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How to Plan The Perfect Ski Vacation

How to Plan the Perfect Ski Vacation

Planning the perfect family ski vacation can be as difficult as tackling a black diamond trail with a broken pole. Not only do you have to book essentials such as lodging and transportation, but you also have to consider less obvious factors such as local weather and terrain. If you’re thinking about planning a ski trip with your family in the near future, here are some points to consider to help you holiday the right way.

Why Plan a Ski Vacation?
There are plenty of good reasons to take holidays throughout the year. Vacationing helps you to unwind, giving you time to rejuvenate your mind. It’s important that you make an effort to separate yourself from the daily grind during your vacation to give yourself a legitimate break. You should make sure that your clients and co-workers know not to contact you during your absence, and avoid the temptation to check your phone or work email while away.

Giving yourself time to relax on holiday can have a significant positive impact on your mental health. Vacationing has been associated with reduced levels of depression, higher energy levels, and greater satisfaction in relationships. In addition to the emotional benefits of taking some well-deserved time off, a ski vacation can also help you to improve your physical wellbeing. Skiing is a high-octane activity that gives you a full body workout. It helps you to strengthen muscles and joints while also getting an intense aerobic workout that strengthens heart muscles.

Where to Stay
Choosing the right ski destination is one of the most important aspects of planning a ski vacation. If you pick the wrong location or book tickets at the wrong time of year, you may not find yourself enjoying the snow-covered wonderland that you had imagined.

You need to consider an area’s terrain, its climate throughout the year, and its popularity. Renowned resorts such as Aspen are often much more crowded than lesser known slopes, which can make skiing especially difficult for beginners. You should also look for a place that gets enough snowfall during the time of year you plan to visit.

Planning a ski trip on a budget can be challenging during skiing season, as prices tend to skyrocket at this time. While you may be able to find cheaper early-season tickets, you may be limited by which trails are open for use. It’s best to look for a resort with on-season prices that fit your budget. Don’t forget to consider additional costs as well, such as meals, lessons, and equipment rental.

What to Do
Obviously, the main event on any ski trip is hitting the slopes, but it’s also important to consider what you have to do in your downtime. Off-slope activities can be just as much a part of any vacation as strapping on your skis, especially if the weather on your trip ends up being rough.

Ski resorts often have après ski family activities, tubing, snowshoeing, and indoor games, movies, and a bar area, but you may also want to look into nearby entertainment. Many ski towns have plenty to do to keep the whole family occupied. There are local museums and historical sites, shopping outlets, spas, theaters, and more.

Who to Bring
When going on a skiing vacation with the family, it’s important to consider the experience of everybody involved. You should bring skiers that are advanced enough to enjoy the slopes around the resort that you’ve booked. If you’re planning to go to a location that’s shy on green circle trails, you may want to invite only older children and experienced skiers.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, traveling with the family will often end up saving you money at popular resorts. Groups can often get reduced rates by booking together. You can also stay in a multiple-bedroom condo with a kitchen to avoid eating out too much.

Planning the perfect ski vacation isn’t easy, but for most families, it’s worth the effort. With a little bit of research and the proper preparation, you can make your next ski trip an overwhelming success and come back home feeling rejuvenated.

Where are you skiing with your family this ski season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your family ski trips!

Vail owns 14 Ski Resorts! Epic!

vail-heather-simbaVail Resorts is quite the mountain monopoly now. How many ski resorts can one company own? ! Apparently a baker’s dozen of  dreamy downhill destinations!Vail has purchased Canada’s biggest – Whistler Blackcomb for $1 billion and Stowe Mountain for $50 million.  Vail now manages 14 ski resorts, the original Vail (since 1962), plus Beaver Creek – one of my personal faves, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City (and Canyons) in Utah, Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe California, Whistler Blackcomb in BC Canada; Perisher in Australia; Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan. Vail now has the lion’s share of skier visit too, with 50% of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, among the top 3  are Whistler, Vail, and Breckenridge.

1telluride-skier-hrbSo Vail’s Epic Pass rocks, rivaled by Aspen’s IKON Pass,  its even more Epic for 2018-19 by adding Telluride Colorado for 7-days on the already epci pass. Enjoy skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Wilmot, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Arapahoe Basin, Perisher Australia, Wilmot, Afton Alps and Mt. Brighton, Whistler/Blackcomb, Stwoe in Vermont, plus Telluride benefits.

Add to that the impressive ski resort collection the luxury lodging brand Vail Resorts owns – RockResorts, with posh ski lodging properties including the authentic first lodging in Vail village-  Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek, One Ski Hill Place at jester-sugarbush-heatherBreckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

You can also use your Epic Pass in Europe for free skiing in France at Les Trois Vallees, Val D’Isere Tignes and Les Arcs La Plagne plus a few days in St Anton Austria.

Meanwhile, I’ve got my Epic Pass and I’m not afraid to use it! Lake Tahoe, Park City, Colorado’s Summit County and Whistler – I’m coming for ya!

Heather Burke, 2018 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Photos by Greg Burke

Where’s the snow in 2018?

Where’s the snow for winter 2017-18 ski friends?
Skiers are always lusting for the best snow conditions. It’s a cat and mouse chase… as the weather is as fickle as Tweety and Sylvester. This year the chase is real, while the Rockies, particularly Utah and Colorado, haven’t gotten big snow or consistent cold, The East, The Alps and The Pac North West have seen big snow accumulation, cool temps and great ski conditions to start the season.

Top ski resorts in the East like Sugarbush, Okemo, Jay Peak, Mount Snow, Pico and Stowe are wide-open by New Year’s, that’s something to pop Champagne about. Its been uber cold to perserve New England’s snow, perhaps a bit too cold for skiers though when well below zero!

Meanwhile, Park City Utah is balmy, with just 60 of its 300 + trails open, yikes! Aspen’s four mountains are just 20% open. South West Colorado and New Mexico are downright snow-deprived. Same goes for Tahoe ski resorts in California. Meanwhile, Grand Targhee in Wyoming is 100% open, and nearby Jackson Hole is looking good! So is Montana, big snow at Big Sky, Great Divide, and Whitefish. In the Pacific Northwest, where we are headed in January, Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie are 100% with 50-100” base depths of natural snow!

Canada’s Rockies are strong, with the majority of terrain open at steep Kicking Horse, Panorama, Big White which we skied and loved last season, Lake Louise, and Sunshine in Banff, and Whistler Blackcomb, where we’ll ski January. In Quebec, its been frigid, and Tremblant and Mont Sainte Anne are frosty with snow.

The biggest snow of the season is in the Alps! The French Alps, Austria and Switzerland have all been hammered with December snow, all white for the holidays and the start to the year. St Anton Austria already has base depths of 250cm, Verbier Switzerland is reporting 10 feet of snow so far.

So if you like to go to the snow, follow us here at Family Ski Trips. We started our ski season at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, where they’d blown piles of man made, and early December brought natural snow to complement their conditions. Similarly Bretton Woods and the Mount Washington Resort just before Christmas had us skiing natural glades and gorgeous groomers with 5 inches of fluff on top – white Christmas in New Hampshire’s White mountains!

Next up, we’ll be skiing Whistler Blackcomb in the new year, as well as Washington’s ski resorts Snoqualmie and Crystal – so says our crystal ball.

Snow prayers for Colorado where we head in February for Copper On Snow Demos, skiing at Steamboat and Vail too!

We are Alps bound mid-winter visiting Portes Du Soliel – the largest ski terrain in the world which spans 12 resorts between Mont Blanc in France and Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

We’ll end our winter at one of our favorite ski resort on the planet, Big Sky, this Montana resort never disappoints with its big mountain terrain, beautiful views and cool vibe.

Where are you skiing this season? See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and our Guide to Skiing the Alps to plan your 2018 winter of skiing!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

Top Ski Resorts

We editors at Family Ski Trips love to rank our favorite ski resorts, based on terrain, scenic beauty, lifts, snow, ski village amenities and après ski, plus activities and programs for families. We have our favorites:
Top 10 Ski Resorts of the East
Top Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resorts in Canada
Top Family Ski Resorts in the Alps

All of these we keep up to date with frequent personal visits (tough job, eh?!) and we reward those resorts with recent capital improvements, new programs for learn to ski, lodging and culinary enhancement, by moving them up (or down) our Top 10 Ski Resorts ranking.

We also love to see how other ski sites rank the top ski resorts in the world. We enjoy comparing their results, and metrics, with ours. Our ski resort rankings are quite similar to those of Ski magazine and their annual Top 50 Ski Resorts readers’ poll, with the occasional anomaly, see this year’s review of Ski Mag’s 2017 best ski resort poll.

TurnKey recently released their Top Ski Resort rankings, with cool data about the top three ski and snowboard states – not surprisingly Colorado, California, and Utah. These three states comprise almost 50% of their top 100 ski resorts in the US, Colorado has the most skier visits and 77% of their top 100 resorts. Here’s where we might disagree, since we like to steer families looking for a great ski vacation away from the highly ranked, highly visited ski resorts. We say ski Idaho, Montana and Wyoming… even Washington!

TurnKey’s top 25 ski resorts only has 3 Eastern Ski Resorts, #15 Killington, #18 Sugarloaf and #23 Whiteface. We respectfully have very different New England ski faves: Stowe, Sugarbush, Sunday River, Okemo, Bretton Woods and Smuggs are all deserving ahead of Whiteface! Out West, we agree with Big Sky at #2 but Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Vail, Telluride and Deer Valley all move ahead of Park City.

We did find very interesting the lift ticket prices, with Winter Park and Vail topping out at $159 a day. $68 is the average ticket price among the 260 resorts in TurnKey’s study.

Let us know your Top Ski Resorts, and why? What makes a perfect ski resort for you and your family ski vacation?

Copyright 2017, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

What’s New @The Best Ski Resorts for Winter 2017-2018

At Sunday River Maine, the new Spruce Peak triple will open, a complete $2.1 replacement of the old lift (which was not operational last season) will shorten the ride time from 11 minutes to 8 minutes. Other improvements at the River, New England’s 3rd largest ski resort, include a beginner-friendly trail “Bear Paw” on Locke Mountain, and the launch of a new Holiday pass- just $299 for peak Christmas New Years skiing Dec 23- Jan 1, available by flash sale thru Nov 17. The River opened for skiing November 11 for skiing, 1st in maine,  2nd in the East following Killington on Nov 9!

Sugarbush Vermont will replace both the Lincoln Peak Village Double chairlift and Mt Ellen’s Sunshine Double chairlift with two new fixed-grip quads. Sugarbush also has some very cool new season pass deals, like the For30s at $599, and For20s at $399, and The Boomer for 65-89 midweek just $139. Sugarbush is now part of the Mountain Collective Pass, and introduces RFID technology for quick scans at the lifts.

Burke Mountain in Vermont gets a new “high-speed t-bar” to replace the World War II vintage poma. Burke has been declared an official US Ski team Development performance site, with a new dedicated slalom hill. We love the new slopeside Burke Mountain Hotel, btw.

Magic Mountain is under a new ownership group will finish installing the Green chair – a double from the base to mid-mountain.

Saddleback Maine is negotiating a sale with an Australian group – Sebastian Monsour, ofMajella Group, but things are slow and tenuous. Saddleback has been closed for two winters, now three with this 2017-18 season. The Rangeley chair needs to be replaced, and re-opening is not happening this season. Stay tuned…

Sugarloaf Maine will offer cat skiing on Burnt Mountain, via two snow cats, skiers and riders can access 1400 vertical and 100 acres for single laps at $20-30, by booking their seat in the snow cat, which depart every 20-minutes 9:30-2:45)  in advance.

Whaleback in New Hampshire gets a new T-bar, this locally operated ski hill is part of the Freedom Pass of independents- Bolton Valley, Black Mountain, Dartmouth Skiway, Granite Gorge, Lost Valley, Magic Mountain, and McIntyre Ski Area.

Out West
Vail Mountain replaces the Northwoods Express (Chair 11) with a six pack – Vail’s 10th new lift in a decade. Vail’s Epic Pass at $859 for unlimited skiing at 14 resorts remains the best deal in skiing!

Beaver Creek will replace the summit Drink of Water lift with a high-speed quad that will be known as Red Buffalo Express Lift #5. The lift serves the resort’s higher-elevation beginner terrain.

Copper Mountain replaces the Kokomo triple-chairlift with a high-speed quad with better access from Copper’s West Village and beginner terrain.

Breckenridge will upgrade the Falcon SuperChair from a quad to a six-pack, serving advanced and expert terrain on Breck’s Peak 10.

Keystone upgrades the Montezuma Express Lift on Dercum Mountain to a six pack on the front side.

Alta’s new Supreme detachable quad will replace the two old Supreme and Cecret lifts extending lower, with loading by Alf’s Restaurant, reaching the Supreme summit. Alta remains one of three ski resorts in the US that bans snowboarders, a true skiers only mountain.

Snowbasin will replace the Wildcat Triple Chairlift with a high-speed six-pack, reducing the ride time to five minutes.

Whitefish Montana moves the Chair 5 Glacier View lift from Ptarmigan Bowl to the East Rim, with a new bottom terminal at the intersection of Russ’s Street and Moe-Mentum.

Taos New Mexico opens a new Children’s Center and Strawberry hill beginner area, the Rueggli lift has been upgraded to a triple fixed grip chair, and a new gondola connects the resort plaza.

In Europe, Kitzbuhel gets a new 10 passenger gondola replacing a six pack, St Anton also gets a new gondola.

Among the biggest ski news is Aspen/KSL $1.5 billion purchase of Intrawest resorts, and a portfolio that includes  12 mountain resorts:  Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain and June Mountain,  Snow Summit and Bear Mountain also in California, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort, Colorado, Stratton Vermont, Tremblant in Quebec,  Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia,  Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario, and  Canadian Mountain Holidays heli skiing.

Vail Resorts now owns 14 ski resorts with its most recent acquisition of Stowe Vermont, Whistler Blackcomb and Park City Utah in just two years. The good news for season pass holders:you can enjoy multi mountain ski benefits, often for less than the cost of previous season pass to one of these top ski resorts, at $859. Stowe’s pass was over $1,800.

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury vacation Guide

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Winter Is Here Ski Friends

We love snow, and Jon Snow, so pardon our Game of Thrones puns about “Winter is coming”, “Winter is here”. It just seems an approprite way to tweet out our alpine enthusiasm for ski season !  Its cold, its snowing, ski resorts are opening!

Good news, avid skiers are already on the slopes in Colorado, Canada and Vermont, and the long wait for winter is over for summer loathers!  Arapahoe Basin opened for skiing October 13, 2017, with Loveland opening a week later Oct 20, in Colorado.

In the East, The Beast of the East – Killington –  opened Nov 8, 2017 for passholders only, a tradition the Big K started a few years agao to reward loyalty. The public is welcome to ski Killington the following day Nov 9.  Also in Vermont, Okemo Mountain Resort opens for skiing Saturday Nov 11, as does Maine’s Sunday River – a perennial early season fave for first tracks.

Killington has some serious snow making to do in order to host their second consecutive World Cup ski race Thanksgiving weekend, they are busy burying the Superstar trail in deep man-made snow for the Women’s World Cup competition that drew big crowds last November, despite balmy temps.

In Canada, Banff Norquay was the first ski are to open, with Lake Louise soon following suit.

In Europe, The Alps have had early season snow, with Solden, Obergurgl Hochgurgl, and Hintertux  Glacier in Austria all open for skiing. In Switzerland, Zermatt and Saas Fee are open for limited early season skiing. Tignes France is also open for glacier skiing.

So get ready, get fit, get your ski gear out of storage  – ski season is here.  We will be at the Boston.com Ski and Snwobarod Expo Nov 9-10 to see the latest ski line up, ski resort ticket deals and ski travel plans, and to check out ski fashions at the Vertical Runway Ski Fashion Spectacular  featuring DARE2B, ELAN, ATHALON, SPYDER, SCOTT, SKEA and KARBON. Ok, we’re biased because ski fashion is our passion, this show is sponsored by Sunday River and produced by our ski fried and fashion stylist Kathy Benharris.

See you on snow soon!

See our Top Western Ski Resorts for Early Season Skiing
and
Top Eastern Ski Resort for Early Season Skiing and Snowmaking

Ski Magazine Top Ski Resort rankings?!

Dear Ski Magazine,

I love you – I always will…but… your top 50?! I’m not sure…

Seriously I have loved you since my youth, you made me want to be a better skier, and to be a ski journalist. I love seeing you, Ski mag, in my mailbox… it makes my banal schlep to the Post Office feel like a powder day. And your fall edition, with the Top 50 Resorts Readers’ Picks, has always been my favorite flavor of the monthly issues.

In recent years, however, this Top Ski Resort Guide evokes skepticism on my part… like this year…

Best skiing in the west: Sun Valley #2? Really?! Jackson Hole is awarded the most “terrain variety” … I beg to differ. I’m a well-traveled skier, at 165 ski resorts and counting…  Big Sky (at #13?) in my opinion ranks much higher than Keystone. Similarly Snowbird (#17) is far superior skiing to Crested Butte (#14). Same can be said for Snowbasin at #25.

In the East, I love seeing Sugarbush climb to #2, but Mount Snow is surely not #3 in New England. Stowe (#8) should earn much higher in ranks than Jay Peak (#5). Surprising to see Mad River Glen at #6, but I appreciate the authenticity of the skiers-only mountain. Same goes for Sugarloaf and its loyal following and avid voters deeming it #7 (Sugarloafers probably think this number 7 rank is a travesty for their beloved Maine mountain, should be #1 in their minds). I’d put Sunday River and Killington well ahead of Loon for that matter.

Here’s our Top Ski Resorts in The West
Aspen Snowmass
Big Sky Montana
Steamboat Colorado
Vail Colorado 
Deer Valley
Telluride
Snowbird Utah
Jackson Hole Wyoming
Mammoth Mountain California
Snowbasin Utah
Honorable Mention:
Whitefish – aka Big Mountain – Montana

Top Ski Resorts in The East
Stowe Vermont
Okemo Mountain Resort
Sunday River
Sugarbush
Bretton Woods
Sugarloaf
Smugglers Notch
Loon Mountain
Wildcat New Hampshire 
Le Massif in Quebec

Top Ski Resorts in Canada
Sunshine at Banff
Big White
Kicking Horse
Whistler Blackcomb
Lake Louise
Revelstoke
Panorama
Le Massif Quebec
Tremblant Quebec
Mont Sainte Anne Quebec

I respect that your Readers’ Choice Top 50 Resorts are the result of a ballot, but given the weird results – I wonder if some ski resorts might be ballot-stuffing, or perhaps cultish ski locals are over-voting to put their beloved ski area on top. Or maybe personal taste is just that… no accounting for it…

Thanks of listening, and let me know how you find our Top Ski Resorts Reviews… keep skiing and striving to be the best.

Sincerely,

Ski Magazine reader and passionate skier, forever Heather
Editor FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com

Copyright and photos property of Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury Vacation Guide

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Norway Glacier Skiing at Fonna

A ski resort that’s only open in summer? In the northern hemisphere? Yes, that’s Fonna in Norway. And you can arrive by boat…  it’s just a half hour from a magnificent fjord. Fonna Glacier Ski Resorts is very cool, literally – located on the northernmost of four glaciers in Foglefonna National Park in western Norway along the Hardanger Fjord. Folgefonna is the most southerly Norway glacier- and the 3rd largest largest.

Summer skiing on a glacier is amazing, at this high alpine winter wonderland with brilliant sea views of Norway.

Fonna is not a big ski area, especially by Europe’s Alps standards, it’s just one T-Bar serving four wide trails and several terrain parks. Fonna’s ski slopes are not particularly steep either – its intermediate terrain.

The most black diamond aspect of Fonna is the road up to the glacier. Its a 16-km bus ride to Fonna Glacier ski resort, a one lane road with crazy hairpins turns, climbing swiftly from sea level up 3,900 vertical feet.

Take the ski bus from Jondal, which makes one trip a day from the ferry docks at 9:50am ( so you can boat and ski in the same day). Let the expert bus drivers steer while you enjoy the scenery of rivers and waterfalls, pastoral farms with grazing sheep, then massive boulders and cairns balancing on huge granite slabs. Fonna is closed in winter because of this precarious road and the 30+ feet of snow pack received during the cold dark winter in Norway.

Fonna Ski Resort opens mid-June through mid-August – that’s when the best glacier skiing occurs and it also allow the town of Jondal to share the same bus for skiing as for the school kids September to June (a quite luxurious bus for children, with panoramic windows).

Fonna’s spectacular mountain road ends in a small parking lot by the glacier, where you find Fonna’s humble facilities – two 1970’s vintage chalet buildings. The first hut sells lift tickets ($390 krone for the day) and rents skis, boards, boots, poles, helmets – everything you need to ski if you arrived by boat. Fonna’s modest lodge serves home cooked food cafeteria style and restrooms. Picnic tables outside are the best seat in the house on a clear day.

Visit Fonna on a blue sky day – it’s all about the view, and a picnic outside to truly savor the setting. We had a perfect blue-sky ski day at Fonna in late June, with a fresh dusting of sparkling snow on top of perfect groomed corduroy.

Fonna’s T-Bar is the only lift – intentional to withstand the ice movement on the glacier, it climbs efficiently up 800’ vertical. Fonna’s trails are very wide, moderately pitched, and well-groomed, even salted to harden the snow from melting on warm summer days.

Fonna skiing can get busy with alpine race teams training from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. But the alpine racers are relegated to one big trail, training in several courses with gates side by side. The majority of other skiers and snowboarders hit Fonna’s terrain parks. That leaves the other ski routes on the wide open glacial plateau to us. Fonna also offers 5 km of Nordic groomed trails above the alpine skiing on the plateau.  We made a short climb from atop the T Bar to the cross-country terrain and scored a few beautiful off-piste turns and even better views of Hardanger Fjord and the North Sea.

Your panorama from Fonna is striking blue water below and lush green mountains in contrast to the white wintery glacier. You can see Rosendal’s towering Alps and the North Sea in the distance. For non-skiers, guided glacier tours depart from Fonna’s base lodge. Sunscreen is a must, beware the sun’s refraction from the snow at high elevation even though it feels cool on your face.

Dress in layers for glacier skiing, its winter-like and very exposed, but you can be blessed with intense sun and summer temperatures. We skied 14 laps on the glacier, with a few stops for water in the lodge and a picnic of Norwegian cheese, smoked fish and fruit. The only bus back to Jondal is 3:50pm, get a front seat as the descent is as stunning as the ride up. We were back to town, on our charter sailboat in Jondal harbor by 4:30, for drinks at Hardangerfjord Lodge overlooking the water. Don’t be surprised to see local kids jumping off the ferry dock into the “refreshing” Hardanger Fjord – after all it is summer – and you were just skiing.

Fonna Glacier Ski Resort Stats
Elevation: 1,450 meters, 4757ft
Vertical: 250 meters, 820’
Lifts: 1 T-Bar
4 Trails, 3 Terrain parks and 5 km Nordic groomed trails
Open 9 – 4pm mid June to Mid-August

Social Media Links

Most Epic Ski Winter Ever?

Entering this winter I had lofty ski goals. I vowed to ski my age in days, and pledged to do so at a big birthday party with all my friends as witness. Not only did I hit my mark, I exceeded 50 with a bunch of bonus ski days! This was the best winter of skiing EVER. How was your ski season?

My amazing ski season brought first tracks in Maine and a White Christmas in Vermont, cat skiing Canada to Courchevel France, ending with perfect spring corn in Colorado. 69 days at over 28 ski resorts. It was truly epic, thanks in large part to the EPIC Pass. Did you achieve your ski goals? Ski anywhere new and different?

My skis are put away, so I am reminiscing about this best-ever ski season, already dreaming of next winter’s snow and where to go!

My Top Ten from a Top Ski Season:

1. Skiing Vermont over Christmas with my daughter and husband was snow globe magic. I grew up in Vermont so I treasured being back in the Green Mountains all covered in white at Jay Peak and Burke.

2. Cat skiing in the Canadian Rockies. How ironic that we flew from Maine to the remote Monashees only to find that our cat ski companions were all from Sugarloaf! What followed? Four days of fantastic camaraderie, untouched powder, steep and deep tree skiing and hot tubbing amid Alpen Glow with our new ski friends.

3. Discovering Big White was a big win, this cool Canadian ski resort is friendly, fun, with fantastic frost-covered trees. What’s
not to love? Good snow, gorgeous groomed trails, genuine Canadian hospitality in the village, and a bonus 25% exchange rate for beer, eh?!

4. Skiing five Colorado ski resorts on one Epic Ski Pass in January was, well, EPIC! The snow goods blessed Colorado, and we skied fresh powder at Vail, Beavercreek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapaho Basin. We followed that trip with Utah, where we hit Park City and Canyons also on our Epic Pass. A lot of ski bang for our $800 bucks.

5. Powder Mountain in Utah lived up to its name. What a cool powder stash, and an up-and-coming indie resort, owned by the Summit Group. If you want to get away from Vail Resort conglomerate and crowds, Snowbasin and Powder – just a half hour apart, are gems with huge terrain, few peeps, and terrific scenery.

6. Skiing The French Alps! It had been 30 years since I’d skied France and the alpine ambiance was just as “charming” as I remembered. Jagged snow covered peaks, vast vertical descents at the biggest ski resorts in the world, alpine chalets serving fondue on the slopes, après ski dancing and drinking, followed by more refined cuisine and fine wine at five-star French hotels. Fantastique!

7. My new favorite European ski villages are Courchevel and Méribel, on par with Kitzbühel and St Anton. Val D’Isère is another classic ski town – historic and happening apres ski with La Folie Douce on-snow party that’s off-the-hook.

8. The best culinary event on the snow is “Taste of Vail” combining my three favorite things: wine, food and skiing. This is an extraordinary culinary event for the vertically obsessed. I’ve never tasted such wonderful wines – the perfect après ski in quintessential Vail resort.

9. The big splash to our end of season – watching
Vail’s World Championship Pond Skimming at Spring Back to Vail
which also featured a big name band live concert, free, with Magic in Gerald Ford’s presidential park at Vail. A musical magical ending to a 69 day ski season!

10. Two scary moments that make the highlight reel: Escaping a horrendous car crash on Vail Pass on our way to the slopes at 7am. (When it says icy roads may exist, you need to slow down even if you’re driving a four-wheel-drive Subaru. No one is invincible on ice). Surviving food poisoning in France (eating raw scallops at 10,000′, even at a Michelin 1 star restaurant, is a bad idea).

What were your top 10 ski memories of 2016-17 ski season? Remember, if you don’t set ski goals, then how can you accomplish them? Skis are stowed, pulling out the Paddleboard, the bike and the boat… but dreaming of next ski winter!

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2017

Visit Heather Burke’s websites Family Ski Trips.com and  for luxury resort reviews: www.theluxuryvacationguide.com

 

CNL, EPR, Vail Resorts- Who owns what ski resorts?

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? EPR Properties of Kansas City is buying up 15 ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties. This shouldn’t affect your ski winter – but its wild news with wicked big numbers.

The total ski package is $830 million in a complicate formula of stock, cash and holdings and assets.

Because of the long-term lease agreements between CNL and each of the 14 resorts, no operational or season passholder big-sky-moonlightchanges are expected from the sale to EPR, which is expected to close in the spring of 2017 according to Ski Area Management, SAM Magazine.
Karl Kapuscinski, president and CEO of Mountain High and Stevens Pass, said even though the lease for the properties is changing hands, it’s business as usual. “It’s similar to a home mortgage being sold to another bank. Nothing really changes except who you write the check to.”

The EPN/CNL ski resort sale includes

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colo. (Triple Peaks)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mount Sunapee Mountain Resort, N.H. (Triple Peaks)
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt. (Triple Peaks)
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort, Calif. (Booth Creek)
Stevens Pass, Wash. (Stevens Pass Mountain Resort LLC)
Sugarloaf Mountain Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)
Summit-at-Snoqualmie Resort, Wash. (Boyne Resorts)
Sunday River Resort, Maine (Boyne Resorts)

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 13 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge.

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Park City (and Canyons) in Utah
Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California
Northstar (management contract only, purchased by EPR)
Kirkwood, Lake Tahoe, California
Whistler Blackcomb, BC Canada
Perisher, Australia
Wilmot Mountain, Wisconsin
Afton Alps, Minnesota
vail-heather-simbaMt. Brighton, Michigan

Vail Resorts also holds the RockResorts brand, with luxury ski lodging properties including The Lodge at Vail, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, The Pines Lodge and The Osprey at Beaver Creek , One Ski Hill Place at Breckenridge, and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Winter is coming ski friends…see you on the slopes soon!

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Heather Burke, 2016 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips & Luxury Ski Trips,

Photos by Greg Burke

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