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Help with first trip for never ever kids

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

I'm in planning mode for a family trip in February, most likely to begin the Tues or Wed after President's weekend and last for 3-4 ski days.  Planning early because I want to use miles and points to help with airfare expense.

 

The numbers:  3 kids, ages 7, almost 4, and 2 and time of trip.  All never-evers, have only seen snow on the ground once or twice.  Wife is essentially a never-ever; I took her out to Big Mountain back before we had kids, her first ski trip, and she hasn't skied since.  Me: 6-10 days per year in west, advanced intermediate.  There may or may not be another family with similar stats coming on the trip with us.

 

Locations I've considered:  DV; Snowmass, Steamboat.  The last few years, I've done a guys trip to the PC area and have reasonable, gaper tourist knowledge of the area, thus DV was my first thought.  When I was a kid, our annual family trip was always at Snowmass, so I'm kinda familiar with its offerings, but it's been a long time since I was there.  Steamboat is because I was reading older posts and saw several people speaking in favor of it as a family destination.

 

My basic requirements in order of importance:  never-evers and wife have lots of fun and want to go on a family trip again next year.  To me, that means great kids ski school and general programs (do any resorts have sort of a day-camp like drop off thing for the younger kids?); activities other than skiing for the kids - tubing, sleigh rides, etc; and a spa for the wife to go to after kids get dropped off and I go skiing (she might ski one day, but to her it's work and not fun - she'd be perfectly content to go to ski school, take a few pictures of the kids, and then go get pampered for a few hours and have a few drinks until everyone re-unites).  Lastly, easy logistics, both in terms of getting there from Atlanta and not having to be a pack mule for all the kids gear (within reason; I suspect there will be some of that no matter what).  Naturally, I want to ski a lot, but I'm going to do at least one other guys trip in the spring, so my skiing on the family trip is not nearly as important and making sure the rest of the family is super psyched about being in the mountains in Winter.  

 

Budget - sort of my last consideration, assuming I get my flights for free or close to it.  I'm willing to pay up for slopeside access and avoid being a pack-mule as much as possible.  And to keep cold, tired kids (and wife) off of trams and buses in the afternoon.  

 

Given all of the above, I'm sort of leaning Steamboat (or DV) due in large part to the logistics of getting there and the non-skiing amenities for the family requirements mentioned above.  Snowmass seems the equal in may things, with the possible exception of access.  With that said, while I don't necessarily mind popping for ski-in/ski-out at DV if the primary goal is getting the family psyched about the sport and mountains, that type of lodging at DV can get out of control expensive in a hurry.

 

So, help me out here - Steamboat?  What else am I missing that should be on the list?  Mammoth perhaps?  Something in Summit County?

 

Many thanks in advance to those of you who've been there and done that before me.

post #2 of 20
There's lots of slopeside accessible lodging at Snowmass and they have a great ski school for kids and adults. There's good bus service to shops in the Snowmass development and to downtown Aspen. I'm sure there's toddler daycare, but check with the resort.
post #3 of 20

I wouldn't put anything in Summit County on your list.  Snowmass or DV would be my picks.  Snowmass has a great ski school, and I have the impression that DV's is excellent as well.  Steamboat probably would be pretty good as well, although I think the Snowmass SS is better.

 

The reasons why not Summit County?  Crowds and elevation.  If you want everyone to have a good time and they are never evers, I'd go elsewhere.

 

Mike

post #4 of 20

I would be focusing on places where you could get a direct flight for kids that age.  Obviously, Salt Lake (Deer Valley) fits the bill.  I suspect there is also a direct flight or two to Vail/Eagle County which is close to Beaver Creek and reasonably close to Snowmass.  Not sure what flight options you have to Steamboat but that would be a good place for the kind of vacation you describe.  Northstar would be good if you have good options to Reno.

post #5 of 20

Deer Valley would be my pick. It is easy to get flights to SLC and it is a short drive to Park City from the airport. Deer Valley is highly rated for kids programs and Park City is a great ski town.

post #6 of 20

+1 on DV. The slopeside lodging there looks so nice--if you're willing to pay for it, I bet everyone would love it. And it's so ridiculously easy to get to, and so close to PC. I like Snowmass and don't mind the bus ride (either staying in Aspen and bussing there or vice-versa) but I know some people might feel like that's a hassle; your wife might not want to travel 10 miles into Aspen for her entertainment (if she really only wants a spa and cocktails, it's possible Snowmass village will keep her occupied, though).

 

Since you mentioned sleigh rides, note that a lot of resorts that offer these pull the sleigh with a fumes-spewing tractor. Steamboat does this. I'd check into the others if it's important.

post #7 of 20

Do you want a vacation or a trip for your wife?  If you accumulated all that airline mileage, you are either a consultant or a slave to a corporation (sales, engineering, law or whatever).  I’ve been there and done that.  This means your wife has spent time at home with the kids while you were entertaining clients.  Give her a night or two out on the town.  Make sure you have a babysitter.  Your resort can find you one, or you can find your own by asking at the ski school desk.   The young ladies working at the ski school desk often times are looking for extra spending $.  Georgia is not a community property state, but you don’t want to go anywhere near that subject.  Spend a romantic night out with your wife. 

 

All the larger resorts have on-site day care, with some giving the little kids (2-4) an hour on the snow.  Many ski-in/ski-out hotels also have day care available.  Check the web sites or call the resorts for details.

 

Beginners don’t need the largest or most expensive resorts since they are limited with the terrain they can ski.  Therefore, you should be more concerned with the location that will make your 4 or 5 days an exceptional experience.  The locations you mentioned will give you a great experience.  I’d choose Utah over Colorado only because of the younger kids.  It takes a lot longer to get through Denver International Airport than Salt Lake City International.  Flying in Aspen-Pitkin Airport?  That is another connection, with another kid who has to eat or go to the bathroom NOW!, another checked stroller, etc.

 

The Park City area has plenty of restaurants (fine dining and family oriented), shopping, museums, and activities for the kids (tubing, movies, train rides, etc.).  The Alf Engen Museum at the Olympic Park is a great place to visit after a day on the slopes.

 

Consider a condo rental, or a hotel-condo with a kitchen.  With younger kids of 2 and 4, it is usually easier to feed/dress/toilet/entertain them in the morning in a condo and not a restaurant. 

 

Don’t worry about the ski schools, since they are fine at any major resort.  They do a great job teaching never-evers and kids.  The instructors know when to take the kids in for hot chocolate, how to get one kid off the hill for a potty break, how to make sure they have fun, etc.  If you want to stay married, don’t even think of teaching your wife.  Let someone else do it.

 

Park City has three world-class resorts.  Deer Valley is considered #1 by a skiing publication because it knows how to cater to families like yours (Note: Many skiers on EPICSKI would likely rank resorts on other criteria).  Expect exceptional service from Deer Valley and the Canyons.  DV snow is ultra-groomed.  Park City Mountain Resort also has “walk to the lift” lodging with the advantage of being able to walk into Park City, making dining and shopping very convenient.  The Canyons is the largest or the three, with lots of luxury ski-in/ski-out and walk to the lift lodging (The Waldorf Astoria was ranked one of the top hotels in the country).  It will be a blast for you, but it also has the smallest amount of beginner terrain of the three resorts.  Any of the three will give you a great experience.

 

The roads to PC are well plowed.  The ride from the SLC airport will only be 35-45 minutes, depending upon which resort you choose.

 

Consider taking an early flight.  The younger kids may sleep part of the way, and you will get in early enough to rent equipment the day before you ski.

post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffB View Post

I'm in planning mode for a family trip in February, most likely to begin the Tues or Wed after President's weekend and last for 3-4 ski days.  Planning early because I want to use miles and points to help with airfare expense.

 

The numbers:  3 kids, ages 7, almost 4, and 2 and time of trip.  All never-evers, have only seen snow on the ground once or twice.  Wife is essentially a never-ever; I took her out to Big Mountain back before we had kids, her first ski trip, and she hasn't skied since.  Me: 6-10 days per year in west, advanced intermediate.  There may or may not be another family with similar stats coming on the trip with us.

 

Locations I've considered:  DV; Snowmass, Steamboat.  The last few years, I've done a guys trip to the PC area and have reasonable, gaper tourist knowledge of the area, thus DV was my first thought.  When I was a kid, our annual family trip was always at Snowmass, so I'm kinda familiar with its offerings, but it's been a long time since I was there.  Steamboat is because I was reading older posts and saw several people speaking in favor of it as a family destination.

 

A pretty good list.  The place that came to mind as missing is Northstar.  The drive from Reno is pretty straightforward.  Having a car makes for a more flexible vacation.  Northstar ski school starts at 3 and they have day care starting at 2.  Some ski schools start at 4.  One sign that Northstar caters to families is that there are wagons to help get kids and equipment from the parking lot.

 

http://www.northstarattahoe.com/info/ski/lessons-rentals/lessons-rental-kids-groups.asp 

 

The fact that Snowmass and Steamboat are a bit less accessible could be a plus for Pres. Day week.  Is Steamboat at a lower elevation than Snowmass?  Flying into Hayden is nice but of course weather could be an issue.

 

When my daughter was younger, I much preferred lodging with a kitchen if staying for more than a couple nights.  Usually meant more space too.  If you can find a good deal on a condo that would have a bedroom for the baby, seems like that would be nice.  Have you used VRBO before?

post #9 of 20

Never hit Snowmass or Northstar, heard both were good with families.  Heard too that Park City and Deer Valley were very good.  Been to both of them and they have many an accommodation to cater to the customer.   SLC is easy to get to.

 

I have a lot of family experience at Steamboat, so I can only give what I have experienced there.  As disclaimer, I would have readily considered any of the others but chose Steamboat via my bro-in-law, many comments may equally apply anywhere you go.  Steamboat has a great transportation system where one can run into downtown on free buses, management companies will shuttle you too and you can often nab a ride on a competitors bus  .... plus, everyone is just plain friendly.  Once we started taking kids, we opted to more slope side as it was far simpler to haul kids to and fro school while getting in ski time.  If it's just you, then this may not be a big issue but it was nice to ready kids and then walk  back to get ready for slopes. 

 

Steamboat has direct flights from Atlanta and I've met many a folk from your state.  We used to find a package deal direct from the resort for the simple fact that they offer other activity discounts in a package.  While your not too concerned with cost, if one picks up a 5/6 day adult, a child "ski's" free so if one moves up the mountain, will save costs. Most too have 5 and under free. They also offer 30% off on kids lessons if booked with "Steamboat Central".  Personally, I've found a M-F class where kids move as more as a class is nice as your kids would more hang with kids they've learned with, more a buddy thing, instructors will often be the same.  For school though, keep an eye on progress.  I think most resorts are very good but we noted a few yrs at the boat where our middle child languished, class size was a factor and a new instructor daily (hence the week class suggestion) didn't help.  This seems a passing issue which we haven't experienced lately.   There is daycare and like other resorts, have "parent" nights where you can dump the kids and head out for your own fun.  I'd double check the min age though, 2 yrs old is pretty young.  We were "bad" parents leaving kids until they could go to ski school, figured why bother if time with parents was limited.  

 

Altitude is a good point.  DV, PC and SB are lower.  Not certain on others.

post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks all for the responses.  Re: the boat, Delta has direct flights to Hayden, which is one reason it made the list.  Steamboat also has some package deals for reduced lodging and lift tickets if booked within the next few weeks, so that represents some savings on slopeslide lodging.  From Atlanta, Snowmass would require two planes or plane and bus/van/car . . .

 

quant - your points are well taken.  The goal is fun family vacation, especially for the wife, that the kids also enjoy.  Me getting to ski is the bonus.  My ski trip with the guys will occur a few weeks later and we'll be going back through SLC  

 

I'll take a look at Northstar.  I went to Heavenly a few years ago but don't know too much about Tahoe area.

 

And DV is still in the running.  I love PC in general and have skied several days at DV over the last few years, as well as PCMR, the Bird, Alta, and Snowbasin.  DV does seem like a great family place, but economoical it isn't.  Like I said before, budget is not the primary focus, but running some quick numbers, I think a 4 ski day slopeside family vacation there would be at least 30% more expensive than a comparable family trip to the Boat, and 40% more probably is not an unreasonable guess either.  For a first family trip with never evers, the extra expense of DV probably isn't worth it.  The kids aren't going to know the difference and Steamboat probably has everything the wife could want. 

 

Again, thanks to all.  Please don't be shy about firing out other suggestions.  I plan to book in the next couple weeks, certainly before Labor Day.   

post #11 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffB View Post

Thanks all for the responses.  Re: the boat, Delta has direct flights to Hayden, which is one reason it made the list. 

That could be huge. 

 

Elevation at Steamboat is a lung-friendly ~7000 - 10,500'.  If for some crazy reason...late Feb is also a fine time to visit New England for skiing, flying into Manchester NH, Burlington VT, or Albany NY.

 

Here's some family oriented reporting on a recent visit to Steamboat:

http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=1330&mode=rss

post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffB View Post

Thanks all for the responses.  Re: the boat, Delta has direct flights to Hayden, which is one reason it made the list.  Steamboat also has some package deals for reduced lodging and lift tickets if booked within the next few weeks, so that represents some savings on slopeslide lodging.  From Atlanta, Snowmass would require two planes or plane and bus/van/car . . .

 

quant - your points are well taken.  The goal is fun family vacation, especially for the wife, that the kids also enjoy.  Me getting to ski is the bonus.  My ski trip with the guys will occur a few weeks later and we'll be going back through SLC  

 

I'll take a look at Northstar.  I went to Heavenly a few years ago but don't know too much about Tahoe area.

 

And DV is still in the running.  I love PC in general and have skied several days at DV over the last few years, as well as PCMR, the Bird, Alta, and Snowbasin.  DV does seem like a great family place, but economoical it isn't.  Like I said before, budget is not the primary focus, but running some quick numbers, I think a 4 ski day slopeside family vacation there would be at least 30% more expensive than a comparable family trip to the Boat, and 40% more probably is not an unreasonable guess either.  For a first family trip with never evers, the extra expense of DV probably isn't worth it.  The kids aren't going to know the difference and Steamboat probably has everything the wife could want. 

 

Again, thanks to all.  Please don't be shy about firing out other suggestions.  I plan to book in the next couple weeks, certainly before Labor Day.   

Here's an argument for saving SLC for another time for the family . . . they would love DV and would want to return the next SLC trip.  Might make it a little harder to convince them that going to Snowbasin or LCC/BCC is really better in terms of skiing once they are past the groomer stage.  Besides, if you go to SLC and it dumps when you are there, can you really stay away from LCC? wink.gif

 

Northstar is quite different from Heavenly.  In general, North Tahoe is different than South Tahoe.  A lot more standard condo or resort development and big casinos in South Tahoe.  As an intermediate years ago, I skied at Heavenly, Northstar, and Homewood.  Haven't been back to Heavenly and don't feel like I'm missing anything.  Liked Northstar a couple years ago during a week in North Tahoe with friends (advanced and intermediate) that included Homewood, Sugar Bowl, Squaw, Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose.  Enjoyed all of them.  By then I was an advanced skier because of more days on the snow since my daughter started skiing 7 years ago.  One advantage that Northstar has is it's more protected when there are major storms.  We had two feet of fresh powder at Squaw.  The next day we were at Northstar.  Conditions were quite nice but they had a lot less snow.  That means Northstar is less likely to have lifts shut down during a storm.

 

A while back I found a book called "The Unofficial Guide to Skiing & Snowboarding in the West," published in 2003.  Authors include Lito Tejada-Flores and Claire Walter.  There are tables in the beginning that rate resorts for all sorts of characteristics.  May be a little out of date for places that have changed a lot since then, but the rating for family friendly items may still apply.  Northstar rates better for Ease of Orientation, Forgiveness, and Beginner/Novice Area Congestion compared to Steamboat and Snowmass.  Forgiveness means "Can a beginner or intermediate really get into a bind by taking a wrong turn, or is there usually an escape route?".

 

Note that Northstar has a two separate sections that are blue/black.  One on the backside and the other is relatively new and has tree runs.

 

Wherever you go, you will have a great time I'm sure.

post #13 of 20

What points do you have? That is the real question.

post #14 of 20

Of the areas you've mentioned, SLC seems the easiest to get in and out.  You might consider Brighton or Solitude as well, or Snowbasin.   Probably less crowded and less expensive than the Park City resorts.  While there may not be all the ammenities of PC at the resorts, your wife would have easy access to SLC or Ogden.

 

I think with small kids you want direct flights with no changes in airplanes. I don't know what direct flights there are to Hayden from Atlanta, but there are lots of direct flights to SLC on Delta. Have you also considered Stowe or another East Coast destination? It would probably take the same time to change planes in NY to connect to Burlington, as it would take to fly a non-stop to SLC. Either case you're 45 minutes away from the slopes. Someone correct me if I'm completely wrong.

 

And if you're willing to consider Reno, +1 for Northstar for family- friendly.

post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by DesiredUsername View Post

 

And if you're willing to consider Reno, +1 for Northstar for family- friendly.

 

Another vote for Northstar. There's enough variety for the crew you are taking. Going to Park City would give you two more choices besides Deer Valley but if you are only planning to ski for four days that's not so important. Since you want to be slopeside, The Village at Northstar is pretty cool, they have plenty of appropriate terrain, great ski school and not so far from Reno and the airport.

post #16 of 20

I haven't antied up to take my family out West yet.  When none of them can ski anything beyond an easy blue and local 5K mountains seem plenty big and beautiful to their frame of reference I don't see the point of going to all of the trouble to lug gear and people cross country on jets. Other than bigger and rockier the better Eastern resorts have pretty much everything that the Western ones offer at half the cost when we add in airfare and car rentals.

 

But, I know I would certainly enjoy a little me time at a higher elevation, larger vert drop venue whilst the others trudged around the magic carpets and play pens.  If you've got the funds go for it, but don't rule out the East.  The others won't notice the difference just yet.

post #17 of 20

Everyone has some great advice for you. One thing to think about, it wasn't mentioned and maybe it is already planned or is available. Have easy access to a pool for the kids. I mean walk down stairs, take elevator etc. no shuttle buses, walking 1/4 mi to get to one. Yeah I know it is a ski vacation but if you are lucky the 7 year old will ski some, hopefully the 4 year old will be able to slide around on the snow and be able to maneuver i.e. walk, step, get up with gear on, find a magic carpet and be able to go up and slide down in that area. Your wife: give her whatever she wants and give her space ,you take care of the kids at the end of the ski day. Good luck  your entire family skiing existence could be riding on this trip, they all have to have fun. Well maybe the 2 year old won't remember to much. My daughter doesn't remember when she was 2 and I let go of a leash I was using with her on a cat track at the base of the mountain and she got a bit ahead of me and went off the trail into the trees very slowly but still in the trees. I still have that memory, I also have a memory of her skiing zipper line bumps at Stowe 2 years ago so she still loves skiing. Have a great trip where ever you end up.

post #18 of 20

Good point about having a pool.  One of the reasons Massanutten is my home mountain is that my daughter loves to swim and play in water.  So having pools and waterpark as something else to do on a ski weekend is a major bonus.  The combination of skiing and swimming makes the 4-hour drive worth it for her.  We usually stay at a motel with an indoor pool on other trips too.

post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Here's an argument for saving SLC for another time for the family . . . they would love DV and would want to return the next SLC trip.  Might make it a little harder to convince them that going to Snowbasin or LCC/BCC is really better in terms of skiing once they are past the groomer stage.  Besides, if you go to SLC and it dumps when you are there, can you really stay away from LCC? ....

 

Or, he could bring them over to Alta for a day. The area off the Albion, Sunnyside, and Cecret lifts is probably the nicest beginner area I've ever seen. I bet they'd love the wide open, mellow terrain and the stunningly beautiful scenery that surrounds them.

post #20 of 20

jeffb

 

what's the current status?

 

from a family perspective, our big first preferences are:  Slope side, Pools, activities ...

 

Some years we swap these about but the big thing for us is being able to drop off the kids and still not have to take a shuttle 5-10min just in case.   I will readily say that depending on the resort and the place of rental, one can trust the company to have a desk person who can help in case of an issue, but we have relied too on our child's age.  Our eldest was very very mature at 10 yrs, at 12 ... we knew she could do CPR, stay calm in an emergency and be reliable to call or get the desk help ... which drove us to what complex we stayed at.  

 

Anyhow, if your kids are young, 7, 4 and 2, then slope side is worth the extra cash.   but remember, if the resort has a "night care" besides day care ... it too is worthy.   Note the recommendation to leave the 2 yr old at home..... I love our Daughter, but at 2, she really is simply extra weight that between ticketing and care, may as well stay home.  Yes, you'll miss them but ... there is really a big offset.  A vacation is to be just that ... to get away and forget the daily grind which sadly, however sweet and loved your 2yr old is ... unless you are ok with offsetting time with your child.  We've had no issue with the extra cost when the kids got older, but haven't regretted leaving our 2 yr old (or 4yr if just shy of classes) home with family as to enjoy the time with everyone else.

 

So, my recommendation remains that you consider if there is benefit to taking the youngest, maybe the 4yr old.  what the Ski School offers and of course, regardless of the above, the location.  We loved the slopeside and until our kids get older (say 16 or so) where in town may be ok.  We default to minutes from slope to hotel ...... and what the hotel (or condo, or hostel,etc) offers from a coverage perspective.

 

pete

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