SANTA FE NEW MEXICO
Santa Fe is known for many things: its art scene (specifically Georgia O’Keeffe), its 400-year-old city plaza, its culinary scene, Native American Pueblos, Spanish architecture. And snow and skiing in this state is typically synonymous with Taos. But Santa Fe is at an elevation of 7,000 feet. Plus, with a name that includes Santa, it must resemble the North Pole once in a while.
Ski Santa Fe was turned into a winter destination by Dan Abruzzo, who bought and renovated the entire area. Dan, by the way, was inducted into the New Mexico Ski Hall of Fame. That should tell you something about how big skiing is in a state known also for cactus. Just sixteen miles from the historic city plaza, Ski Santa Fe, with a base elevation of 10,350 feet, gets 225 inches of snow to cover its 83 trails. It’s open from Thanksgiving through early April and with 320 days of sun every year, you’ll feel the heat on every run. Enjoy the sun in between runs with a local brew or hot toddy at the mid-mountain Totemoff’s Bar. The mountain also has a terrain park, called The Bone Yard. We’re afraid to find out how it got its name.
La Fonda on the Plaza It’s the only hotel on the historic city plaza and sits on the land of the town’s first inn, from 1607. Every room has artwork created by Native Americans.
Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi The authentic Pueblo building and the 58 guestrooms, paying tribute to the Anasazi tribe, is an authentic Southwestern escape. Plus, they have multiple course mezcal and tequila tastings at their restaurant.
Teahouse Café With 10 different egg dishes, the Teahouse Café is where breakfast is done right. And pastries. And lunch. And dinner. Their food menu makes you forget about their over 150 different teas from China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and even Santa Fe and every possible type of tea / coffee concoction that destroys any Starbucks menu.
La Casa Sena Whether you’re dining out on grilled elk, opted for the five-course New Mexico Craft Dinner or listening to the singing waitstaff at the Cantina you’ll enjoy yourself inside Sena Plaza, one of the oldest surviving houses in Santa Fe.
El Nido It’s an Italian restaurant that dates back to the 1920s and cooks meat on an open flame. Make your reservation now.
Nobody’s going to suck your blood when getting off the chairlift, but Dracula’s part of Romania will have you wanting to sink your ski poles into the packed snow at Poiana Brasov.
This ski resort is in the heart of Transylvania among the Southern Carpathian mountains. Sure, you have to fly into Bucharest then drive two hours, but the conditions are on par with those in the precious Alps, but at a fraction of the cost – 32 euros for an adult lift ticket. In fact, legend has it, Poiana Brasov was designed and engineered after some of the best resorts in the Alps, hence its nickname, “Romanian Alps”. The Romanian government has spent tens of millions of dollars on improvements including widening the slopes and building a cable car that takes you to the top of Postavaru Mountain for stunning views of Brasov.
Open December through April, Poiana Brasov has an elevation of 3,300 feet and has a wide mix of terrain for all skill levels, including a three-mile-long slope for experts.
Should you want to explore the medieval city, there’s Bran (Dracula’s) Castle 30 minutes away and Rasnov’s Fortress 20 minutes away. Dracula’s Castle is built atop a 200-foot-high rock with remarkable turrets and inside are narrow winding stairways leading to 60 timbered rooms housing furniture and weapons from the 14th to 19th centuries; the rooms are connected by underground passages. Rasnov’s Fortress was built by Teutonoic Knights in the 1300s and has a skeleton buried beneath a glass floor.
Aro Palace Built in 1939, this hotel complex has five-star rooms that are “elegant, spacious and comfortable”. We’re sold!
Alpin Resort The mountain views may take your breath away, but it’s the proximity to the actual mountain and amenities that has us booking now. Alpin has French, Italian and Romanian restaurants, a nightclub-looking indoor pool, a spa with countless ways to exfoliate and massage your nooks and crannies, detox and juice cleanses and even a Harry Potter-themed escape room.
Vânătorul Meaning “The Hunter” in Romanian, Vânătorul has three lounges: The Hunter’s Hall has live music, Hall of the Deer is more intimate and the Deer Saloon has views of the garden. And it’s certainly game on with the cuisine with deer, duck and wild boar on the menu.
The ski resort Gavarnie-Gèdre is rarely crowded. That’s a rare find in France, something not at full capacity. That alone should get you to book a trip to the Pyrenees Mountains. But, there’s more to it than skiing in solitude, like the French ski instructor Michel who will teach you Alpine skiing, snowboarding and Nordic skiing. Not at the same time, of course.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers 21 miles of trails, 28 trails in total for all skill levels, including the 3.5-mile “Les Marmottes”, the longest green trail in the majestic Pyrenees.
Lying on the border of France and Spain, in between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, the Pyrenees have old, but well-preserved villages, modern ski resorts, spas and thermal baths. While swishing throughout Gavarnie-Gèdre you can see the distinguished Brèche de Roland, a natural gap 131 feet wide by 328 feet tall and the Cirque of Gavarnie peaks, both at elevations of about 10,000 feet.
Hotel La Brèche de Roland This cozy hotel in the fairytale Pyrenees has been owned by the same family since the 17th century. The current owners, Philippe and Odile, elegantly blend the antique fireplace and rustic weathered furniture with sustainably renovated rooms with views of the Breche de Roland gap.
Camping Les tilleuls Roughing it the luxurious way. Live the bohemian life minutes from the mountain in your choice of three 18-foot trailers or two huts. All let you be one with nature.
L’assiette au Bord de l’eau Based on the reviews this French restaurant located in a chalet just four miles from the mountain has the best homemade bread. They don’t post a menu on their website because it changes regularly. But at least there’s bread.
Chez Louisette About an hour north of Gavarnie-Gedre, through Pyrenees National Park, at nearly 5,000 feet above sea level, Louisette herself will welcome you to her “home” that’s been in her family since 1905.