Picking a ski resort is an important part of enjoying a family ski vacation. When you choose the right ski resort, you not only make sure that your family has the most fun, you can help your kids improve their skiing and foster a lifelong love of winter sports in them.
When choosing a ski resort for your family, think about the answers to the following questions:
How close can we stay to the slopes?
Skiing takes a lot of gear, which means that getting kids suited up without forgetting anything crucial and out the door in any kind of timely manner takes organization and military precision. Add lots of travel time to the equation and you’re likely to end up with cranky kids, a late start, or both.
Stay close to the slopes and not only do you cut down on your time in traffic, you make it easier to take a break midday or for some members of your family to knock off early while others shut down the lifts. Staying slope-side is an especially good idea for families with young children who need naps.
What kind of terrain will we find?
Look for a mountain that has trails for every member of your family. Got a novice skier? Make sure there are enough green trails to offer variety and a chance to feel some sense of accomplishment. If your kids are adventurous and like a challenge, then maybe a ski resort with lots of tree skiing is perfect for your family.
Keep in mind your kids’ ages and stamina levels as well – mountains with lots of really long trails and lift rides may not be ideal for kids (or grownups) who get cold or tired easily.
And if your kids are snowboarders or like to catch some air on their skis, a resort that has a terrain park with multiple elements may be just your family’s style.
How does the ski school stack up?
If your kids are learning how to ski or snowboard, look for a resort with a ski school that caters to children. You can easily find this out from the resort’s website or by calling and asking to talk to the head of the ski school.
It’s a good sign if the ski resort has separate areas – both indoors and out – that are set up just for kids. Children should be grouped according to age and ability level and instructors should be enthusiastic and experienced. The ski school should also offer all-day and half-day programs for kids as well as private lessons, so you have maximum flexibility when choosing ski instruction for your children. Resorts offering family lessons are also a good bet – these offer a chance to ski together while you all work on your skills.
And if you’ve got little ones who are too young to ski, then a resort with a dedicated daycare is a must.
Are there activities other than skiing?
You’ll certainly have days on your ski vacation when you and your kids spend all your time on the lifts and the trails. But it’s never a bad idea to have a backup plan for days when your kids are a little tired or the conditions aren’t great.
Ski resorts offering a mix of indoor and outdoor activities are best – that way if it’s too cold to be out all day or if it starts to rain (we hate to mention it, but it does happen) you have other options. Additional outdoor activities might include snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, wagon or sleigh rides, or nature walks. And just because your indoors, doesn’t mean you can’t be active – some resorts offer swimming, indoor climbing walls, or even inflatable obstacle courses. Looking for something quieter? Some ski resorts offer arts and crafts, bingo, sing-alongs, or magic shows.
Choosing the right ski resort for your family will not only foster a lifelong love of skiing in your kids, it will help you have the kind of family vacation that you remember forever.