Budget Ski Trips 2009
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JAY PEAK, VERMONT
Annual snowfall: 376 inches
Vertical drop: 2,153 feet
Skiable acres: 385
One-day lift ticket: $65
Perfect for: The East Coast skier who wants a break from bouncing off bulletproof steeps
Why here: Old Man Winter not only lives at Jay Peak, he skis here, too: Jay gets more snowfall than any other resort in the East—not to mention many in the West. Pity that the "Jay Cloud" comes with biting winds and frigid temperatures (Canada is, after all, only a snowball's throw away). But Jay's 100 acres of trees provide respite from the weather, and you won't be thinking about your cold toes while you're making fresh tracks, anyway. Those glades also make this ski hill far bigger than its official 385 acres, which is good, considering that there's really not much else to do here. The frequent gripes about Jay's dated base lodges and absent nightlife have been heard: New ownership plans to open a luxury hotel (as yet unnamed) here in January 2010, and a livelier selection of restaurants and bars is on the way as well. Jay is a bit harder to get to than Stowe or Mad River Glen, but that also makes it less crowded. And if you have a season pass to a different resort, flash it at the ticket window for $20 off your lift ticket.
The highlight: Après-ski at the Belfry, in nearby Montgomery, is the best place to get your fill of frothy ale and local lore.
Sleep for cheap: Jay has more slopeside condos than you can shake a ski pole at, and they're great for large families or groups that want to cook for themselves. For those who prefer a traditional hotel (or for someone else to do the cooking), there's the Hotel Jay. It isn't the Ritz, but it is steps from the lift and has a surprising reputation among gourmands for its tasty—and affordable—fare.
Four midweek nights at Hotel Jay—including breakfast, dinner, and lift tickets (plus a free half-day on the day you arrive)—is $165 per person per night; 800-451-4449; www.jaypeakresort.com