This Poor Kid asks a simple question and gets every johnny-come-lately response in the book. A trip with his girl, first time out west, something that isn't difficult to get to.
Flying from Florida to Mammoth via LAX is a pain in the Hiney. Unless there is a direct flight to Portland or Sea-Tac, flying to the PNW from Florida is a pain in the hiney. Flying into Jackson from anywhere is a Pain in the Hiney (and wallet.)
OP, here are your options. Denver or SLC. If you can get a direct flight. Connections to Reno or Sacramento for Lake Tahoe are usually comparable in price, but they often use-up a lot of travel time. And Good GOD, When someone says "Where to go in the west......I spend too much time in the east and do not want to go to east coast resorts." PlEASE PLEASE PLEASE quit giving them the Jay Peak/Stowe pitch. Yes there is more snow there than Breck and PC, but the terrain is totally different and OP specifies NO EAST COAST.
If you fly into Denver, I'd suggest Steamboat. They are getting more and better snow than Breck/Vail/Keystone. I am currently in Breck and it is Meh, at best, with 5 inches reported last night and no more than 3 inches found at any one spot on the mountain. In many many spots, that is 3 inches on top of crud! Then again, you're looking for beginner to Intermediate, so You'll be tickled with Breckenridge. Head over to Keystone (about 25 mins away) mid-week. Much less crowded.
Steamboat will be the pretty/romantic experience that you're looking for. You'll tell your eldest child about it when he/she asks "where did I come from?"
Otherwise, flying into SLC and going to Park City is also a good option. It is a short drive from the airport (45 minutes) I usually don't endorse Park City, but if you're intermediate and looking for a cute town....PC is good to go.
That being said. I'm sure you're already booked and ready to go. Enjoy the trip!!
Traveling the States and Taking Pictures
Last edited by neednsnow; 02-22-2013 at 12:38 AM.