Plan a weekend to visit our picks: a mountain resort, a new hotel in Charlottesville and an orchid exhibit
After a couple of ski seasons that were short on plentiful powder, West Virginia’s Snowshoe Mountain Resort improved its trails and snowboarding terrain for the current season with nearly $4 million worth of environmentally friendly snowmaking machines. Situated at the southern end of Cheat Mountain—the state’s second-highest peak at 4,848 feet—Snowshoe is close enough to the Great Lakes for upslope lake effect snow and far enough east to cash in on big nor’easters. (The resort is so confident about good conditions that it has a snow guarantee through March 17: “We guarantee we’ll have more skiable terrain open here at Snowshoe than any other ski mountain in the Southeast, or your next day of skiing is free.”)
Two of the resort’s mountains offer a combined 60 trails on three ridges for skiers from novice to advanced; 12 trails are open for night skiing. An area known as “The Western Territory” is home to a pair of 1½-mile black diamond trails (one is a double-black), each with a 1,500-foot vertical drop. Off the slopes, a “Monsters in the Woods”-themed escape room debuted last season; you must solve clues to earn your “escape.” Backcountry snowmobile tours, snow tubing, a full-service spa, indoor/outdoor heated swimming pools and a small village worth of dining options round out Snowshoe’s offerings.
The resort’s Brigham Collection opened last season and consists of the highest-rated (by previous guests) studio to six-bedroom units around the mountain. High-thread-count linens and spacious kitchens with granite countertops help set them apart. Brigham Collection lodging includes pre-arrival concierge support and delivery of rental equipment to your door. Rates vary widely and typically range from $300 to $500 per night (depending on accommodation size and time of year).
Snowshoe Mountain Resort, 10 Snowshoe Drive,
Snowshoe, West Virginia; 877-441-4386; snowshoemtn.com
Come in from the cold and explore Longwood Gardens’ lush 4-acre conservatory, which is filled with thousands of vibrant, artfully presented orchids. Grand orbs of the delicate flowers dangle overhead, others spill from basins, and the orchid rarity Phalaenopsis Sogo Yukidian “V3” is stunning with its majestic white, pink and purple blooms. Grown by experts in Taiwan, the V3 orchids are beloved for the sheer number of flowers blooming at once. Outdoors, stroll Longwood’s 3 miles of walking trails and the topiary garden, featuring 20 whimsically-shaped yews—trees trimmed into the forms of cones, spirals and more.
Stay the night nearby at The Inn at Grace Winery (rates begin at $149; 610-459-4711, gracewinery.com). Three of the inn’s cottages have a wood-burning fireplace; two have a gas fireplace. Meander the grounds to visit alpacas, goats and donkeys.
Orchid Extravaganza runs from Jan. 19 to March 24. Admission is $23; $20 for seniors ages 62 and older and college students; $12 for ages 5-18; free for ages 4 and younger.
Longwood Gardens, 1001 Longwood Road, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; 610-388-1000; longwoodgardens.org
Opened last September in Charlottesville, Virginia, The Draftsman hotel got the inspiration for its name from three Virginians—Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and James Monroe—who contributed to drafting our country’s cornerstone documents. The hotel’s 150 guest rooms and suites each feature a drafting desk, sliding barn-style bathroom door, picture of the University of Virginia’s rotunda, and orange-and-blue seersucker robes (another nod to the university). Mini bars include Virginia wines, beer and cider. Suite pluses: Japanese soaking tubs and a wraparound window’s worth of Charlottesville and Blue Ridge Mountain views, which guests in standard rooms can also enjoy from the fitness center on the penthouse floor.
Renewal, the hotel’s farm-to-table restaurant, serves up an eclectic menu of locally sourced food and 36 brews on tap from a glass-enclosed pour-your-own beer vault. Bulleit, the hotel’s lovable wheaten terrier, often can be found hanging out in the lobby. The Draftsman welcomes your pup or other pet, too (call the hotel for details and prices).
Rates at The Draftsman, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, start at $179 per night. 1106 W. Main St., Charlottesville, Virginia; 434-984-8000; thedraftsmanhotel.com