FamilySkiTrips.com

Family ski vacation guide with the best ski resorts for family skiing

Category: Family Skiing (page 1 of 4)

Blog on family skiing, teaching your kids to ski, where to take your family on a ski vacation and the best skis and gear for you and your kids for the winter.

Aspen’s Ikon Pass to compete with Vail’s Epic Pass

The recent merger of mountain resorts under Aspen and Intrawest brings the newly emerged Alterra Mountain Company and an “IKONIC” pass. Alterra has launched its collective season pass for  2018-2019 ski season, its called the IKON Pass and it unites 26 top ski destinations, versus Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass valid at 15 major ski resorts.

The IKON Pass will put 63,000 skiable acres across the continent, yes Canada too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $899, its a hybrid of the MAX Pass and Mountain Collective, and a strong competitor to Vail’s Epic Pass, all good news and great alternatives for skiers and riders.

The IKON Pass brings together Alterra Mountain Company, Aspen Skiing Company,  Intrawest and Boyne Resorts, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, POWDR, Alta/Snowbird and Canada’s Big 3. A spin off from The  Max Pass, this pass has some pretty epic ski resort from Aspen, Steamboat and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Big Sky in Montana, Jackson Hole Wyoming, plus Loon, Sunday River , Sugarloaf, Stratton, Sugarbush and Killington in The East, Tremblant in Quebec!

The Ikon Pass is on sale March 6, see details at www.ikonpass.com. IKON Access is unlimited at these ski resorts: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain. Plus…

IKON Pass holders get 7 days each at Deer Valley, Jackson Hole, Big Sky, Killington, Revelstoke, and Sugarbush. Plus…

IKON pass holders get 7 days combine at Aspen’s 4 mountains, and 7 at Alta/Snowbird, 7 days at Canada’s Big3 Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Norquay, and 7 days between Loon, Sunday River and Sugarloaf.

Alterra’s IKON Pass is $899, there’s also a kids pass for $199 with parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $599 (basically 5 days at the restricted resorts versus 7, with black out dates and a few caveats).

The IKON is very competitive with Vail Resort’s Epic Pass, typically priced at $859 for unlimited skiing at 15 ski resorts. Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  and Arapahoe Basin, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe,  Wilmot,  Mt Brighton,  Afton Alps,  and Perisher Australia, and  added for 2018 Telluride Colorado for 7 days skiing!  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits in the Alps, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and others – a total of 45 ski resorts.

Well, skiers are the winners in this big mountain pass blow up, with great choices at significant savings versus the old-school one-mountain season pass at over $1,000!

Ikon Pass Resorts: California: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort Colorado: Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort Maine: Sugarloaf, Sunday River Montana: Big Sky Resort New Hampshire: Loon Mountain Resort Utah: Deer Valley Resort, Alta Ski Area, Snowbird Vermont: Stratton, Killington Resort West Virginia: Snowshoe Wyoming: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Ontario, Canada: Blue Mountain Quebec, Canada: Tremblant British Columbia: 10% CMH Heli-Summer Adventures, sorry no heli-skiing.

Alterra Mountain Company now operates 12 destinations, Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado; Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California; Stratton in Vermont; Snowshoe in West Virginia; Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain in Ontario; Deer Valley in Utah; plus CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia. The Ikon Pass includes these, plus Boyne resorts, Powder and a few others.

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

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

 

Why We Ski?

My 25-year-old-year-old son’s girlfriend didn’t grow up skiing…. so when visiting him in Seattle she couldn’t fathom why we so wanted to ski with him, in Washington. Why is skiing so important to you, she asked? Don’t we just like to hang out together? Which brought me to thinking about why we ski, why it’s important to us, why its our family sport…

Well, let’s see…. How do you explain to a non-skier your lifelong love of skiing? How do you capture in words the bond that skiing can bring? “The family that skis together, freeze together” …lol…

Ever since our kids were three, skiing is the one thing we could all do together … I can’t name another sport or activity that provides us all with excitement, fun, healthy exercise, laughs, stories, memories, and love. We can’t play football together – too rough a sport, and family game night inevitably ends in someone winning and by default – others losing. Perhaps we’re too competitive for cards and board games (being a writer, I want to school them all in scrabble).

Back to skiing, we each have our individual experience on our skis, our own signature turns on the snow, but simultaneously it’s our collective shared experience. Together, we brave the cold, breathe in the spectacular scenery, actively pursue nature’s glory, conquer the mountain, leave our tracks, keep our memories. Yes we could all be sitting on a beach together but where is the adrenaline adventure in that? I picture my husband and son glazing over, my daughter and I burning to a crisp…

As I reflect on raising our kids, I am flooded with fun memories – many of them skiing. I remember the joys (and concerns) of starting them on snow when they were so little, and the ensuing accomplishments, pizza pie to French fries, Ian’s first non-stop bump run at Vail, Aspen’s Prima Cornice cliff drop that same day. What a fantastic family day that was! Skiing the snow and sun soaked trees at Steamboat, the four of us in perfect synch, I can picture it still like a snow globe. If I say the words “Canis Lupus”  the kids will grin at our fun twisty gulley run down The Canyons trail through the woods at Park City. Cat skiing in Idaho was amazing with a fun bunch of adults, and our mature-beyond-his-years son who impressed the posse with his skill, vocab, and worldliness. I could go on for days recounting our downhill adventures.

Our skiing adventures have already spanned three decades, and three generations. We’ve skied with Greg’s Dad, my Dad, Greg’s uncle, his brothers – who share the passion, my mom who still rips, and my brother Brian (who makes snowboarding look like poetry btw – and can switch to skiing in a mountain minute) all together with our kids – who are now grown, independent, and still love to ski. … with us! They buy their own season passes now, a true sign of commitment and addiction to the sport! We can reconnect at ski resorts and have a real adventure together leaving everything else in our sparkly snow dust.

I know of no other sport that offers the opportunity to travel to a vast bucket list of ski resorts around the globe, with the bonus of high alpine beauty. Another benefit is that skiing is a full day’s activity – unlike tennis that lasts an hour – with a winner and a loser again – like family game night. When we got boating, we each water ski for about 15 minutes, that’s it! One and done…

I also believe you can enjoy skiing among multiple ability levels. We don’t all ski the same, we have different skill sets and terrain preferences. I’m nostalgic just  reflecting on our trails  choices over the years, bumps, trees, steeps with the kids… Anyhoo… most ski resorts allow us to indulge our faves: moguls, glades, groomed or untracked powder, often all from the same lift. So Jack can ski Black, Jane can ski Blue and Jill Green and we can all meet at the lift for the conversational ride back up together. At minimum we can meet for lunch and at après ski to share our day’s stories, wind blown pow, wipe-outs and wicked good lines.

So back to our trip to Seattle, Washington, and what to do together as a family? The beauty of this part of the world, The Pac Northwest, is its plethora of big mountains, in surprisingly close proximity to the city and the sea. Summit at Snoqualmie and Crystal were both calling us, just over an hour away… how could we not want to ski? We “4 skiers” (my license plate for many years – till it became a problem – separate blog) all enjoy exploring new mountains, making tracks and carving our names on spectacular summits all over the country …. It’s what we do, and we can do it together.

I hope we can share our family’s love of skiing with others, with our kids’ loved ones, their future families, as our parents did with Greg and me. I hope to ski with my mom and my kids again…as we did in Big Sky Montana a few years ago… that was magical to me. Just last weekend, we met up with our daughter Aspen and her friends at Sunday River. We shared a few laps, and lots of laughs. Skiing with family and friends is social, stimulating, and creates a bond like no other. Let me know if you find one?

I received a joyous note from a best gal pal who’d re-joined the sport last week with mutual friends. The enthusiasm in her voice was palpable, how she loved skiing, loved that she could do it with her husband and our friends. Their picture from après ski told the story of their collective fun, accomplishment, and enhanced friendship shared over a sport. Next weekend is a memorial for our dearest friend Wes, who passed away too soon in 2016. Wes Mills ski day at Sunday River, annually on his birthday February 3, represents the very love and deepened relationship that you can share with someone over this wintry wild sport that is unlike any other. We will ski a line for Wes, and continue to love skiing as our glue!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

 

 

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!

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

Holiday Gifts for the Skier and Snowboarders on your List

It’s Christmas time, and you’d rather be skiing than shopping, right?! White snow versus Black Friday – yes?! So here are some easy holiday gift ideas, you can get online, in no time, and be skiing before you can say “there’s no place like snow for the holidays.”

Our top ski and snowboard gifts, from cheap to steep, for friends, family, kids, and après ski fans who never plan to hit the slopes but want look the part for the party!

For the Kids
How cool – literally – is the Lego Ski Resort Kit? I love Legos, my son did too – and he went on to study engineering. Let your kids be creative this Christmas – and all season long, use their imagination and build their own snow resort. I can picture kids in their cuddly long undies on the floor by the fireplace playing with these ski themed Lego for hours, après ski! Check out the adorable ski chalet kit with multi-racial skiers, a snowmobile, fireplace, hot tub, and a husky – of course! Ok, I wish I was a kid, let go of my Lego!

For Fun
Check out Till I Die  for hilarious après ski inspired shirts, from Killington Vermont. You will want some of this humorous ski swag for your #selfie as well. We love the Black Diamond “I’m Difficult” shirt (it also comes in Green Circle “I’m easy”) and the Pizza Pie French Fry Ski Till I die shirt. For the older folks on your list, they even have rear-entry ski boot graphics on a retro t-shirt. We respect the culture of Till I Die and creator/ founder Ryan Orabone’s comment, “To us skiing is more than just a recreational activity. It is a brand that reflects our attitude and a way to live.” Get your tillidie, while they last, before you die. Morbid maybe, but you get the mantra…

For the Feet from cheap to steep
Heat Factory hand and toe warmers are a cheap but cozy thoughtful gift. These pocket-size hand warmer packets are my personal life saver. Heat Factory or Grabbers chemical heat packets provide about seven hours of warmth, and extend your time on the slopes between lodge breaks for frozen fingers and toes. I have a pack a day habit – so I am always happy to give and receive (hint hint) hand warmers by the case. Give them to your ski buddy so they don’t bum yours all season.

Ski socks… Ski instructors, pro skiers, and racers all agree – if your feet aren’t happy, you aren’t on top of your ski game. Ski socks are your base and the basics to comfort and performance. Quality merino wool ski socks provide foot warmth, and wicking of funky foot sweat and odor. Ski socks cost $10-30, worth it for the technical fabric and fit. SmartWool  and Vermont’s Darn Tough come in fun colors, shapes and sizes for skiers and snowboarders.

The Best Ski Boot Bag is by Kulkea. For $120 you can pack for a day, weekend or week out west with the versatile Powder Trekker backpack. They also have a heated Thermal Trekker boot pack ($229)! How sweet is that – you can warm your ski boots, and your breakfast croissant on the way to the ski slopes. Kulkea boot bags are compartmentalized to hold your ski boots in separate waterproof sleeves, helmet, goggles, and gloves, with lots of smart pockets for your pass, sunglasses, and a surprisingly roomy center compartment for base layers. Kulkea’s boot bag is super lightweight, made of performance fabric, looks moderately stylish (for a backpack), and keeps you organized on a powder morning. Kulkea means “to go” in Finnish, and this will be your go to ski boot bag. We also love that the Kulkea brain children are East Coast skiers.

Skis, Beautiful Skis
Blizzard’s Coming! Get your loved one some cool new skis. We are big Blizzard fans (snow pun intended) so we gifted each other Black Pearls (for her) and Bonafides (for him), all mountain skis at 98mm underfoot we are ready to conquer any conditions together. Merry Christmas my dear… bring on the blizzards this year. See our Top Skis Review

For the Graphic Obsessed Skier
J Skis are the ski to be on. Designed by Jason Levinthal, creator of Line and Full Tilt, these J Skis are his latest baby, 6 unique designs with a variety of custom graphics J’s. We love the construction and creativity behind the Vacation Skis – complete with cute babes on the top sheet. The Hot Dogger comes topped with condiments – smear of mustard please. For gals who rip, the unicorn inspired pink Whippit looks wicked fun. These high quality, head-turning skis are hand made with carbon fiber and maple core (made in Quebec Canada eh?!). J Skis are sold direct with 100 % guarantee from Jason himself – so you save on “retail markup” and your skis are autographed by the man, the legend since 1995.

A Liftopia gift card. Liftopia sells discounted lift tickets at over 250 alpine resorts across North America, so giving the gift of this versatile vertical card is easy, for a downhill deal like $49 tickets to Sugarbush. You decide the amount, $25 to $1,000 denominations, and your friend can ski when and where they want – at serious savings.

Ski Keepsakes For great retro ski posters, pillows, mugs, ski t-shirts, games, and snowflake jewelry, The New England Ski Museum has a great location, at the base of Cannon Mountain, and an online store, with unique ski gifts for as little as $12. Best of all, your purchase benefits this non-profit ski association that is preserving ski history in New England.

For your best ski bunny
Alp N Rock  makes gorgeous après ski shirts. I splurged for my #selfie – Merry Christmas to me, and I LOVE it. If you want your gal to embrace skiing, buy her a beautiful wool henley with alpine motifs and cool graphics from Stowe to Aspen to Zermatt – this stylish shirt goes from the slopes to the après ski bars, anywhere you want to make a ski statement ($160). Did I mention its warm, with soft merino wool, no itch?! Alp N Rock makes crew necks for dudes too, it’s like Affliction goes alpine.

For the Downhill Dude on your list
We love All About Après ski swag, from caps, to T-shirts, hoodies and hats, this wearable-art ski gift will be the talk of après ski – especially the lovable St Bernard Ski Shirt. Also we love the First Tracks Bloody Mary T, perfect for those pretty gals that dress Sunday morning to ride the lift to the on mountain bar for their booze infused lycopene cocktail!

Or give them snow, take your family to a New England ski resort – they have been blowing snow whenever it’s below, and it’s surprisingly white on the slopes due to the extensive, expensive snowmaking the ski areas have been putting out.

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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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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Aspen Ski Resorts Epic Merger

What does $1.5 billion in the the ski biz? A bunch of great ski resorts, so says the Crown family, of Aspen Resorts, with their recent acquisition of Intrawest, KSL and Mammoth.

Aspen owns a mammoth ski resort conglomerate now – competing with the likes of Vail Resorts which now tallies 14 ski resorts.

This new Aspen ski company, yet to be renamed and branded, includes 12 mountain resorts and six million annual skier visits, including:
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
Canadian Mountain Holidays heli skiing operations

Boom!

Aspen Resorts, and its four ski mountains, Snowmass, Ajax, Aspen Highland and Buttermilk, remain a separate company owned by the Crown family. If you were to count them in the overall ski picture that would be 16 ski resorts, more than Vail… but Vail is still the big daddy in skier visits with busy resorts like Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge and Keystone.

KSL Capital Partners and the owner of the four Aspen resorts, Henry Crown and Company, are the backers of this 1.5 billion ski bundle.

For now, Aspen and the new company says they will honor existing passes this ski season 2017-18, including the Rocky Mountain Super Pass +, the M.A.X. Pass, and the Mountain Collective.

It will be interesting to see what mega mountain pass Aspen’s new entourage  will roll out in future ski seasons to compete with Vail Resorts Epic Pass – 14 ski resorts for about $800 bucks. While we don’t love ski monopolies and downhill dynasties, you can’t beat the value of a multi-venue unlimited vertical ski pass for under a $1000….

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

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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

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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

 

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