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5 Family Ski Resorts (from familytravel.com)
Our Friends at www.familytravel.com came up with their own list of family-friendly ski resorts, and we tend to agree with them.


Family Travel Five ™ Family-Friendly Ski Resorts

By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

“Remember, Pizza! Pizza!”, I urged my youngest son Ted, reminding him to create an Italian slice-like wedge with his small skis. Fresh from ski school, he was an athletic five year old, eager to catch up with his older ski-savvy brothers. Ski weekends and more extended mountain holidays have been an important part of our annual vacation mix, providing a healthy contrast to our desert lifestyle.

Today there are myriad ways to introduce your children to the exhilarating world of fresh powder! With offers of free rentals, lift tickets and even airfare, creating memories in the mountains has gotten easier. Here are five ski resorts where families will find professional instruction, good value and a great time.

1. Steamboat, CO. Consistently ranked a top choice for families by Ski Magazine, this Rocky Mountain cowboy town is known for its champagne powder and casual, down home atmosphere. In addition to a full complement of “kids are free” programs, Steamboat has five kids-only lifts and two instruction areas with easy-to-access “Magic Carpet” lifts. Graduates move onto the Rough Rider Basin, where teepees, a fort and a kid’s style terrain park keep kids happily engaged. Of special note: Keep track of family members with Steamboat’s Mountain Watch technology. With a simple scan at well-placed kiosks, you can locate the whole gang. Free for those enrolled in ski school. Otherwise, $25 for the week. www.Steamboat.com

2. Snowmass, CO. Already popular with families, Snowmass kicks it up a notch with the debut of their $17 million Tree house Kids' Adventure Center and the mid-mountain Elk Camp Meadows Learning Area. The creatively designed center will make it easy for parents to check in for ski or snow board school, and take care of rentals or last minute slope- side needs. While the Tree house offers great access to the entire mountain, kids will be hard pressed to leave the climbing gym and cleverly themed rooms, brimming with engaging activities. Children from eight weeks and older are welcome at the Center. Snowmass is just nine miles from Aspen. www.AspenSnowmass.com

3. Smugglers Notch. Talk about family friendly! This resort, tucked in Vermont’s Green Mountains, and surrounded by 3000 acres of forest, literally “guarantees” your family will have a good time. With a slew of special programs for children from six weeks to late teens, “Smuggs”, as its known among regulars, has focused on the family market with intensity. Their Snow Sport University promises to take your skills to the next level. There are terrain parks, fun zones, game nights, fire works, sleigh rides, cross country ski trails and teen centers. www.Smuggs.com

4. Beaver Creek, CO. Vail’s sister resort, Beaver Creek is known for family-friendly, top notch service. Modern, yet cozy and with the ambience of an Alpine village, après ski, families enjoy strolling through the square or joining in the ice skating parties on the outdoor rink. New this year is the eight-passenger Buckaroo Express Gondola that will whisk beginners to their own manicured terrain. After a day on the mountain (there are more than 146 trails) you’ll be mesmerized by the sweet smell of hot cookies offered slope side by smiling mountain hosts. McCoy’s provides après ski music appropriate for all ages. www.beavercreek.com

5. Big Sky, MT. If you appreciate a little elbow room, try Big Sky Resort. Take advantage of the Lone Peak Pass (free for kids under 10) and you’ll also have access to the trails at neighboring Moonlight Basin. By doubling the resort fun, you’ll enjoy the largest single ticket expanse of ski terrain in the United States. Located near Yellowstone National Park and 45 miles from Bozeman, the combined lift ticket provides access to more than 5500 acres of powder possibilities, magnificent views and very few lift lines. Both resorts have family packages, ski and board schools for all ages and a range of child care and family activities. www.BigSkyResort.com , www. MoonlightBasin.com

Also: Encourage your kids to wear helmets! And for more information about resorts offering free lodging, rentals, lift tickets and airfare for children traveling with adults, visit www.Ski.com.

For more family travel ideas visit www.familytravel.com