by Leo Jakobson | February 02, 2018
The rugged beauty of the American West's Rockies is the grandiose backdrop to some of the best ski resorts in the country during the winter -- and some of the best hiking and outdoor activities the rest of the year. That's why places like Vail and Aspen in Colorado, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, and Park City in Utah are names known to skiers and outdoor enthusiasts around the world. For the right group, a meeting, conference, or incentive trip to these and other mountain resort towns are as big a draw as anywhere on earth.  

The big news in North American ski resorts over the past few years has been acquisitions and consolidation, starting with Vail Resorts, which kicked it off by acquiring Park City Mountain Resort and adding it to its own Canyons Ski Resort in 2014, followed by its purchase of the popular Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada. That was capped off with last year's acquisition of Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont. All of Vail's properties can be skied with a single Epic Pass. Then, this summer, Aspen Skiing Company partnered with KSL Resorts to buy Intrawest, Mammoth Resorts, and Deer Valley Resort. The group, with a dozen properties throughout California, Colorado, Vermont, Utah, and Canada, was recently renamed Alterra Mountain Company.

In Aspen, CO, construction is underway on the 99-room Snowmass Limelight Hotel, a ski-in, ski-out property in Snowmass Base Village, part of a $600 million development project. The Village has more than 70,000 square feet of meeting space.

In December, Vail Resorts opened the Hyatt Place Keystone in Colorado, with 103 rooms and 2,187 square feet of indoor meeting and event space, and another 2,252 square feet of outdoor space. It is part of Keystone Resort, which has more than 1,500 accommodations of various types, as well as 100,000-plus square feet of meeting and event space, and can cater to groups of up to 2,000.  

Of course, there are other great ski destinations. Jackson Hole, WY, on the edge of Grand Teton National Park and less than 60 spectacular miles (via US 191 -- watch for seasonal closures) from Yellowstone National Park's South Entrance, has a reputation as one of the most beautiful places in America, and with good reason. Located in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, Vail resorts' 385-room Jackson Lake Lodge is a National Historic Landmark  that can accommodate groups of up to 500 in its more than 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space, as well as in several off-site venues. An hour north of Yellowstone's West Entrance, you'll find the endless views of Big Sky, MT. Big Sky Resort's Yellowstone Conference Center offers more than 55,000 square feet of meeting and event space, plus an additional 9,000 square feet of boardrooms and banquet facilities in Mountain Village.

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This article appears in the February 2018 issue of Successful Meetings.