FamilySkiTrips.com

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

Month: November 2017

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 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 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com and Luxury Vacation Guide

Vail’s plans for Stowe Vermont? Epic or Not?

For years I had been hoping Vail Resorts would round out their portfolio with an Eastern ski resort. Wish granted, but like all wishes – its not exactly as you’d dreamed or anticipated. I was hoping Vail would come in with capital infusion for a New England ski resort in need- say Saddleback that has been closed for two ski seasons, or maybe Jay Peak and Burke Mountain now in receivership after last season’s EB5 ponzi scheme and scandal. But no – Vail goes for Stowe… my favorite ski resort in the East. I must say Vail Resorts has excellent taste! Then in May of 2018, Vail buys Okemo and Mount Sunapee and Crested Butte in Colorado- part of Triple Peaks. 2019 Vail buys Peak Resorts 17 areas including Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash, and Hunter to name a few…

The $50 million price tag for Stowe is for the Mountain Ski operation, so ownership of the luxe Lodge at Spruce Peak at Stowe, the Stowe Mountain Club, and the Stowe Golf Club remain with AIG. That makes for an interesting, perhaps complicated, equation. After all Vail Resorts loves its real estate and lodging revenue, right? They also own RockResorts – a posh collection of hotels, spas and resorts from Colorado to the Caribbean.

Back to Stowe.  Vail now includes Stowe in its Epic Pass. Consider that a day ticket at Stowe is over $120, and an Epic Pass unlimited for next season is just over $800. Doesn’t take a math wiz to calculate the savings in 7 days, with bonus access to 19 ski resorts to boot! Vail Resorts Epic Pass is unlimited, no blackout dates for Stowe  for their Epic Pass.

So with unlimited access – the throngs are going to Stowe, including me, though its midweek for me! After all it is some of the best skiing in the East. Arguably Stowe’s epic snow conditions this winter are better than some resorts out west…lol to my western ski friends that assume we “ski ice in the east.”

Currently the Epic Pass is an outrageous deal, with skiing privileges at 34 major ski resorts Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Arapahoe Basin, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Okemo, Sunapee, Stevens Pass, and Perisher Australia, plus four small regional ski areas. The Epic Pass also gets you some free lift tickets in the Alps, 6 days of skiing in France which I just enjoyed at Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski, and Val D’Isere Tignes, plus 3 days skiing the Dolomites of Italy, and 5 days at Les 4 Vallées of Switzerland which includes Verbier, and 6 days in Austria at Lech Zurs, St Anton and St Christoph (the Austrian ski resort privileges require that you purchase lodging and pre register).

I predict lodging rates going up in Stowe – now that it is a Vail destination. And Stowe is already pretty pricey by New England ski standards. I hope Vail Resorts will consider buying abutting Smugglers Notch Resort – a wonderful ski reosrt with lots of lodging, great skiing but slow old lifts. Stowe has the RFID lift ticket technology so  the Epic Mix vertical tracking app is on– bonus. I know you can bag a lot of vert on Stowe’s Front Four – 10 X 10 when the lifts open at 7:30! Hmmm, that might change too…So there are pros and cons with Vail’s Stowe purchase.

Now is the time to lock down the best season pass deals  for next season. Aspen’s IKON Pass is now a strong competitor … it’s a ski deal show down throw down. A little healthy competition is a good thing, right my ski friends?! Especially with a $900 pass for dozens of top ski resorts!

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke, Copyright 2019

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

 

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

1sunrise-express-baseAre you ready for the latest in mountain mergers and alpine acquisitions? Vail, Aspen, CNL, Boyne… who owns what? Here is our ski merger and acquisition guide!

Vail Resorts now owns or at least operates 34 ski resorts, and half of the 10 busiest ski areas on the continent, the top three being Whistler Blackcomb, Vail, and Breckenridge. All these ski resorts are on the Epic Pass, plus Telluride Colorado!

Vail, Colorado
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado
Keystone, Colorado
Crested Butte, 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
Stowe Mountain, Vermont
Okemo in Vermont
Mount Snow Vermont
Mount Sunapee, Wildcat, Crotched and Attitash in NH
Hunter NY
Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin
Afton Alps in Minnesota and Mt. Brighton in Michigan
Perisher in Australia

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, Wyoming.

big-sky-ianMeanwhile Aspen Skiing Company formed Alterra Mountain Company – which now  operates 14 destinations:
Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk, plus Steamboat and Winter Park Resort in Colorado
Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain and Big Bear Mountain Resort in California
Stratton and Sugarbush in Vermont
Snowshoe in West Virginia
Tremblant in Quebec and Blue Mountain in Ontario
Solitude and  Deer Valley in Utah
CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures in British Columbia

The Ikon Pass includes all these Alterra Aspen ski resorts, plus Boyne resorts:  Big Sky Montana, Snoqualmie Washington, Loon in NH, Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine, and Powdr Resorts: Killington Vermont, Crotched Mountain in NH. Ski Las Vegas, Mount Bachelor Oregon, and independent resorts   Alta Ski Area and Snowbird in Utah,  and Jackson Hole Wyoming.

Finally, EPR Properties of Kansas City recently bought up a dozen ski resorts from CNL Lifestyle Properties, for $830 million.

The EPN/CNL ski resorts includes:

2-ski-timberline2Brighton Ski Resort, Utah (Boyne Resorts)
Cypress Mountain, B.C., Canada (Boyne Resorts)
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, Mass. (Fairbank Group)
Loon Mountain Resort, N.H. (Boyne Resorts)
Northstar, Tahoe CA, managed by Vail Resorts
Mountain High Resort, Calif. (Mountain High Holdings LLC)
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)
Gatlinburg Sky Lift, Tenn. (Boyne Resorts)

 

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

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips and  The LuxuryVacationGuide.com

 

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