The autumn mountain getaway is a perfect excuse to start scoping out winter cottages, condos and chalets for those winter ski week vacations. When we were skiing every weekend, my wife and I found that it made sense to rent a house for the entire season on a picturesque lake near Elk Mountain in northeastern Pennsylvania. To manage the price, we enlisted two other couples to score a three bedroom home where we could bring the dogs, cook meals, entertain and be at the mountain as the lifts began to launch. They were perfect weekends, a few ski weeks and a resting point to and from Canadian getaways.
Mountain homes in the Pocono and Endless Mountains can be found for a weekend, week, month or an entire season. They sleep anywhere from four to 10 people, perfect for cost splitting among good friends. Most have two or more bathrooms and a full kitchen. Some offer Jacuzzis and hot tubs, and most feature a fireplace. They are cozy, comfortable–even romantic–and some of the views are spectacular.
Here’s a sample of what you can find, some key features and where you can find it close to a favorite mountain. I’ve rented and stayed in homes or condos in each of these locations. – Jay Lloyd
ELK MOUNTAIN REGION
The northern tier of the state is known as the Endless Mountain region. Elk Mountain does not have slopeside condos, but just below the base, The Village of the Four Seasons, which is set on a wooded ridge, often has some of its nearly 200 homes available as seasonal rentals. Within a few miles of the mountain, scores of private homes are available for weekly and seasonal rentals. Since they are private homes, the styles and amenities are quite varied, but the settings are generally eye-filling and wooded. Prices can range from as low as $650 to several thousand per week.
To begin the search, contact Gerber Associates at www.gerberrealtors.com, Pass Realty at www.passrealty.com, or Vacation Rentals at www.vacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/Elk-Mountain-Pennsylvania.html
JACK FROST/BIG BOULDER
The popular sister ski areas were spun off from a large Pocono Mountain land company in the Blakeslee and White Haven section of the western Poconos. The real estate company carefully developed condominium villages on and around its ski areas. As the homes sold, many of the new owners placed them in the Mountain rental programs. They are well designed, uniform and have a variety of amenities, including Jacuzzis and hot tubs. The feature I like most at Snow Ridge Village on the slopes of Jack Frost is that you can ski directly from many of the homes to the trails and lifts. There’s adequate parking in front of each townhouse, all of them have fireplaces and the wood is provided. There’s housekeeping service and discounted lift tickets with each rental, too. Contact: http://mountainresortvillas.com/home.asp
CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN AREA
Homes available for rent at Camelback near Tannersville are as close as slopeside, but if you follow the access road to the summit lodge less than a quarter of a mile further, you’ll arrive at Northridge Station. It’s a clutch of townhomes that offer breathtaking views of the ski trails. Your vantage point is above and directly across the ridge. The living room doors open onto a patio, where on mild nights you can watch skiers traversing the slopes under the lights. The two-story homes all feature a full kitchen and dining area, a living room with a fireplace, a handy ski locker, two or three bedrooms and two baths. Drive to the mountain in two minutes or walk to it in 10. Arrangements can be made through Camelback Real Estate, operated by the mountain.
SHAWNEE MOUNTAIN AREA
Shawnee Mountain has long been a four-season family destination. As the mountain’s popularity grew, so did housing opportunities in the surrounding area. In addition to private homes in secluded sections of the Delaware River location, modern Pocono style condo and villa developments have taken root across the road from Shawnee and within walking distance of the slopes. Most of the homes are two or three bedroom units with kitchen and dining areas, plenty of closet space and a fireplace. Some are equipped with Jacuzzis. Arrangements can be made through the resort mountain and viewed at: www.shawneemt.com/trip-planning/lodging_skiandstay.html
Additional rental homes, including many available for the entire winter, can be found at www.poconomountainrentals.com
A FEW TIPS
If bringing along your pets is important, ask first. More and more homeowners are placing pet restrictions on rentals. Private homes away from the mountains in rural settings are more likely to be accommodating.
Most “condos” or “villas” on mountain property will provide linens, towels, cookware, kitchen utensils and table service. Private non-development homes may or may not. It’s important to know what you have to bring.
If utilities are not included, find out what the previous winter’s heating and electric bills looked like to avoid surprises. Most mountain electricity costs are considerably lower than those in Philadelphia and the surrounding suburbs.
So, take a fall getaway, scout your favorite winter hideaway and pick the perfect spot for a fun-filled winter on the trails!