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Best value Mid-Atlantic resort?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

"...for a family" the title should read.

I "used to be" an advanced skier, but unfortunately, haven't skied in 10 years, and my gear is seriously outdated.  Now married, with a 2-year old and almost 4-year old.  Want to go somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic for a 3-4 day trip.  Looking for the best overall value in regards to the mountain, lodging, equipment rental, kid-friendly (snow tubes), possibly child care (some I've seen have it). I'm going to start my research, but wouldn't mind some input from those of you familiar with the area.

 

Some I'm going to check out are Timberline, Canaan Valley, Whitetail, Liberty, and Snowshoe.

 

Thank you.

post #2 of 18

Welcome to Epicski.  You will have a hard time beating Canaan Valley Lodge and Ski Area.  Look at deals for staying in the CV State Park Lodge or cabins and ride their shuttle to the slopes.  Nearby Timberline Ski Area could be good for "dad's day out" on more advanced terrain.  Blue Knob, PA might be a consideration and Bryce, VA too for gentle slopes.  Snowshoe and Seven Springs are much more resortsy, but a considerable step up in cost.  Are you familiar with DCSki.com?  Lots of info there on mid-Atlantic skiing.

FLY NAVY

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks James.  Just found DCSki last night!  Going to sort through some of that info when I get the kids down for a nap.  

post #4 of 18

Dave,

 

I will second James' advice on Canaan Valley as a good value destination for a Mid Atlantic ski trip.  I know they were doing a bunch of renovations on the ski hill, including some changes to update their tubing area, so you may want to check that the these changes were done and the tubing is open before booking your trip.  As James also said, Timberline next door provides some more advanced skiing if you need to get away from the kids for some time.  Nearby Davis and Thomas have some neat restaurants and shops as well for your time away from the hill.

 

Another area to consider would be Wisp in Maryland as they have onsite lodging and children's activities along with a nice ski hill.  Not as inexpensive as Canaan Valley, but a fun place for a couple of days.

 

Snowshoe has some great terrain and I'm sure also has stuff for small children as well, however I wouldn't consider them a value destination.  They are owned by Intrawest and are considered a premier ski destination for the Mid Atlantic with the prices to go with it.

 

Whitetail and Liberty are nice, close to DC ski areas for day trips, but are not places I would suggest for a 3 to 4 day trip.  Both places do have tubing hills and Liberty even has a small hotel, but the ski hill likely won't hold your interest for a 3 to 4 day trip. If you want to do some day trips to Whitetail or Liberty, their Advantage card program can save you a lot of money as lift ticket prices there can give you some sticker shock, especially if you haven't skied in awhile.  Unfortunately early season pricing for the Advantage card just ended, however if you go to a local ski swap, there is usually a Snow Time representative (Liberty, Whitetail and Roundtop), that will sell you an advantage card at the swap for $5 dollars off early season pricing.  Ski Chalet in Chantilly VA is having a ski swap this weekend and I saw a Snow Time representative there this morning.  

post #5 of 18

A lot depends on what time of you're looking to the season and how the weather patterns hold.  Canaan/Timberline is a good choice but if you stay at Canaan as Jamej said, you will drive or shuttle to the State owned ski area and drive to Timberline, although it is only about a 10 minutes or so away. Base facilities are basic at Timberline. No tubing hill ther but they do have a good ski schoolI've never skied Canaan nor can I speak to their base facilities but as MephitBlue said they are renovating but as of last week they are buried under three feet of snow no doubt bring outside construction to a halt. Follow the news from locals on DCSki.com for the latest.

 

Blue Knob could be a good choice but service there are even more spartan and resort owned hosing also requires a shuttle and the tubing hill is removed from the ski hill and lodging. If your focus is skiing and mother nature has been kind, Blue Knob's varied terrain will keep you all interested. They have a dedicated beginner's area with a constant pitch just right for learning and it is serviced by its own triple chair that is seldom crowded. After that Mambo Alley awaits. There the challenge ticks up a notch but still good for budding novice. Blue Knob need a nice stretch of cold weather for their snowmaking to get everything covered, that or a good dump of natural snow.

 

Seven Spring has all that you're looking for except perhaps the price point you seek. If you stay at the hotel, you walk to the lifts, check your skis at one of two ski checks at the main lodge closet to the slopes. The tubing hill is nearby and the ski school has a dedicated children's program with separate facilities for indoor activities. Seven Spring has a very good snowmaking system so good coverage on 250+ acres is all but assured. The terrain is a good mix from beginner to upper Intermediate, nothing too steep but there is a dedicated bump run, Goosebumps, on the front side and the North Face has the longer, steeper runs. You'll even find a few glades tucked between the trails. The base facilities have everything you need, numerous restaurants, game rooms, mini golf, bowling, indoor pool. Once you park your car you will not have to use it for your entire stay unless you want to visit other attractions in the area.

post #6 of 18
I agree with all of the above comments from my fellow Mid-A skiers. Canaan/T-line is probably the best value and amenities overall. Seven Springs has everything you are seeking but will be more expensive. Remember to look for offsite ski rental options as they will most likely save you some money and allow you to skip the long rental lines at the resort. Non-hotel, i.e. condo or house, accommodations could also be cheaper and will allow you to cook some meals rather than eating out the entire time.

Mike.
Edited by MikeC - 11/10/12 at 2:42pm
post #7 of 18

Wintergreen VA, Sugar Mountain NC, and Beech Mountain NC are all good options if you'd prefer to travel south instead of north.  They all offer decent vert with great ski school and kids day programs.  You could hit both Beech and Sugar in the same weekend as they are just a couple peaks away from one another.  Both are also above 5,000 feet elevation, higher than anything else lift served on the East Coast.

 

Appalachian has a great ski school and nursery as well, ice skating, but I don't think they have tubing.  Close to Beech and Sugar, but smaller and closer to town.

 

Just my local suggestions.  The other places mentioned are also great.


Edited by crgildart - 11/10/12 at 2:50pm
post #8 of 18

Welcome to Epic Ski. Some good info on this thread so far (from some good folks - I've skied with 'em all.)

 

I'm the Epic Ambassador for Timberline and Canaan Valley, so I can answer a lot of specific questions on those two areas. Caveat on Canaan Valley; they've been doing a lot of base area construction and this recent snowstorm has put it further behind schedule. I need to get some more info on this.

 

I have a some questions for you.

1) What days of the week are you thinking about for your 3-4 day trip? Obviously, all mid-week will save you a lot money.

2) What time of year? As an FYI, there are no real values for Xmas, NYE, MLK and President's weekend.

3) How important are off-slope ammenities to your group/family (such as shopping, non-skiing sports, dining, touristy stuff, etc.)

4) Your kids are young, so I assume typical kids activities such as arcades, etc. are not on the radar (but snow tubing or sledding is)?

5) How important is ski-in/ski-out or lodging proximity to the slopes? (since you have young kids and may need to check on them frequently if you have a sitter or swap out spouses for child care)

6) Are you looking more for a resorty/Disney World type of experience or real rustic? Dining out or cooking in? Hotel or house?

 

I'll toss out one more area to consider: Hidden Valley in PA, near Seven Springs.
 

post #9 of 18

The more I think about it, with 2 and 4 year olds, I think child-care convenience is probably more important than the area you are skiing at. But YMMV. I've got no kids myself, but have traveled a plenty with nieces/nephews and other random kids who tagged along.

post #10 of 18

Here's what I do. Get a mid-week ski-in/ski-out 3-bedroom chalet at Blue Knob. Bring a set of grandparents along to watch your kids (use the bond with your grandchildren angle.)  Have snowball fights with your kids in the backyard, bring some sled/saucers, and some booze for the grandparents. Blue Knob has tubing. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at your chalet. For convenience and value (and some pretty decent skiing if the conditions are good), you can't beat that. (Car with decent snow traction is required, since Blue Knob is an upside down area.)


Edited by JohnL - 11/10/12 at 4:11pm
post #11 of 18

Welcome to EpicSki!  All good advice.  You are quite a few choices starting in DC for a good family ski weekend.

 

Here's another possibility to consider.  Massanutten is 2.0-2.5 hours from DC, depending on how far from the beltway and I-66 you start, assuming you don't travel during rush hour.  Except for the blizzards of the 2009-10 season, I've never had to worry about driving on snow.  Mnut is a bit different from the WV ski areas because it's become a large 4-season timeshare resort.  Winter is not as busy as summer, so there are ways to rent condo units.  The ski hill has been around 40 years and has a couple black runs at the top of the mountain with 850 vert and no lift line on weekends, even holiday weekends.  There is an accredited daycare on resort.  I think the snow tubing min height is 36 inches.  If you stay on resort, you get free access to a couple indoor pools in the rec centers.  Unfortunately, ski in/out is not that easy to get.  A variety of motel options 20 min away in Harrisonburg.

 

For skiing, the Mnut ski school is a great way to start kids.  But must be 4 years old.  My daughter started at 4 and was ready for Alta blue groomers by age 7. We went to Mnut 2-3 weekends a season those three years.  I like the beginner areas of Mnut far better than what is available at Wintergreen.  That's one reason I drive an extra 45 min from Raleigh.  Another factor is that my daughter, now 12, loves the indoor water park as much as the skiing.

 

I would not recommend Snowshoe since your kids are still pretty young.  Not worth the drive time IMHO.

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Wow, thank you all so much for the advice and insight into the Mid-Atlantic areas.  I would love to go in Dec, but realistically with so much going on, Jan or Feb would be more likely.  My oldest will just be turning 4 in early Jan.  As for me, I haven't skied in 10 years, so I'm not going to be looking for anything too crazy.  Just some good family time is what I'm really after.  If I can convince my wife to take time off during the week, I would prefer the lack of crowds.  (What good is vacation time if you don't use vacation time right?).  I grew up skiing in the NorthEast at places like Loon/Gunstock/Waterville Valley etc. etc.  How different is it down here?  

 

I'm sure I could agree to get my mother to come with us and watch the kids too; she'd be happy to just hang out in the base lodge and people watch.

 

 

1) What days of the week are you thinking about for your 3-4 day trip? Obviously, all mid-week will save you a lot money.

Weekday if I can convince the spouse unit; otherwise probably over a weekend.

 

2) What time of year? As an FYI, there are no real values for Xmas, NYE, MLK and President's weekend.

Jan/Feb timeframe is what I would be looking at.  We need a vacation soon.  And I'm not talking "Go drive 8 hours to see family" vacation!

 

3) How important are off-slope ammenities to your group/family (such as shopping, non-skiing sports, dining, touristy stuff, etc.)

Somewhat.  I don't want to be stuck in a log cabin with the kids for 4 days. ;)

 

4) Your kids are young, so I assume typical kids activities such as arcades, etc. are not on the radar (but snow tubing or sledding is)?

You would be correct.

 

5) How important is ski-in/ski-out or lodging proximity to the slopes? (since you have young kids and may need to check on them frequently if you have a sitter or swap out spouses for child care)

I hadn't thought about that really.

 

6) Are you looking more for a resorty/Disney World type of experience or real rustic? Dining out or cooking in? Hotel or house?

Nothing too over-the-top Disney-ish; I assume that brings bigger crowds and bigger prices.  Really just want to get away with the family and have a good time.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
I grew up skiing in the NorthEast at places like Loon/Gunstock/Waterville Valley etc. etc.  How different is it down here?  

 

I think you will find a lot of the black diamond rated slopes would be blue rated slopes at the areas you mentioned.  Any double black diamond slopes would likely be a single diamond up North.  There is less natural snow, so you will likely be skiing on man made snow.  The WV ski areas along with Wisp, Blue Knob and Seven Springs do get blessed with enough natural snow to ski a little bit of powder and do some glade skiing, but don't go expecting natural snow.  And of course, the mountains in the area are smaller.  Timberline and Blue Knob are at the tops at 1000 ft vertical and the rest go down from there.  

 

3) How important are off-slope ammenities to your group/family (such as shopping, non-skiing sports, dining, touristy stuff, etc.)

Somewhat.  I don't want to be stuck in a log cabin with the kids for 4 days. ;)

 

Seven Springs has a lot of activities at the resort. If you want a place where everything is right there, then Seven Springs should go near the top of your list.  Wintergreen has some nice amenities right at the resort as well, but I think they have less than Seven Springs. If you and your wife enjoy antique, art galleries and some funky stores along with interesting (not expensive) restaurants, then Canaan Valley/Timberline may work for you.  You will need to drive for a bit, but the nearby towns of Davis and Thomas have at least one day's worth of interesting shops and restaurants to explore.  My wife and I have actually fallen in love with a place in Thomas called the Purple Fiddle that serves food/coffee and has really good music at night.  There music tends towards the "newgrass" blending or rock and bluegrass genre.  I didn't think I'd like the music, but found the two bands we've seen there so far amazingly good.  Canaan Valley does have a lodge with a dining area and a bar, but there isn't much right at the resort at Canaan Valley/Timberline.  You will need to drive 10 to 15 miles away for the shops.

 

I would take Blue Knob out of consideration as there isn't much other than skiing at the area and there is almost nothing around locally either.

post #14 of 18

One reason I enjoy doing laps at Massanutten is that it has 1100 ft vertical, with about 850 ft for the two black runs off Lift 6 at the top of the mountain.  One difference between Mnut and Wintergreen is that all trails are lit for night skiing.  The Highlands at Wintergreen is a separate area for advanced skiers but it closes at 4pm.  Also Wintergreen is a top-down set up so you have to take the main lift to get back to the parking lot and that can have a pretty long line on weekends.  The Highlands are great mid-week though.

 

If you pay a multi-day lift ticket at Mnut, then night skiing on all days is included.  That means if you wanted to pop over for an hour after the kids are in bed, it's possible.

post #15 of 18

Seven Springs Sun-Thu packages are unbeatable.  Book a "family queen" and it will cost $235/ nite ($117.50 PP).  If you snag an internet special, this will only cost you $100 PP (double occupancy).  This is a two room suite, one queen per room, with a shared bath.  The room rate buys you and your wife  evening skiing on the day of arrival, plus all day skiing for each day of your stay.  The package also includes access to the breakfast buffet - about the best you'll ever find.  If you check in on a Sunday afternoon for a two night stay, you'll receive $145 in lift ticket value (each), and $30 in breakfast value (each). 

 

Seven Springs will always outclass all the other mid-atlantic resorts for open terrain,   an important consideration for early season skiing. 

post #16 of 18

I will second what marznc has said. We went to Massanutten for spring break March 2011 and had a blast. I was looking for cheap accommodations with lots of activities for the kids and a hill with a min of 1000ft vertical. We stayed at Woodstone which is one of many lodging options at Massanutten. The room was absolutely gorgeous. Nicest room my family and I have ever stayed in. It cost us $298 for the week Sat to Sat. Massanutten also has 2 indoor pools, a water park, snow tubing ect.. We also visited Shenandoah Caverns, we did an over nighter in Washington DC and visited the Smithsonian and the following day the Washington Zoo. Everything in Washington is free, even for Canadians like us. Harrisonburgh is an easy 15min from the hill, has a population around 80000 and has all the amenities anyone could ask for. Last year we went to Florida and the kids preferred Massanutten to Florida and skiing is not even their favorit sport, so in my opinion that says a lot about the Massanutten area.

post #17 of 18

Massanutten is a miserable place to ski, unless you catch it at the end of a cold snap.  Then you have to deal with redneck nutbags who ski out of control wearing blue jeans and hunting jackets. It is a "time share" community, which if someone offers you a chance to stay there cheap, you'll probably have to sit through one of their "90 minute" sales pitches that will tie you up for 5-6 hours.  

 

Aside from Snowshoe, all the other resorts are day-trip only.  Canaan and Timberline are adjacant day trip spots, so you may get some enjoyment hitting both spots in one trip, but neither have the amenities that would entertain a family over several days.

 

Snowshoe is the only place on your list that qualifies as a "destination" resort, but that destination takes a good 6 hours to reach, and is very expensive to stay at.  Please give another look to Seven Springs as a viable candidate. It has all the amenities you woud want for your young family, including day care for the 2yo (there is a ski program for the 4yo).

post #18 of 18

Different strokes for different folks.  As a parent of a tween and someone who's owned timeshare for years, Massanutten is the perfect place for us.  There are plenty of alternatives for lodging besides a "free weekend" that requires a timeshare presentation.  As with any place, it helps to know what it's strengths and weaknesses are.  The flip side of being a time share resort is that the amenities are pretty nice, including an indoor water park.  But definitely not the best place for a family on a tight budget.  There is no reason to call a place "miserable."

 

We only ski on weekends when school is going on.  There is never a line on Lift 6, even on holiday weekends.  I'm an advanced skier who can ski blacks out west.  I can have fun at Mnut and get ready for trips to Alta, Big Sky, or wherever.  Plenty of families with young kids enjoy the place as well.  Having conveyor loading for both of the lower lifts and a great ski school makes the slopes very family friendly.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moysian View Post

Massanutten is a miserable place to ski, unless you catch it at the end of a cold snap.  Then you have to deal with redneck nutbags who ski out of control wearing blue jeans and hunting jackets. It is a "time share" community, which if someone offers you a chance to stay there cheap, you'll probably have to sit through one of their "90 minute" sales pitches that will tie you up for 5-6 hours.  

 

Aside from Snowshoe, all the other resorts are day-trip only.  Canaan and Timberline are adjacant day trip spots, so you may get some enjoyment hitting both spots in one trip, but neither have the amenities that would entertain a family over several days.

 

Snowshoe is the only place on your list that qualifies as a "destination" resort, but that destination takes a good 6 hours to reach, and is very expensive to stay at.  Please give another look to Seven Springs as a viable candidate. It has all the amenities you woud want for your young family, including day care for the 2yo (there is a ski program for the 4yo).

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