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The “perfect” ski vacation can mean different things to different people. For some, it means days of devouring powder on the mountain followed by nights living it up in town.
Some may enjoy a quiet escape to a luxury ski resort where they can make plenty of turns while still enjoying fine dining, spa treatments, and a little R & R in the comfort of their hotel room or condo.
Others prefer the energy of a large group or multi-family vacation, sharing a condo or rental home, cooking their own meals, and exploring every nook and cranny of the ski resort and off-mountain activities.
Wherever you fall on the spectrum, you can plan the perfect vacation that meets all your needs (and more!).
For inspiration, we talked with three guests who had the time of their lives at a great U.S. ski resort.
Take a look at what they had to say and then start planning your next trip!
The multi-family trip
We caught up with Jessica and Chris Hulse, parents to two little rippers, ages 4 and 6 who live north of Denver, Colo.:
Q: Tell us about your recent group trip. What made it so great?
“Our family has been fortunate enough to plan a couple of ski vacations with various groups and we always opt for renting a house or condominium to stay in that will accommodate everyone. We recently hit the jackpot when renting a house in Breckenridge for a ski trip that consisted of three families, all with two children each and ages that ranged from 4 to 12,” Jessica said.
|To help you plan your perfect ski & snowboard vacation, use the following expert tips.
Find the best lodging deals. Look for early season and late season discounts through the resort lodging sites.
Choose lodging that offers free lift tickets with a minimum nights’ stay, or book a large rental with a group to share in the costs and prepare your own meals.
Consider an EpicPass. There are several different types of EpicPass and each one can save you some serious money.
You can purchase a 4-pack of tickets to a single resort, a 7-day pass that accesses several resorts or an EpicPass, which grants you the most access to all the resorts.
Rent equipment or bring your own? Flying with ski and snowboard gear can be a hassle. And with airline baggage fees, it can also be more expensive than renting equipment.
Every resort provides rental equipment and can have your gear ready for you upon arrival. Some will even deliver it to your hotel or condo.
For the best equipment and pricing, be sure to book through the resort’s website before your trip.
Visiting from abroad? Every resort makes it easy for international guests to book lodging and lift tickets from abroad.
You can book lift tickets 14 days in advance and you’ll be guaranteed the lowest price.
Your reservations agent or hotel concierge can assist you with equipment rentals, dining reservations and off-mountain activities during your stay.
Need to arrange childcare? Most resorts offer ski school and childcare, for kids of all ages.
The menu of options varies at each resort, but in many cases the kids can enjoy fun on-snow activities and indoor fun under the care of highly trained, experienced staff.
Everything is age-appropriate and tailored to your child. Half and full-day options are available, as is drop-in daycare if there’s room. Children are provided snacks and lunch.
"When planning this trip, the three families made wish lists for amenities they each wanted.
For us, it is a must that each family has a bedroom of their own, there are two living spaces, that the kitchen will be comfortable when there is more than one cook in it.
If there’s a hot tub, that’s icing on the cake.
By having a bedroom for each family, everybody has a ‘home base’ to escape to when a little rest from the crowd is needed.
Two living rooms give each age bracket their own space to spread out with toys and conversation.
An added bonus of two living spaces is that there is usually a pull-out couch to provide children a comfortable place to sleep, and adult conversation does not have to stop after bedtime,” she added.
Q: But what about the skiing?
“Breckenridge was a fantastic location when planning a trip for multiple people! We chose to ski at both Keystone and Breckenridge and had easy access to both.
The three families found plenty of terrain to satisfy every age and ability level, and we easily met up at various lodges on the mountain for lunch and hot chocolate breaks.
I loved that there were photographers on the slopes who could take group photos for us to purchase later. It was a great souvenir.”
Q: Did you have any favorite off-mountain activities?
“When we weren't skiing, we made good use of Adventure Point for tubing!
Breckenridge also has fun family nighttime activities and we all made it to the Ice Castle to explore and ride the slide.
Because Breckenridge is a resort destination and a residential town, there are many good restaurants to choose from as well as a full-sized grocery store, which we appreciated.
On Main Street, there are a lot of places to grab a hot chocolate for the kids while the parents do a little shopping.”
The Hulses say they plan to return to Breckenridge and Keystone next year.
Making the most of an EpicPass
Doug Hirtzel of Fountain Hills, Ariz. has purchased an EpicPass for the last five years.
We asked him to share more about how he uses it each season.
Q: What do you enjoy about the EpicPass?
“One of my favorite things is that Vail Resorts continues to acquire new resorts to add to its portfolio of destinations. This has opened up regional destinations such as Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City for pass holders like me.
Another great aspect of the resort community is that Vail Resorts has added these additional resorts to the family but still allows the local flavor of each individual resort to shine," Hirtzel says.
Q: Which resorts do you tend to visit the most?
“I tend to frequent Beaver Creek and Vail as the primary destinations.
Then I’ll add in Keystone or Breckenridge for a change. Vail is definitely a favorite on big powder days due to the large amount of terrain in the back bowls and the Blue Sky Basin.
The gondola also provides shelter from those windy cold days.
Beaver Creek offers some steeper terrain and monster bumps.”
Q: Where do you like to stay on your vacations?
“I typically meet up with a group of three to six other pass holders. We’ve been traveling together for years.
We keep the cost down by renting three-bedroom condos along the shuttle routes near the resorts.”
Q: Have you discovered any surprises?
“I was able to show one of our trip regulars the deep powder in the trees at Keystone.
Keystone really shone with the amount of tree skiing that could be had with the deep powder.”
Q: Any favorite restaurants or après ski spots?
“Last year we discovered El Sabor, which is located west of the gondola at Lionshead Village.
Sunday is definitely a favorite day to visit since they have $3.00 call drinks and half off appetizers all day.
Moe's BBQ in Lionshead is also another favorite for good food and cheap prices.
For a more upscale dining experience we stop at the Chophouse, which has a 3:00 p.m. champagne toast for its patrons.”
Hirtzel says he really gets his money’s worth with the number of days he skis on his EpicPass each season.
A quiet couples’ escape
Christy Brown and her husband recently enjoyed a quiet weekend in Park City, Utah skiing at Canyons Resort. Here’s what she has to say.
Q: What made you choose Canyons?
“We wanted to find a place where the snow is amazing but it’s also easy to enjoy stuff in town like spas and restaurants. I know it sounds silly, but we saw Canyons Resort featured on an episode of The Bachelor, and it looked so beautiful, romantic and fun!
I liked that it was easy to fly into Salt Lake City and catch a shuttle to Canyons Resort without a lot of driving or headaches. We wanted our vacation to start as soon as possible!
Q: Where did you stay?
“We took advantage of one of the ‘Ski Free Stay Free’ package deals at Grand Summit Hotel.
That’s where you stay a minimum of three nights and get the fourth day and ski pass free. We liked the ski-in/ski-out location and the concierge was amazing, taking care of restaurant reservations for us and helping us schedule massages after we skied.”
Q: What made the trip romantic?
“Honestly, it was the little things like fluffy bathrobes in our hotel room, the amazing farm-to-table dining options, the spa, hot tub, and just skiing together all day on the mountain.
When we weren’t skiing or relaxing at the hotel, we wandered around town and did some shopping, grabbed an espresso and pastry, and just enjoyed the amazing views. Park City is really a cool mountain town that we’d never experienced before.”
Q: Any favorite restaurants?
“The Farm near the base of Red Pine Gondola was a favorite because we love tasting local, seasonal flavors. We liked it because we could do happy hour or eat dinner there after our ski day without leaving the mountain.
Bruges Waffles was a fun morning treat. We shared a waffle topped with every kind of fruit and whipped cream you could imagine!
We also had an amazing dinner at Powder, which is inside the Waldorf Astoria. Their wine list and fresh menu were really innovative and impressive.”
Your next trip is just a few clicks away. Choose a resort to make your reservations today.