Vail Cascade Resort and Spa, Vail, Colo.

This sprawling resort sits at the foot of Vail Mountain and offers its own link to its slopes—Chair 20 departs from Cascade’s very own doors—but it’s not located at the base area. Set apart from the main hubs of Vail Village and Lionshead, the Cascade Resort feels all-inclusive, with an acclaimed spa, an on-site restaurant, and a fireplace-warmed lobby/bar that’s lively during the après-ski Happy Hour. Its self-sufficiency becomes an even bigger boon on weekends and powder days, when Cascade guests use the on-property chairlift to evade base-area lines.

The fixed-grip quad departs from the edge of the resort, where Charter Sports rents equipment (and stores guests’ gear). Stop in there to grab your boots off the dryers, hit the adjacent ticket office (open 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., the same operating hours as the lift), then board the chair. The ride deposits skiers and riders on the western edge of Vail Mountain, amidst such runs as Simba that sit off most skiers’ radar and hold powder for a surprisingly long time.

“It’s almost a local’s secret,” explained Katie Johnson, the Director of Marketing for Cascade Resort. In-the-know residents take the free bus to the resort so they can hop on the lift without a wait. “There are no lines, ever,” Johnson said. And at day’s end? Return is easy, via Simba (an intermediate run) or Cascade Way (a beginner’s cat-track). Bonus: A fall 2012 facelift brought new furniture, drapery and carpet to many resort rooms.