It’s near time to hit the slopes!
Like an infant to its mother’s bosom, the hills of West Virginia comfort me, nurture me, provide my sustenance …
And when those hills are blanketed in downy white powder, I make my yearly pilgrimage to the slopes. I fill up with life and fly down the mountains with reckless abandon. I gleefully embrace the beauty around me, and feel at last home once again among the two-planked and singles racing furiously around me.
The easy part, that is letting go of the stress and tension and worry that’s built up inside me during the preceding year as I swing my skis in anticipation — floating up, up, and up to the top.
The hard part, well, that is deciding which mountain to embark for the journey. West Virginia and its surrounding states offer so many quality choices these days, and with each resort upgrading their services in an arms race to the top and back down the slope again — well, my friend, good luck picking your poison.
For the sake of simplicity and fairness, let’s start in alphabetical order.
CANAAN VALLEY RESORT & CONFERENCE CENTER
Most of my formative ski experiences came here, high in the Allegheny Mountains of north central West Virginia, or more specifically, in Davis. And as such, I hold very fond memories of learning to ski here, of watching a particularly adept friend ski through the outstretched legs of another friend while I was stumbling down a bunny slope, and of lucking into a free passes and making an impromptu trip to Canaan in 50 degree weather at the end of ski season. It marks the only time I’ve skied in a t-shirt and been hot, but man was it fun.
Canaan seemed to always be the destination my parents and my friend’s parents enjoyed most. It’s easy to see why, too.
It’s affordable, for starters.
Season passes for college students start at $225, single day lift tickets are $34, and a daily ski rental comes in just under $30. And there’s even a college winter break getaway deal with lodging coming in at $61 a person for a two person room, which includes the room, breakfast, one lift ticket and ski rental.
As for the resort itself, what you save in money won’t be lost in amenities. Canaan was recently named one of “America’s Best Parks,” by Arthur Frommer’s Magazine, and among the “50 Great Places to Stay” in Washingtonian Magazine.
The resort, after all, features a 250-room lodge, with 23 cabins, and 34 campsites; a full-service ski area, fine dining, a conference center, and a championship golf course; a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, and a whirlpool spa; and miles of hiking, biking and cross country ski trails.
And the view, whoa boy, is of one of the most scenic and tranquil settings in the Mid-Atlantic, boasting the highest mountain valley east of the Rocky Mountains, with a base elevation of 3,100 feet.
For more information, including cost and special deals: canaanresort.com.
SEVEN SPRINGS MOUNTAIN RESORT
First off, full disclosure: the company that owns Graffiti also owns Seven Springs. That said, Seven Springs has long been the mountain resort I’ve visited most often — and it has nothing to do with my place of employment.
For overall affordability, bar scene, family friendly options and, let’s not forget, skiing, Seven Springs has consistently delivered fun on all these levels.
There have been times I’ve stayed on-site in the lodge, and others when I’ve stayed in a super cheap hotel 10-15 minutes away. Depending on your level of greenbacks, you’ll want to opt for the lodge, which will allow you to finish an exhaustingly fun day on the slopes with pitcher after pitcher of that sweet nectar, Yuengling, followed up by a round of bowling, fine dining and more flowing golden lager — and maybe an argument with a stranger at a diner at 2 a.m. over whether Edgar Allan Poe is a legitimate answer to, “Who is your favorite poet?”
If you need a break from skiing or snowboarding for a bit, there’s always the super fun diversion of tubing down a hillside for a few hours. It’s super affordable and insanely fun and nostalgic for a few hours. And best of all — you don’t have to walk back up the hill after flying down it!
Anyway, back inside, dining options are many, and if bowling and drinking aren’t your thing, there are family movies playing in several theaters, an inclusive fitness center, and, new this year, the Trillium Spa and the sporting clay lodge.
The sporting clay lodge is the newest addition to Seven Springs, and includes a full dining room, full service bar and locker room.
“Winter is the perfect time for novices, because with the orange clays against the white background it’s easy to follow the clays on the horizon,” said Anna Weitz, communications manager at Seven Springs.
As for the spa, well, I can’t speak to that; I’ve yet to experience it. But Weitz had this to say:
“The spa is unbelievable; it’s a sanctuary like any other,” said Weitz.
The spa boasts eight treatment rooms, including a couples suite with a romantic fireplace, hydrotherapy rooms, and a great menu of relaxing options.
“It’s been well received,” Weitz added. “We think our skiers are going to love nothing more than to get a nice massage after being on the slopes all day.”
Yes, yes, and yes.
And none of that mentions the quality entertainment that makes it way to the resort, either. Oct. 30 brings SNL vet Norm MacDonald, for starters.
It’s easy to see why this Pennsylvania resort is consistently voted the Mid-Atlantic’s top ski resort.
For more information, including cost and special deals: 7springs.com.
SNOWSHOE MOUNTAIN SKI RESORT
Top billing for West Virginia’s best ski resort has to go to Snowshoe, hands down.
Few ski resorts have gone out of their way to make my weekend trip more memorable or enjoyable than Snowshoe.
From late night paninis, to dance clubs, to high quality, seriously some of the best food I’ve ever eaten grub, Snowshoe has it all.
But this is a place where the sum is definitely greater than its parts. The atmosphere created on this mountainside is unique. Walking from storefront to bar and grill to hot tub, feels like a magical visit to a small American-ized version of a Swedish ski village. Does that make sense? I hope it does.
That uniqueness comes at a price, though, and in the past one of my chiefest complaints about Snowshoe was its affordability for the average Joe or Jane College Kid.
Snowshoe has, again, gone over and above in satisfying these concerns though.
This year the resort is offering a coupon book worth $100. No that can’t be right. That might be what most resorts would offer, but not Snowshoe. Oh, yes, I’ve left out a zero. Make that $1,000 (cue Dr. Evil lip touch with pinky finger).
With any lodging purchase this winter, guests will receive the coupon book, which will give discounts to shopping to dining, with savings up to 40 percent in some cases.
The resort has also offered $9.99 meals at all of the Snowshoe-owned restaurants.
But saving money’s boring right? Let’s get to the fun stuff, like the new Oakley Goggle Bar.
From Snowshoe’s press release:
“This season, Snowshoe’s high performance rental shop, The Mountain Adventure Center, will stock Oakley outerwear and accessories, and will be home to the first Oakley Goggle Bar on the East Coast. The Goggle Bar will allow customers to make unique, personalized and customized goggles, with lens, strap and frame choices from Oakley’s large selection. Whether you want simple and classic, or outrageous and truly one-of-a-kind, Oakley and the MAC, will allow you to make goggles to your specification. Now you won’t have to worry about grabbing the wrong pair of goggles, the whole family can personalize their own!”
Snowshoe also has an all-new rental fleet this season, offering the state-of-the-art Head BYS rental system. The innovative equipment is said to speed up the fitting process, to get you on the slopes quicker. And all children’s rentals (12 and under) now include a helmet. Though my buddy who swore he could pick up snowboarding within half a day because he had skateboarded and surfed, probably could have used a helmet too, as he wiped out too many times to count and eventually gave up the pursuit.
Perhaps the best part of Snowshoe is the food, and Taste of Asia is the newest dining option in Snowshoe’s Village. This West Virginia favorite operates three additional locations around the state and offers Japanense, Chinese and Thai favorites. For more about the restaurant, head to tasteofasiahibachi.com.
And for more on the resort, including prices and deals: snowshoemtn.com.
Contact Justin at email@example.com