What sets a ski resort apart from its neighbors? Its size? Number of lifts? Scenery? History? Location? Annual snowfall in feet? Vertical? Apres-ski fun? Snowmaking? Unique background? Elegance?

Answer: Any or all of the above.

To name the 50 or 100 greatest ski resorts in the nation, or in Europe, or the best in the West, or New England, is quite a simple task. Pick out the largest and, voila! There they are.

I’ve long pondered a question once asked of me about the places I’ve skied. It was not the usual, “Which is your favorite?” For that I have a
stock - and true - answer: The one I’m skiing at the moment. The question was: “What are the dozen outstanding resorts in the nation?”

The dozen? I could name, easily, the 50 or the 100. But to whittle that number down to 12? And, besides, what would make any of the 12 “outstanding”?

Suffice it to say that after consideration I did, in time, come up with a “skier’s dozen” - 13 resorts, ranging from a tiny gem that’s swathed in deep powder every winter to one of the most elegant destination resorts in the world.

They all have only one thing in common - - each is a tad different from any other resort. It has a tremendous size or location, or a unique role in skiing history. It’s not a “better place” to ski than dozens of others.

Following is a brief visit to each of them:

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It’s impossible to go hungry at Whistler/Blackcomb. Between them the two areas have 15 on-mountain cafeterias, pizza parlors, and restaurants, ranging from the expensive and eleg
Put two great ski mountains side by side, each with more than 5,000 feet of vertical - the most in North America - and you’ve got the first hint of what it’s like to play on th
There are two nurseries and day-care centers for the wee ones from 2 months to 6 years, and ski schools for kids from 3 to 12. Teens have their own programs. A fabled “Kids Only
Vail is a resort put together with superlatives. Whatever can be said of it today will be revised, enlarged, or improved tomorrow. For skiing, it’s among the most imposing areas
A third area is Elkhorn, near Dollar Mountain, a village in its own right with a variety of lodgings and a cluster of shops. And the fourth is incomparable Old Baldy, a roundish mo
Sitting inside the grand palace that is the elegant Sun Valley Lodge, you can look across bathers in an outdoor heated circular pool - the first ever built by a ski resort - to tow

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