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Suggestions for family ski destination over the holidays?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
My family is looking for a mountain to spend five or six days at over the holidays this coming December (the 22nd through the 28th).  Most of my experience has been with the resorts in the east (used to live in MA and would go up to Killington, Cannon, Okemo and Sunday River all the time), so I'm not too knowledgeable about other options.  We were considering Mont Tremblant or Mont St Anne in Quebec, but according to the discussions in this forum they often don't have good snow early in the season and it can be bitter up on the mountain late December and early January.  I know Killington and Mount Snow are insane over the holidays.

Since my family has a large range of ski levels, mostly beginner, we are looking for a place with a wide variety of beginner to intermediate terrain.  I'm probably the only expert skiier in the family, but I'm willing to pass up on an advanced mountain if it means my family will have terrain better suited to their need.  I've checked all the big names (e.g. Vail, Beaver Creek, Park City) and they all seem a bit expensive over the holidays. We plan to rent a condo that has shuttle service to the mountain or has access to a lift or ski trail.

Since my family wouldn't take advantage of the black diamonds, moguls and glades, I think a smaller, lesser-known mountain would be fine.  Does anyone have any suggestions for mountains that would have a good variety of beginner/intermediate terrain that's not too expensive?  As long as it typically has decent snow over Christmas and isn't bitter cold, it will be perfect!  Suggestions on the East or West coast are fine.
post #2 of 11

Welcome to epicski.
For budget reasons I tend to divide ski trips into road trips or trips requiring a plane flight (without frequent flyer freebies). Not sure where you live now, but if still within easy and economical drive of New England you might consider smaller mountains like Cranmore, NH or Bromley, VT. Both fairly low key with good beg/int terrain. Both have interesting towns nearby for après ski activities, but all of New England can be cold in late Dec. Quebec City/Mont Sainte Anne/Le Massif combo would be extremely fun at Christmas time and you might be able to find last minute accommodations while standing by for favorable weather report? Cold rather than lack of snow would likely be the issue.

If you live in deep South and are going to fly regardless of destination then go west. How about places like Solitude (might be a good bet for slopeside accommodations with moderate holiday crowds and prices) or Powder Mtn, UT, or Loveland or Sol Vista, CO? Believe there are lower key areas in Tahoe basin too, perhaps Homewood?

If you bite the bullet and go for a big name I'd worry more about crowds than cold.  Cold could be unavoidable anywhere on a late Dec ski trip.  Big Sky, MT is never supposed to be crowded and has numerous easy slopes (and Lone Peak).

post #3 of 11
If the Northeast is within driving distance, don't rule out Killington.  The crowds even on holidays are nothing like what they used to be.  Biggest problem with the Christmas period in the East is the possibillity of llimited terrain being open.

If you have to fly, go West.  I have skied Utah during the holidays 6 or 8 times.  Less crowded than Colorado and less expensive, especially if you stay in the SLC suburbs and drive up LCC or BCC each day.  Early season snow in Utah is pretty reliable.  I was never disappointed.

post #4 of 11
Stay at the mtn options: In UT, Stay in Park City, ski Deer Valley, PCMR, or the canyons. That's your best bet.

Otherwise, either solitude or Alta could meet your needs just fine. But if you are sleeping up the canyon without a car its dead at night and you might get cabin fever with limited activites and resort dining options.  

Would be easier to work with car:
Beaver Mtn is another option that would suit your ability levels well and there are condos for rent just over the hill on Bear Lake. The lifts never really get much of a line. The ski area is closed on Xmas day. As far as lodging you would probably have the place mostly to yourselves.

You could add snowbasin + PowMow + wolf mountain  combo. There are plenty of condos available in Eden. Trouble is if you are talking true beginners or a timid intermediate -- snowbasin doesn't have a lot to offer them. Neither does PowMow for that matter since their grooming is limited. But then they could go to wolf mountain. 
post #5 of 11
Knowing the composition of your family helps but if its kids included, assuming the economics work, staying on the Mountain is the best bet, preparing and schlepping up the Cottonwood canyons for the better part of an hour assuming snow conditions leave the road's open, is not a prospect any parent could be looking forward to unless they have to. And on the days you really want to be there, i.e. fresh snow and perfect conditions, i understand the traffic is brutal understandably, since all SLC offices clear out at 6am, that is "am".

If you have kids, our experience was Solitude's village is quite good, self-contained and Club Solitude gives them a place to hang out, swim, and play games and meet other kids, all in a closed gated environment and it is ski-in/ski-out.

Other option is Alta, the Alta Lodge has a kids program and from what I saw, the Alta Peruvian also has stuff to do, plus they have a pool. The Alta Lodge was wonderful with my son, though I saw lots of kids at the Goldminers Daughter, and Alta Peruvian. Note Alta Peruvian is not exactly ski-in/ski-out but its right there and they have a 1min shuttle ride so to speak.
Here is TR: could be helpful (or not), just our experience. Deer Valley is also a great place for kids to ski.
post #6 of 11
I will add that if you are willing to cross the Atlantic, Skiing costs are almost nothing in Austria (and it can be fantastic - though snow depends on Thor and Ullr ) and the Inns at Lech-Zurs for the price or the chalets in France like in Serre Chevalier (which is somewhat of an undiscovered gem I hear) are far better value for money than places in the US early in the season especially since snow here really gets its thing going post January...look at this thread, lots of information about the Arlbergs, the cradle of modern skiing in Austria..and look into French resorts too or Italian ones - they are even better value for money..lots of intermediate runs and expert of course.

and this little video of Chamonix..the legendary spot..is awesome..gets the appetite going..

and here is a thread on the gigantic, endless Les Trois Vallees..

just so you know, skiing in europe is actually a lot less expensive than out west in the majors...and those are huge ski areas..
post #7 of 11
If you end up going west, anyplace has the chance to be very cold during that timeframe.  I have been in Utah and Colorado during Christmas break and have skied in below zero temps a number of times.  If you go to a place that is within driving distance of a major city, like SLC or Denver, you can expect big crowds during that timeframe.  We have done the Park City resorts and Summit and Eagle counties in Colorado and all the resorts have been very busy.  Deer Valley less so because they limit the number of tickets sold.  A place to consider is Steamboat.  They generally have a good early season track record, they have a good public transit system to get you around town, the mountain is not crowded compared to Park City or Vail, and the mountain has the kind of terrain you are looking for as well.  The issues would be the airfare, lift tickets and lodging if you are trying to control costs.  All the big western resorts will jack up lift ticket prices for the holidays, but Steamboat has a kids ski free under a certain age, think it was twelve, but not sure.  We stayed at a Fairfield Inn and Suites less than a mile from the slopes.  It worked out fine, they had a free shuttle to the base area and the rates were reasonable.  You miss the ski in, ski out convenience, but if you are trying to control costs then something has to give.
post #8 of 11
 christmas week Id only book at ahead at 2 places...

Grand Targhee and Alta they are the only place that have never been skunked christmas week for skiers of your ability levels.
post #9 of 11

Alta was skunked in 1976-77 (along with virtually everyone in the West) with 13.5 inches in November and 17 in December.  Targhee had 15 in November but 64 in December. 


I'll give the usual reference http://bestsnow.net/fam_ski.htm.   Your dates are somewhat in your favor.  The crowds (and sometimes prices) don't get obnoxious until Dec. 26.   So shop around.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Wow, these are some great suggestions.  Sorry for not getting back to you guys sooner.  For some reason EpicSki didn't notify me of these pending posts until now.

Re the cold weather, I've been basing this on "average" historical temperature along with reviews from other skiiers on this forum.  A lot of skiiers commented that Mont Tremblant and Mont St Anne tends to be extremely windy.  We're looking to rent a vacation home, so that should help cut down on cost considerably.  I'll look carefully at Utah.  I agree, we want to stay away from the "big name" mountains.

@Tony -- that link is great.  I didn't come across this in my internet search before.  I'll take a close look at it.

Thanks for all your suggestions.  I have some research to do now!
post #11 of 11
 As far as housing goes, some places that rent condos/houses will be looking to book their place solid for the week between Christmas and New Years rather than a piece of a week.
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EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Mountain/Resort Related Forums › Resorts, Conditions & Travel › Suggestions for family ski destination over the holidays?