named for an odd spur of rock that juts up from the Continental Divide and boasts the views that we all come west to see. The recently refurbished cabins and lodge rooms are small and cozy. Lodgepole pine beds and down comforters ensure a good night’s rest. After a day at Winter Park, come back for the daily wine-and-cheese hour. Or knock off Mary Jane early and explore the ranch’s 105 kilometers of groomed trails. You’ll soon discover why Punishment Hill and Screamer are aptly named. Details: 800-933-4339; devilsthumbranch.com; doubles with private bath from $119, including continental breakfast.
The Garden Wall Inn
This 1920s house turned B&B is steps away from the center of Whitefish, where cowboys and sushi bars peacefully coexist. You’ll find five guestrooms at Rhonda Fitzgerald’s homey inn, each one turned out in period antiques, with clawfoot tubs as centerpieces in the art-deco bathrooms. A three-course breakfast prepared by chef Chris Schustrom is the best reason to get out of bed. The second best is Big Mountain, which can be reached by a free 10-minute shuttle ride. When you return at day’s end, it’s sherry in front of a log fire in the living room. This is roughing it, 21st-century style. Details: 888-530-1700; gardenwallinn.com; doubles from $115, including breakfast.
The Herbert Grand Hotel
With its pressed-tin ceilings and grand piano, the Herbert is a classic example of the kind of “grandhotel that could once be found throughout New England. Dating back to 1917, the look is dark oak, brass fixtures and terrazzo floors. It must be one of the last places in America where you can still find writing tables with stationery and flower-filled vases in the halls on each floor. But thanks to several updatings, most of the 27 rooms boast jacuzzi tubs. And the new owners, Marcie & Lynn Herrick, plan further improvements. Sugarloaf/USA lies 20 minutes north, and at day’s end, you can relax on a velvet couch in front of the fire with a drink before heading into the award-winning restaurant. If you want other dining choices, Kingfield has all the civilization you require in the North Woods. Details: 888-656-9922; herbertgrandhotel.com; doubles from $80, including continental breakfast.
Mad River Inn Bed & Breakfast
Built as a farmhouse in the 1860s, this yellow Victorian is a classic Vermont B&B, down to hardwood floors and four-poster feather beds. Yet it’s priced the way B&Bs were a decade ago. There’s a library, as well as living and dining areas, and the 10 bedrooms are comfortably furnished with antiques. The inn’s ritual afternoon tea on antique china is a fine way to warm up on a winter’s day. But the decidedly 21st-century alternative, a jacuzzi on the back deck, isn’t a bad option, either. You may need the latter, because Sugarbush and Mad River Glen are just minutes away. Details: 800-832-8278; madriverinn.com; doubles from $89, including breakfast and afternoon tea.
The Morning Glory Inn B&B
Slatyfork, W. Va.
The 90-foot front porch, the down-home welcome and the good value are why this inn stands out. All six rooms have vaulted wood ceilings and private baths with jacuzzi tubs. They’re outfitted with clean, simple, solid wood furnishings. The living room has comfortable sofas and chairs set by the hearth. And yes, there is a lone TV, if you must see The Sopranos. Once you’ve had your banana-split waffles topped with strawberries, it’s less than two miles to the base of Snowshoe. Details: 304-572-5000; morninggloryinn.com; doubles from $100, including breakfast.
The Old Miners’ Lodge
Park City, Utah
Located in the National Historic District of this resort town, this former boarding house for miners has evolved into a comfortable inn. Its 12 rooms and suites have been restored and furnished with antiques and country furniture. You’ll find four-posters and down comforters. Some rooms have mountain views, others have clawfoot tubs. Wrap yourself in one of the inn’s thick terry-cloth robes for the stroll to the outdoor hot tub. Afterward, there are plenty of comfy chairs in the living room, where you can sit by the fireplace while enjoying complimentary refreshments. You’re within walking distance of the Town Lift, which serves Park City Mountain Resort. Park City’s Main Street, the liveliest drag in Utah, is just one block from the Lodge. Details: 435-645-8068; oldminerslodge.com; doubles from $110, including breakfast.
Hope Valley, Calif.
Twenty miles south of Lake Tahoe, this former shepherd’s outpost was transformed into a rustic getaway in 1926. Thrifty Kirkwood loyalists have long stayed here, their powder stashes a mere 15-minute drive away. There are 33 cabins, with options ranging from cozy doubles to cabins that sleep large families. One of the cabins is a replica of a 13th-century Norwegian lodge, complete with sod roof. Rocking chairs, log walls and wood stoves further set the tone. While larger cabins have kitchens, the Country Cafe serves three meals daily. You get your cardio workout cross-country skiing on groomed trails just out your cabin door. Details: 800-423-9949; sorensensresort.com; doubles from $85; some rooms include breakfast.
Tamarack Lodge Resort
Mammoth Lakes, Calif.
The Tamarack Lodge Resort, a rustic retreat that dates from 1924, consists of an 11-room lodge and 28 cabins on the shores of Twin Lakes, located in the wooded Mammoth Lakes Basin. Skinny-ski devotees come for the 25 miles of trails and the wilderness feel. Cabins at this historic mountain resort range from cozy studios to stylish, craftsman-inspired cottages that can accommodate two to 10 people. Knotty pine prevails in lodge rooms that are rustic but comfortable. Owned and operated by Mammoth Mountain, the lodge is just a 10-minute drive from the lifts. Details: 800-237-6879; tamaracklodge.com; doubles from $120.
It’s a fact
Forty-three percent of leisure travelers average one night in a hotel and pay $84 per room, per night for two adults. Source: ahla.comon the shores of Twin Lakes, located in the wooded Mammoth Lakes Basin. Skinny-ski devotees come for the 25 miles of trails and the wilderness feel. Cabins at this historic mountain resort range from cozy studios to stylish, craftsman-inspired cottages that can accommodate two to 10 people. Knotty pine prevails in lodge rooms that are rustic but comfortable. Owned and operated by Mammoth Mountain, the lodge is just a 10-minute drive from the lifts. Details: 800-237-6879; tamaracklodge.com; doubles from $120.
It’s a fact
Forty-three percent of leisure travelers average one night in a hotel and pay $84 per room, per night for two adults. Source: ahla.com