We'd wager that around this time of year you're spending an inordinate amount of time perusing VRBO, Airbnb, and even Craigslist for that mediocre condo near your favorite ski resort. Pause, please, and consider this: You can turn an average ski vacation on its head (helmet?) by simply taking a chance on some unorthodox lodgings. From glass domes and ice hotels to treehouses and huts on wheels, these are, we admit, some of the more out-there possibilities. Book one, or let them inspire you to perform your own vacation makeover. Teepee, anyone?
DIGS: GLASS DOME
Where: Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland
Here’s one for the bucket list. Kakslauttanen is located near Urho Kekkonen National Park, along the road that leads to the Arctic Sea. We’re talking Arctic Circle here, folks, home to the Northern Lights. This unique resort, in one of the most amazing places on the planet, offers several atypical lodging options, from glass-domed igloos with sky-high views to traditional Lapland homes—like the ones many native Sami people live in today. But the glass igloos are the overnight accommodations of choice. They sleep between two and eight people, and the panoramic view overhead will monopolize your time when you’re done skiing the slopes of Saariselka, 15 minutes away.
Where: TreeHouse Point, Fall City, Wash.
Relive your youth in a grown-up-size treehouse village along the Raging River, 30 miles from Seattle. Treehouse Point is the brainchild of owner Pete Nelson, a lifelong treehouse aficio- nado. The eco-resort’s six treehouses are de- lightful little sky cabins with comfy beds, sitting areas, and of course views to remember. One of them, Trillium, is two stories. Another, Temple of the Blue Moon, is reached by a rope bridge suspended 55 feet off the forest floor. Not for the timid. Or the small-bladdered: The treehouses don’t have bathrooms (there are facilities on the ground). Wake each morning to a home-cooked breakfast before gearing up and heading 15 miles to the Summit at Snoqualmie, where you’ll find your evening was definitely more interesting than everyone else’s.
DIGS: MODULAR HOME
Where: Rolling Huts, Winthrop, Wash.
Tiny houses are all the rage, and Rolling Huts is getting in on the trend. The resort’s six modular homes may be small but are equipped with all the mod-cons to keep skiers comfy: bed, living space, hearth, bathroom, and efficiency kitchen. Not to mention great views of the lovely Methow Valley. The closest skiing is tiny, 300-acre Loup Loup Ski Bowl, but there’s cross-country skiing in the surrounding forest, and North Cascade Heli-Skiing is nearby for those who want to go big while living small.
DIGS: ICE HOTEL
Where: Iglu-Dorf Engelberg, Engelberg, Switzerland
For some, the idea of coming home to an igloo after a day on the slopes is a bit, er, chilling. But hang out for a spell in the cozy “lobby bar” at Iglu-Dorf, on-mountain at Engelberg, and you’ll warm right up. Belly up to the ice bar for a warm glühwein, then take it to your private room—some with en suite toilets—decked out with plush blankets and 800-fill down sleeping bags set on “snow beds.” The igloo’s restaurant serves up a tasty, authentic fondue and other local nibbles, and evenings are spent looking at the stars from inside the warmth of a bubbling hot tub. You could get used to this.
DIGS: LOG CABIN
Where: Pioneer Guest Cabins, Crested Butte, Colo.
Half of these legit historic log cabins were built in 1939 for skiers visiting Pioneer Ski Resort,the state’s first lift-served slopes. (FYI, the warming hut is still there.) Pretty cool, huh? A bonus is that they’re located eight miles out- side one of the state’s best ski towns and just 15 minutes from the ski resort. The other half went up in the 1960s to offer more accommodations for people looking for a rustic experience like this one. The two- and three-bedroom cabins have all been restored and updated throughout the years to ensure a cozy yet comfortable stay. All have full kitchens, and many have both gas fireplaces and woodstoves to up the authentic- ity factor (chopping not required). Just don’t expect diversions such as TVs or wi-fi. The goal here is communing with nature in beautiful Gunnison National Forest. Think board games, cards, books, and quality family time off the slopes. Yes, please.