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First Family Trip Out West... advice needed

post #1 of 67
Thread Starter 
I'm looking to plan my first family trip out West, either Colorado or Utah. I've been to Salt Lake and Park City on a business trip, didn't get to ski, but noticed the convenience of flying into SLC and driving to Park City. I've also been to Denver on business and heard stories of the long drives to ski areas and occasional road closures. I say all that to ask, if you were taking your family out West where would you go? Here are some details about us:
1. Wife doesn't ski, but my son, daughter, and I do.
2. Son is 10/yo, daughter is 7/yo
3. We ski 25-35 days per year in NC.
4. Son snowboards, Daughter and I ski.
5. They are comfortable on black diamonds, but daughter prefers the blues still.
6. Wife will need some nearby areas for retail therapy while we ski.
7. We want a "ski village" type feel.
8. We desire a fun, lively, energetic atmosphere.

Thank you in advance for any insight. Also, a recommendation of travel agent and/or accommodations is greatly appreciated.

All the best,
Kd[IMG]
post #2 of 67
Park City. It has everything on your list of wants. Also, you don't need to rent a car to get to Park City from SLC airport; you can book a shuttle that will take you to your lodging and the city has an excellent bus transit system that makes getting around easy.
post #3 of 67
An idea of budget could be helpful. But Park City is a good bet. Great town, elevation is moderate. Lots and lots of terrain. Lots of blues and blacks.

The key is to stay at a hotel which is walk to lifts. Marriott Summit Watch is a great hotel selection.
post #4 of 67

I also recommend Park City but it is a bit pricey.  but it seems to check all the boxes for you.  And its great skiing.  Spending this weekend there with the family.

post #5 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post

I'm looking to plan my first family trip out West, either Colorado or Utah. I've been to Salt Lake and Park City on a business trip, didn't get to ski, but noticed the convenience of flying into SLC and driving to Park City. I've also been to Denver on business and heard stories of the long drives to ski areas and occasional road closures. I say all that to ask, if you were taking your family out West where would you go? Here are some details about us:
1. Wife doesn't ski, but my son, daughter, and I do.
2. Son is 10/yo, daughter is 7/yo
3. We ski 25-35 days per year in NC.
4. Son snowboards, Daughter and I ski.
5. They are comfortable on black diamonds, but daughter prefers the blues still.
6. Wife will need some nearby areas for retail therapy while we ski.
7. We want a "ski village" type feel.
8. We desire a fun, lively, energetic atmosphere.

Thank you in advance for any insight. Also, a recommendation of travel agent and/or accommodations is greatly appreciated.
 

 

Welcome to EpicSki!  Always fun to "meet" someone from NC.  I'm in Raleigh but ski at Massanutten in the southeast.  Where do you ski the most locally?

 

The high budget approach would be flying to ASE and staying in Aspen or Snowmass.  Great skiing, not much worry about crowds even during school holidays, plenty of shopping.  Remember, I said "high budget". ;)

 

Park City includes a town that easy to walk around.  SLC is my go to airport for great skiing at more than one destination resort within easy driving or shuttle distance of an airport that doesn't get shut down for snow.  My favorite ski resort is Alta.  Spoiled my daughter with stays at Alta Lodge.  Great for skiers, not good for non-skiers.

 

What do you know about Steamboat?  One advantage is lower elevation, which can be helpful when flying from the southeast.  Fly into Hayden, not Denver.  A real western town.  Hot springs are worth checking out.

post #6 of 67
Aspen/Snowmass. With planning, you can do it reasonsbly. Stay in Snowmass and have easy bus ride to Aspen. Aspen much more fun for non skiing spouse.
post #7 of 67

In Park City there are two (formerly three) resorts all surrounding the city and the city shuttle stops at all three. Deer Valley is the more upscale resort and is known for their food, service, and groomers. Park City Mountain Resort incorporated The Canyons Resort a couple of years ago and is now one gigantic place. Personally I enjoy the terrain at the former Canyons area the most. If you guys are going to be there for a few days you could ski all three without needing a car.

 

If you guys decide to rent a car you could go to Brighton, where I also have had a lot of fun. It's less than an hour away from Park City if my memory is correct. It's a more affordable mom and pop type resort with fun terrain but there's not really anything there for a non-skier to do.

 

Alta and Snowbird were my favorite UT resorts but it's more advanced terrain than Park City.

post #8 of 67
Stay in Kimball Junction... Wifey can take the free convenient shuttle into downtown Park City while you and the kids commute to the Cottonwoods where the real skiing is.
post #9 of 67

Aspen Snowmass is a fantastic family mountain...  And Aspen  certainly has plenty of shopping...

post #10 of 67
It's not Colorado or Utah but Whistler is a blast and the exchange rate is still in our favor right now.
post #11 of 67

If you are going over a Holiday period, to beat the crowds Aspen/Snowmass or Sun Valley. Great places WORLD CLASS shopping, lots to do and very cool towns.  

 

If it is Non-Holiday, those places and add Park City, Breckenridge,  and Vail to the mix. The same attributes but more susceptible to Holiday crowds. 

 

There are a lot more resorts out there, but these are some of the best ski towns in the West. It just comes down to what you want, when your are going, how long you will be there, and are willing to spend. 

post #12 of 67
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm surprised to hear so many people recommend Aspen. I'll definitely pursue that avenue. I also had a customer of mine to recommend Steamboat and Beaver Creek. Any insight on those two? Thanks again for your feedback. It's overwhelming trying to plan this for the first time. Someone asked about budget, I don't want to break the bank, but will definitely pay more if I get a better return on my money as a result.
post #13 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post

I don't want to break the bank, but will definitely pay more if I get a better return on my money as a result.

Don't go to Aspen then. While the skiing may not break completely the bank, but the shopping definitely will. Unless your wife is into shopping with the 1% crowd (or more like 0.01%) she won't have a lot of options.
post #14 of 67

I think with younger kids, easy travel and easy access to the slopes is paramount.  SLC rules for that in my opinion.  We skied there 9 years in a row starting with four kids between 8 and 4 (two families!).  No long drives from the airport or staying where you have have an elaborate journey to the slopes.  They get tired enough ...

We stayed at Solitude which I recommend very highly - great condos, wonderful pool and hot tubs, always quiet, good for moving up blue skier like your daughter, easy five minute bus ride up the road for a day at Brighton.  As the kids got older, we stayed in Cottonwood the last night to get in a day at Alta too.

Cottonwood Canyons do not offer anything in the way of retail therapy though:-)  Now I am also a non-skiing mother I can appreciate the need for some diversion.

For that reason I would say slopeside or right by the slopes in Park City is idea.

(The last four years we have shifted to Taos - great steeps which the now older kids love, gorgeous scenery, we stay in town and drive up every day,  enjoy the great ambience and walking easily to eat out in the evening, excellent for non-skiing parent for many reasons - but I can't imagine having done it like this with younger kids.)


Edited by Texastrips - 1/11/17 at 6:34am
post #15 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

Don't go to Aspen then. While the skiing may not break completely the bank, but the shopping definitely will. Unless your wife is into shopping with the 1% crowd (or more like 0.01%) she won't have a lot of options.

Thanks so much for that advice.
post #16 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Texastrips View Post

I think we younger kids, easy travel and easy access to the slopes is paramount.  SLC rules for that in my opinion.  We skied there 9 years in a row starting with four kids between 8 and 4 (two families!).  No long drives from the airport or staying where you have have an elaborate journey to the slopes.  They get tired enough ...
We stayed at Solitude which I recommend very highly - great condos, wonderful pool and hot tubs, always quiet, good for moving up blue skier like your daughter, easy five minute bus ride up the road for a day at Brighton.  As the kids got older, we stayed in Cottonwood the last night to get in a day at Alta too.
Cottonwood Canyons do not offer anything in the way of retail therapy tough:-)  Now I am also a non-skiing mother I can appreciate the need for some diversion.
For that reason I would say slopeside or right by the slopes in Park City is idea.
(The last four years we have shifted to Taos - great steeps which the now older kids love, gorgeous scenery, we stay in town and drive up every day,  enjoy the great ambience and walking easily to eat out in the evening, excellent for non-skiing parent for many reasons - but I can't imagine having done it like this with younger kids.)

Great advice. Thanks so much. Should I use a travel agent?
post #17 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post

Great advice. Thanks so much. Should I use a travel agent?

I'd check out Vacation Rentals By Owner... VRBO.com... Not too many people use travel agents for ski trips these days.

One thing to note about park city is most runs are only 1000-1500ft vertical. If you're looking for 2000ft plus runs all over the mountain, you might be a bit disappointed. If that were the case, I'd sacrifice an extra hour of driving and a few extra $$$ and go to Vail.
post #18 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post

Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm surprised to hear so many people recommend Aspen. I'll definitely pursue that avenue. I also had a customer of mine to recommend Steamboat and Beaver Creek. Any insight on those two? Thanks again for your feedback. It's overwhelming trying to plan this for the first time. Someone asked about budget, I don't want to break the bank, but will definitely pay more if I get a better return on my money as a result.


When it comes to comparing the total cost, some factors to consider:

 

*  travel costs for flight PLUS shuttle or rental car

*  slopeside lodging comes at a premium

*  Does the resort area have free buses?  Meaning no rental car required

*  eating in a condo is obviously cheaper than eating out

 

For example, flying into ASE and staying at Snowmass does not require a rental car.  In fact, having one is a pain because of the way parking works in the area.  The free bus system is very effective.  Walking around the town of Aspen is the only way to get around.

 

I added some tag links (under Topics Discussed in Desktop mode) for related resorts and airports.  When you get to an EpicSki Resort Page, scroll to the bottom for the list of related threads.

 

After a little more research, feel free to ask questions that are specific to your situation.  Everyone has different priorities.  There is no right or wrong answer.

post #19 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post

Great advice. Thanks so much. Should I use a travel agent?

I'd check out Vacation Rentals By Owner... VRBO.com... Not too many people use travel agents for ski trips these days.

One thing to note about park city is most runs are only 1000-1500ft vertical. If you're looking for 2000ft plus runs all over the mountain, you might be a bit disappointed. If that were the case, I'd sacrifice an extra hour of driving and a few extra $$$ and go to Vail.


It can be worth seeing what kind of package deal a resort has to offer.  The main advantage is getting a discount on lift tickets and sometimes lessons as well.

post #20 of 67

Add me as another person recommending that you consider Steamboat in your comparisons. Flying into Hayden and taking the Go Alpine shuttle into Steamboat is very convenient (it's 25 miles or 35 minutes to the mountain). The town is a real mountain town, very friendly people, good shopping and great restaurants. More importantly, I think Steamboat does a great job with families. They always have kids ski free promotions going on, and some rental places will have the same promotions as well. Their ski school I would put up against anyone's for children and the base area is terrific when you have children - thinking of even the smallest things to help like the red wagons for moving your gear (and children) around.

 

Definitely give Steamboat a look on your next trip and price it out - it's an awesome place and loaded with awesome blue runs and the absolute best tree skiing you will find for any skill level.

post #21 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

Stay in Kimball Junction... Wifey can take the free convenient shuttle into downtown Park City while you and the kids commute to the Cottonwoods where the real skiing is.

 

Terrible advice.  Kimball Junction's an outlet mall that looks like every other mall in America and then your going to have the guy drive an hour to the Cottonwoods every day.

 

 

Not a ski village or a fun, lively, energetic atmosphere.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post


Don't go to Aspen then. While the skiing may not break completely the bank, but the shopping definitely will. Unless your wife is into shopping with the 1% crowd (or more like 0.01%) she won't have a lot of options.

 

  Not accurate at all.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Texastrips View Post
 

I think with younger kids, easy travel and easy access to the slopes is paramount.

 

This is true.  But I doubt there are any directs to SLC from NC.  If you have to make a connection, that opens up a bunch of other, less urban resorts.

 

I think a lot of resorts would meet your criteria.  My only advice would be to avoid any VR resorts, at least until they buy your home mountain. 

The Epic Pass is a great deal for people that use it a lot.  But for a one week a year destination skier, there are much better options.

post #22 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Welcome to EpicSki!  Always fun to "meet" someone from NC.  I'm in Raleigh but ski at Massanutten in the southeast.  Where do you ski the most locally?

Hi there, we are in Winston-Salem and buy annual ski passes to Appalachian Ski Mountain. Great little ski area, very family friendly and it's been a great place for my kids to learn over the past three seasons. I'm only 1.5 hours from driveway to parking lot. I just looked up Massanutten as I've not heard of it before. Looks fantastic. Will definitely check it out this season.
post #23 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwagon View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Welcome to EpicSki!  Always fun to "meet" someone from NC.  I'm in Raleigh but ski at Massanutten in the southeast.  Where do you ski the most locally?

Hi there, we are in Winston-Salem and buy annual ski passes to Appalachian Ski Mountain. Great little ski area, very family friendly and it's been a great place for my kids to learn over the past three seasons. I'm only 1.5 hours from driveway to parking lot. I just looked up Massanutten as I've not heard of it before. Looks fantastic. Will definitely check it out this season.


Ah, don't get me started on why Massanutten is my home mountain over Sugar or Beech.  Definitely better than Wintergreen on weekends.  I'll be up there with friends and their kids for MLK weekend.  Skiing off Lift 6 with no lift line per usual.

 

App is definitely a great place to learn.

 

FYI, my daughter learned from the Massanutten ski school starting at age 4.  I took her to Alta to meet up with friends during late season when she was 7.  By then she was skiing blacks in the southeast.  She was skiing the easy blues at Alta after one day of ski school.

post #24 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

 

[snip] But I doubt there are any directs to SLC from NC.  If you have to make a connection, that opens up a bunch of other, less urban resorts.

 

I think a lot of resorts would meet your criteria.  My only advice would be to avoid any VR resorts, at least until they buy your home mountain. 

The Epic Pass is a great deal for people that use it a lot.  But for a one week a year destination skier, there are much better options.

Delta did create a direct flight from RDU to SLC.  However, still can make more sense to fly Southwest for the flexibility in changing dates even though that requires changing planes.  Even if changing in Chicago at MDW, that beats going anywhere near O'Hare.  There are early morning flights that arrive by 11:30am, so quite possible to get in a little skiing the first afternoon.

 

Flying out of Greensboro (closest airport to W-S where the OP lives), definitely means changing planes for a trip out west.

post #25 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post


Ah, don't get me started on why Massanutten is my home mountain over Sugar or Beech.  Definitely better than Wintergreen on weekends.  I'll be up there with friends and their kids for MLK weekend.  Skiing off Lift 6 with no lift line per usual.

App is definitely a great place to learn.

FYI, my daughter learned from the Massanutten ski school starting at age 4.  I took her to Alta to meet up with friends during late season when she was 7.  By then she was skiing blacks in the southeast.  She was skiing the easy blues at Alta after one day of ski school.

My kids are skiing/boarding the blacks at App and Sugar. I have no concerns they will do great out West. My kids learned from the French Swiss Ski College at App. In fact, my daughter is in here first race season as part of the FSSC.
post #26 of 67
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post

Delta did create a direct flight from RDU to SLC.  However, still can make more sense to fly Southwest for the flexibility in changing dates even though that requires changing planes.  Even if changing in Chicago at MDW, that beats going anywhere near O'Hare.  There are early morning flights that arrive by 11:30am, so quite possible to get in a little skiing the first afternoon.

Flying out of Greensboro (closest airport to W-S where the OP lives), definitely means changing planes for a trip out west.

Thanks for the insight. I am equal distance from Raleigh and Charlotte airports. Greensboro is closest, but typically connects through Charlotte. It's easier to just drive to Charlotte or Raleigh. I flew to SLC direct on American a while back and if I remember correctly it was an early arrival.
post #27 of 67

I see Deer Valley and Alta get thrown around in the discussion.  Don't forget the OP's son is a boarder.  Verboten at those two resorts.

 

Park City hits all your targets, skiwagon.  Good luck with your planning.

post #28 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Terrible advice.  Kimball Junction's an outlet mall that looks like every other mall in America and then your going to have the guy drive an hour to the Cottonwoods every day.




Not a ski village or a fun, lively, energetic atmosphere.


  Not accurate at all.


This is true.  But I doubt there are any directs to SLC from NC.  If you have to make a connection, that opens up a bunch of other, less urban resorts.

I think a lot of resorts would meet your criteria.  My only advice would be to avoid any VR resorts, at least until they buy your home mountain. 
The Epic Pass is a great deal for people that use it a lot.  But for a one week a year destination skier, there are much better options.

Park City proper is an easy shuttle from Kimball Junction... you're right that's it's suburban out there, but it's very nice suburban... different than most US locales I've been to. Plus there's the mountain backdrop and there's lots of shopping. Any ski village can be seen and done in a day so if they get a nice condo there it COULD work. If they're serious about skiing, it's a viable compromise, because the skiing in the Cottonwoods is as good as it gets.

Prove me wrong about Aspen shopping??? True there are a few higher end chain stores that you'd find in any mall in the US but the prices are inflated vs what you'll find at home. Other than that, there's one crowd they cater to and it's not middle America. My wife (who loves to shop) and I were there during the summer... presumably the offseason when there'd be deals, but she hated Aspen.

Maybe it's that we're Canadian, and there's not the same shopping here as in the US... Or maybe it's just that she's a middle class suburban mom, but I know my wife would like Kimball Junction. There's PC down the road for a day of exploration.... put her in a nice condo, with a fireplace, hot tub, and spa, and she'd be in her glory shopping, reading books, going for massages, seeing a movie while the kids and I are out skiing.

That said, as I recommended in another post, Vail may be a better option for a self contained vacation especially if long vert runs are the goal.
post #29 of 67
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeSchmoe View Post

Stay in Kimball Junction... Wifey can take the free convenient shuttle into downtown Park City while you and the kids commute to the Cottonwoods where the real skiing is.

 

he just said he has a 7 year old who is just getting into Black trails on the east coast and you tell him to go to Alta and Snowbird?  Thumbs Down

 

The snowboarder can't even ride at Alta.   

 

I'd say Park City or Steamboat.   I found steamboat has fairly cheap lodging, but expensive lift tickets.    Park city has expensive lodging and expensive lift tickets...

post #30 of 67

Being the OP has small kids who ski in NC right now I'm doubting huge continuous fall line vertical is a big priority.

 

When I took my kids out west they wanted to ride lifts with shorter vertical after a few runs as the long vert really tired out their 'midwest legs'.  If you're not used to skiing over 2k vertical feet it can be a challange, especially for kids 

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