A family ski vacation can be an expensive undertaking—accommodations, gear, lift tickets, on-site dining, lessons for the kids—all of these things add up quickly, making it tough for frugal families to hit the slopes more than once each season. At the same time, skiing on a budget often requires making sacrifices in terms of your overall experience. Budget resorts may offer less terrain and you’ll likely end up staying somewhere off-mountain meaning driving and schlepping equipment each morning and afternoon. Fortunately, Vermont’s Bolton Valley Resort strikes the perfect balance between fantastic terrain, a slope-side location, and old-school ski resort charm with a comfortable price point.
Bolton Valley Resort in Bolton, Vermont, is a local’s mountain at heart, with a warm, welcoming vibe and a family friendly atmosphere. Everything at Bolton is close by—lifts and trails are just steps from the onsite hotel, while the base lodge and on-mountain dining are right at the foot of the slopes—making it very easy to have a mellow mountain experience. At Bolton, the staff encourages you to simply park your car and forget about it, which is exactly what we always do. As far as I’m concerned, being able to stay put makes for the ultimate ski getaway and I’ve never seen any reason to leave Bolton once we’ve gotten there. It’s a place where you can settle in and make yourself at home.
Bolton Valley’s Family-Friendly Accommodations
Accommodations at Bolton come in a variety of configurations, from traditional hotel rooms to generous one, two, and three bedroom family suites. Though the décor could use some updating, Bolton’s rooms are sparkling clean and very comfortable with the added bonus of being virtually ski-in-ski-out—it’s about a three-minute walk to the lifts from every room.
Our family of five has found Bolton’s one-bedroom condos offer plenty of space. A private bedroom with two queen beds and its own bathroom has been perfect for our three girls while my husband and I took up residence in the comfortable pull-down Murphy bed in the living area.The living room is also home to a queen-sized sofa bed (which we didn’t use), a plush recliner, a dining table that seats three, and a cozy wood-burning fireplace. The open plan design also features a spacious, well-stocked kitchen, full-sized appliances, and an ample breakfast bar with three stools. Ample storage is always a plus for ski accommodations and Bolton’s rooms have it all—lots of closet space, drawers, and, my favorite, an abundance of hooks.
While Bolton’s hotel may not be fancy, being able to walk to the Tavern in your slippers or quickly pop back to your room for an extra pair of hand warmers in between runs makes up for any lack of poshness in my book.
Delicious (and Affordable!) Dining Options
It’s easy to drop a decent chunk of change on meals during any type of family vacation. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of affordable options at Bolton, especially at the James Moore Tavern, where we found ourselves for both après ski and dinner most evenings. For lunch, or even dinner, Fireside Flatbread serves up thin crust pizzas in every style from traditional margherita to savory goat cheese with pesto and caramelized onions. Downstairs at the cafeteria, a bowl of hearty chili or chowder will run you eight bucks, but you can get a container from yesterday’s batch at the Bolton Valley Deli for a dollar and it’s just as delicious.
For those who care to be even more cost conscious, booking a room with a kitchen makes it simple to pack in groceries and prepare breakfasts, lunches, or even dinners during your stay. During a recent stay, I fired up a pulled pork in my crock-pot one morning that was ready when we came off the slopes at the end of the day.
Vermont Mountain Magic
Despite all of these creature comforts, it’s safe to say that the most important part of any ski trip are the slopes and Bolton Valley Resort gets an A-plus for beautiful, well-varied terrain—from gentle green and blue cruisers to adrenaline pumping diamond runs. Bolton is home to three mountain peaks, Wilderness, Vista, and Timberline, and glorious views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks can be admired from every summit.
Bolton also enjoys the highest base elevation in Vermont meaning it sees lots of the white stuff even when other resorts don’t, boasting an average annual snowfall of 300-inches. It’s a great family mountain with 73-percent of its terrain designated as beginner or intermediate mixed with some wild black diamond runs like VT 200 and Adam’s Solitude. The Wilderness area features fun glades skiing for newbies through the Wilderness Woods and kids will love the bumps and trees along Enchanted Forest. And while you’ll never be short on skiable acreage here, Bolton’s smaller feel makes it a great place for tweens explore on their own.
Don’t Rush for the Last Chair!
At Bolton Valley, there’s no need to make that mad dash to catch the last chair when four o’clock arrives. On Wednesday through Saturday the lifts spin until eight o’clock and skiers and riders can enjoy the slopes after dark—making Bolton the only Vermont resort to offer night skiing. On Fridays, Late Night at Bolton means the mountain is open until ten, with live music and drink specials in the Tavern. The resort offers great pricing on night skiing tickets and those with regular lift tickets on night skiing days can take advantage of several more hours of skiing and riding at no additional charge.
In a vacation industry where sticker shock happens all too often, Bolton Valley Resort is a welcome change. The mountain’s motto is “Happiness is Bolton Valley,” and it couldn’t be more true.