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.

Vail Spends Epic Money…

Vail Resorts announced their 2020 capital plan of approximately $210-$215 million to enhance guest experiences and scale the company’s growing business.

“We are thrilled to welcome guests to all of our resorts as the 2019/20 North American ski season kicks off with enhancements to the guest experience – from state-of-the-art snowmaking systems which ensured terrific early season terrain at Vail, Beaver Creek and Keystone, to new and improved experiences at Park City, Breckenridge, Okemo, Stevens Pass and Crested Butte.” said Rob Katz, Vail Resorts chairman and chief executive officer.

“As our company grows, we are determined to grow thoughtfully and with our mission always in mind: to create an Experience of a Lifetime for our guests.” Key Vail Resorts’ investments for 2020 include:

McCoy Park at Beaver Creek – This significant terrain expansion project – which will be served by two new chairlifts including a four-person, high-speed lift – will provide a rare beginner and intermediate bowl experience in one of the most idyllic settings in Colorado. The project, with its highly accessible, family-friendly learning terrain, received approval from the United States Forest Service last year and will be completed in time for the 2020/21 ski season.

High-Speed Lift to Peak 7 at Breckenridge, the company plans to install a new four-person, high-speed lift to serve the popular Peak 7 area. This additional lift will further enhance the guest experience at the most visited resort in the U.S. by increasing uphill capacity and improving circulation for the intermediate terrain on Peaks 6 and 7.

High-Speed Lift at Keystone, the company plans to replace the four-person Peru lift with a six-person, high-speed chairlift in order to increase out-of-base capacity and improve circulation from the Mountain House Base area, pending certain government approvals.

Rendezvous Lodge Restaurant expansion on Blackcomb Mountain – at Whistler Blackcomb, the company intends to significantly increase the seating capacity at the Rendezvous Lodge Restaurant, adding 250 season on-mountain at the top of the new Blackcomb Gondola installed last year, further enhancing the experience at North America’s largest resort.

Upgrading the Quantum lift at Okemo – from a four-person to a six-person, high-speed chairlift and relocating the existing four-person, high-speed Quantum lift to replace the Green Ridge three-person chairlift, increasing uphill capacity and improving circulation across the resort. The company also plans to renovate and expand both dining and ski school facilities, as well as enhance accessibility for all guests at the primary point of arrival.

New Resort Integration – to Vail’s 17 new resorts in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Midwest to allow for direct-to-lift access for its guests in time for the 2020/21 ski season. This is in addition to the company’s previously announced plans to invest $15 million over the next two years to improve the guest experience across these resorts.

EpicMix Enhancements – Finally, the company will also completely revamp its EpicMix mobile application. It will offer new functionality and an improved user ex, including new interactive trail maps and account features, while retaining key features like vertical feet tracking, photo sharing, and transparent lift line wait times.

Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN)
Vail Resorts operate 37 world-class mountain resorts and urban ski areas, including Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Crested Butte in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in the Lake Tahoe area of California and Nevada; Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada; Perisher, Falls Creek and Hotham in Australia; Stowe, Mount Snow, Okemo in Vermont; Hunter Mountain in New York; Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat and Crotched in New Hampshire; Stevens Pass in Washington; Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost and Big Boulder in Pennsylvania; Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River in Ohio; Hidden Valley and Snow Creek in Missouri; Wilmot in Wisconsin; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Mt. Brighton in Michigan; and Paoli Peaks in Indiana. Vail Resorts owns and/or manages a collection of casually elegant hotels – RockResorts, Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Enjoy your family ski trip! See more on where to go with your family on ski vacation.

Family Ski Trips content and photos copyright 2020

How to pack for family ski trips

#1 Question we get at Family Ski Trips? Where to go on family ski vacation?
See our favorite ski resorts for families:
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Family Ski Resortsin Colorado
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

#2 Question, How to pack for a Family Ski Trip? Packing shouldn’t fill you with dread, you and your family should be stoked to go ski. Having systems in place is the key to making packing easy breezy… so you are ready to go at the word “snow.”

Here are our tried and true ski packing tips:

Ski Bag: Every skier in the family should have their own snowboard/ski boot bag, labeled with name, address and cell. We love KULKEA boot bag backpack, its roomy easy to carry, and carryon the plane, has ideal compartments…and it comes in cool colors and patterns for every person in your ski clan.

Snowboards and Skis with poles should be stored clean and dry in one place – the garage or basement and ready to be packed in a ski bag, in the car or on the ski rack, ski coffin or Thule. If you are flying overseas or out west, consider renting skis from Ski Butlers, or a destination rental shop to save on the cost of checking skis, and the bonus of getting freshly tuned, new skis perfect for the day’s conditions.

Ski Bag Checklist:
ski or snowboard boots
quality ski socks
helmet/hat mittens/gloves
goggles/sunglasses in their protective case
neck warmer or balaclava
base layer –thermal long undies, and a fleece layer
wind/waterproof ski pants and jacket (wear the jacket to reduce bulk in your bag)
season pass or lift ticket coupons
hand/toe warmers
lip balm
sunscreen
energy bar

Bonus items:
Cell phone with downloaded ski app – with trail map and vertical tracker
Phone chargers – cold zaps battery power
Après ski clothes
A swimsuit (can you say hot tub?)
Portable boot dryers

Check each ski bag before and after each ski trip to be sure everyone’s inner and outerwear is clean, dry, and ready to go. With young skiers, pack extra undies, base layers, socks and mittens, with ziplock bags to contain wet stuff.

If you are traveling for a week ski trip, you’ll need an additional checked bag with clothing and toiletries (travel size please)…the key is not to over-pack, overpay for luggage, and over haul stuff you don’t need. So plan your wardrobe, and your outfits.

Ski Tips:
Don’t over pack bulky bathrobes, sweatshirts, extra pairs of jeans.
Wear your one pair of boots/shoes with insulation and traction soles.
One pair of slacks that coordinate with everything is plenty for après.
2-3 base layers and midlayers serve as evening wear tops, hand wash when needed.
Ladies, pack a cute aprés ski skirt to slip on over your base layer/leggings for après ski activities.
Bring disposable Tide packets to launder ski soxs and undergarments on the fly, overnight they’ll dry!

Enjoy your family ski trip! See more on where to go with your family on ski vacation.

Family Ski Trips content and photos copyright 2019

Ski Chat with Travel Journalist Heather Burke

Heather is an award winning editor of  TheLuxuryVacationGuide.com, FamilySkiTrips.com, contributor to travel magazines and sites. She travels the globe, reports on the top ski resorts you should put on your ski bucket list,  from the East to the West, The Canadian Rockies to The Alps.

But more importantly Heather rips on skis, she has huge enthusiasm for skiing, and passion for sampling new ski fashion and ski gear, skiing new resorts, and encouraging women to join in and enjoy our favorite sport. Heather was a presenter on ski travel tips at  the 1st annual She Shed – Her Turn at the Boston Ski & Snowboard Expo, where she also received an award for “Excellence in Snow Sport Coverage” from ski industry peers.

When it comes to exploring new resorts, Heather skis 10-20 new ski resorts each season with her husband ski photographer Greg Burke. She’s already skied over 175 (okay she started skiing and traveling at age 3)! This ski gal knows how to look stylish skiing first chair and heading to après ski after accumulating 30k vertical.

So Heather, what are you wearing this ski season?
I’m rockin’ Rossignol. I love high performance ski apparel that’s also stylish. You shouldn’t have to choose performance or fashion! Rossi has been making ski gear since 1907, its French-designed, well-tailored, fashion-forward and fun, but the technical aspects are uncompromising. The colors are classic this season, a return to ski glamour with gorgeous blues and bold red, and of course white which I find so chic on the snow …as long as you don’t spill your hot cocoa… lol!

And what are you skiing on?
Rossignol head to toe so that includes my ski boots and skis. I love the Rossi Experience fleet for front side skiing, the 98s and 88s and the Ladies Rossi Temptation skis are all fun, grippy, love to carve, but can handle mixed snow and light pow. This season I finally stepped up to a true powder skis, Rossignol Soul 7 HDW, its 106 under foot, versus most “East Coast” traditional skis that are much more narrow, under 90- millimeters wide. My travel plans have me skiing out west at Vail and Breck, and in The Alps in Austria’s Arlberg – think St Anton & Lech, and Switzerland at Lenzerheide. These versatile fat skis are just the ticket.

How long have you loved Rossignol?
The first pair of skis I ever purchased, not hand-me-downs from mom or my brothers, were Rossi FP’s. I was 17 and teaching skiing at Smugglers Notch. Oh my how I loved those teal skis, 200 centimeters – yes that was the 80’s when the longer the ski – the better you must be..


Heather, do ski apparel companies ever ask for your input?

Fortunately, I am asked on occasion to product-test, or to provide gear feedback. Such a cool opportunities, right? I’m a pocket freak. My number one request is more pockets please! I love a sleeve pocket exclusively for a lift ticket, Now that so many resort use RFID technology, Vail Resorts, The Alps, its perfect to have a small pocket away for your cell phone and credit cards that won’t interfere with the ticket scanning. I also adore a good hood, and a detachable fur collar – faux or no.

Heather, what are your ski mantras:
Yes, ready…

Life is not a dress rehearsal,
Dress like a lady but ski with the boyz.
There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing, to quote my ski friend Wes.
Every ski day is a good ski day, rain is just premature snow, cold is refreshing.
And then there’s my family motto:
If you’re not first you’re last – it’s a competitive ski crowd.

You travel a bunch, how do you pack for ski trips?
I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization, ask my kids. When we go on family ski trips, I have a checklist for everyone. Every member of the family has their own ski bag, covering the list of gear, (see Heather’s ski packing tips  and I wash and dry everything immediately when we return from skiing, and its promptly packed so we are always ready to go to the snow.


Heather, tips on going from skiing to après ski in style?

The après ski skirt is my essential. Strip off your bulky ski pants, slip a quilted skirt (SKEA makes super cute ski skirts) over your base layer leggings, add a furry neck scarf and après ski boots, and you’re comfy but sophisticated and ready to relax, dance, drink. I love my Rossignol Megève boots, they have a super grippy sole, fur cuffs and sassy red laces… I get so many compliments on these super cute boots.

Finally Heather, do you have a favorite ski resort?
So many … in the East, I love Stowe for its classic ski town and beautiful views, and Sunday River for its extensive terrain and top snow quality. Out West, Vail is amazing, so is sister Beaver Creek. Big Sky Montana has a big place in my hear too. In Europe, St Anton in The Arlberg, also Kitzbühel Austria, and Courchevel France in Les Trois Vallees are all fantastically charming alpine villages with so much skiing …its jaw dropping. It’s magical skiing to a quaint chalet on the side of the mountain for a homemade meals of soup, bread and cheese farmed from these alpine pastures in summer. The après ski in The Alps is mind-blowing as well, they invented “apres ski” after all.

See you on the slopes ski friends!

Best Ski Resorts in The East
Best Western Ski Resorts
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts

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

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Vail’s Epic Pass to be more Epic!

More mountain mergers!!! Vail Resorts has just announced its agreement to purchase Peak Resorts… adding another 17 ski resorts to their quiver. And yes, these ski areas will be added to the Epic Pass for 2019-20 once the sale is complete… #EpicForEveryone is the new slogan….

Let’s see, there are already 17 Vail Resorts plus 17 more to be added into the Epic Mix of ski mountains  … so that equals = tons of skiing, ! And more east coast partners plus affiliates in the Alps, Japan, and Canada… access to 79 ski resorts – #Epic

Peak Resorts ski properties to be Vail owned include:
Mount Snow in Vermont
 Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain & Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire
Hunter Mountain in New York
Liberty Mountain, Roundtop Mountain, Whitetail Resort, Jack Frost & Big Boulder in Pennsylvania
Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine & Mad River Mountain in Ohio
Hidden Valley & Snow Creek in Missouri
Paoli Peaks in Indiana

Vail Resorts’ purchase price for all Peak Resorts common stock is estimated to be approximately $264 million (calculated on a treasury method basis), to close this fall. Once completed, the 2019-20 Epic Pass, Epic Local Pass and Military Epic Pass will include unlimited and unrestricted access to these 17 Peak Resorts ski areas.

For the 2019-20 season, Vail Resorts will honor and continue to sell all Peak Resorts pass products, and Peak Resorts’ pass holders will have the option to upgrade to an Epic Pass or Epic Local Pass, following closing of the transaction.

The Epic Pass is $939 for adults and $489 for children (5- 12) for unlimited skiing at:
Whistler Blackcomb
Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte in Coloradod
Park City Utah
Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood in California
Stevens Pass Washington
Stowe, Okemo, & Mount Snow in Vermont
Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat, & Crotched in New Hampshire
Hunter in NY , Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost, Big Boulder in The Poconcos, Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Mad River, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Paoli Peaks, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot as well.
Perisher, Falls Creek, and Hotham in Australia.

The Epic Pass also  includes 7 days each “limited access” to partner resorts:
Telluride Colorado
Sun Valley Idaho
Snowbasin Utah
Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Kicking Horse, Fernie, Kimberley, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Quebec 
5 consecutive days a Hakuba Valley, Japan’s ten ski resorts; five consecutive days at Japan’s Rusutsu Resort.

In the Alps – The Epic Pass also grants limited access to Les 3 Vallées in France; 4 Vallées in Switzerland; and Skirama Dolomiti in Italy.

The Epic Local Pass at $699 for adults, $569 for teens (ages 13 to 18) and $369 for children (5-12), offers unlimited, unrestricted access to: Breckenridge, Keystone, Crested Butte, Okemo, Mount Snow, Mount Sunapee, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched, Hunter, Liberty, Roundtop, Whitetail, Jack Frost, Big Boulder, Stevens Pass, Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, Mad River, Hidden Valley, Snow Creek, Paoli Peaks, Afton Alps, Mt. Brighton, and Wilmot, plus unlimited access with holiday restrictions to: Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, and Stowe, and 10 total days combined (with holiday restrictions) at: Vail, Beaver Creek, and Whistler Blackcomb. Finally Epic Local Pass holders have limited access to partner resorts: two days (with limited holiday restrictions) at Sun Valley; two days (with limited holiday restrictions) at Snowbasin; and five total consecutive days with no blackout dates at Hakuba Valley’s ten ski resorts in Japan; and five total consecutive days with no blackout dates at Rusutsu Resort.

See our Favorite Vail Resorts – Top 10 Epic Ski Resorts on the Epic Pass!

Why buying the Epic Pass is an Epic Idea!

See more about Vail Resorts, and the Best Ski Resorts anywhere:

Best Ski Resorts in The East
Best Western Ski Resorts
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts

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

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Aspen’s Ikon Pass or Vail’s Epic Pass

Season pass deals abound! With mergers of mountain resorts by Vail Resorts – and competitor Aspen and Alterra Mountain Company, skiers can choose between the Epic Pass or the “IKON” pass for  the 2019-2020 ski season, the IKON Pass and it unites 40 top ski destinations. While  Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass is valid at 34  ski resorts, with benefits at 79+.

Vail Resort’s Epic Pass, priced at $939 for unlimited skiing at 34 ski resorts, 7 days each at many more.  Vail resorts include:  Colorado’s Vail, Beaver Creek,  Breckenridge,  Keystone,  Crested Butte, Park City in Utah,  Whistler Blackcomb, California’s Heavenly,  Northstar,  Kirkwood,  Vermont’s Stowe, Mount Snow and Okemo, Attitash, Wildcat, Crotched and Mount Sunapee in NH,  Wilmot,  Hunter in NY, several in the Poconos, The Mid Atlantic and Michigan,  and Perisher Australia, Hotham and Falls Creek, plus 7 days skiing at Telluride, Snowbasin and Sun Valley, Fernie Alpine Resort, Kicking Horse Mountain Resort, Kimberley Alpine Resort, Nakiska, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham!  The Epic Pass also has great free ski benefits with in the Alps, Verbier, Les Trois Vallees, and Hakuba Japan – so many ski resorts.

The IKON Pass offers 40 ski resorts acres across the continent, yes Canada & Japan too,  on one season pass, with varying access at each destination, with a price of $1049, 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, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper in Colorado, to Deer Valley, Solitude, Alta, and Snowbird in Utah, Squaw, Mammoth and Big Bear in California, Crystal Mountain in Washington, 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 now, see details at www.ikonpass.com. IKON Access is unlimited at 14 ski resorts: Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain, Eldora Mountain Resort, Squaw Alpine, Mammoth, Big Bear, June, Crystal Mountain, Stratton, Snowshoe, Tremblant, and Blue Mountain. Plus ski privileges at 21 more…

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

IKON pass holders get 7 days combined 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 $949, there’s also a kids pass for $299 with parents purchase. For a lower price point, there’s a slightly more restricted IKON Base pass at $649 (basically 5 days at the restricted resorts versus 7, with black out dates and a few caveats).

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!

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 2019, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com 

 

 

Powder skiing in Georgia

Let me tell you about cat-ski in Georgia – the country, not the state.

Nestled between Southern Russia and Northern Turkey, the weather off the Black Sea brings Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains about 35 feet of snowfall every winter.  The ski resort scene in Georgia probably isn’t worth the trip, but what if you could go skiing without being in a ski resort?

Having heard Georgia’s snowfall stats and finding the perfect spot on topographic maps and Google Earth, a Swiss ski instructor named Ingo Schlutius crowdfunded enough money in 2016 to get a couple of retired Swiss snowcats shipped to Georgia and kicked off his cat-skiing operation, Powder Project.

The trip to Powder Project’s basecamp proves it’s anything but a typical ski holiday. You wait outside the small airport in Kutaisi for a driver to take you to the remote village of Bahkmaro.  A 20-year-old 4×4 minivan arrives, the driver’s hands and clothes covered in dirt, he shrugs and simply says “Sorry. Rocks”.

An hour into the drive,  the beginnings of a landslide across the road are evident, our driver  moves man-sized boulders by himself. Another two-hours of dark, winding mountain roads our driver stopped and motioned for us to disembark.  On the side of the road in freezing temperatures,  the lights of the snowcat slowly come around a hairpin bend, the final few miles to Bahkmaro aren’t accessible to a regular vehicle. Arriving at the Powder Project lodge, a few hours sleep is welcome before our next day’s cat ski adventure.

In summer, Bahkmaro is a popular vacation spot for Georgians and Russians, many of whom have hand built their own datchas – small cabins constructed from whatever material is at hand.  In the winter however, it is deserted, except for the 20 ski guests staying in the lodge – and the surrounding mountains!

Cat-skiing (using modified snowcats with cabs for people bolted to the back to go up remote mountains) has been called poor-man’s heliskiing but snowcats have the advantage of never being grounded due to bad weather. Our first ski day, without fresh snow, we scored fresh tracks all day long – no one to bag out tracks. While the snow was good, it wasn’t epic and we all secretly started to wonder if we’d made this long trip for nothing. That night, however, things changed quickly with over 3 feet of fresh snow coming down in just 12 hours.

That next day and for the rest of our time with Ingo and his team we did whooping ski lap after lap of bottomless champagne powder until our legs were weary.  There was terrain for everyone, from mellow open zones, to tight tree-runs, to super-fun pillow-fields.

The relaxed attitude in Georgia means there’s no in-bounds or out-of-bounds, when you wanted to explore further afield from the cats -simply put on our touring skis, joined by the lodge dogs, and set off on your own.

Each evening, ski down through the trees and local datchas back to the lodge for a feast of local delicacies prepared by an amazingly friendly Georgian family, washed down with cha-cha, a popular homebrewed Georgian moonshine.

Between the incredible snow, the culture, the food, and the sense of adventure it’s safe to say that Georgia isn’t your average ski trip ..its extraordinary.

If you like back country skiing and seeing things in a new perspective you could worse than checking out Georgia for yourself!

Contact Ski Bro for personalized ski adventures and ski instruction at some fabulous European ski destinations!

See more on cat skiing, heli-skiing, and the best family ski trips at Family Ski Trips.com and our sister site The Luxury vacation Guide

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Vail’s Top 10 Most Epic Resorts

I love Vail… its one of the top ski resorts on the planet, and I have sampled a few (ok, over 170). There’s even more to love now that Vail has acquired over 34 ski resorts, some of the best in ski country, and they are all on The Epic Pass. Yes this is an epic time for skiers and riders. Like that’s not enough, right? But Vail Resorts offers even more skiing on its affordable season pass ($900 range) to 65+ ski resorts in the US, Canada, Japan and The Alps. Vail’s 2019-2020 Epic Pass includes Sun Valley and Snowbasin, plus Telluride and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies, and Peak Resorts to be added – Mount Snow, Attitash, Wildcat, Hunt and more! Its mind-blowing, especially when you consider a pass to any one of these mountains would cost over a $1,000 … yes for just one ski resort… now you have access to 65 for  $950! You may need to take the winter off. Seriously….

Here are the Most Epic Ski Resorts on the Epic Pass, in this skier’s opinion:

Vail – yes, it is a perfect skier’s mountain, with great front side trails, huge back bowls, high-speed lifts everywhere, stunning Rocky Mountain views, and a ski village that looks plucked from a Zermatt postcard. From first gondola one, and first tracks down the Back Bowl or Blue Sky Basin, to lively après ski in Vail village, Vail is a skier’s paradise.

Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest in North America. 37 lifts, 200 trails and 8,171 acres and 7,494′ vertical …Boom! I love the vast terrain, the two unique mountains, the crazy Canadian extremes, and the even crazier après ski in the Intrawest village.

Breckenridge – yes, I’m a Breck girl – I love skiing this vast resort in Summit County Colorado. First, Breckenridge has the highest lift service ski terrain in North America (12,840’)… cool. Second, Breck has five unique ski peaks across 3,000 acres, Peaks 10 thru 6, each offers everything from tame groomed boulevards to gritty high-alpine all-natural skiing. Finally, you have the beastly village of Breck – once a quaint silver mining frontier town, now it’s a big bustling skier’s paradise of breweries and bars for Breck après, shops and hotels. Beware Breck is busy…

Stowe, the Ski Capital of the East, is iconic, with formidable New England terrain – including the Front Four which should be on every skier’s bucket list. Spruce Peak is a gorgeous mountain village, steps to the slopes, that looks more Beaver Creek than Vermont. Then you have the charming village of Stowe with classic après ski bars, boutiques and inns up and down the Mountain Road, and iconic Main Street with its pretty church steeple. Stowe is the best in the East.

Heavenly California – the name says it. This Lake Tahoe Resort has it all – the most beautiful views of the magnificent Lake, great glades, steeps, cruisers, bi-state skiing from Cali to Nevada on 4,800 acres- Lake Tahoe’s biggest – served by 28 lifts! Add in après ski Casinos, or a boat ride on Lake Tahoe. Bonus: a Heavenly ski trip can encompass skiing at neighbor Vail resorts Kirkwood and Northstar at Tahoe.

Beaver Creek – This is Vail’s little sister, and she deserves some secret love. The Beav’ has such long well-pitched trails, steeps that host the annual Birds of Prey downhill, swift lifts, the best grooming, and two super classy base villages at Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gultch – where you’ll find the swank slopeside Ritz. The Beave doesn’t get a busy as the Front Range or Vail, another reason to love the sophisticated lil’ sis… did I mention Beaver Creek’s  five-star mountain hotels, the beautiful birch groves or the fresh baked cookies handed out at day’s end in the perfect pedestrian skiers village?

4 more ski resorts, not Vail owned, but epic and worth exploring on the Epic Pass

Telluride Ski Resort is remote, and worth it! This absolutely stunning mountain resort in a boxwood canyon in South West Colorado is special. The San Juan range scenery is a gem, the 2,000-acre ski terrain is awesome, and the old mining town is as authentic as they come. Be sure to lunch at the highest restaurant in North America – Alpino Vino at 11,966’ is a cozy European chalet on top of the world. Stay at Telluride’s modern Mountain Village or down in town in an historic lodge with cool après ski and local dining, either way – your ski days are scenic, with “epic” terrain from 12,500’ Palmyra Peak (or hike for more) – hence the nickname To Hell U Ride.

Kicking Horse in the Canadian Rockies is kick ass. On the powder Highway of BC, this ski resort has long steeps, with a vertical of over 4,300’- the 4th biggest on the continent. A swift gondola takes you to tremendous bowls and chutes, while the ski village is humble and fun, not overdone. The panorama from the mountaintop Eagle’s Eye restaurant is amazing, reached by a 2,800’gondola. From Kicking Horse, you can try a heli-ski day with Purcell Heli Skiing in Golden, or visit sister Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Kimberly, Nakiska and Fernie. You’re also close to Lake Louise and Sunshine in Banff but they are not on the Epic Pass.

Les Trois Vallées in France is epic, with skiing on the Epic Pass when you purchase partner lodging. The 3 Valleys represent the largest interconnected skiing in the world – joining Courchevel and Val Thorens via Méribel. It’s highly scenic – in the French Alps with views of Mont Blanc, it’s huge – with 600 kilometers of trails served by 155 lifts connecting 8 ski areas, 4 valleys, 6 glaciers, and 25 peaks. Add in some French chalets for ski-to-lunch, the chic ski hotels of Courchevel and Meribel (Val Thorens is modern – not so charming), crazy off-piste opportunities, and even crazier après ski … you have the joie de vivre of French skiing.

St Anton Lech and Zurs – the most authentic ski region in the world, the cradle of alpine skiing in fact, is the Arlberg of Austria. Ten interconnected ski resorts are the stuff of legends– for their vast Alps terrain, amazing lifts  – 88 trams, cable cars, 8 packs and funitels, for their snow abundance, for the ski culture that exudes in each quaint mountain village, and for the alpine huts along the ski trail sides serving delicious homemade cuisine just as the locals have for centuries. Every skier worth his edges must  skiing the Austrian Alps, ride the Valugabahn, ski to lunch in St Christoph, tour the White Ring of Lech, and après ski at the Moosewirt in St Anton. An Arlberg ski vacation is epic, and its on the Epic Pass – 3 days free skiing when you book lodging via Vail partners.

Those are my favorite Epic Ski resorts, and I have yet to ski Japan… or Japow as my powder friends call it, and Hakuba Valley’s nine ski resorts on the Epic Pass. Enjoy your winter, and I see you in the million vert skiers circle if you are also tracking your epic ski season with Vail Resort’s Epic Mix app.

Copyright 2019, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com  Photos by Greg Burke of Luxury Vacation Guide

  

Best Snowvember skiing ever!

My first ski turns at Sunday River felt more like February than end of November. Natural snow, so soft – wall to wall white on steep fun trails like Agony, Vortex , and Airglow. I’ve not had such great first tracks since… I can’t remember. You must go ski, you’ll be amazed at what you see – snow ghosted trees, top to bottom mid-winter conditions.

140 ski resorts are open in the country on 11/30, compare that to about 40 last season at end of November. Skiers are stoked, myself included. Temperatures have been cold for much of the nation – The East, The Rockies, and North. Snow dumps have been regular, versus last November which was downright balmy across most to the US.

In the East, Sunday River and Sugarloaf have both received over five feet of natural snow in November… these Maine sister ski resorts are skiing on 400 acres of open terrain each, reaching the magic number of 100 open trails, including glades. Sugarloaf will open  for Cat Skiing on  December 1 on Burnt Mountain, way ahead of last winter’s March opening – only open for a couple of days at that!  This is “New England’s only cat skiing operation” according to The Loaf, if you don’t count Sugarbush’s occasional Lincoln Limo by appointment on pow days.

In Vermont, Killington hosted an amazing World Cup Women’s FIS race with mid-winter like conditions, and a huge hometown crowd to cheer on locally trained Mikaela Shiffrin to slalom victory. The Big K has been open 43 days since its “first to open in the East” bell back in October.

Sugarbush, celebrating its 60th season with a Sugarbash on December 15, has great snow conditions and over 50 trails open already. Stowe is Epic, Vail Resort pun intended, with half their trails open by November. Okemo is also Epic now… yes another new Vail resort on the Epic Pass – Okemo has been blowing snow and offers 70 trails already, their gunning for Jackson Gore by early December. Mount Snow opened in October with its earliest top to bottom skiing ever.

In New Hampshire, Wildcat opened super early with top to bottom skiing. Loon Mountain had the earliest ever top to bottom skiing on both Loon and North Peaks. The White Mountain look truly white with great skiing at Bretton Woods, Cranmore and Waterville Valley too.

Out west, Big Sky in Montana is already skiing off the Lone Peak Tram into all natural Dictator Chutes and Otter Slide. Mammoth California already has 41 inches of snow. Jackson Hole claims over 90 inches so far, while Vail and Breckenridge are nearing 100 inches of snow so far – and again its November! Grand Targhee is 100% open!

Utah finally got 30 inches of snowfall end of November, and there’s skiing on Utah’s slopes at Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Park City Mountain, and Snowbasin – though not as bountiful as Colorado, Montana and Wyoming so far. Washington, Oregon and Lake Tahoe areas could use more snow, and sustained cold, but again – its early.

Its not yet winter, and we’ve already experience big snow storms – Avery & Bruce according to The Weather Channel’s annual winter storm name alphabet. I’m personally excited for snow storm Wesley – my near and dear, departed friend and Sunday River ski buddy. I bet “snow storm Wes” will hit Maine on Feb 2, his birthday and annual Sunday River Wes Mills ski day now in year 3.

Dreaming of a White Christmas – I think you can “snow” bank on it. My first day was the best day, at Sunday River last day of November. See you on the slopes.

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

  

 

First Ski Resorts to Open

Don’t you love fall skiing in ski country? Nothing prettier than autumn leaves and the first dusting of snow to make those brilliant autumn colors really pop. There’s also the excitement of watching  ski resorts drop ropes and open lifts first. It’s a race to be first to ski – out West and in the North East.

When it’s not even Halloween yet and  dozens of ski resorts are chomping at the bit to open… this is no trick, just a treat,  for skiers…

This year’s first place winner is Wolf Creek – this south western Colorado ski resort opened a full week ahead of everyone else, Oct 12 2018. That’s early.

The following weekend, perennial Eastern eager beavers Sunday River and Killington duked it out for first rights, as they always do. Sunday River opened to the public Friday October 19, Killington opened same day but exclusively for pass holders – a nice privilege, which also included the awesome IKON pass this season. In addition to a private pass holder first ski day, the Big K provides lunch to their first day skiers and riders. Killington also stayed open midweek, while Sunday River closed Monday- Friday to re-open for the weekend.

As for the usual first-to-open Rocky Mountain resorts, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin both opened October 20th weekend.

Pre-Halloween weekend,  more ski resorts joined the early season roster: Wildcat in New Hampshire and Mount Snow in Vermont open Saturday October 27, earliest openings ever for both resorts. A Nor’Easter snow storm dropped snow pre-Halloween weekend just to cap off snowmaking efforts.

Before Thanksgiving, so many ski resorts East & West enjoyed early openings: Vail, Aspen, Grand Targhee, Breck & Keystone, Mammoth and Squaw, plus New England’s Sugarloaf, Stowe, Loon and Sugarbush.

What I love about these early ski openings is not just the advanced opportunity to ski, but the enthusiasm and commitment these resorts make to stretch the ski season, to give long-term value to mostly pass holders –the majority of zealots that show up for early October/November and late May skiing.  Fall skiing can range from fast frozen grass with a thin layer of early season natural snow, to  snowmaking surfaces that range from groomed to rimy to erratic to pow. Still it’s a chance to get your ski legs, thread some first tracks on a ribbon of snow on a trail or two, upload and download, and see your ski buddies that have been hibernating all summer like you. lol…

So the race of the ski resorts to get those first to open “bragging rights” benefits the skiers, and snowboarders. The sooner ski areas open, the more snow they make, the better and longer your ski season is apt to be. Similarly, the season pass competitions of late are great. Conglomerate passes like the Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass and the IKON Pass are offering amazing alpine options, 30-44 ski resorts all on one convenient lift pass, at the price of what we used to pay for one single resort season pass. Seriously!

Examples: You can now ski Stowe, unlimited on the $949 Epic Pass, when previously a Stowe Season pass was upwards of $1,800, plus now you get the #EPIC opportunity to fly to Colorado for a week or two with free (ok, included) skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breck, and now even Telluride and Crested Butte all part of your pass, plus Lake Tahoe’s Heavenly, Kirkwood, and Northstar, and east coast sister resorts Okemo and Mount Sunapee! I’ve got my EPIC pass, do you?

While I’m not making first tracks skiing Halloween weekend, that’s a bit pre-mature for me – I’ve got costumes parties and leaves to rake still, I’m stoked to ski a bunch this winter, and I love watching ski resorts stock pile a bunch of snow for when I’m ready to go. This time of year I like to see my ski peeps at the Boston Ski Show Nov 8-11, to  shop this year’s best gear, and check out the best ski and stay deals for the year. This year, I also receive an “Excellence in Snowsports Coverage” award in Boston. See you soon on snow!

See our Top Early Ski Season Resorts Favorites:
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – East 
Top Early Season Ski Resorts – West

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

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Affordable Family Ski Trip Tips

Shred the Slopes And Not Your Wallet: Tips For A Budget-Friendly Ski Trip

In 2016, 13.91 million people traveled to a ski resort for a family ski vacation. This is because there’s absolutely nothing like feeling the wind against your face as you take on the toughest Black Diamond trail. However, ski trip costs add up. With the cost of lift tickets, ski gear, lodging, and transportation for everyone, skiing is not a cheap sport. But never fear because you can still participate in the sport you love while being kind to your wallet. Check out these budget-friendly tips to help you save a little on your next family ski trip.

Plan early and book off-peak
Ski season is typically from late November to early April. Therefore, you should start planning your trip  end of summer. This will allow you enough time to shop for bargains and get discounted rooms and airline tickets. You should also ski off-peak seasons, typicallythe beginning and end of the ski season. Early December, ski lift ticket prices are generally less expensive and so are lodging costs, same goes for early April at high-elevation ski resorts that stay open later, like Vail and Snowbird. You definitely want to avoid Christmas-New Years, Martin Luther King weekend in January and mid February – high-peak seasons that come with  higher costs and crowds. See our Tips on Planning the best ski vacation.

Travel with more families
One of the best ways to reduce your cost of travel is to vacation with more than one family. You can find neighbors, family friends, or extended family members to help split the expenses of lodging – renting a  big condo or ski house,  and you can share food expense. Not only will you save some money, but you will also have someone for the kids to play with, and après ski with your adult friends. It’s always more fun with more people to share your experiences with!

Be prepared to cook your own food
When shopping for lodging, try to find a resort ski home, cabin, or condo that comes equipped with a kitchen, and often washer dryer! So you don’t have to eat  out every meal – saving you money, and sparing you from dining with tired hungry kids after a big day of skiing. If you travel with another family or extra friends, you can all take turns cooking every night. This way you can split the cost of groceries as well as the cooking. See our Tips on Packing for a Ski Condo.

Start saving as soon as you book
As soon as you book your lodging and transportation, set up a “ski trip” savings account. Determine how much money you will need for the trip and set this as your goal. You can determine how much you should save each month and what you plan to put on your credit card. If you have a rewards card, place purchases on this card to get cash-back for the big ticket purchases. This will help you budget, with the bonus of rewards later.

Look at Pass Prices instead of Day Tickets
Check out he price for a season pass at the ski resort if you are going for more than 5 days. Today’s ski passes, like the Epic Pass, IKON pass and Mountain Collective are often better deals (valid at many ski resorts all winter) when bought in advance than the retail day tickets. Vail is over $179 a day but an Epic Pass starts at $599! You do the math!

Buy second-hand equipment
One of the most expensive costs of skiing is the equipment. If you already have your own equipment, that is great. But for everyone else, renting your skis every trip can become costly. You may want to look into second-hand shops, local ski swaps hosted by school and ski clubs, and ask about used gear at ski shops for deals on previously owned gear or demos. Also shopping in spring , online, you can find great deals on last year’s ski gear. See our Ski Gear Guide for the top skis to buy or rent.

Pack Well in Advance
Many families find packing for skiing to be stressful, see out Tips on What and How to Pack for a successful ski trip.

If you love skiing, you shouldn’t let cost keep you from hitting the slopes. Shred the snow without damaging your wallet with some preparation, organization, and research.

Skiing = expensive, memories skiing with your family = priceless!


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