For the best New England family ski vacation, you need a fall line foursome: reliable snow, fun terrain, convenient lodging, and a resort that loves families. Take any of these out of the equation, and your downhill vacation is just not dialed. Powerful snowmaking is a must, along with diverse terrain to keep everyone entertained. Where you stay and what you do after the lifts stop can also make or break your winter break. Here are a few tried and true resorts with fun après ski for families:
Sunday River in Maine makes epic snow on eight peaks sprawling 742 acres and eight miles. The snow flows like H2O at the River, call it the 1900 snow gun salute. You will find great kids ski and ride programs like Mogul Munchkins and Meisters, an abominable mascot named Eddy the Yeti, plus family entertainment and fireworks. Stay at either slopeside hotel book-ending the resort, and hit the outdoor heated pool.
Sugarloaf, sister resort to Sunday River, is a big mountain with big heart. The Loaf shines with beginner terrain on Boardwalk to wicked White Nitro steeps off the 4,237-foot summit, and plentiful lodging in mountainside condos or the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel. Loaf locals love their resort village as much as folks from away, blend in by ordering Bag burgers and get your family photo with Amos the Moose. Visit Sunday River or Sugarloaf during Children's Fest Jan 13-17 when kids ski and stay free and get free lessons and rentals.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire's biggest ski area (464 acres), is beloved for its beautiful views of Mount Washington and gorgeous grooming on ego satisfying terrain. The grand 1902 Mount Washington Hotel provides sumptuous lodging, spa treatments, dinner and dancing in the elegant ball room or cocktails in the Prohibition Cave. Your youngster will enjoy evening Kids Club, plus milk and cookie turndown service. Who knew a ski trip could be so sublime?
When your kids are ready for more formidable terrain, go to Stowe. The legendary Front Four challenges the best, and the efficient quads and gondola keep you flying uphill in between. Staying at the swank Stowe Mountain Lodge steps from the lifts in Spruce Village seems more Deer Valley than Vermont. Soak in the luxurious outdoor heated pool, enjoy Vermont farm to table cuisine in Solace, then catch a live act at the Performing Arts Center. You have arrived when you ski Stowe - the Ski Capital of the East.
Okemo sounds funny, and it is - a fun place to ski. Okemo prides itself on outstanding lifts, extensive snowmaking and grooming, and friendly Vermont hospitality. After a great day at ski camp, take the kids on the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster, splash in the Spring House pool or a twirl in the Ice House rink. Another nod to Okemo is their superior ski area food, from Asian at the summit, Waffles on the slopes, to woodfired flatbreads, signature martinis and s'mores by the fire for the kids at Coleman Brook Tavern in the slopeside Jackson Gore Inn.
For a European ski trip without jetlag, Tremblant in Quebec is just the ticket - this extravagant French Canadian ski resort, north of Montreal, offers skiing on multiple faces, and superb après ski. The alpine village is like Disney on snow - delightful architecture, animated shops, bustling bistros, and an amazing water park - La Source. Your kids will learn to ski or board, and be outfitted with a GPS tracker, at Ecole sur Neige. Most everyone speaks English, but you will be immersed in la belle vie à Tremblant.
Waterville Valley has a Winter Unlimited Family Vacation package that beats the ski pants off the competition. Call it the return of the classic ski week, this Sunday - Friday deal includes lodging, tickets, family parties and a personalized keepsake ski pass! The kids will love skiing the woods on the new Adventure Trail, parents will like the price under $1,500 for a 5 day ski week.
-- Heather Burke, ski journalist and blogger at Family Ski Trips
Photos by Greg Burke, www.familyskitrips.com