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Best Kids Lessons? A-Basin, Keystone, Breck

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Any feedback on these 3? We are seriously considering moving away from Copper/WP this year and it's time for some 'real' lessons for Jane this season. Ideas?
post #2 of 21
Well, I can't help you on the three you listed (just what you wanted to read, right?), but I can give you some feedback on Steamboat lessons last year.

My two boys had only skied small hills in Indiana before our trip to Steamboat last winter. And even then they had only skied those two or three times a few years back. With 4 days of group lessons for my older son (15 at the time) and 4 1/2 days for my younger son (11 at the time), they went from level 3/4 to upper level 6 skiers. On our last day, they were tree skiing and mogul skiing black runs doing everything we did and looking for more. Part of it is that they are young and think they are invincible, so they are willing to try anything.

I'm interested in hearing why you refer to WP/Copper as not being "real" lessons. Those are the two areas we are considering for this winter. :
post #3 of 21
I know steamboat wasn't in your original question, but I second the mention of Steamboat for kids. We always got our kids into the schools there during our trips and were never disappointed. The kids ski free program always made it much easier on the wallet too.
post #4 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dburdenbates View Post

I'm interested in hearing why you refer to WP/Copper as not being "real" lessons. Those are the two areas we are considering for this winter. :
My interpretation is this: they are looking at getting a different pass this season (most Denver area people get either the Keystone/Breck/ABasin or the WP/Copper passes), and they didn't actually do ski school when they had the WP/Copper passes.

I must say I'm partial to Copper's ski school because of the terrain. My kids did take lessons at Breck once, but I don't remember much about it. I didn't like ABasin just because everything funnels into the same place, so you have all levels coming to the bottom at the same time. When my daughter was 3, it scared her a little bit.

Copper separates the beginners way over on the west side so that you don't have other levels whizzing past the learners. Everyone is slow.
post #5 of 21
One of the nice things with Winter Park and Copper (and now, probably, Steamboat) is that 3 & 4 year olds don't use the lifts during lessons - special ski school snowmobiles with sled trailers exists to ferry that age group around during lesson times.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dburdenbates View Post
I'm interested in hearing why you refer to WP/Copper as not being "real" lessons. Those are the two areas we are considering for this winter. :
No, just the opposite. We loved the ski school at Copper (and I guess still do) - just we are trying the VailResorts this year instead and were wondering how they stacked up.
post #7 of 21
how old is Jane?
post #8 of 21
I have a place near Silverthorne. I've had my son (now 5) take lessons at Keystone and Breck.

I like Breck lessons the best. The best deal if you are local (or Denver area) is their Bomber's program. It usually runs from Jan-early March, for 7 weekends. You signup for either Saturday or Sunday. The same group of kids every week and same instructor. It is also cheaper then regular lessons.
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Got it, thanks
post #10 of 21
They also usually have a December weekend (2 days) of Bomber's lessons as well. They call it a tune up. It was priced at about 2 days worth of lessons for the price of 1 day.
post #11 of 21
Hi JD--

TrekChick pointed me to this thread--thanks, TC.

Regarding kids' lessons at Keystone, Breckenridge, and Arapahoe Basin, as much as I'd like to tell you that Keystone's program is incomparable, head & shoulders above anything else out there, and so on (I am the training manager for the Keystone Ski & Ride School), the truth is that I think you (and Jane) could get great lessons at any of them. So many factors combine to make a great experience--or to ruin it--including the instructor, the snow conditions, the weather, what the child had for breakfast, the other children in the group, and more.

I am exceedingly proud of the training program for our instructors at Keystone, but honestly, the training manager at Breckenridge (Tommy Banks) is a very good friend of mine, whom I have known and worked with for many years (we both worked together at Keystone for several seasons). And the Director at Arapahoe Basin (Burt Skall) is another friend of mine, who also spent years at Keystone as an instructor, trainer, and manager. There's a lot sharing of information (also with Winter Park and Copper Mountain), and I can tell you confidently that the instructors at all these resorts receive excellent--and similar--training.

Available programs are also similar, especially between Keystone and Breckenridge (and Copper). If Jane would like to get involved in a multi-weekend program, skiing with the same group and instructor, check out Keystone's Explorers (ages 3-4) or Kroozers (5-15) programs, or similar programs at Breckenridge and A-Basin. These groups are very popular with families in Summit County and the Front Range. The kids have a great time--and can become great skiers. Many come year after year, and I know a number of instructors who started in these programs as children.

I will make a small plug for Keystone, though. I've worked at all of the Summit County resorts, and I think that Keystone's terrain for learning is second to none. Our three beginner areas (one at each base, and another on top of Dercum Mountain) have been substantially upgraded over the past couple years, and we've completely renovated and remodeled the children's facilities at each base area. For more advanced students, Keystone has two unique runs on the mountain that are gated and reserved for ski school and other learning skiers. The "Go" trail is a grean run, and "Go Further" is a blue run. Keystone is entering the third season of a complete rebuilding program, led by Ski & Ride School Director, Pete Sonntag. If you haven't tried Keystone in a while, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

I do hope you'll consider Keystone and give us a try. I look forward to hearing about your and Jane's experience, wherever you choose to ski. If you have any specific questions or concerns, I'm happy to help. Don't hesitate to reply in the forum here, or PM me.

Enjoy the waning days of summer and fall--ski season will be here very soon!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #12 of 21
Bob,

Since you replied here. Let me ask you this. The last three years I keep looking at Breckenridge, Keystone and Vail for lessons for my son. He is currently 5.


Vail doesn't really have a program for locals (ie... once/week or so).

Keystone is always a little higher/lesson then Breckenridge for the specialty programs (Bombers vs. Kroozers). Breck has more options too, with Sat or Sunday package of lessons.

Example: Sessions 2&3 Kroozers at Keystone is 6 Saturday lessons for $260+210=$470. Bombers for 7 Saturday lessons is $490. $78/lesson for Keystone, $70/lesson for Breck. Even if I did all 3 sessions at Keystone for my son (9 lessons) the price/lesson is $75.

I would think Keystone would cater more towards locals and be slightly cheaper or the same as Breck.

I'd love to have my son try some lessons at Keystone. I just can't justify the extra price.

I wish one of the resorts would offer some kind of seasonal pass or expanded package of lessons for kids in the area. I know there are discounts like this for adults. I guess you just make too much money off the kids, but you'd think that the more people you get skilled in skiing, the more money the resort will make eventually. I guess this is too long term?
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
Enjoy the waning days of summer and fall--ski season will be here very soon!
Thanks Bob. What would work really well would be to offer parent lessons that start/end 30 mins after/before the multi-week programs for kids. I'll be checking it all out in the coming weeks. Appreciated!
post #14 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by janesdad View Post
Thanks Bob. What would work really well would be to offer parent lessons that start/end 30 mins after/before the multi-week programs for kids. I'll be checking it all out in the coming weeks. Appreciated!
janesdad,

If you have a colorado pass, I think Vail associates is offering the $150-160/season adult lessons for the season. Last year it was $159 for the entire season. I took lessons every saturday to avoid lift lines while my son was in Bombers. I think you have to call the Colorado Pass number to have them add this to your Colorado Pass.
post #15 of 21
Thanks for the replies, Mogulman and Janesdad. I hear you about the price differences. Not trying to defend them necessarily, but I think that Keystone probably is, and traditionally has been, somewhat less of a "locals' resort" than Breckenridge, and that may refect in the pricing. Unlike Breck, Keystone has no town, and few people actually live there year-round. Keystone is primarily a destination resort--although it still offers free walk-to-the-lifts parking (at River Run), which makes it more locals-friendly in at least that respect.

Personally, I really like the idea of a "season pass" for lessons. I'll bring it up with the powers that be, but at this point, with the season rapidly approaching and most of the programs in place, brochures printed, and such, it may not happen this season.

Janesdad--your idea of parents' lessons to complement the kids' programs is great. But it is challenging to us to have different start and end times, because it makes it hard to keep instructors available for all the various start times, and also keep them busy throughout the day. Instructors only get paid while they're teaching, so we have tried to standardize start times ("lineups") to maximize efficiency. There's little more frustrating for an instructor trying to pay his or her bills, than to show up at a lineup and be told "we don't need you--check in again in an hour," or to finish a lesson after a regular lineup and find your working day over. It's just not fair to the instructor.

However, I think you'll find that the scheduling of our programs does allow parents to check their kids in and then get to their own lesson meeting place on time. And picking up your kids after their lesson is not 100% time-critical, especially if you are in an adult lesson with us. They will not turn children loose after their lesson until an authorized person comes to pick them up. (This is true of pretty much any ski & ride school these days. They are extremely cautious about making sure your children are safe and that they only go home with their parents or other pre-authorized adults.)

Thanks for the ideas!

Best regards,
Bob
post #16 of 21
Bob,

How about a 4-pack of lessons?

I buy lesson 4-packs at Winter Park every year, and so that's where I take my lessons.

But, I would love to sample other area's lessons if 4-packs (or some other great deal) were available.

Are you doing your camp thing this year? I couldn't make it last year.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogulman1 View Post
janesdad,

If you have a colorado pass, I think Vail associates is offering the $150-160/season adult lessons for the season. Last year it was $159 for the entire season. I took lessons every saturday to avoid lift lines while my son was in Bombers. I think you have to call the Colorado Pass number to have them add this to your Colorado Pass.
Btw.. this was good at Vail, Breck and Keystone but only for adults.
post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by mogulman1 View Post
Btw.. this was good at Vail, Breck and Keystone but only for adults.
Are you saying I can take lessons at all 3?

Or do I have to pick 1 when I buy it?
post #19 of 21
FWIW - at Stowe we offer a season pass for kids lessons. I sill think you are better off with a seasonal program if you have the chance to use one. Having the same coach every day is a big advantage. They don't have to spendthe first part of the day getting used to your kids and figuring out whatto do withthem, they already know.
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado View Post
... I think you'll find that the scheduling of our programs does allow parents to check their kids in and then get to their own lesson meeting place on time...
Good point. It sounds like you have trouble with cancellations/last minute no-shows. The parents who drop off kids are a captive audience. How about offering 'day of' discounted lessons to the parents when there are free instructors ready to go? Just some thoughts. Thanks for your time Bob...
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by lurking bear View Post
Are you saying I can take lessons at all 3?

Or do I have to pick 1 when I buy it?
I believe it is good at any of the mountains that the Colorado Pass works at. I haven't called so I don't know if they are doing it this year and how much it costs. Again.. it was only for adults.
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