0

Resorts offer snowy getaways for everyone

Ready or not, the ski season is coming. There is no better time to plan for it than the present - especially if you're thinking of heading to New England. The region is home to a number of cozy resorts that offer a variety of ski adventures.

Skiing in Maine

The Birches Resort on Moosehead Lake in Maine is home to one of the finest networks of cross country skiing trails in New England. The resort is located on 11,000 acres of natural beauty.

If you aren't interested in skiing, then you might want to hop on a snowmobile instead. The resort offers snowmobiles for rent. The price for a day-long rental ranges from $175 to $225.

Another snowmobiling option is the five-hour guided tour. Expert guides provide visitors with the natural history of the area during the snowmobile ride. A hot meal is served during the tour.

If all that outdoor activity isn't enough, try the resort's new health club. The Birches also has a hot tub and sauna for relaxing after a long day on the wilderness trails.

Accommodations at The Birches includes 15 hand-hewn log cabins, six rental houses, cabin tents and yurts. You may also choose to stay in a room in the resort's main lodge. The resort serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in its rustic dining room.

Connecticut slopes

Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, a day resort in Connecticut, is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. Mohawk Mountain is located in Cornwall, Conn., in the northwest corner of the state. The ski resort is within driving distance of New York City.

Mohawk Mountain offers 24 trails for skiing and snowboarding. There are 107 acres for skiing on the property's 350 acres of state forest.

Though Mohawk Mountain doesn't offer overnight accommodations, the resort is offering what it calls "Ski and Stay" packages.

"Since there are no major hotels in the area, we teamed up with some bed-and-breakfasts where you spend the day with us and stay with them overnight," said Jennifer Wolinski the director of promotions for Mohawk Mountain.

Prices for the Bed and Breakfast Ski Escape start at $299. The package includes an overnight stay for two people at an area inn, as well as breakfast and dinner for two. Skiing is also covered, with two all-area ski packages that include lift tickets, equipment rentals and lessons.

Family on skis

Ascutney Mountain Resort in Vermont has been rated as one of the most family-friendly resorts in New England. The property was designed so that everyone in the family can enjoy its ski options.

The resort has skiing and snowboarding trails that are appropriate for both children and adults, no matter what their levels of expertise. All trails converge at the main lodge, so no one gets lost. A warming hut for kids helps keep the youngest family members warm. Teens enjoy the resort's terrain park. A ski school offers lessons for all ages.

All accommodations at Ascutney Mountain are beside the slopes. Standard hotel rooms, as well as suites with one, two or three bedrooms, are available. The resort is home to several restaurants, as well as a fitness center with an indoor swimming pool.

Though Ascutney is within driving distance from Burlington, Vt., and is about two hours outside Boston or Hartford, Conn., another way to get to the resort is by train. Amtrak's Vermonter line takes you into the new Windsor/Mount Ascutney station. The resort is five minutes away from the train station.

Trails of Vermont

If you're looking for a huge variety of trails, consider visiting Sugarbush Resort, near Burlington, Vt. This resort offers 111 trails that descend from six interconnected mountains. Sixteen lifts take skiers to the trails.

Before skiing, you might want to have breakfast at The Hearth at Sugarbush, located at the resort's inn. The restaurant features scenic views, as well as made-to-order eggs, omelettes, pancakes and waffles. Another eatery at the inn is The Grill, which serves contemporary American cuisine. On tap at The Grill are a variety of microbrewed beers from Vermont.

Accommodations at Sugarbush include 42 rooms and a selection of condominiums. In December, the resort's new Lincoln Peak Village will open. Part of that new development is the Clay Brook Luxury Hotel, a four-star property that will offer ski-in, ski-out access to the resort's trails. The hotel will offer standard rooms as well as suites that have one, two, three, four or five bedrooms. The hotel will have a heated pool, hot tubs, a fitness club and a restaurant.

If you go

•The Birches Resort

www.birches.com

•Mohawk Mountain Ski Area

www.mohawkmtn.com

•Sugarbush Resort

www.sugarbush.com

Did you know?

•Visitors to The Birches Resort in Maine can rent a cabin or a yurt at the resort. A yurt is a round portable shelter used by the nomads of central Asia.

•In 1947, Walt Schoenknecht, a member of the Skiing Hall of Fame, created the Mohawk Mountain Ski Area in Connecticut.

•Vermont's Sugarbush Resort receives 260 inches of snow per year. In case of a shortage of snow, the resort has a powerful snowmaking machine.

•Sugarbush Resort in Vermont has 16 lifts and 111 trails for skiing.

Sources: The Birches Resort, Mohawk Mountain Ski Area, Sugarbush Resort