This winter, United Airlines is launching new nonstop flights on Saturdays from Chicago O’Hare to Gunnison-Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs-Hayden, home to Colorado’s upscale yet rustic Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Steamboat Ski & Resort, a family friendly-ski destination with plenty of western flair.

United’s new direct flight to Crested Butte will be the only direct flight from Chicago this season, flying on 10 select Saturdays (December 21 and 28, January 4, February 15 and 22, and March 1, 8, 15, and 22) through March 29, 2014. The new Steamboat flight will run every Saturday from February 15, also through March 29.

So which ski destination is right for you?

Choose Crested Butte for the chance to wind through new tree-skiing trails—10 revamped acres in the East River area for intermediate skiers and three extra wide kid-friendly trails in the Painter Boy area. Grab a syrupy snack at the new slopeside Waffle Cabin and then call it a day at the renovated 28-room Nordic Inn (from $249), a cozy throwback retreat now revamped with modern amenities.

At Steamboat, night skiing—a western resort rarity—is the big draw this season. You can take advantage of it across 1,100 vertical feet of terrain, Friday through Sunday nights. In between runs, stop mid mountain at the new 13,000-square-foot Four Points Lodge, an upscale rest stop featuring a local-food-focused restaurant, indoor bar, a 2,500 square-foot deck with an outdoor grill, stone fireplaces, and panoramic views.

You’ll find deals at both resorts that are especially good when you book early and directly through the resorts. Crested Butte is offering a free half-day lift ticket to Chicago guests on the new Saturday flight, which arrives at 11:40 a.m. (good for the same day). Also available through Crested Butte Vacations

  • Book your United flight by November 11 and pay $373 for travel between January 8 and February 12.
  • Visit on Saturday, January 4, for a minimum of four nights at the Grand Lodge Hotel and ski free for $159 a night (just book by December 1). 
  • Bring your family of four during Christmas for four days at the Grand Lodge and three days of lift tickets for $999 (book by December 22).

At Steamboat, nab 20 percent off when you book your trip by November 30. You can also get free night skiing (book through Steamboat Central Reservations).

For more winter travel options, see Chicago magazine’s “8 Great Last-Minute Ski and Surf Escapes.”


You Win the Airline Price Wars—Through Tonight

Southwest, Air Tran, and American launched fare sales out of Chicago O’Hare and Midway last week, including $134 roundtrip to Louisville and $358 roundtrip to Las Vegas (American), and $99 one way to New York and $118 to Denver (Southwest). Sales end tonight at 11:59 p.m. (time zones vary) and are good for travel between November 2, 2013, and March 12, 2014.

Chicago Is One of Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Destinations of 2014

Paris is named for its congestion-free urban renaissance, Cape Town as it takes on the title of World Design Capital, Shanghai for its 121-story Shanghai Tower. And Chicago? It’s got Wrigley Field, improv comedy, and music fests. Read more—and add to your bucket list—at Lonely Planet.

The Rules Relax on In-Flight Electronics (but No Phone Calls)

“Fliers are rejoicing that they’ll soon be able to use their iPads, Kindles, music players and other personal electronics during all phases of a flight,” says Scott Mayerowitz at Skift, following last week’s announcement by the Federal Aviation Adminsitration that it will allow the use of electronic devices. Making phone calls is still prohibited and WiFi on Gogo-powered flights won’t turn on below 10,000 feet, at least for the time being. 

Get Your Feet Wet with a Short Weekend Cruise

“Cruise lines get that some people can’t (or don’t want to) do a seven-night cruise,” says Fran Golden at USA Today. “As a result, the lines are offering an increasing number of shorter cruise options.” No longer the party-goer cruise, short cruises are also happening on new ships (like the new Ruby Princess out of Fort Lauderdale) and on family-friendly voyages (like Disney Magic out of Miami).