When I moved to the East Coast from California, I was shivering constantly. I spent the first year finding ways to enjoy myself indoors but the end result was eating, sleeping, and shopping far too much. Year two: I stopped avoiding winter and embraced it with a ski house.
Mike and I have been doing a seasonal rental in Killington, Vermont, since 2006, and I’ve loved winter ever since. There is just nothing like a day of skiing through trees, cooking dinner with friends, and relaxing in the hot tub under the stars. We’ve loved every house we’ve stayed in but with four rentals under our belt, we’ve learned a few things guaranteed to improve your stay.
What to look for when shopping for a group ski rental:
1. Single family home. You are in the mountains; it should feel like it. A freestanding house, tucked in the trees is the way to go (and generally not that much more expensive than the three-bedroom condos). Plus, the option to snow shoe or sled on your property is a great way to get adventure when the weather is too arctic to ski.
2. Flexible sleeping arrangements. A ski house should always have a more-the-merrier mentality so pullout couches, trundle beds, and bunk beds are a great option to keep the house guest-friendly and the mood spontaneous.
3. Fireplace. This is essential not only for gathering around with friends or a book but also for drying your ski gear.
4. Hot tub. We didn’t have one the first year but once we did, there was no turning back. Great for relaxing sore muscles, prompting gatherings and if for nothing else, I recommend it for the surreal experience of watching snow fall while swimming.
5. A kitchen for multiple chefs. Cooking with friends is half the enjoyment of the meal, but not if everyone is tripping over one another. A kitchen that can handle three or more chefs makes cooking social and efficient.
6. A big dining table. A table that can seat ten or more will keep the conversation and the group bond going strong.
7. Mud room. Between the ice, dirt, and mounds of gear, ski houses are bound to take a beating. Having a large mudroom where people can dump their wet stuff will be the best way to keep the rest of the house clean.
8. Nearby grocery store. This isn’t your house so you’re bound to be missing the spices or staples you think you have. Though it’s great to be in the wilderness, it’s worth sacrificing a bit of nature to have a few comforts easily accessible.
9. No steep hills. There are bound to be housemates or guests without four-wheel drive so you don’t want a house they can’t access. Take the steepness of the driveway and nearby streets into account before you rent.
10. Proximity to the mountain. The heart of any ski town is the area surrounding the slopes. Though cooking and relaxing at home is nice, nearby bars and restaurants offer some welcomed variety.
While it may be too late for a great seasonal rental, all of these tips apply to week-long rentals or even buying a ski house. Happy winter!