Resort at Squaw CreekSquaw Valley | Alpine Meadows, Calif.

“Two strides on skis and you’re on the lift,” said Briitni Kern, marketing manager for Resort at Squaw Creek, which offers semi-exclusive access to the slopes via the Squaw Creek triple. There’s no parking at the boarding zone, so public use is light. Mostly, it’s just the guests staying in this resort’s 405 rooms and suites that take this 1,300-foot ride up to Snow King. 

The only catch? There’s no beginner terrain off the Squaw Creek lift, so never-evers still take the resort shuttle to the Squaw | Alpine base area (a five-minute ride). But for most skiers and riders, it’s a huge perk—especially when high winds accompany the powder dumps. “This lift is more sheltered, so it operates when other lifts are closed due to storms,” Sapoznik said. Plus, the tree stashes off the Lake View run (accessed via the Squaw Creek lift) are one of the ski hill’s secret gem.

At day’s end, Resort at Squaw Creek ski valets collect and store guests’ gear. An on-site ticket office heightens convenience (no need to commute to the base to buy passes or book lessons). In fact, Squaw Creek makes most base-area forays superfluous: With its own shopping promenade, five restaurants, three outdoor heated swimming pools, a private ice rink, a Nordic center, a full-service spa and child-care programming, it’s a self-contained base area in its own right. Not to mention a $7 million guest room renovation, which includes decore and artwork updates, a couple's spa room and group spa treatment lounge, called the Tranquility Room—where packages include wine and champagne, as well as hors d’oeuvres like truffles, crudité, cheese platters and more.