Chapman House Inn
Bethel, Maine (about six miles from Sunday River)
The Chapman House Inn, a family-friendly bed & breakfast on the common in downtown Bethel, offers an affordable alternative to drab motel rooms and sterile condominiums. The rambling white Colonial's rooms are furnished with country pieces that invite you to kick back and relax. While parents unwind or watch TV by the fire in the common room, kids can whoop it up in the Chapman's attached barn, where there's another TV, Ping-Pong and pool tables, two saunas, a full kitchen and a washer and dryer.
The barn's upper floors have been converted into a 22-bed dormitory. When not occupied by groups, parents can book their kids into the dorm and retreat to the inn.
An amazing smorgasbord breakfast greets you each morning: Feast on pancakes, eggs, meat, potatoes, homemade breads and muffins, cereals, and fruit¿guaranteed to fuel you through a day of mogul-bashing at nearby Sunday River. When you return, grab a handful of homemade cookies from innkeeper Sandy Wight's bottomless cookie jar. One guest called them the "best in America."
Information P.O. Box 206, Bethel, Maine 04217; (207) 824-2657.
The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel
Dixville Notch, N.H.
The Balsams Grand Resort Hotel isn't the end of the world, but, locals say, "you can see it from here." Nestled amid the craggy peaks and towering evergreens of northern New Hampshire's White Mountains, this 15,000-acre resort, complete with a small ski area and 76 kilometers of cross-country trails, is an oasis of elegance and civility that transports you to an era when service was paramount and guests were treated like royalty. One of its key attractions is the American Plan format: Everything¿lodging, food, skiing, movies and entertainment¿is included in the daily rate.
The sprawling hotel¿the original wing was built in 1866, the "new" wing in 1918¿is adorned with turrets and towers, a wrap-around porch, and more nooks, crannies and eaves than one could explore in a month.
If you're not exhausted after a day of skiing the uncrowded trails, ice skating or snowshoeing, you can dance the night away in the nightclub, unwind in the piano bar, perhaps listen to a comedian in the ballroom, or watch a movie in the full-size theater.
You won't go hungry: Dinner is a formal (jacket required) multi-course affair. Breakfast is casual, but just as plentiful.
Information Dixville Notch, N.H. 03576; (800) 255-0600, (800) 255-0800, fax (603) 255-4221
Trying to find three nights' lodging on a Thursday before a busy weekend in Stowe is nearly impossible. But at the Innsbruck Inn, a Tyrolian-looking motel among the closest to Mt. Mansfield, the desk clerk came up with a lovely, spacious, tastefully decorated mountainside room for $115.
A deal, especially when we discovered the price included an ultra-large bath with Jacuzzi, fireside continental breakfast and après-ski tea, hot cider and cheese. Throw in the game room, hot tub and interesting old-world ski relics on a streamside property with access to three cross-country trail systems, and we wondered why we had never noticed this AAA three-diamond motor lodge before. We liked everything about it, even the world's most spongy, trampoline-like hallway carpets. Efficiency units, suites and a five-bedroom streamside chalet complete with wood-burning stove and Swedish sauna are also available.
Information 4361 Mountain Road; Stowe, Vt. 05672; (800) 225-8582, (802) 253-8582; fax (802) 253-2260.