Here are resorts and lodges in the Northeast offering good bets and great deals for families this winter:
APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB in New England offers snow-loving families a different kind of winter outdoor adventure, cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and ice-skating. You can even plan a winter adventure with experienced AMC guides. Custom adventures are available at both AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge and Highland Lodge in the White Mountains and families can pick the activity, time and skill level at a cost of just $75 for a guide for the family. There is an exclusive “Learn to Snowshoe Weekend” for adults and children at Joe Dodge Lounge Jan. 11-13, which includes lodging, meals, guided activities, and snowshoes.
BOLTON VALLEY RESORT is the only Vermont resort to offer night skiing and riding (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights) when tweens and teens rule. You can also give your kids a lesson in being green—the wind turbine near the top of Vista quad produces an eighth of the resort’s energy needs. You’ll run into a lot of locals from Burlington here and because everything is walking distance–lodging, lifts, pool– it is an easy place to navigate with kids. Bolton’s three terrain parks and the 300 acres of trails and glades are divided almost equally for novice, intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. Bolton Valley, having recently partnered with Burton, has introduced a “Learn to Ride” program, combining the most advanced equipment, instruction, and learning environments to provide an excellent snowboarding experience and bring your skills to a new level. Powder Passes are great for families that enjoy skiing but don’t need the commitment of full season passes. For just $199 for adults and $149 for youth/college/seniors, you’ll get five lift tickets that you can use any day during the 2012-13 season — with no blackout dates. Here’s what I wrote about Bolton Valley and how snowsports can change kids’ lives
BOYNE at Boyne Highlands Resort and Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan’s two largest ski areas with a combined 850 skiable acres and 115 trails, the 2012-13 winter season brings on-hill investments, new Burton Riglet Parks and Burton Store, spa facility, hotel renovations, winter fly fishing trips and an expanded Tubing Park. Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain have partnered with Burton Snowboards to develop Riglet Parks at the resorts for the 2012-13 season. The parks are the first to be built in northern Michigan, and join just one other park in the state. Riglet Parks offer on-snow play areas with fun terrain and features designed to introduce children ages 3 to 6 to snowboarding. There’s an indoor water park the kids are sure to love and a winter zipline at Boyne Highlands that’s guaranteed to please tweens, teens—and adventurous parents.
BROMLEY MOUNTAIN RESORT celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and is the only ski area in Vermont that faces totally south which means it could be warmer. Families love this mountain because it is more intimate with varied terrain including two new terrain parks and plenty of off-the-slopes action including outlet shopping, ice skating, sleigh riding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Combine Bromley’s $49 midweek/non-holiday ticket with its fantastic Family Friday deal, where each paying adult pays just $15 per kid for up to three kids, except for holidays, and a family of four skis for just $128.New this season is 2-fer Tuesdays. Purchase your life ticket online and get a 2 for 1 deal on Tuesdays (non-holiday) and you and a guest ski for less than $25! Purchase tickets 48 hours in advance on Bromley.com to get the deal. Another online perk: Save $15 on Each Consecutive Day when you purchase your Multi-Day ticket online, you pay full price for day one, but then $15 less for days two and three.
MOUNT SNOW RESORT provides a unique “back-to-base” trail system that keeps the entire family together. Mt. Snow, in southern VT, is a draw for young freestyle skiers and snowboarders who come for the only all-park mountain face in the east, Carinthia, equipped with 125 freestyle features in eight parks complete with natural obstacles (rock jibs) as well as recycled pieces (giant tires). For beginner park skiers, there is also The Grommet Park that has small jumps. Don’t miss the tubing Park. Jan. 6 is the annual Youth Pay Their Age Day for everyone 18 and under. Get 10 percent off lift tickets during Martin Luther King Weekend and President’s Week and check out the Kids Ski & Learn Free Weeks. Stay Sunday-Thursday nights for 3-5 nights, purchase an adult 3-5 day lift ticket and children 4-12 years old get a FREE 3-5 day lift ticket and half-day morning clinic. Valid Jan 20-25, Feb 24-Mar 1, and Mar 3-8, 2013.
OKEMO, located in Southern Vermont with easy access from Boston, New York and other East Coast points. Okemo offers free use of its lower lifts all season long and kids up to age 18 ski free on select days throughout the season when parents buy a regular priced lift ticket in advance. First time skiers and snowboarders can take part in the free program that includes a lower-mountain lift ticket, beginner group lesson and rental gear. It’s available for ages 7 and up every Monday through Friday. Anyone interested in private lessons beginning at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. (Sunday through Friday, non-holidays) can receive a 20 percent discount off normal pricing. Okemo also has plenty of other options for fun in the snow right at the mountain—skating, tubing, swimming, an alpine coaster and even a giant snow mound where kids like to play king of the mountain. Come midweek and save up to 30 percent in lodging, get a resort credit and discounted lifts and rentals.
PENNSYLVANIA. The 22 member resorts of the Pennsylvania Ski Area Association are offering a $5 coupon off all Learn a Snowsport packages in January. At Ski Sawmill in North Central Pennsylvania, Sunday nights are family nights with adult lift tickets for just $17; kids tickets (ages 6-11) for $15 and rentals for $15. Check out Hidden Valley with 2 for one children’s private ski lessons (1 hour) on Wednesdays and a $32 lift ticket includes complimentary rental equipment and beginner group lesson
SMUGGLERS’ NOTCH in Northern Vermont, not far from Burlington or Montreal, is known in New England for its top-notch children’s facilities (including infant care) and off the slope activities including a zip line. It’s offering a Club Smugglers’ Adventure Package this winter that includes lift tickets, lodging, ski and snowboard lessons for kids, for adult beginners and unlimited use of cross country and snowshoe trails as well as the FunZone Family Entertainment Center, tubing and more. Smugglers’ Notch has also been working with Burton Snowboards to build the Burton Riglet Park, an on-snow play area on Sir Henry’s Learning Hill with fun features designed for young snowboarders. One of the most exciting parts of the park is the “treehouse,” an elevated platform with ramps that children can ride down, a balance area inside the treehouse and a lift chair that swings to help kids practice getting on and off the lift. Its three mountains encompass 1,000 acres of terrain. Check out the Burton Riglet Park with new “Learn to Ride” equipment for beginning snowboarders- featuring a softer flex, edge bevel and a convex base, which reduces the likelihood of catching an edge and makes linking turns easier. There are even all-day snowboarding camps for ages 3-5.
STRATTON in Southern Vermont is a favorite for East Coast families. Kids 17 and younger are invited to ski and stay free when two adults purchase a (2 night minimum) lift and lodging package. Kids can get free rentals too, when an adult purchases a rental. Kids love the tubing hill and that once they turn 8, they can drive a mini snowmobile in the Sun Bowl Base Area. Parents love the village atmosphere of the base area, the 45 acre Learning Park and EZ Street, a three mile green run from the summit. Teens like the Wreck teen club with indoor skate ramp. We logged a lot of weekends at Stratton when my youngest was on a ski team there and never got bored. Check out the Long Weekend Deal: Book three nights- Thursday, Friday and Saturday or Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and ski Friday or Monday for free. Available weekends, non-holiday all season in select properties.
STOWE is home to Vermont’s highest Peak, Mt. Mansfield and is known for its postcard-pretty New England town, its “Famous Four” double-blacks, some of the longest intermediate cruisers in the East, and a group of beginner trails in the Toll House area. Spruce Peak is geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers and riders. Lower Spruce – the area nearest the Spruce Base Are Complex – is a great place to learn. Take time to visit the Ski Museum, or take a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory. Stowe Mountain Lodge welcomes dogs as well as kids and is known for its farm-to-table cuisine. Check Go Stowe for lodging deals; snowshoe or cross country ski at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.
SUNDAY RIVER in Maine boasts a 50-plus year history, eight interconnected peaks, 12 hour skiing and riding Fridays, Saturdays and select holidays, a White Cap Fun Center with a tubing park, and a Sugaring House so you can get an up close look at how maple syrup is made—complete with samples. Many families come to Sunday River because of the Perfect Turn Ski and Ride School. During Children’s Festival Week (Jan. 14-18), there will be scavenger hunts, live entertainment, movies, pajama parties, teen parties, and themed Perfect Turn kid’s lessons – with kids ski, snowboard, stay, rent, and learn for free when families stay three nights or longer.
WATERVILLE VALLEY RESORT in New Hampshire offers 250 acres to ski or ride, a big Nordic Center that is groomed daily and a Town Square just a short walk from most of the resort accommodations. There’s even an indoor ice rink. Book online 24 hours in advance and you can get a Learn to Ski or Ride package for just $39 including a two-hour lesson, equipment and a lower mountain lift ticket. Look for “Town Square” events that include fireworks. This year there are new seasonal programs such as the Junior Instruction Programs for 15 weekends plus the Christmas holiday week. Programs are designed for kids 4-16 who already ski or snowboard, starting at the lower intermediate level. Special programs for 4- and 5-year-old skiers, alpine and snowboarding groups for 6–12 years and specialized groups for kids aged 8-12 who are interested in learning the fundamentals of competitive racing and freestyle skiing.
Eileen Ogintz is a leading national family travel expert whose syndicated column Taking the Kids is the most widely distributed column in the country on family travel. She also is the author of seven family travel books. Special thanks to Becca Tasch for her invaluable research assistance on this story.
For more Fun in the Snow stories, check out these lists of the best ski resorts for families across the country: