A cozy inn within an easy glide of cross-country tracks or downhill trails makes apres-ski an intimate experience. These inns located near ski areas offer such winter pleasures as hot tubs, roaring fires, historic sites and fine meals. For non-skiers, there's mystery and mayhem at the murder weekends at the Jersey shore inns.
The Pine Knob This pre-Civil War home in Canadensis, Pa., in the heart of the Poconos, offers a happy compromise for ski-loving couples. From Pine Knob's 15 acres, you're minutes from cross country skiing at Promiseland State Park with its groomed tracks, and Cherry Ridge Farm with its cross country lessons. But you're also within an easy drive of downhill runs at Camelback, the largest Poconos ski area, as well as Alpine, Shawnee and Jack Frost ski areas.
After a day of ski encounters, Pine Knob presents an apres-skenticement: a five-course dinner of noteworthy fare. Scott and Ann Frankel, who took over Pine Knob from former innkeepers 2 1/2 years ago, pride themselves on the homemade breads, desserts (including rich cobblers, creamy cheesecake and a flourless chocolate cake) and such house specialties as rack of lamb, roast duck and a hunter's platter of quail, rabbit and Pocono mountain trout.
With luck, you can catch your own trout from the BrodheaCreek, which runs through the property, even though the fishing's better in spring. Afterward, warm up inside by the parlor's huge stone fireplace with a novel or a game of chess.
The inn's 18 rooms -- nine in the main house and nine in threoutbuildings -- combine Victorian bureaus, carved headboards, brass beds, rockers and floral wallpapers with such country touches as quilts (some made by Ms. Frankel, others from her extensive collection).
Before dinner, browse among the more than 100 cookie jars that line the dining room, part of the Frankels' whimsical collection.
The Pine Knob: Box 275, Route 447, Canadensis, Pa. 18325; telephone (717) 595-2532. Eighteen rooms, nine with private bath. Rates $69 per person, double occupancy, includes a complete breakfast and a five-course dinner. Promiseland State
Park: (717) 676-3428. Cherry Ridge Farm: (717) 676-4904. Alpine Mountain: (717) 595-2150. Camelback: (717) 629-1661 or (800) 233-8100. Shawnee Mountain: (800) 233-4218. Jack Frost: (717) 443- 8425.
With a player piano in the hall, hot tub on the deck, horses ipaddocks and baled hay in the far fields, Meander Inn at Penny Lane Farm in Nellysford, Va., is your quintessential country farmhouse turned bed and breakfast. It even sits just beyond an iron bridge, high atop a hill, with the Rockfish River (complete with beaver dam) beside it.
But for skiers, the best news is Meander Inn's location: in thvalley three miles down from the sprawling Wintergreen resort. A stay there not only enables visitors to reach the slopes early before weekend crowds limit the number of skiers, but after a day of runs they'll enjoy coming back to Meander Inn for small-inn, country-cousin friendliness and hot cider. This 1913 farmhouse with its 50 acres -- adjacent to 67 acres that owners Kathy and Rick Cornelius share with a neighbor -- provides panoramic Blue Ridge mountain views and hours of fields for hiking.
The rooms, decorated with a mix of Victorian antiques ancomfortable pieces, offer cozy rather than grand retreats. Old dolls line a hall display, and a wedding-ring quilt hangs over the banister. The Duchess' Room -- named after the original owner's daughter -- has the lightness of white wicker and a rocking chair fashioned from a spinning wheel. The former chicken coop has a pine four-poster bed and a Victorian tub.
Meander Inn at Penny Lane Farm: Routes 612 and 613, Box 443Nellysford, Va. 22958; telephone (804) 361-1121. Or write
Guesthouses Virginia, Box 5737, Charlottesville, Va. 22905; telephone (804) 979-7264 between noon and 5 p.m. weekdays. Five guest rooms, three with private bath; $70 and $80, includes full breakfast. Additional adult in room, $30. No charge for one child under 12 in same room; more than one child, $30. Inquire about discounts on Wintergreen lift tickets. Wintergreen has advanced, intermediate and beginner slopes; night skiing, and a children's ski program. Telephone: (800) 325-2200.
Jordan Hollow Farm Inn
The sign above the two-tiered wraparound porch of thiyear-old farmhouse in Stanley, Va., proclaims, "Welcome Friends." Porch swings, rockers, kittens popping out of wicker baskets and the rush of the nearby stream add to the unassuming, friendly feel of the place.
Nestled in Jordan Hollow, Stanley, Va., on 45 rolling acres surrounded by the Blue Ridge mountains and the George Washington National Forest, this farm offers a welcoming base for a country ski weekend. There are meadows for cross country skiing (bring your own gear) and scenic horseback rides through the Blue Ridge Mountains, all within 35 minutes of Massanutten's 11 slopes.