Skiing with the girls should avoid the easy clichés of wine, shopping and spa treatments. We’re talking femme-specific ski clinics to help you outrace the braggarts and get more out of the mountain each season, and events that will make a one-off weeklong-escape become an annual outing.
That being said, the top picks we love deliver both the extreme tutelage you need and the luxe pampering you want. Plan accordingly.
Squaw Valley Ski Resort | Olympic Valley, Calif.
Squaw Valley is serious about its women’s ski clinics. Every Wednesday, there’s a drop-in WOW session from 9:30 am to noon – a bargain at $49 (lift ticket not included, though you do get priority lift access). WOW stands for "Women of Winter," and the programs are taught by some of the resort’s top female pro skiers.
You’ll get individualized instruction that breaks out into Expert Bumps and Steeps, Intermediate and Advanced Skier Sessions, plus the chance to explore the more than 6,000 rugged acres that make up Squaw. And if mid-week doesn’t work – or if you want more of the same – enroll in the sister program at neighboring Alpine Meadows, which offers a similar program on Sundays.
Either way, the half-day experience will help you get grounded before you ply your own favorite runs throughout the rest of your stay. After skiing, take the 2,000 vertical-foot gondola ride to High Camp to hit the spa and pool, which opens each April. In the village, sign up for your preferred treatments at the Trilogy Spa, stretch out your aching quads at Wanderlust Yoga Studio or try some fine California wines at the Uncorked Wine Bar.
Ski Santa Fe | Santa Fe
Women who want to become better snowboarders should head to Ski Santa Fe’s Burton Women’s Snowboard Camp, held each February. All ability levels are welcome, whether you want to learn to tree ski, attack black diamonds, hit the park or simply work on turning technique.
Sessions start at 9:00 am and stretch over two days, including special instructions from serious riders as well as free access to demo boards. Then the attendees break out into small groups and hit the slopes, with instructors alternating periodically to widen perspectives.
There’s an optional meet-up downtown after the last day, but chances are that après plans will get hatched on the lift regardless. Your visit will also take full advantage of this iconic New Mexico town, which boasts a postcard-perfect central plaza lined with haute cafes, day spas and a seemingly endless collection of specialty shops that sell everything from high-end art to handmade jewelry, furniture and fashion.
Nakiska Mountain Resort | Canmore, A.B.
Located in the stunningly beautiful Bow Valley and surrounded by the incredible Canadian Rockies, Canmore’s idyllic setting has made it one of North America’s most magnificent destinations. Nakiska is a great groomed hill and a perfect place to start skiing in the Canadian Rockies. And the community of Canmore and the surrounding alpine wilds of Kananaskis make ‘em fabulous destinations for a women’s ski getaway.
Stay at the Paintbox Lodge, situated in the heart of downtown Canmore. Foodies will love the variety of events on offer, from joining the kitchen party (or arranging for a private event in the kitchen) to harvest table dinners and tapas parties.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort | Teton Village, Wyo.
Jackson Hole is known for its steep, long runs, backcountry chutes and western-flavored nightlife. You can get tips on all three by enrolling in an Elevate Women's Ski Camp. Pro-skiers Jess McMillan, Kim Havell and Crystal Wright teach the courses for intermediate and advanced skiers in January and March. Both camps incorporate a rest day in the middle to let your legs recover, and let you act on the teachers’ recommendations of the best on-mountain spas and dining. Or you can take a Pilates class taught by Jess or a stretching class with Crystal.
After a day on the slopes, explore Jackson’s famous watering holes. Our favorites? The Mangy Moose in Teton Village, with rockin’ live music, and the saddle stools at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar in Jackson Hole are surprisingly comfortable after a big day on the slopes. Plus, they’re within easy striking distance of stores that’ll offer that pair of genuine cowboy boots you’ve been coveting.
Bonus: book through Teton Mountain Lodge and Spa and you’ll receive at 20% discount and a daily breakfast credit – food and spa-centric indulgence made easy.
Timberline Lodge & Ski Area | Mt. Hood, Ore.
The skiing on Mt. Hood is great in the winter, but it’s also the only place in the country where you can ski all summer. From June through August, you can buy a day pass for the Magic Mile and Palmer Lift to explore on the south-facing slopes of the resort’s Palmer Glacier without arctic temperatures.
The skiing is open to the public, but the best experience is signing up for one of the world-class master’s ski race camps. All you need is to know how to ski – the expert coaches will teach you the rest. Camps provide coaching, daily video sessions and meals.
For a ski-in, ski-out experience, stay at the historic Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark and quintessential spot with three restaurants. The breakfast buffet in the Cascade Dining Room is a must. We recommend the made-to-order Belgian waffles, Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats and the amazing fresh-baked pastries.
Stratton Mountain Resort | Stratton Mountain, Vt.
Stratton Mountain’s Village definitely has world-class boutiques (can you say Bogner?), but we’ll bet that no one in your party will swap skis for shopping bags, at least while the lifts are open. Just four hours from New York and three hours from Boston, it’s the ideal girls' getaway destination.
The mountain hosts the Green Mountain Women program each season, giving you the opportunity to hook up with a lively collection of local women skiers and snowboarders every Wednesday, paired with a 1.5-hour weekly lesson from women coaches. Throughout the season, the resort also offers a la carte extra clinics, yoga workshops, demo days and other special events.
Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort | Whistler, B.C.
From December through April, Whistler is the place to be for women who want to learn to ski the steeps. Enroll in one of The North Face Women’s Ski Camps, an all-women weekend program led by top female coaching staff. Expect a no-pressure environment focused on helping you ski or ride better, along with advice on equipment and apparel, an après reception along with coffee and muffins, a goody bag filled with swag from Gore-Tex and The North Face, and a silent auction, with the proceeds benefiting the Howe Sound Women’s Centre.
To celebrate your graduation to the steep and deep, plan a dinner at Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler Village. There’s an icy-cold Ketel One Ice Room tasting area and a champagne bar to help toast your successes after a long day on the mountain.
Sun Valley Resort | Sun Valley, Idaho
The first resort in the country knows women ski differently than men, and have catered two stellar programs to accommodate. Groups can sign up for Sun Valley WOW (short for Women’s Only Weekend), which takes place each February and focuses on camaraderie and skills, with the small groups led by instructors, partnered with après and video analysis.
Frequent femme visitors to Sun Valley, meanwhile, should go for the Divas program, which includes a 2.5-hour small group lesson one day a week – for eight weeks – led by some of the region’s top femme big mountain athletes.
After tearing up the slopes, take advantage of Sun Valley’s top-notch thrift shop experience. The Gold Mine Thrift is a bonanza for skis, boards and designer and retro apparel. Have fun outfitting your group in classic one-piece Bogner ski suits – and sleep better knowing that all proceeds benefit the community library. Then hit Apple's for a chill ski bum bar scene, or dress up and take your pick of the area’s copious restaurants, lounges and pubs.
Bormio Ski | Bormio, Italy
Few ski resorts have après ski scenes as festive as Bormio, and with night skiing, you can extend your runs well into darkness. Each season, they light up the Stelvio chairs, and at the bottom of the cable car is the coolest après ski bar in town. Be White–Après Ski, where they offer fresh beer, international cocktails and great music weekly, has closing hours on the weekend clocking in at midnight.
But this girls’ trip is more than schussing the slopes and evening parties. Bormio is a 2,000-year-old village on the border of Switzerland and Italy that's equally famous for its 200-year-old spa Bagni di Bormio Spa. Don’t miss Bagni Vecchi, the old Roman Bath with natural saunas, and the Grotta Sudatoria: a natural steam cave sauna that’s the only one of its kind in the world.
And, this being Italy, you know the food and wine will be heavenly.
Aspen/Snowmass | Snowmass Village, Colo.
The mountain air works up an appetite. To satisfy your longing for powder and gourmet cuisine, sign up for Women’s Edge at Aspen/Snowmass. This four-day program, held Monday through Thursday throughout the season, focuses on advancing the skills of a skier/rider eager to up their game on the mountain terrain. Or, for a more relaxed day, take the Aspen gondola to 11,212 feet and join a yoga class from 9:30 to 10:30 am each Monday, Wednesday and Friday for $5.
For dinner, you can pick from more than 100 bars and restaurants, but we’d be remiss to not recommend The Little Nell, an award-winning restaurant that offers private dining. Or hit Hotel Jerome, a funky boutique spot with one of the best bars in the city.