Choosing the Right Resort
Investing in a family ski vacation takes research, time, and money. While most families can have a great time at
the vast majority of US ski resorts, there are a few factors which, if you get them right, could make a difference
between a good and great ski trip.
Getting there. Many great destinations have a fatal flaw - it takes an eternity to get there. Trust us - nothing is
worse for a family with 3 kids under 10 than spending all your time traveling. Stick with resorts that have airports
service nearby, or are reasonable driving distance. If you do need to drive far, plan the drive as part of the trip
with a fun stop on the way.
Timing. Each ski resort has a few different personalities throughout the winter. Call ahead and learn about the
seasonal aspects of each resort. Is Christmas peak time? How are January temps? When do the local schools
have winter breaks? Do they have a significant college spring break party crowd?
Greens,Blues and Blacks. This may not apply to the more advanced ski families out there, but for most of us,
there are at least a couple of our family members who need to stay on green and blue runs. A quick scan of a trail
map mix should tell you how a certain resort rates.
Ski Schools. The quality of a ski school is a big deal to families who hope to entertain their kids' time in class.
Check to see about rates, instructor quality, and class sizes and duration.
Non-Ski Activities. Just because a family member doesn't feel like skiing all day doesn't make them the party
pooper. Pick a location with shops, walking, tubing, a zipline,a museum, or something other than skiing, and then
embrace it. Break up the week with a trip to a waterpark nearby and you will be hero. Skiing can be the focus of
the vacation but doesn't have to be the obsession.
Lodging. This may seem obvious, but different resorts can have vastly different lodging options. A nightly lodging
budget of, say, $150 will go much further at Big Sky than it would in Aspen. Also, if you know that you prefer
ski-in, ski-out accomodations, or a large, multi-family condo, be sure those accomodations actually exist before
locking in to a single resort.
Deals. Everybody is looking for a deal, and when the economy is slower resorts are offering them. Narrow your
desired resorts down to a short list of 3-5, and then go shopping. Common deals include free lift tickets with a
certain lodging package, a 4th night and 3rd day of free lodging and skiing, or airfare discounts by booking
through a resort. The airfare discounts, however, are usually on a preferred airline of the resort's, not yours.