Passion Points: Family
From the Ask Advice board: “In addition to the information provided in the Deer Valley post, can you recommend other places to travel out West over a Christmas holiday with small children for their first skiing experience? Places with direct flights would of course be best! Thanks!” A. Goodale, NY
One of the reasons that Deer Valley is such a hit with families, especially those with young children, is its easy access with direct flights from the East Coast into Salt Lake City. Other resorts in the region include Park City, Alta, Snowbird and the Canyons—none of which are quite as well geared to small kids, in part because of the many snowboarders from the area.
That said, the Canyons does have a very good ski school for young kids and a daycare center that is located within one of the resort’s best lodging options, the Grand Summit. A ski-in/ski-out lodge with apartment-like rooms that can be joined to create two- and three-bedroom suites, the Grand Summit is comfortable if not memorable. There’s a Starbucks kiosk in the lobby, numerous restaurants and room service. Rentals, ski school and more restaurants are within easy walking distance, and the mountain offers great skiing. When I skied there last, a few years ago, the restaurants on the mountain were little more than snack bars and lines for the gondola to reach the majority of the lifts at mid-mountain could be long, but major development plans were in the works. The kids loved the ski school, and other friends of ours pronounced the children’s ski instruction better than that at Vail and Whistler. 866-604-4171; www.thecanyons.com. At posting time, for the period between Christmas and New Year’s rooms were available at the Grand Summit from $825 a night.
Beginning in December, there are daily flights on American Airlines and Continental from Newark into Eagle/Vail airport, which book up quickly but offer access to both Vail and Beaver Creek. American also has a Saturday flight from Laguardia. Both Vail and Beaver Creek are great family ski resorts. I have stayed with our kids at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch and Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. The former has more luxurious rooms and a well-run kids’ club program. (Both have gourmet restaurants and first-class spas on site.) During holiday weeks, a ski school program often operates directly from the Bachelor Gulch area. However, if they do not, it is a trek to get the children back and forth to Beaver Creek from the Ritz-Carlton. By contrast, the Park Hyatt is located literally next door to the ski school center, a few steps from the lifts and lots of restaurants, so you never have to get in a car. At posting time, there were rooms still available at the Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek, which is very central, within walking distance to the ski school. Rooms from $645; 866-605-ROCK; 888-367-7625 (FOR-ROCK); www.rockresorts.com.
TIP: While the Lodge at Vail, the Hotel Jerome in Aspen and the Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson are all booked for the period between Christmas and New Year’s, they are also part of the Rockresorts collection of hotels, so its Web site is well worth checking out if your dates are flexible. Also, visit our advice board on condo rentals in ski areas, which recommends two great companies that offer condos and houses with hotel-like services in Aspen, Vail, Beaver Creek, Deer Valley and many other ski resorts.
Two other fantastic family ski spots, which are reachable via direct flights, are in Canada. Mont Tremblant, near Quebec, has a charming pedestrian village at the base of the highest peak in the Laurentians. One of the best places to stay there is the Fairmont Tremblant, which has a spa, pools, shops and restaurants in a lodge-like structure, just steps from the lifts, with access to 94 ski runs. Le Westin Resort & Spa Tremblant is also a high-end, family friendly option. There are two strong ski schools at the resort, Gray Rocks and Mont Blanc; both of which can be arranged by the hotels’ concierges. At posting time, rooms were still available at both resorts from $599. (819) 681-7000; www.fairmont.com and (819) 681-8000; www.starwoodhotels.com/westin. Whistler and Blackcomb are consistently rated among the top ski destinations in North America. You can fly direct from New York to Vancouver, which is a two-hour drive from the ski mountains. The best place to stay: Fairmont Chateau Whistler at the base of Blackcomb with more than 8,100 acres of skiable terrain and an award-winning ski and snowboard school. In fact, it has the greatest number of Level IV instructors of any ski school in the world. There are special Kids Adventure Zones with forts and castles and kids-only lifts. 604-938-8000; www.fairmont.com/whistler. Rooms from $759 were available for the holiday period at posting time.
Read our report on Lech, Austria and why it’s ideal for families
Read about Melissa’s favorite spots for spring skiing
Read our insider report on Deer Valley
Read a member postcard on skiing in Lech
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