Blueberry Hill Inn
(Near Middlebury Snow Bowl)
Cross-country ski fanatics invoke the name of this Green Mountain hideaway as if it were Shangri-La, and well they should. With 75 kilometers of groomed deep-forest trails set amid the 22,000-acre Moosalamoo nature preserve, it's cross-country ecstasy. Less well known is the fact that Blueberry Hill is virtually around the corner¿rurally speaking¿from the Middlebury Snow Bowl, a small (1,200-vertical-foot) but challenging gem open to the public. The inn's new chef, London-trained Tim Cheevers, who earned his chops at Balmoral, has infused some true excitement into the four-course "Vermont fusion" cuisine, which is served communally by candlelight. Wild seabass with lime ginger and pine nuts one night; roasted wild boar with woodland mushrooms the next.... It was a good thing we guests were skiing and sauna-ing, too. Some of us even broke the pond ice for the de rigueur polar dip. Others of us¿less spartan types¿bonded over the artisanal cheeses arrayed for the BYOB cocktail hour. Midweek packages start as low as $115 per person. That includes breakfast, hors-d'oeuvres, dinner, trail fees, a hearty midday soup and, oh yes, unlimited homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Information: 800-448-0707, www.blueberryhillinn.com.
Hawk Inn & Mountain Resort
(Near Killington, Okemo and Bear Creek Club)
We'd driven past this 1,200-acre inn-restaurant-and-condos complex for close to 30 years, simply assuming it to be beyond our budget. Surprise! The least expensive of the inn's 50 rooms (the ones without the whirlpool baths) start at $150 a night¿and even less if you take advantage of midweek and multiday discounts. You still get access to the 20-meter heated outdoor pool and a sizable indoor one, a hot tub alleged to be the largest in New England, spa and fitness facilities (including a sauna), skating pond, nordic trails and shuttles to Killington and Okemo, which bracket this sleepy valley, where President Calvin ("Silent Cal") Coolidge was born. ("There is healing in the trees for tired minds," he once mused, waxing downright prolix.) Down the road a piece is the mini ski area formerly known as Round Top, which over the course of the the past two seasons has been ritzily resurrected as the Bear Creek Mountain Club (www.bearcreekclub.com). Though destined to go private, it's open to the public until enough members sign on. And when was the last time you shared a mountaintop¿even a modest one (1,300 vertical feet)¿with just a handful of skiers?
Information: 800-685-4295, www.hawkresort.com.