by Alex Palmer | February 01, 2017
For groups looking for outstanding ski experiences, two destinations have long topped their lists: Vail, CO, and Banff, Alberta. But while these are perennial favorites for slopes and stunning winter scenery, both have new developments and offerings that make this year an especially worthwhile time for a visit.

Early this spring, a new Doubletree by Hilton will open in Vail -- a rebranding of the Apex Holiday Inn. Boasting a "mountain modern" design, it offers a ballroom for up to 100 guests, on-site massage treatment rooms, and proximity to such local attractions as Ford Park, and the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.

Another rebranding taking place this year is the opening of Hotel Talisa, a new Starwood luxury product, taking over the former Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. It will offer more than 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space -- spread across boardrooms, ballrooms, and more -- as well as three dining outlets, including Gessner, showcasing flavors of the Colorado Rockies and European Alps.

Speaking of dining options, in addition to these new lodging offerings, the Vail area has seen the opening of a number of new restaurants. Among these are Almresi, with a Vail-meets-European menu, the  New American cuisine of White Bison, as well as Pendulum, located in the historic Gorsuch Clock Tower.

For those planning beyond the winter months, Vail Resorts last year opened the first-of-its-kind, on-mountain summer adventure park, Epic Discovery. Groups can take part in ropes courses, summer tubing, zip-line courses, canopy tours, and wildlife trail exploration, ensuring there's plenty to do, even long after the snow has melted.

Banff Beckons

But Vail is not the only ski destination offering good reasons for a visit this year. As 2017 is Canada's 150th anniversary, a visit to the country's first national park would be an especially timely outing. Whether skiing or looking for other outdoor activities such as hiking, snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, or dogsledding, it's hard to find a more inspiring backdrop than the slopes of Mount Norquay or the frozen emerald waters of Lake Louise. Groups can arrange these outings with organizations such as Yamnuska Mountain Adventures, which now offers exclusive backcountry skiing and split-boarding adventures from the Lake Louise Ski Resort -- ideal for those looking for ski experiences far off the beaten path.

As for hotels, the new four-star Moose Hotel and Suites sits a minute from downtown Banff and features two rooftop hot pools with views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the Meadow Spa & Pools (with 10 treatment rooms), and 174 guest rooms.