When planning a family ski vacation, it’s not always easy to choose a ski resort. All resorts are not created equal and there are some very important factors you need to consider before handing over that hefty deposit. This article gives you five questions to answer that will help you choose a ski resort that’s right for your family.
I never tried skiing until the age of 22. But when I met my future husband, I knew I had better give it a try or possibly face years of compromised vacation planning. Fortunately, I fell in love with skiing or this marriage might not have worked out!
Fast forward 20 years, a wedding, and two children, and we’re now a family of 3 1/2 skiers (the half refers to my eight-year old daughter who is not yet fully in love with the sport – we’re working on that). And while it seems hard to think of snow when we’re swimming in the pool, we always start our ski vacation planning in the summer.
The first step? Deciding where to go. Here are five considerations to get your skis pointed in the right direction.
IMPORTANT NOTE: When planning your ski trip, be sure to check the resort web site for their current policies on lift ticket sales. Most resorts are now limiting sales and requiring reservations, so you can’t just show up and buy a lift ticket. Be prepared before you go!
How to Choose a Ski Resort
1. Can you get to the ski resort on a non-stop flight or can you drive? This is my first criteria when planning a ski vacation with kids. You definitely want to minimize travel time and avoid potential problems such as flight delays and lost luggage. Throw the uncertainty of winter weather into the mix, and you’ll want to be sure you can get to your resort as quickly and easily as possible.
Pro Tip: If you are bringing your own gear, pack your carefully-fitted ski boots in your carry-on! Never risk losing the one piece of equipment that can make or break your skiing enjoyment!
2. Is the terrain varied? Does the ski area have enough of each type of terrain to keep everyone in your family happy for the week? Are they mogul monsters or do they head for groomed corduroy? Make sure your advanced family members won’t be bored and your beginners will be able to gain confidence and advance. Study the trail map online before you book.
You’ll also want to look for areas where you can access the different terrain off the same lift. Even if you’re not skiing all your runs together, it’s helpful to have a few lifts that can keep the whole family happy. Choose a ski resort with a lift area that accesses black, blue and green runs. That way, you can meet at the bottom, count your kids and ride up together for another run. It’s also easier to meet up for lunch or to gather everyone together at the end of the day.
3. Do you need non-ski activities? My husband can ski all day, every day. I like a day off here and there to stroll around the village, shop, take a sleigh ride, or try another outdoor adventure. Consider your family’s needs and what the resort area has to offer.
Most ski resorts offer more than just skiing, but some have more activities than others. Do you want a resort set in a bustling tourist town? Or is a resort with its own self-contained village the right vacation for you? If you won’t have a car, an inclusive village might be a better choice.
4. Location, location, location. Do you want a resort town that offers a great apres-ski environment, restaurants, nightlife and shopping? Or is your family more likely to cook up some pasta and curl up in front of the fire?
Again, consider if you’ll have your own transportation or if you’ll need to rely on shuttles or walking. If you’re the type of family that loves going out to eat every night, you’ll be disappointed if you find yourself 2+ miles from the restaurants and no way to get there.
5. How convenient is the lodging? Finally, consider if you want a house on the slopes, a condo, or a hotel. In my opinion, hotels are not ideal for ski vacations because there is limited space to keep your boots, skis, and wet clothing. But there are some that offer ski lockers and other perks, so be sure to investigate.
Do your kids need the ski school? If so, choosing lodging with easy access to the ski school will make your life a whole lot easier in the mornings when you need to dress your kids, gather their gear, and get them there on time.
Or maybe your children are older and more than able to carry their own equipment and hop on a free shuttle. If so, you’ll save a lot of money by staying a bit farther from the lifts.
Are you planning a multi-generational trip or vacationing with another family? Sometimes a luxury home with convenient ski-in, ski-out access may be worth the splurge. Some ski areas offer more slopeside accommodations than others – and they usually book up pretty quickly.
These five tips will get you started planning your family ski vacation and help you choose the right ski resort. And it’s all downhill fun from there!