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

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Top 10 Reasons to Rock The Epic Pass

Top 10 Reasons to buy an Epic Pass…Now!  There is no better season pass deal, and no better time than now to ski! And all of these fun Vail Resort event are part of  your Epic Pass.

10.  Stowe’s ‘80s Retro Weekend every March. Who doesn’t love the 80s and rockin’ a one piece ski outfit in day glo, totally awesome! Après ski at Stowe, hit the classy Hourglass Bar at Stowe Mountain Lodge, or the local fave Matterhorn, or  the visit Trapp Family Lodge’s Bier Hall where the hills are alive with the sound of brewing!

9.  Vail  hosts the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships in Vail late Feb- early March. This is the biggest event post Winter Olympics and X Games… Download the Epic Mix app and track your own vert between viewing the best snowboarders launch big vert in the halfpipe!   Come April, Vail is all party – Spring Back to Vail with free concert, Taste of Vail – the best ski foodie fest anywhere, and World Championship Pond Skimming – a wet wild good time!

8. Partake in Beaver Creek’s 18th Annual Talons Challenge on Saturday, late February. More than 26,000 vertical feet of black diamond and double black diamond trails –14 in total – are waiting for you. Finish the job and earn your spot on the Talon’s Wall-of-Fame!

7. Ski seven of Park City Mountain’s peaks during the inaugural Seven Summits Challenge, Saturday, mid February. Earn bragging rights, and hit the après ski party at Red Pine Lodge. Park City keeps partying  with include Spring Grüv – that means warm sunny days, soft snow, free concerts, and Easter celebrations with Utah’s best pond skim competition.

6.  Breck Pride week is mid March, celebrate with live music, daily aprés, a flamboyant Color Run in costumes down the mountain and inclusive fun for everyone at Breckenridge!

5. Celebrate all things spring at Spring Loaded at Heavenly with a Spring Loaded Rail Jam, Gunbarrel 25, Live Music, and pond skimming.

4. Whistler Blackcomb is always a blast, especially during the annual World Ski and Snowboard Festival. This six day  jam-packed event covers snow sports, music, arts, and mountain culture  mid April.

3. What pairs betters better than Food & Wine and Spring skiing? Vail’s Taste of Vail in early April is so much fun, top chefs, choice vintners, and daily events on and off the slopes featuring fabulous tastings and parties – to complement the dreamy spring ski conditions!

2. Got Kids?  Keystone’s Kidtopia Music Experience is early March  with outdoor concerts, music themed daily Kidtopia fun, a mountaintop snow fort, a village parade, and fireworks.

1.  Just rock your Epic Pass already… with skiing at 34 of the best ski resorts …recently added are Telluride, Crested Butte, Wildcat, Stowe, Okemo and Mount Snow, its the most epic season pass and the best ski value out there, unless of course you don’t use it …. than you’re a loser, not an epic user. We’re taking our Epic Pass to the Alps where you can cash in free skiing at Val Isère, Les Trois Vallees, La Plange Les Arcs, St Anton and Verbier, and more… See you on the Epic Mix leader board ski friends! 1 million vert – I’m coming for you! Cheers!

See our Guide to the Top Ski Resorts and make your skiing EPIC!
Copyright 2019, Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com and TheLuxuryVacationGuide

 

What NOT to say to a ski friend

“Don’t get hurt”, “be careful”, “don’t break a leg”, “I worry about you”, “don’t let anything happen to you”. This is what hear when I go skiing, from friends, whom I treasure and adore… clearly they care about me too.

But…

I don’t need extraneous fears and doubts in my head, especially when I am skiing. What I need is confidence and positivity…that’s all.  I know the tight rope I walk between safety and risk when I’m skiing, I know it very well. No one is more protective of me than me! My adventures and my risks are highly calculated.

I am never “not careful”. Greg and I put safety in our skiing above all desire to adventure, to ski untracked, to conquer new unknown snow terrain.

Skiing is my element, the mountains, the snow, the high alpine, its my environment, my choice of passion. Skiing is my zone, but in order to have the best (safest) skiing, I need to be “in the zone” – strong, ready, resilient, confident, courageous, prepared, present. There is no place here for self-doubt, for Debbie-downers pointing out the obvi…yes skiing comes with risk. I have read my lift ticket and season pass disclaimers, have you?

Ski resorts’ legal waivers clearly state “skiing has inherent risk”.  We could talk endlessly about risk versus reward, in skiing and in all sports and activities.

Instead I’ll just proclaim skiing is safer than texting and driving,  ponder that instead of my choice to ski and how risky it may be.

Yes, I’ve heli skied with a pack of testosterone charged men in Bella Coola, gone out of bounds in The Alps (as they say in France – it’s better to be off-piste than piste-off– lol). I have bobsledded the Olympic track in Park City (now that was dangerous), skied the speed trial run at Verbier, cat skied the remote Monashees (with a pack of salivating Sugarloafers), and look …I’m still here to write about it. Because I take great care… of myself, my surroundings. I have immense respect for the weather, the mountains, ever-changing snow. I have been educated on slides, tree-wells, avalanches. I also have the utmost respect for those who work in the ski biz, from liftees to groomers, to patrol and 1st responders.

Last but not least, I love my own body and know its strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t wanna get injured… been there, done that. Don’t wanna die either, haven’t done that – not ready – so much more to explore, so much life yet to live…  I also want to LIVE life to the fullest, not from the safety of my home, the sidelines are not for me …thank you.

Would you tell an Indie car drive “don’t crash” or the crazy Wallendas “don’t slip and fall”? At our summer camp in Maine, my sis in law shouted “don’t fall” just as the waterski boat pulls and you are getting up on water skis. Hey, thanks…didn’t need that seed planted right now. When my friend Mary announced she’d be climbing to Everest Base Camp, I gave her only positive encouragement, not “you could die” because she knew that. Proud of her… delighted to hear of her adventure firsthand.

I enter every adventure with thoughtful consideration and caution, a heady approach and  acknowledgement of worst case scenario, but also enthusiasm and a vision of best outcome – as a goal…which we often achieve. Visualizing our safe outcome, with proper preparation and fitness, is highly effective, especially at high altitude. Self-doubt, or voices in your head telling you not to get hurt, does not play in your favor. There is no room for uncertainty when you are in a steep white room, untracked, unknown…you  need your best self. I channel my nerves and anxiety (yes, I do get nervous) into positive energy, along with a quiet little self pep talk.

I will digress to say I am so blessed to have friends who genuinely care about me, my health and wellbeing, as I do them. Friendship is such a gift… caring about another human being that’s not your family, but someone you choose to share with, and laugh with, is one of life’s greatest gifts….perhaps the best of all! Because friendship… well, you earn it…the trust, the experiences – from the silly to the sublime, the camaraderie, the crazy, the loyalty, the acceptance and appreciation of knowing each other quirks. I love my friends! #iloveus

So my friends, next time you want to say “don’t get hurt”, instead say “have fun” or “I look forward to seeing your ski photos” and “let’s celebrate when you get back”… “go get it”, “do what you love”. I will in turn be as supportive of my friends’ crazy (ok, risky) passions and pastimes: running (oh my knees), sky-diving (OMG), making candles (hot wax – yikes), sunbathing (burn baby burn),  beach boot camp (ok – not so risky – just sandy, early morning and not fun).

I’ll be skiing (safely) with good vibes, thank you very much, it’s what I love, it challenges me, makes me happy, healthy, accomplished, vibrant.

Do what you love, love what you do, know the risks, picture the rewards, life is an adventure… go get yours…

By Heather Burke, Photos by Greg Burke
Family Ski Trips Luxury Vacation Guide

 

DIN – When in doubt, come out

DIN, three little letters with big implications, an acronym for safety when skiing. What’s your DIN? is a question oft heard on first tram at Snowbird or Jackson Hole. As if your binding setting determines your weightiness on the ski slopes. 9 or more is a source for bravado, like you are a bolder beefier skier than others set at a timid-sounding 2, 3, or 4.

Growing up, my brothers loved the mantra, “when in doubt, don’t come out.” They also enjoyed making figure 11s top to bottom, “when in doubt straighten em out” …which is now referred to as straight-lining. Now that I’ve matured, I recognize my brothers’ practices were quite perilous. I’m more concerned about safety these days…in my 2nd half-century.

My interpretation on DIN: you don’t want to be a yard sale, with skis scattered across the hill from a premature release, BUT what’s far worse is a twisting fall when you binding doesn’t pop but your knee or other body part does…

Here’s the deal with DIN:

DIN setting is calculated based on your boot sole length, age, weight, height and ability level, when your bindings are mounted on your skis. The higher the DIN, the higher the force required to release (toe or heel) from your bindings. DIN =  Deutsches Institut für Normung (German)

Your height, weight, age and ski ability are all factors in a proper DIN setting. Age is perhaps the key fluctuating component for skiers that’s not always updated –  properly calibrated among old-school skiers, who’ve always had a DIN of 8 for example, but at 55 or 60 should dial it back to a safer 6, say, to prevent injury.

DIN calibrated standards change at 50, and so should your settings. Of course you should also be honest about your height, weight and ability (lol)… and adjust when any of these change. It’s a ski shop form, so it’s not like your weight gain or shrinkage is going on Facebook for all your ski buddies to see.

I for one had a ski injury at 48, that could likely have been prevented if my ski binding had released. That sharp twisting turn should have caused my binding toe piece to release, but alas my marker bindings stayed on – tight, as they were adjusted to avoid a premature nuisance release. Lesson learned, I’ve loosen up. I recovered from that fractured tibial plateau, and now set my DIN per the appropriate age height and weight setting. Staying safe and alive at 5….

For the safest binding setting, your skis should be professionally checked annually, providing real “true” data of your actual weight (lol) height, age and ski ability, 1, 2, 3 and 3+. By the way, very few of us are 3+ ski level, that’s for extreme skiers.

Yes, your ski popping off prematurely is a pain, but not as big a setback as not releasing and popping a ligament, or worse… Have your binding professional set and checked annually. Better safe than sorry, “when in doubt, come out.”

See our Gear Guide to the  Top Skis!

Copyright 2018, by Heather Burke of FamilySkiTrips.com

Vail’s Epic Pass is a 10

This Epic Pass is arguably the best season pass for skiing, EVER, the best value, versatility, at the best ski resorts for serious vertical. Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Breck, Stowe, Heavenly, Park City… the list goes on!

Not only is the Epic Pass now ten years old in its great pass tradition, it has expanded 10 fold since its introduction in 2008. The Vail Resorts Epic Pass is now valid at over 65 major ski resorts, with benefits to dozens of others around the world.

One more epic “10” for you ski friends – the 2019 Epic Pass is dedicated to the 10th Mountain Division. The US 10th Mountain Division trained in the challenging alpine terrain of Colorado’s high peaks, and went on to serve and fight in WW II – playing a pivotal role in winning the war overseas in the harsh Italian Dolomites. Pete Seibert, founder of Vail, and Earl Eaton, both served in WW II and later developed one of the best ski resorts in the world- Vail (inception 1957).

Fast forward to 2008, as Vail Resorts was growing into a Titan of Ski Resort mergers and acquisitions. The Epic Pass was launched as a conglomerate of Vail’s 5 extensive ski resorts terrain. The affordable pass cost less than most ski resort season passes, and provided skiers with unrestricted skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone … And that was just the beginning…

For ski season 2019-20, the Epic Pass includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Keystone,  Crested Butte, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood, Stevens Pass, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Sunapee, Wilmot, Mt. Brighton, Afton Alps, Perisher, plus 7 days at Telluride , Snowbasin, Sun Valley, and the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies – Fernie, Kicking Horse, Nakiska and Kimberley, Mont Sainte Anne, and Stoneham in Quebec.

For 2019-2020, Vail Resorts is acquiring Peak Resorts and adding 17 more ski ares to their Epic collection, to include Mount Snow in Vermont
Attitash Mountain Resort, Wildcat Mountain & Crotched Mountain in New Hampshire,
Hunter Mountain in New York, and several Poconos ski areas.

Overseas, Epic Pass holders get three day skiing at Les 3 Vallées, Paradiski and Tignes-Val D’Isere in France, 4 Vallées in Switzerland; Arlberg in Austria, Skirama Dolomiti Italy, and Hakuba Valley in Japan. That’s a lot of ski perks for the price of one Epic Pass at $939.

Funny that in a Sports Illustrated interview in the 1980’s, Vail founder Pete Seibert said ski industry peeps called him and his big ski plans “crazy.” Well, cheers to the crazy ski pass. Vail Resorts later launched a crazy app, The Epic Mix that allows skiers and rider to track their vertical, see snow reports, grooming and trail openings, lift line wait times, and view photos of their skiing and their kids day in ski camp.

What else sets the Epic Pass apart on its 10th anniversary? It’s actually charitable! To honor our military, Vail Resorts has committed to donating $1 for every season pass sold, to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) – which should reach and exceed $750,000 based on last year’s pass sales. Generous with their $7.5 million in pass sales.

Will Vail Resorts continue to buy up ski resorts and broaden its skiing portfolio, adding to its Epic Pass and making it more and more epic? Seems like that’s teh trend – with the hashtag #EpicForEveryone ! We suggest you buy up your Epic Pass early for an epic deal on skiing at over 40 phenomenal ski resorts!

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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Skiers Wish List for Christmas Gifts

At Christmas time every skier I know has “snow” on the top of their wish list. The White Christmas is not so easy to deliver … its up to Santa and Mother Nature. Here are my favorite ski and snowboard gifts that you can easily give, from cheap to steep, for the ski friend that warrants a gesture – but not a new pair of goggles ($$$), to your sweetheart you want to woo and wax with serious swag so they are as excited to ski as you are.

sunday-river-skiing-risky-businessA 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, $5 to $1,000 denominations, and your friend can ski when and where they want – at serious savings.

Heat Factory hand and toe warmers. These cheap 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.

alp-n-rock-ski-shirtAlp N Rock makes gorgeous après ski shirts. I finally splurged forone myself – 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 bars, anywhere you want to make a ski statement($160). Alp N Rock makes crew necks for dudes too, it’s like Affliction goes alpine.

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 make a huge difference in foot comfort, warmth, and wicking of funky foot sweat and odor. Ski socks cost $10-30, worth it for the technical fabric and fit. SmartWool Ski Socks  and Vermont’s Darn Tough  come in fun colors, shapes and sizes for skiers and snowboarders.

New England Ski Museum,  located at the base of Cannon Mountain, has great retro ski posters, videos, ski t-shirts and ties, games, and snowflake jewelry, for sale in their online store, from as little as $12. Best of all, your purchase benefits this non-profit ski association that is preserving ski history in New England.

kulkea-powder-tracker-backpackKulkea Boot Back Pack is the best I have found. For $120 you can pack for a day, weekend
or week out west with this versatile backpack. The Powder Trekker holds your ski boots in separate waterproof compartments, 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.

Happy Holiday and I hope your Christmas is white with snow!

Best Ski Reviews and How to Pack for a Family Ski Trip

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

 

Vail’s Epic Ski App

1heather-simbaLeave it to Vail Resort to generate the most engaging mobile ski app – Epic Mix. From the folks who bought you the Epic Pass – a super savings season pass good at all Vail’s dozens of ski resorts, here is an Epic Mix app that tracks your vertical skiing, gives you real time intel on ski conditions, lift line times throughout Vail Resort, shows how your kids are progressing in ski school, and how your race time is compared to Lindsey Vonn. Epic Mix even offers up photos of you and your friends that were captured around the mountain, thanks to your scan-able RFID lift access card.

3-snowmass-sheer-blissMy honest scoop on the EpicMix ski app, I’m not big on apps or skiing glued to my phone… I go to the mountains to escape technology, electronics, stats and media.

What I like about Epic Mix is you don’t even need your phone app turned on. Just sign up, turn off your phone and go ski if that’s the way you want to play. You can check your skiing stats online or on your phone at the end of the ski day. Other ski apps- Trace and Navtronics Ski apps munch data and run down your battery.

2hrb-beaver-creekEpic Mix tracks via your RFID ski ticket, so you can turn it on to check your stats at the end of the day or the season, even view the app on your pc, so you’re not staring at your smart phone all day and missing out on Vail’s epic scenery. Of course the new Gondola One has Wi-Fi and heated seats, a Vail’s 50th anniversary lift, if you want to check on your vert accumulated mid-day, see the line wait times at Lions Head, or reserves a lunch table with a view at the 10th Mountain Lodge at mid Vail.

Epix Mix leader boards and challenges are fun, its totally opt in – not obligatory… but how fun is it to achieve 1,000,000 vertical feet in a ski season?!

The only thing better than the free Epic Mix app is Vail’s Epic Pass, which for $900 with an early season purchase (read: April for the next season) includes skiing at all 34 of Vail Resorts. Figure that a day ticket at Vail is $210 ish– so this pass amortizes quickly with one trip out west. The Epic Mix app will track your vertical at all them, Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Park City/Canyons, Heavenly, Northstar, and Kirkwood, Whistler Blackcomb, Stowe, Okemo, Mount Snow, Wildcat, Attitash…the list goes on…your Epic Mix will too.

See more of our Best Ski Reviews

Heather Burke, 2019 Copyright & Photography property of Family Ski Trips

Ski Writer Award – Heather Burke

Heather Burke of Kennebunkport Maine received a 2018 national award for her travel journalism. NASJA, North American Snowsports Journalist Association, awarded Heather the NASJA Mitch Kaplan Award, honoring persons who have contributed to the advancement of skiing and snowboarding, demonstrating excellence in media relations, bringing commitment and dignity to journalism. The award was presented in Lake Tahoe, California, at NASJA’s annual meeting, coinciding with The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame and a Legends of Skiing reunion, and at the Boston Ski Show.

Heather and her photographer husband Greg manage the websites theluxuryvacationguide.com and familyskitrips.com, and are major contributors to snowpak.com.  Their works have appeared in scores of outlets including Boston.com, Forbes Travel Guide,  Marina Life, Snow Country, Liftopia and newspapers like the Boston Globe, The Maine Sunday Telegram – where Heather wrote the ski column for 11 years, Montreal Gazette, Providence Journal, Burlington Free Press and more, with her husband Greg’s photography accompanying her articles.

Award presenter, NASJA past-president, Martin Griff said, “When I read Heather’s work, I’m awed by how good it is, how she captures the essence of the ski experience at each resort she writes about and how effortlessly her words flow together. Heather was and still is an inspiration to me and it is just so appropriate that she be honored by NASJA for work that reflects the spirit, enthusiasm and dedication that Mitch Kaplan had for snowsports writing.”

Heather, who learned to ski at the age of three at Gunstock in New Hampshire, worked at her parents’ Smugglers Notch Vermont ski lodge, and as a ski instructor before embarking on her writing career. She has been a ski journalist for over two decades, sampling over 170 ski areas and gathering many awards along the way including three NASJA Harold Hirsch Excellence in Journalism Awards, and Freeskier Magazine’s “Top 100 ski industry people to follow” honor.

Klaus Obermeyer of Aspen Colorado, Nordic Olympic Gold Medalist Jessie Diggins, and Jeff Wise of Stowe Mountain  also received awards  at the 2018 NASJA media event. Previous winners of this NASJA award include The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore and extreme skiing pioneer Dan Egan. NASJA, founded in 1963 as the United States Ski Writers Association, is North America’s largest association of professional snowsports writers, authors, photographers, videographers, broadcasters and industry professionals.

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

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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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How To Watch Netflix On A Ski Holiday

There’s nothing better than a well-deserved après ski. Celebrating a great day on the slope with drinks, music and serendipitous meetings is what skiing life is all about. But even if you have the best après ski bars in the world right at your doorsteps, sometimes you just need a break from all the boisterous fun. A little downtime after all that downhill…

On the days when you’re too sore, too tired or just not socially inclined, it’s nice to kick off the ski boots, put your feet up, and settle in for the night with some hot chocolate and Netflix. But what do you when your favorite shows are not available in Canada, or wherever your ski travel destination? Here’s a quick guide to watching films on Netflix and other streaming platforms while on a skiing holiday.

Why is watching Netflix abroad so hard?

Netflix and other streaming platforms, like Amazon Prime or Hulu, use geo-blocking. Geo-blocking is a process of restricting the availability of specific content based on the users’ geographic location.

Why do Netlifx, Hulu and Amazon do this? Apart from their own films and shows, streaming services broadcast also content from other vendors. This content is copyrighted with rights that more often than not are exclusive to specific countries. Netflix has to geo-block some of its films and shows to comply with the copyright.

How to bypass geo-blocking?

If you’re thinking, “That makes sense, but I’m paying for Netflix back at home and I’m only in Canada for five days”, don’t worry. There are ways to bypass geo-blocking and access films and shows restricted in your area.

In order to view restricted content, use a Canada VPN if you are skiing in Canada for example. VPN, or a virtual private network, roots all your traffic through an encrypted tunnel giving you extra protection online. It can also hide your real IP address (used by servers to identify where you are) and replace it with an IP address from a different server.

For example, if you’re in Canada and you connect to a US server through VPN, Netflix will be tricked into thinking you’re actually in the US. Voila, all the US shows are now ready to watch!

Unfortunately, VPN encryption can affect your connection speed slowing down the stream. If you want a truly high-speed VPN network, you’ll have to skip the free services and go for a reliable provider which means investing a couple of dollars per month.

Live it up with skiing films

You’re in your skiing chalet, the hot chocolate is steaming and the fire is crackling in the fireplace. What better place to unwind with some skiing and snowboarding films?

For some heart-warming fun, watch Eddie the Eagle (available on Netflix in Germany, Switzerland and the UK), a sports comedy about Britain’s most lovable and least competent ski jumper, starring Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken.

Are you a fan of the extreme side of sports? Stream The Search for Freedom (available in Belgium and the Netherlands), an adrenaline-packed documentary covering the pioneers of skiing, surfing, snowboarding and more.

And if you want something light, watch the teen rom-com with a snowboarding twist —
Chalet Girl (available in Japan, the UK and India). Hot Tub Time Machine is another classic –it’s as cheesy as après ski fondue – and equally entertaining.

Whatever it is that you want to watch on your ski trip, bypassing the geo-block is quick and easy.

See our Guide to Planning your ski vacation, how to pack for family ski trips, and the best ski resorts in the world.

 

Top Ski Writers’ Top Ski Resorts

As ski journalists, we have the enviable job of traveling to ski resorts and sharing our likes, dislikes, and love of the sport of skiing. Not only do I love my travel writing work, (please no job applications – I’m set) I also enjoy reading ski resort reviews from my peers, fellow ski writers. A departure from my favorite ski resorts reviewed, here are my best colleagues in the ski biz sharing their top ski resorts, along with their humor and inside tracks:

Favorite Ski Resort from Eric Wilbur, talented sports writer with whom I worked at Boston.com for a decade.

“It’s quite difficult to narrow this down to a singular superlative. The best North American resort I’ve skied with kids? Sunday River. Site of the best powder day I’ve ever experienced? Magic Mountain. The best vibe I’ve ever felt at a resort? Copper Mountain. The best place I’ve visited, but never skied? Kirkwood (Sitting at the base all day with an ACL tear, all while hearing avalanche control in the midst of a total whiteout also qualifies as the greatest, individual torture at a ski resort).

But ever since my first visit more than a quarter-century ago, Stowe has consistently remained my favorite place to ski, a matter that speaks about as much about the mountain’s history as it does Stowe’s infamous terrain and the resort’s brand of mountain luxe. Few experiences are comparable to a spring-time bump run down Hayride, or a mid-winter duck in the woods wherever you might choose not to tell. Skiing these trails, so steeped in lore matters so much more, particularly in creating the soul of a skier. Cookie cutter slopes serve a purpose elsewhere, but at Stowe the skiing is about immersing yourself into a culture that has come to define the Vermont outdoors.

Yes, you can pay heftily for the experience. But in a world of Big Mac skiing and riding, Stowe remains that James Beard destination that lives up to the exorbitance. The drive up Mountain Road still delivers a unique anticipation upon approach, no matter how many times I’ve made the drive. And when the day is through, I can always count on the Front Four winking at me in the dusk, as if knowingly scheduling my inevitable return. ”

Eric Wilbur is a freelance writer and a member of NASJA whose work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Boston.com, The New England Ski Journal, and Boston Metro. Samples of his work can be found at ericwilbur.tumblr.com and www.facebook.com/GlobeEricWilbur

 

 

Top Ski Resort from Rich Stoner of All About Après, who I typically find in the ski bars “researching” though we hit first chair at Okemo on an epic snow day:

“I love Deer Valley and Vail is, of course, epic, but there is just something about your home mountain that makes it…well, home. For me that resort is Mount Snow. It’s where I learned to ski oh so many years ago and it shames me to say that it took me 25 years to eventually go back. However, now that I’ve returned, I plan on being there for a while, especially since my three daughters also learned to ski there and it holds a sentimental place in my heart, having created a lifetime of future memories.Despite this emotional connection, Mount Snow is also a darn good resort. They have come a really long way since I first visited, oh so many years ago and continue to evolve each season with a host of improvements to the overall mountain scene. Now, with snow making capabilities that are arguably the best in the East and apres ski offerings guaranteed to satisfy everyone, Mount Snow has proven to be the perfect ski resort for my family to call home.

I’ve experienced it all at Mount Snow. From warm, rainy days that have created gnarly ice coast conditions, to deep pow that produced incredible gladed runs (duck in off Olympic, you won’t regret it) you just never know what the weather will bring to southern Vermont. However, having spent $30 million last summer upgrading their snowmaking system to a capacity that is, basically, unlimited, what you do know is that they can rebound from these unpredictable temperature swings very quickly while producing a much longer ski season. This alone makes Mount Snow worth the trip because you’ll be skiing more trails with more snow and for longer than most other eastern resorts.

However, increased skiing is only the half of it. We are, after all, All About Apres and when the snow is skied off, later in the day, there are après options galore, all right there for the taking. Need to recharge at the summit? Head to The Bullwheel for some tasty Bloodies and pretzel sticks dipped in cinnamon butter. Bypass the line for the tables and walk straight to the bar to order, then head out on the deck and drink in the view. Done for the day and don’t want to deal with wait service? Canned is your gig. Serving craft beers in cans from Vermont, its simplistic approach will have you thirst quenched in no time. If drinking from the can is not your thing, then head upstairs to The Taproom Station. They, too, have quite the selection of brews (on tap and in bottles) for the savvy craft beer drinker and a few more food options as well. Finally, if you are looking to really go next level and party a bit more, then you need to take in all that is Bruce Jacques and his Saturday shows at Cuzzins. Get there early or you’ll struggle to get in at all. Once inside, there is no shortage of table-dancing après skiers singing along with Bruce as he plays his set while donning a variety of outlandish costumes and interacting with the crowd that is, very much, all in. Trust me, you just won’t be able to peel yourself away, no matter how hard you try.  It’s this type of “can’t stay away” mantra that defines how I feel about Mount Snow. Now that I’m back, the improvements in snow making and incredible variety of apres ski options will keep my family and me there for a long while.”

– Rich Stoner – From first chair to last, call he’s bound to be laying down tracks or throwing back beers with family and friends somewhere in the mountains. www.allaboutapresski.com @allaboutapres

Favorite Western Resort – Snowbasin – Rich Stoner, All About Après
“Wait until you see the lodges at Snowbasin, there is nothing like them. And, the bathrooms…yes, the bathrooms, are nicer than anything you’d see at a high end wedding. Sounds a bit odd for a ski resort, especially one that, all things being considered, is not on too many lists as being super posh. But, that’s what you get when you’re a Sun Valley property and your owner really wants the Salt Lake City Olympics at his resort. Nothing says the Olympics like Venetian chandeliers hanging from the lodge’s ceilings. However, for as opulent as these buildings are, it is still hard to define Snowbasin as a showy resort. There’s some seriously sick skiing complemented by ridiculously tasty culinary delights both of which know no boundaries.

Breakfast is something that I usually skip out on when skiing but when the menu in Earl’s Lodge offers Smoked Beef Brisket Hash and Eggs, that’s a dish that cannot be overlooked. With two runny fried eggs oozing goodness all over the perfectly smoked brisket hash, this is a breakfast entree you cannot pass up. It’s delicious and is sure to have you energized for some incredible skiing. When it comes to skiing, what truly makes Snowbasin special, is the notion that you can pretty much ski anywhere. I can remember riding the lift up with Paul Marshal of Ski Utah and pointing out something that looked like a ravine saying, “That might be fun to ski.” So we did. With nothing but open bowls, the idea of defined trails is a notion that should be forgotten for the day. You can and should go anywhere. From The Sister’s Bowl to local favorite, Lone Tree Chute, it’s all there for the taking.

When you’re a little spent and need a lunch break, there’s no better place than the John Paul Lodge. With insane 360° views complemented by the “Best in Snow” winning chili or the John Paul ‘Mondo” Pastrami Burger (yes, that’s a thing) you may need a nap before you head back out, but head back out you must. The lift lovingly named, “The Beer Can” is right there to take you to the mens’ and womens’ Olympic downhill courses, and you need to try them. Want to burn off all of those, oh so worth it, calories? See if you can make it down either course in one shot. You may not have anything left in the tank after that, but if you do, head back up, there’s plenty more to shred. However, if your day does end there, quads sore and stomach full, grab a beer and a seat on the expansive patio at Earl’s Lodge.  There, you can look back out at the mountain and reminisce about the epic freedom to ski and fantastic fare that makes Snowbasin so special.”

– Rich Stoner –  www.allaboutapresski.com @allaboutapres

Photos by Greg Burke, More Top Ski Resorts:
Top 10 New England Ski Resorts for Families
Top 10 Western Ski Resorts for Families
Top Canada Ski Resorts for Families
Top European Ski Resorts for Families

 

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