Longing to find the perfect lodging for your family’s ski vacation? One with the perfect combination of perks and conveniences, while still staying on a budget? Feeling flumoxed over the flurry of options? Ski in / ski out vs. true ski in /ski out, then there’s slopeside, ski in-shuttle out and vice versa. If you find your eyes glazing over these terms, you’re not alone. Here’s a guide to the meaning of ski in / ski out along with a few of the best ski in /ski out resorts in the U.S.
Family ski trips can be a lot of work — there’s planning, carrying gear for kids and figuring out how a group with different ski levels will eventually meet up again. While planning a recent ski trip to Jackson Hole, we looked at the meaning and advantages of ski in /ski out resorts versus staying off site. Here’s what we found out.
Ski In / Ski Out
Ski in/ski out lodging means you should be able to easily ski directly to a ski slope or chair lift and be returned on your skis to a spot just steps from your hotel. You should not have to walk a couple blocks carrying your skis or need to take a shuttle bus to the slopes.
In Jackson Hole, Snake River Lodge, in Teton Village just 300 feet from the Jackson Hole Mountain Aerial Tram, is a great ski in/ski out option. If you’re pining for a Colorado ski in/ski out option, The Pines at Beaver Creek should be at the top of your list. It’s 150 yards from the Strawberry Park ski lift and a five minute walk to the bustling activity in Beaver Creek Village.
True Ski In/Ski Out
Sometimes you can ski in, but not out or vice versa. Some resorts now advertise that they are “true ski in/ski out,” to make it perfectly clear to potential guests that you can get in and out easily on skis.
No resort embodies the “true ski in/ski out” experience better than Four Seasons Jackson Hole. You literally walk out of the hotel and onto the slopes. Four Seasons knows their clientele. If a ski vacation becomes a hassle, skiers won’t be coming back. So they’ve taken every hassle out of the family ski trip. Just steps from several chairlifts, ski valets stand at the door ready to assist little ones gear up or carry their equipment. It’s just a three-minute walk from shops, bars and restaurants of Teton Village. Four Seasons also has a world-class spa.
Mom can ski with the family then duck out early for a massage, and feel refreshed by dinner time or by the end of the kids’ ski lesson.
Slope side can be a vague term. Here’s where you definitely need to call and speak to a desk clerk or concierge. Slope side accommodations normally mean you can reasonably walk to the ski lifts. As any parent knows, a “reasonable” walk takes on a whole new meaning if you’re walking with a toddler… especially one wearing ski boots and towing gear. Make sure and call ahead and get the exact details on what the walk looks like and the exact length.
Another option some resorts offer is called “direct access.” That can mean a variety of things. At the Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek “direct access to skiing” means the hotel has its very own gondola right outside the back door. Just steps from the gondola is the ski rental and ski valet area. However, the Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek isn’t actually in Beaver Creek. It’s in the neighboring town of Avon. Westin Riverfront is a luxurious hotel, with a long list of amenities including heated lap pool, three Jacuzzis, restaurants, a world-class spa and kids club. However, it’s nowhere near the ski village. That means family members have less flexibility. For example, it can be tough for Mom to spend the morning at the spa, then meet up with the rest of the group slopeside at 3 p.m. for the warm, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies Beaver Creek’s become famous for!
Many families choose to stay off-site in a ski condo. That’s a privately owned property rented out to guests. Perks are that it’s often less expensive than a hotel and it gives you more space. It can be an ideal situation for a multi-family meet-up. Jackson Hole Resort Lodging manages a vast variety of condo rentals.
We stayed in The Aspens condos, 15 minutes from both downtown Jackson and the ski slopes. Our condo, located in a quiet residential neighborhood, came with a full kitchen and the small Aspen Market grocery store was within walking distance of our unit.
Families might consider combining a couple of pricier on-mountain lunches with spaghetti or mac-and-cheese back at the condo.
Another important thing to check out is the kids free deals at various ski resorts. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort welcomes kids, 14 and under, to ski and rent free, one child per paying adult, with a four-night resort condo rental. Sweet deal, as junior tickets can be as much as $80.