So many components are necessary for a great family ski vacation that many vacationers give up. You need plenty of powder, of course. So, cold snowy nights. BUT – not too cold on the slopes. You need easy access – close to the highway, cute town with family friendly food. BUT – not too close to a major city, or the lift lines become unmanageable. You also need lots of après ski activities, or diversions if the weather doesn’t cooperate BUT – you don’t want to attract a hard-partying crowd that scares away families.
Family friendly Okemo
Okemo Mountain Resort hits every note perfectly.
The conditions for our recent family ski trip were picture perfect, with fresh snow at night, sunny days where the summit wasn’t too too cold, and just enough bustle to make you feel you’d chosen the place to be, without crowds.
Of course, Okemo, in Southern Vermont, can’t claim responsibility for the weather, and last winter was a sad, snow-less one. But the resort does expertly manage a sweet spot, a mixture of family friendly amenities and challenging terrain for experienced skiers and snowboarders.
The main lodge, Jackson Gore Inn, offers rental equipment and slope-side access; ride the high speed quad and ski over to the main mountain. Jackson Gore also houses the Penguin Playground day care and the ski school for ages 6 months to 16 years (there is another day care center and ski school based at the main Okemo lodge).
What made the Inn special were touches like the tavern bar, which has fondue-kit s’mores. While Mom & Dad sip a perfect martini or craft beer, the kids can warm up in front of the fire and have a snack.
And the underground garage so you could get to your car without putting on a coat, or having to scrape the windshield.
The Okemo ski lifts close at 4pm (no night skiing cuts down on the party atmosphere) but there is still plenty to do.
We rode the mountain coaster, a year round attraction that speeds you up and down the mountain. There is also snow tubing and ice skating, an indoor-outdoor pool and, for those feeling flush, a snowmobile ride back up the mountain for dinner (all right at the Inn).
Even if you don’t stay at Jackson Gore Inn, you can enjoy all these activities except the pool.
And the kindness extends beyond your stay. Even after you check out, you can use the locker rooms at the adjacent Spring House (which also has a fitness center, racquetball court, pools with slides and a hot tub) to change out of your ski gear for the trip home.
Note: I was given free lodging, lift tickets and ski rentals.