Some people hit the slopes for the exercise, for the adventure or just for the après ski. In fact, there is no rule that you have to ski or snowboard to socialize on the slopes. Whether your attendees’ quads are shot, their toes are blue or they just want to drink in the local scene, here are some of the best après ski spots for groups in popular mountain resort towns.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Few towns can pull off cowboy and chic within the same zip code, but Steamboat Springs does it well. Whether your group is looking for a local watering hole or a higher-end, top-notch restaurant and bar, Ski Town USA won’t disappoint.
A good start for après ski is Mountain Village located at the base of the Steamboat Resort ski area. Look up and you’ll see the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas’ Saddles. You can’t miss the wide deck and blazing fire pits to warm up chilled hands and feet. Favorites on the après ski menu are the elk quesadillas and warm chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate for dessert. If you are lucky enough to be there on a Friday night, you’ll see night skiing and people zipping down the Outlaw Mountain Coaster.
Pop off your board or skis and within a few steps from Steamboat Mountain you will arrive at TBar, where craft beer is the drink of choice. And the food, well it’s best described as eclectic and epicurious. The mountain-friendly gastro pub fare with a twist features crawfish and grits; a banana, peanut butter, honey and bacon panini; and special items like smoked Cornish game hen with a killer Sriracha sauce laced over the crispy skin. TBar is open only during ski season.
Just down the road from Howelson Hill—Steamboat’s in-town, locally owned ski hill and Nordic center—is Aurum Food and Wine. The creekside restaurant’s patio with fire pits is a perennial gathering spot in all four seasons. Aurum is known for a lengthy wine list and creative cocktails, such as the signature Aurum Manhattan and smoked orange old fashioned. Don’t miss the crispy curried cauliflower with spicy shishito peppers and sweet golden raisins.
Taos, New Mexico
Tucked away in a deep valley of the Sangre de Cristo Range is the intimate village of Taos. This magical New Mexico ski paradise is home to awe-inspiring views paired with Southwestern culture. Given the town’s Spanish influence, it’s surprising that the most prized après ski spot is The Bavarian. “It is the highlight of the Taos ski experience,” says Skylar Kraatz, public relations coordinator for Taos Ski Valley.
The Bavarian Lodge at the base of Lift 4 has a great big deck to enjoy a German double bock and vorspeizen appetizer. In keeping with the tradition, start off with the obatzda, a Bavarian Camembert cheese spread with a pretzel, and a braised beef goulash soup. Those with bigger appetites will appreciate the classic sauerbraten, pork jagerschnitzel and spätzle.
The newest après-ski spot in Taos is 192 at The Blake, named for the tail number of the plane owned by the founder of the town, Earnie Blake. With clean lines that blend European and New Mexican décor, this is a good place for a casual meet up before a group heads to dinner.
Snowbird & Alta, Utah
Within less than a half hour from Salt Lake City, you can be schussing down the mountain at Snowbird or Alta Ski Area. Locals love these resorts for their close proximity, unpretentious atmospheres, great food and, of course, the generous snowfall.
After a day of snow play, locals suggest heading over to The Forklift on Snowbird Center Plaza. On a sunny day, the patio is the perfect place to unwind and tell mountain stories. Warm up with the signature Nutty Irishman, a Utah take on Irish coffee with hazelnut and coffee liquor. The menu is made up of casual fare including nachos, wings and dips, salads and tacos.
For finer dining that opens at 4 p.m., head to The Aerie at Cliff Lodge and press 10th floor on the elevator. The views will catch attendees’ breath, the wine list will keep their attention and the food will take care of all the other senses. Aerie is known for an extensive Champagne and sparkling wine selection. Game takes center stage on the menu with lamb shank dressed in preserved lemon gremolata, steaks with béarnaise or roasted onion sauce, and bison and elk burgers.
Classic is the best single word to describe the Sitzmark Club at Alta Lodge. Not much has changed since 1940, with thick wood panels, a brick fireplace and sturdy-but-cozy pine furnishings. The Sitzmark is the ideal place to rest weary bodies after a day on the mountain. Unlike noisy bars and nightclubs, this intimate spot is perfect for catching up and communing with friends.
In mountain towns, après ski is almost as important as the skiing and boarding just as life is more than just work. Attendees and clients will appreciate the time you put into the playful part of the event, meeting or incentive trip.