Christmas is a holiday season that is synonymous with skiing. With this holiday and New Year being one of the peak times for ski resorts, it might perhaps be a time to take a look at some pretty great ski destinations to spend time with the family. After all the holidays are meant to be spent with family and what better way to bond that skiing down the slopes and enjoying smores and cider by the fireplace at the end of the day. Add in the festive lights at the ski village and lots of snow to build that snowman or for a snowball fight, the recipe for fun is all there inside ski resorts. Having been to several ski resorts in my travels, I will highlight some great ski resorts to spend time with family in this winter. Even though it might be a bit late to secure lodging for this holiday season, these are always great destinations to spend time with family and friends during winter.
Sun Valley Ski Resort in Ketchum, Idaho
This ski resort is one of the oldest in North America and comprises of 2 mountains with one of them essentially a bunny hill great for families with kids just starting out. There is the recently renovated Sun Valley Lodge for a luxury ski vacation, or numerous townhomes and lodges for rent in the small town of Ketchum. Even though the town is small, the ski resort is one of the most luxurious with comfortable lounge areas in the ski lodges and well equipped restrooms. The variety of terrain is great with steep runs in the larger Bald Mountain and family friendly ski runs on Dollar Mountain right by Sun Valley Lodge. This is one ski resort built for the family and with the town nearby, visitors can easily get groceries for an extended stay during the holiday season.
For sure there are downsides such as the lack of snow at some season. It is also worth keeping in mind how inaccessible the resort is with the Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport (SUN) serving the area. Limited services run to this resort and its location in between Boise and Idaho Falls with both cities more than 2 hours away, this resort is quite remote though it does make it less crowded!
Beaver Creek Ski Resort in Vail/Eagle, Colorado
Less well known than Vail but located close to each other, Beaver Creek is home to some fantastic ski hotels like the Park Hyatt and Ritz Carlton. Skiers here are pampered with smores in the evenings by the bonfire and well maintained lodges on the mountains. Much of the terrain are groomed and this makes it suitable for families to ski together.
After skiing, there is plenty to do in the village with an ice skating rink taking centre stage and gourmet food is all around with restaurants that would not be out of place in top cities. The ability to ski and have a fun time with snow and still come back to proper food and entertainment in top notch lodging is sure a luxury that makes Beaver Creek great! As always, luxuries do not always come cheap and Beaver Creek can be quite expensive to ski in, though the Park Hyatt is redeemable on Hyatt points, so there are still ways to reduce the cost to a minimum.
Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, Canada
Well regarded as the top resort in North America, the pedestrian-friendly malls with plenty of shopping and dining does incentivize visitors even if they do not ski. Furthermore, the Peak 2 Peak gondola is amazing in terms of conveniently accessing both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, opening up the terrain for all. And the ability to ski down from top to bottom on green runs makes it great for beginners to admire at the views when the weather is great.
Whistler is also home to the Nintendo Terrain Park and features a gaming area sponsored by Nintendo in the main Roundhouse lodge. This is also one mountain where I have had the chance to get usable wifi access sponsored by Telus, a local telecommunications company.
One downside to Whistler is the crowds that is testament to its status as one of the best ski resorts. Also to take note that most of the time, it can be rainy in the village instead of snowing and the weather can be awfully depressing for the festive holiday season. But of course, the great terrain at the upper part of both mountains almost always clear up that gloomy weather at the bottom.
Snowmass Ski Resort in Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is probably famous worldwide as a ski town, but it has a fair share of expert and fast skiers that certainly makes it intimidating for beginners. Instead the larger Snowmass resort that is owned by the same company allows skiers access to 4 resorts including Aspen. The good thing is that Snowmass is more of a contained ski resort with most of the amenities close by in the village. And the wonderful Elk Camp ski area makes it great for adults to join in the fun with activities like tubing in the evening after most lifts are closed. Barbeque, bonfires and music at the mountains adds to the festive cheer and can be an amazing experience for families.
However the village itself lacks the variety and quality of dining seen in Aspen and that makes it harder to conveniently enjoy good food. Both Aspen and Snowmass are also quite difficult to access with Aspen Airport (ASE) being the main point of arrivals, while the airport is prone to shutting down in the event of adverse weather. All this means the crowds in the resort are less but the cost of getting there might be a hefty expense.
Meribel in Les Trois Vallées, France
Part of the Les Trois Vallées, and also the largest inter-connected ski area in the world, Meribel is the most family friendly with lodging here comprised mainly of condominiums and multiple room lodges. The warmer weather compared to Val Thorens and its location in a valley setting creates a more relaxed atmosphere. The village has plenty of eateries since the Europeans do aprés much better, while there are many areas for kids in snow school to venture upon and have fun. There are designated theme areas for beginners around the Heliport area and a Yeti park with an adorable monster as a mascot, making skiing as fun as it can be for the family.
Something to note for Meribel is the vast number of runs and how the village is split into different areas, meaning that skiers not familiar could end up quite far from where they intend to be. This also means that amenities are more or less split with Meribel-Mottaret being the most crowded and also the choice location to be based at.
Based on the numerous ski resorts I have been to, I find these 5 resorts to be exceptionally outstanding in providing amenities to families. They make skiing so much more easier and convenient when bringing the little ones to ski and they will ensure fun for the adults as well with a wide variety of terrains to suit all types of skiers and snowboarders. With that I wish all skiers and snowboarders a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and lots of snow to come for this season. As always, ski safe and enjoy the festivities!