Don't Leave the Kids at Home
Family-friendly resorts provide opportunities for parents and youngsters to be both together and separate. The best of the best have congenial slopes for little skiers (and nervous parents), children's terrain gardens, slow-skiing zones, and most of all, top-flight day care and children's ski schools, where full-day instruction, off-slope play, and lunch give parents freedom forthe day. In addition, because families are not comprised solely of small children, there must be more challenging runs to keep older kids and grownups entertained, as well as evening activities and places for teens to hang out. Bonuses include good snowboarding programs and facilities; teen activities; ample, well-located condominium lodging; and easy access from a major highway orsignificant airport to minimize hassles coming and going. The top family resorts will give you an idea of the standards that other resorts try to live up to.
Smugglers' Notch, Vermont, wrote the book on family skiing. Well-priced family packages include a full menu of children's activities, on skis and off. Programs include Alice's Wonderland day-care center, with day care for ages six weeks and older, Discovery Dynamos Ski Camp for ages 3 to 5 years, AdventureRangers Ski or Snowboard Camp for ages 6 to 12, and Mountain Explorers for 13- to 17-year-olds, which lets teenagers roam the three-mountain area on skis or snowboards. There's a 3,500-foot terrain park and a halfpipe, too. Small children discover nature onthe Magic Learning Trail, which explains the natural world and looks in on how snowmaking works. Coloring books for little ones, journals for older kids, and kids' trail maps make great souvenirs.
New this year are Wednesday Study Hall Smuggs-style, which helps seven- to 17-year-olds keep up with homework while on vacation, and Smugglers' designation, which certifies requirements for Boy Scoutmerit badges in Alpine or cross-country skiing. There's an array of evening entertainment for all ages, including the popular Outer Limits Teen Center, open from 5:00 p.m. to midnight, with music, parties, dancing and other activities.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication