Taos is my go-to hill, even though it's 3 hours away (from Albuquerque) and four other areas are closer.
It's all about the skiing there. It's a ski area- not a resort. You don't see many people there in their fur jackets who picked their gear based on the color. It is not very kind to the unskilled or timid, although there are a few beginner chairs at the bottom. After that, even their blue runs are relatively narrow and steep. I can get going to as fast as I feel comfortable going on most of their blue runs. If some in your group do need the wide open groomers, Angel Fire is a short drive away.
Because of this, the skiers here tend to be a cut above. Silverton is the only place I've been to with substantially better skiers on average. If you're east coast and are upper an upper 5% technical terrein skier on your mountain, you'll probably be upper 40% here, depending on how many Texan families are visiting for the weekend.
There are no high-speed chairs, but also no long lift lines. The top of chair 2 is a trailhead that leads to dozens of awesome off-piste runs. It takes a while to avi-control everything, so even if it hasn't snowed in a few days, you can often still get first tracks as they open up runs.
The downside of these steep runs is coverage. You WILL hit some rocks if it hasn't snowed in a few days. Most avid skiers here have their own tuning and base repair gear. Last year had awful coverage so I geared up. This year, they ALREADY have more coverage than any time all of last year! Another 10" are expected today, and 5-10 more through the rest of the week.
When we get powder it is sweet and light, but this is New Mexico. Don't come and be disappointed if there isn't a foot of fresh. You'll have better chances going to Alta.
Plenty of inexpensive lodging options in town...not so different than Durango. Sun God...Sagebrush...Indian Hills...El Pueblo. Skip the Super-8; it's a crap hole and no cheaper than local hotels.
Orlandos is my favorite Mexican place. It's a little hole in the wall on the north end of town.
Wolf Creek has a few runs that are similar to Taos off of their ridge, but they aren't as long. I usually go there for the early season snow, although I'll also be going up over Christmas since a friend of a friend is letting us use their cabin.