How to Choose a Ski Resort for Your Family Ski Vacation

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!

Planning a family ski trip

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.

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.

And 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? Can you 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.

Spring skiing at Copper Mountain, Colorado.
Spring skiing at Copper Mountain, Colorado.

See also: Choosing the Right Ski Resort for Your Skiing Personality

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, or take a sleigh ride. Consider what your family’s needs are and what the resort has to offer.

Most ski resorts offer more to do 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 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? Do you want the option of skiing at different resorts nearby or is one resort enough to keep everyone interested?

ski resort fireplace

5. How convenient is the lodging? Finally, consider if you want a house on the slopes, a condo, or a hotel. 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 just by staying across the street, though a luxury home with convenient ski-in, ski-out access may be worth the splurge. Some ski areas offer a larger number of ski-in, ski-out accommodations than others.

Right now, my husband and I are deep in research, looking for the perfect place to make our newest ski memories. Even though it’s 90 degrees outside, my thoughts are buried deep in powder.

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