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Family of 7 - skiers and snowboarders - where to go?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm down to a couple of days to decide where I'm taking my kids on their first serious ski/snowboard vacation. We go every year... but only driving to east coast crud : THIS time, I want to do it right! As this isn't a dime a dozen trip for us as an entire family, I also want to do my homework to find the right fit.

I have teenage boys - 17 and 19 - that are expert snowboarders. I am an advanced skier. My husband is intermediate... and my daughter (14) and youngest son (7) have snowboarded for two years, but I'd still call them beginner to low intermediate. My daughter's friend is also a beginner.

Frankly, you can find bunny slopes anywhere, so I'm more interested in finding a place that is terrific for my riders... and me

I want a village or town ambience for when we're off the slopes. My husband and I are going to Aspen in January, but that isn't in the cards (or wallet, I should say) for the family trip. But that atmosphere would have been lovely... as well as the mountains. Decent, convenient - but not over the top - accomodations are what I'm hoping to find.

So - in Realityland.... I'm considering Whistler, Steamboat, Park City...though the latter is falling off my list due to reviews I've read and unhelpful staff at the resort (probably just bad luck).

Could anyone recommend one of these over the others... or interject other suggestion? Whistler looks perfect. I'm only worried about the weather and snow conditions. If we went to Whistler, it would be February 22 - 28. If we went to CO or UT, it would be 2/7 - 13.

Steamboat's skiing looks super. But how is it for snowboarding? And what is there to do for the kids after the lifts shut at 3:30? I'm easily entertained, but the kids will want other stuff to do.

Oh - also want decent restaurants closeby.

Specific accomodation suggestions would also be very helpful.

post #2 of 21
I will be the first one to be a wise acre and say go to the bank first very heavily to take that crew on the plane and skiing!!!!! Wish I had that budget.

I am a Breck user, and it is very compact, good places to eat, lots of lodging choices, wide variety of ski terrain, not too far from the airport, etc. Lots of places in Colo. fit this description.
post #3 of 21
Don't write off PC just yet. Access via SLC is about as good as it gets. Reasonably priced direct flights from darn near everywhere - and then an easy 40 minute drive or shuttle. DV is skier only. However, PCMR and Canyons have a broad mix of terrain. Plus there are a bunch of other extraordinary resorts within a hour or so.

Check out this thread and the links it points to: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=47048

Last year, ResortQuest in PC did a great job on a rental house for me. They were incredibly professional and on the ball. With a group the size you are talking about, renting a house or larger condo in PC proper could be a big win.

Not saying that it is better than Whistler or Steamboat - just that after EC vacations, no one in your group will be bored. No one will have trouble finding skiing/boarding for their skill level. You will liley have fine snow and some bluebird days.
post #4 of 21
Welcome. I have a family of six, so I think about your kind of question a lot. You’re ability to pull off a trip with spouse to Aspen, and then a second big trip for the whole family is impressive. Park City would also be my first answer (actually Snowmass would be, but that dupes your adult trip and would not be too thrifty). I am finding airfares from the East to be lower to Denver this year than SLC (with Northern CA close to Denver) and airfare will be one of your big costs. Your other candidates: Breckenridge, Steamboat are good, as is Winter Park. Maybe stay at Dillon/Frisco and ski a variety of places in Summit County, CO? I would think WB would be more costly and logistically tougher from the East Coast. Heavenly, CA is not my favorite ski area, but it could be a contender as well with après ski and cheap lodging, and since you will have some kind of monster rental vehicle for your gang, Kirkwood and Sierra at Tahoe would be accessible for day tripping from South Lake Tahoe.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
James - that's the interesting thing. WB is very competitive due to the exchange rate. PC has bad reviews regarding ski school, and - frankly - I have no interest in over-groomed slopes at DV. I want relaxed... with terrain for all. Not the teens heading to The Canyons while the younger ones are at DV. That's way too complex.

You have to understand that this vacation is my "thank you" to my kids for being so wonderful during the many years that weren't so cushy. It has been a long haul. Nevertheless, I'm still not in a position to blow $10K on this, so Aspen and Vail are out of the question.

Still trying to find that perfect happy medium....
post #6 of 21
couple of suggestions with a first question.

How far are you willing to drive in the morning to ski?

if around 30 miles, you could easily stay in Glenwood Springs or Carbondale and ski Snowmass at a much lower lodging rate than actually staying in Aspen or Snowmass. Same can be done for Vail by staying in Eagle, Eagle Vail or Avon.

Winter Park is a good mix for your family. I would suggest condo in either Winter Park or Fraser (just 3 - 4 miles from the resort). Definitely has a good terrain mix, from lots of groomed blues and greens, to tree runs, to some of the best bumps in the country.
post #7 of 21
A few less conventional thoughts --

Surprisingly, Jackson Hole can be cheap. Lodging is actually cheap if you stay in town at a motel (even two rooms) - 12 miles away. And that's where the evening life is, too. Airfare will be about $200 more pp, so that add up, though. Lifts are pretty expensive too, but in the big picture that is a minor expense compared to room and air.

Wolf Creek Pass is very cheap, both on and off the hill. A long drive to get to, though. Pagosa Springs (the closest town, about 1/2 hour) is not huge, but not just a tiny village either. The hot springs are a lot of fun - there are a bunch of different pools at different tempertures, so it is not a matter of just sitting there. There were a lot of teenagers there when I went, moving from pool to pool just for change or to dare each other to go in the hottest ones (or the river - brrr!). (You and your husband could find the one that's 'just right' and stay there.)
With any luck, this year will see a return to their usual abundant snow. And it is much less crowded than a "name" resort.

I suspect both of these have cheap rooms for the same reason -- winter is off-season, so there is excess capacity. (Pagosa springs is, I think, really a fishing/hunting destination, and JH is a gateway to Yellowstone).

Unfortunately, that "what to do after 3:30" issue may push you to the higher-priced options.

For airfare, make sure you check Southwest to Reno for the Tahoe areas. (They are not included in the big search sites - you have to go direct the their website).

There have been a lot of threads about doing SLC on the cheap - the basic trick is to stay down in one of the towns on the flats and drive up.

Another idea - two years ago there was a Hilton timeshare near Heavenly trading a cheap room for sitting through a sales pitch -- they probably sold out by now, but there are probably other such deals to be had.
post #8 of 21
I would not recommend Jackson Hole for the intermediate and beginner/low intermediate members of the family. JH's blues are comparable to black runs at most places.
post #9 of 21
Originally Posted by icanseeformiles(andmiles) View Post
I would not recommend Jackson Hole for the intermediate and beginner/low intermediate members of the family. JH's blues are comparable to black runs at most places.

Oh, you are right. I forgot about them.

Well, Wolf Creek has plenty of terrain variety.
post #10 of 21
WB could be attractive then, except are passports now mandatory for flyers into Canada? That will add another $100x7.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
As of the first of the year, they are mandatory. So that would be an expense for my four kids (husband and I are good to go). Good point.

OK, so PC is back on the short list. Staying at PCMR is really expensive... probably the worst of any I've seen. However, staying in a home near Main Street offers some possibilities. Anyone have experience with that? How long would it take (and how easily driven) would a trip to Snowbird/Alta be from there? I thought at least a day there would be great. I know Alta doesn't allow snowboarding, but I understand the mountains are connected now... so we could experience it all. The one concern I have is regarding the snowboarding school. I understand that PCMR is lacking in that regard. And that is paramount since three of the kids will be taking lessons nearly every day.

I really want to be near/at the resort and within walking distance of restaurants and things to do if possible.

I did see some condos in Vail Village that aren't too pricey (everything's relative), but I've never heard of them and can't find any reviews... Nine Vail Road and Villa Cortina. But now I'm just expanding my list. And I don't know if Vail is a great place for snowboarding. Although they really enjoy terrain parks, they're more interested - this time - in experiencing glades, powder and trees.

I've heard that WP is great but not really either a village or town atmosphere. I would like one or the other.

I think that was the appeal of WB... that it really had the best of all worlds... other than the quality of the snow (possibly), and that is important, obviously.
post #12 of 21
Hey obxxtreme,

I also have a family of seven. Steamboat is very family friendly and for me is the way to go.

You can fly straight into Steamboat and take a shuttle to the resort. Once at the resort they have shuttles that will take you all over town. You won't need a rentacar. SB has great public transit system, plus many of the developments have their own private shuttles that you can call and have them take you to the grocery store or pick you up from dinner.

Steamboat has a ton of ski in/out (or a short walk to the slopes) accomodations of varying prices. Most of the developments have their own pools and hot tubs. Because everything is so accessible, your kids will be able to have a blast with having to drive them somewhere.
The town of Steamboat is very friendly and safe. A lot of the resturants have greeters that stand on the street just saying hi to people.

Do not use SB website to check pricing. I have found that by calling SB's central reservation line you'll get better pricing, plus you can customize your stay. SB is still offering "kids fly for free" as well as some other promotions. They will qoute you with or without airfare pricing, so you can shop for your airfare.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
SCWVA - that was one thing that really shocked me... the cost of the shuttle for 7 people. We're talking only 20 miles, and it was over $400. Heck, I might as well rent an SUV.
As you've been there before and have the same size gang, which accomodations would you recommend?
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well, it's done... and nothing that was even remotely on the radar screen. I've always wanted to go to Snowbird, so Snowbird it is. I found a great deal on ski-in/ski-out, the airfare is dirt cheap, snowboarding school is supposedly top. It does have night skiing, tubing, loads for the kids. OK, so it's not a town. But the snow should more than make up for that
post #15 of 21
Having been to Utah more than a few times, I would have to agree that the LCC/BCC and the PCMR area offer a great variety of areas to choose from and all are relatively close.

Up near the Canyons Resort is the Utah Olympic Park that may be interesting to check out. Also there looked to be some sort of tubing/sledding park near the I-80/ParkCity freeway exit. I heard this is popular for families aprés ski.

For the advanced snowboarders, PCMR has been rated very well #2 nationally (TransWorld Snowboarding) for having an impeccable Superpipe and park.

Brighton is more of a medium sized area but has been a personal favorite of mine! I have heard that Solitude is more of a sleeper ski area that is great but doesn't get a lot of attention... er lift lines.
post #16 of 21

snow mansion

If you all ski try taos, southwest will get you to Albuqurque for good rates only at their website. Get an appropriate rental vehicle.
Skip the condo stay in a palce between town and the ski hill, a Place Named Arroyo Seco atthe SNOWMASION< Has a variety of lodging combinations for you to work with dorm beds are big rooms some out buildings and privat rooms will actually sleep maybe 4, a full bed a bunky cot affair was like $38 2 years ago. Other skiing nearby at red river or sipapu not huge but new to you Angel fire less than an hour east too. Find out how to get to this primitive hot springdown at the head of the rio gorge, flashlights are advised for the walk back to your car. Reply to this thread and i"ll pm you my phone #if you wanted any more selling points friom my perspective.
The brekfast is self serve included in the nightly rate and the kitchen is open for your own needs and you'd wish you could have it at your house.
Ski instruction at Taos iswell respected in all circles. it just is not though of as a ski destination. I forgot Ski Santa Fe is a great place between ALB and taos. do it once. eric lights out at 10 pm and an infinite people to hang with
post #17 of 21
sounds to me like you're in nuevo. Don't forget Pajarito.
post #18 of 21
Excellent choice. Skiers should also consider side trips to Alta.
post #19 of 21

Nuevo Jersey

although I do have a sibling that checks the cloud on Sandia. Umyes the p word (name), meaning a bird, I believe, have to check my gear for confirmation. Obvious not to forget, the place can not become too obvious. and there is a sonic drive thru there for my usual nirvana in a cup., they'd love to see you but I tend to read hardcore ski to really enjoy the whole place for what it is.
Whereas Sipapu has some very special things about it, like their package specials if you talk with them it works easier than what they post on the WEB but that is a bargain at any way you arrange it. Ski and a bed -=-=-= like they get snow out of nowhere and that the ski area doesn't seem crowded or seem to reach it's limits on the mountain or that families can be at such a family mountain, yet it all work out to a place that I definitely enjoyed equally as much as Pajarito. New Mexico is really right if the year is blessed. Which that view on Sandia is a good indicator. by the way he wishes he could actually ski rather than wishing his golf game improve, but won't. v.varmit presently on the western side of nj
post #20 of 21
I missed a vital part of your response and would think snowbird will be tons of fun. If there is an option for variety in your package for the lift tickets try to leave that as a variable. Some of you might want to splinter off and eplore more of the utah options, that are easily accessed by the public bus system. Enjoy the utah fluff. eric
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
That's a great idea - especially for my older teens who are avid riders. Any suggestions if they decide to sample something else for a day or two?
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