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Advise on family holiday destination, first ski trip to USA / Canada

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi
Thinking of moving the family Christmas / New Year holiday from the French Alps to the USA or Canada. Travelling from the UK and looking for resort with short drive or bus to the slopes or better still no drive or bus at all so ski in and out location.

Usually travel independantly.

Family of 5 with 3 of us at confident intermediate and 2 advanced level skiers.
Childrens ages 18 - 16- 13

Would love to be able to say "money is no object" but like alot of others I have to try and keep costs under control.

How does the East cost compare to the West for that time of year.

All advise would be much appreciated.

Nutski
post #2 of 16
Do not come from Europe to ski the Eastern US. Go West. Unfortunately, Xmas is the costliest time of year. In the US the resorts charge the most in the week between Xmas and New Years. The dates may vary slightly by a day or two. If oyu can work it out to come the week before you will see substantial savings. If go the week after you will still save some money.

I always find that with my family I prefer to ski an area that has some other things to offer besides skiing and a real town. It's also important to have easy access to the skiing

As far as resorts go, I would say you want to go for a classic. Choices in order:

Aspen/Snowmass, CO: Going here allows you to easily ski 3 classic US areas easily. Stay in Snowmass Village where you can find acomodations ranging from ski in/ski out to short free shuttle bus trips. Snowmass is a big and under rated mountain. You can easily make a trip to ski Aspen Mountain and to Ski Aspen Highlands so you have 3 mountains to choose from. They are all within 15 minutes of each other. In addition you have the entire town of Aspen. Aspen is a great old mining town. Don't be put off by the glitzy image. That is only one part of the vibe there. Aspen also has the ultimate taxi which is tough to beat! Fly direct to Aspen via Chicago or Denver

Jackson Hole, WY: This is the real American West, Cowboy Country and it has great skiing! JH is one of the view places where I will take a day of from skiing and go hike or snowmobile into the National Parks. Incredible scenery and amazing wildlife. With snow JH has some of the best powder skiing in the world in the Hobacks. It also has fantastic back country skiing. There are all types of accomodations at the base of the mountain as well as in adjacent Teton Village. The town of Jackson is a few miles away. Connect through Chicago or Dallas I believe.

Squaw Valley, CA: Fly to San Francisco and spend a couple of days there taking in the sights. Rent a car and drive the 4 hours to Squaw Valley USA. Squaw is incredible and prob the most like Europe in terms of the terrain. It is very open and bowl like. The best weather of any resort, it's either puking snow or gorgeous and sunny. Incredible views from the top of Lake Tahoe. There is also a relatively new Intrawest village development at the base that is quite nice to stay in. You can drive into truckee or if you're adventurous to the casinos in Reno.

Park City, UT: This is an easy flight into Salt Lake. From Park City you have easy access to Park City Mountain resort, Deer Valley and the Canyons. A Short Drive away is Alta and Snowbird. Although I consider the skiing at Alta and Snowbird better your family I am sure will prefer staying in Park City. It's a fun old town that you can explore after skiing.

Have fun
post #3 of 16
Got to whistler. It meets all your needs.
post #4 of 16
Head to Utah. There is only a short drive from the airport to the resorts, with many shuttles/buses available. If you want more of a "vacation" then head to Park City. There is plenty to do and the mountains will meet all of your needs. If you want more of a "pure" skiing trip, then go to Alta/Snowbird. They are inexpensive and the terrain is incrediable.

The conditions will always be good in Utah for that time of year.
post #5 of 16
Great post by VS1 and Marty's add of Whistler pretty much covers it. Agree that flexing to either week before or after the one containing Dec 25 will make big difference in crowds and some difference in costs. Other places to consider: Breckenridge, CO and Banff, Canada. VS1's first suggestion would be my top choice as well: Snowmass/Aspen, but it's not cheap. If you had come to Eastern US this year it would have been almost a complete washout. Even in the US West you must take caution about which area you chose at Christmas time regarding good snow coverage. Alta/Snowbird is one of the best for that. Search Epic for early season skiing recommendations.
post #6 of 16
You've gotten some good advice.

Snow in Utah is generally reliable, and the distance from the airport in Salt Lake City to the ski areas is manageable.

The big Colorado ski areas (Aspen, Vail, etc.) have substantial snowmaking and transportation services.

Canada might be somewhat less expensive for you than the US, simply because of the exchange rate. Whistler is huge, and shuttles from the airport in Vancouver can get you there. The BC interior (fly into Kelowna, ski at Big White or Silver Star) might also be attractive. Fernie is nice, and it's possible to fly into Cranbrook, which is an hour away.

That said, Christmas in North America comes with several substantial caveats.

1. It's early season. Snow can be thin, although it's probably better than Europe at Christmas, most years. There are no guarantees, although snowmaking helps.
2. It's high season. Prices are maxed out, despite the possibly marginal conditions.
3. It's busy. Many, many people take advantage of the holidays to go skiing. Crowds can be substantial.

Enjoy. North America has some excellent skiing to offer.
post #7 of 16
Consider Steamboat Springs. With kids that age you will need at least a 2 bed condo/townhome. Assuming you are coming for a week or more you will find new excellent accommodation for ~$350 a night if you don't mind being a 2 min drive from the slopes. PM me if you want some links to property mgt companies. Aspen is great but you will be looking at $800 a night or more there at xmas and my feeling has always been that it is more adult oriented (restaurants, galleries, exp. shopping etc). Steamboat is renowned as being family friendly and while a lot of that is aimed at younger kids (ski free programs etc) I found there to be a lot of teenage kids at Xmas this year which would prob be good for your lot to mix with. Plenty good eating options and other things to do also. The skiing is great also for your group as decent intermediates can easily handle 85%+ of the trails.

As a fellow Brit now living in the US but having skied for years in France I can assure you will be pleasantly surprised by what you will find in the US. For close to guaranteed snow though stick with Colorado and Utah and stick to the bigger resorts or quite frankly you will be bored if staying for more than a few days. Whistler also a good option though you may get less bluebird days when its not snowing than in CO or UT.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
What can I say to you all but thank you for the superb info.
Having read the brochures and talked to friends in the UK I was still none the wiser as to where to go, hence I thought why not ask the ones who would ski these areas the most... and I am glad I did.

Many thanks and hopefully I can sort the trip ASAP.

Andrew
post #9 of 16
If you decide on Utah, look at www.skiutah.com. Look at trip planning and go to map which shows you the ski resort distances from the airport. Christmas lights downtown, public transportation, common sense streets, copper mine sights, salt lake, and Olympic sites make this a good choice to see something new/different.
post #10 of 16
Canada! Banff-Sunshine, Lake Louise, Fernie, Jasper-Marmot in the Rockies, Big White, Sun Peaks, Silver Star in central BC, and Whistler-Blackcomb on the coast. Cheaper prices, better exchange rate, smaller crowds, friendly people, fewer passport/security hassles, real wilderness!!! BA or Air Canada fly non-stop from the UK to Calgary or Vancouver.
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Family ski holiday

Many thanks for the reply, you make some very good points.
Just need to try and sort some flights.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutski View Post
Hi
Thinking of moving the family Christmas / New Year holiday from the French Alps to the USA or Canada. Travelling from the UK and looking for resort with short drive or bus to the slopes or better still no drive or bus at all so ski in and out location.

Usually travel independantly.

Family of 5 with 3 of us at confident intermediate and 2 advanced level skiers.
Childrens ages 18 - 16- 13

Would love to be able to say "money is no object" but like alot of others I have to try and keep costs under control.

How does the East cost compare to the West for that time of year.

All advise would be much appreciated.

Nutski
Althought the western US is killer.. 1) Homeland Security hassle makes your travel a PITA 2) British Commonwealth - Hit BC and you won't be sorry.

Whistler is expensive, relatively speaking, and can be subject to crappy coastal wet-weather. Though skiing at the top you can often avoid the worst. Check the whistler -blackcomb web site and they have this nifty flash that shows the relative size of W-B to other areas - even if you deduct the bottom 1/2 its size is still massive.

I would highly recommend Sun Peaks- lots of great terrain for your indicated levels, less snow, but better snow and better weather than whistler-b (SUN Peaks, you know) Can fly into Kamploops BC (Small regional) from Vancouver or points east (Toronto, Edmundton, etc) what ever connects international. Used to be substantially cheaper for ski-in, ski-out, not sure how close it is now to whistler.

With that said though - SUmmit county -EZ access from Denver, Jackson - direct flight from eastern US airports, Salt Lake, same.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post
You've gotten some good advice.

Snow in Utah is generally reliable, and the distance from the airport in Salt Lake City to the ski areas is manageable.

The big Colorado ski areas (Aspen, Vail, etc.) have substantial snowmaking and transportation services.

Canada might be somewhat less expensive for you than the US, simply because of the exchange rate. Whistler is huge, and shuttles from the airport in Vancouver can get you there. The BC interior (fly into Kelowna, ski at Big White or Silver Star) might also be attractive. Fernie is nice, and it's possible to fly into Cranbrook, which is an hour away.

That said, Christmas in North America comes with several substantial caveats.

1. It's early season. Snow can be thin, although it's probably better than Europe at Christmas, most years. There are no guarantees, although snowmaking helps.
2. It's high season. Prices are maxed out, despite the possibly marginal conditions.
3. It's busy. Many, many people take advantage of the holidays to go skiing. Crowds can be substantial.

Enjoy. North America has some excellent skiing to offer.
For sure Silver Star and Big White (Both BC interior) have great ski-in ski-out accomodations that are relatively affordable.
post #14 of 16
banff is 90 minute bus ride from a direct flight from the UK to calgary. Whistler is also close to Vancouver, but the other places are longer drives or second flights.
post #15 of 16
Don't know if you've done it yet but I'll throw in .02 for Big White near kelowna BC. Geared towards families and very reasonable pricewise. My family of four had a great time there. plenty of variety on the hill and lots of choices for ski in/out accomodations. Noticed quite a few brits there with their families.Almost all the staff are Aussie. Great snow conditions too.
post #16 of 16
Quote:
Canada! Banff-Sunshine, Lake Louise, Fernie, Jasper-Marmot in the Rockies, Big White, Sun Peaks, Silver Star in central BC, and Whistler-Blackcomb on the coast. Cheaper prices, better exchange rate, smaller crowds, friendly people, fewer passport/security hassles, real wilderness!!! BA or Air Canada fly non-stop from the UK to Calgary or Vancouver.
I agree full heartedly, Banff would be a great place. Its a fairly well built up town with plenty of none ski stuff if you need a break. More importantly its in close proximity to some excellent hills (Sunshine, Lake Louise, and Fernies a little further out) and most hotels provide free transport up to them.

Also, from talking to Europeans I've met up there the package deals that they can get coming in are absurdly cheap. Of course I haven't checked them out myself but I'm confident you'd have a good time in Canada.
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