The lodging: Your après-ski hot chocolate’s sipped in a glassed-in porch overlooking snow-covered pines and a flowing river when you book the Betsie River Cabin in Thompsonville, a mile from Crystal Mountain Resort. Guests liken the cabin to a private zoo for the deer, wild turkeys and pileated woodpeckers that often happen by. Vaulted wood ceilings, a gas fireplace and garage are other perks. (Sleeps six). MyNorth.com.
The learning: Get a one-hour beginner group lesson with rental equipment for only $24 a person (ages 13+), and if you bring a friend you'll split the cost and get a chance to win some great prizes! Age groups 3-6 and 7-12 can participate in different programs offering two hour lessons for $28, including rental equipment and snacks. 231.378.2000; crystalmountain.com.
The lodging: The “ski in” part of your day will be as much fun as the “ski out” when you splurge on this log home built into a hillside at Schuss Mountain in Bellaire ($595–$795 a night, ski season). The luxury four bedroom with fireplace and heated floors sleeps 16, and nearly that many can fit into the private covered outdoor hot tub that overlooks the Chicken’s Choice ski run. homeaway.com.
The learning: Lift tickets or trail passes, beginner lessons and rental equipment are all included with the beginner lessons here all month: $20 cross-country, $30 downhill; $40 snowboarding for ages seven and older. 800.678.4111; shantycreek.com.
The lodging: An airy second floor loft with classic red brick walls and sunset views over Lake Charlevoix makes a fine substitute for an Alpine-style lodge, especially when you’re just a short stroll from mussels and frites at Cafe Santé and Boyne City’s clever galleries and shops. This apartment with two-bedrooms (plus sleeper sofa), seven miles from Boyne Mountain, goes for a bargain $125/night (3-night minimum stay required). vrbo.com.
The learning: Basics like gliding and stopping are well covered, as are all equipment rentals and day pass to beginner area hills, in the two-hour novice lessons offered at Boyne Mountain all month—$20 cross-country, $30 downhill, $40 snowboarding. Mention the Boyne LSSM package when you book: 800.462.6963; boyneusa.com.
The lodging: Getting the whole family together for an entire weekend of fun on the slopes or family games can feel enough of a retro concept to make this rental ideal. The nearly new, airy four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot getaway (sleeps 14) on a Lake Michigan bluff is described as retro-mod for the way the ’60s theme is carried down to the smallest details: sherbet-colored pastels, new shag carpeting, game room with pool table. There’s even a stack of vintage films and turntable with vintage albums waiting. The $260/night price tag (two-night minimum stay required) is a lakefront bargain, and even more so if you share with a couple of other families. homeaway.com
The learning: Nub’s offers no January discounts since the year-round learning program’s so enticing and includes free (all day) 12-acre beginner area with terrain park and chairlift. First timers (3rd grade through adult) can book a 1.5-hour group lesson at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. $55 mornings/$35 afternoons. Afternoon students can also purchase a $5 ski lift ticket good for the rest of the day. 231.526.2300; nubsnob.com.