Family Ski Vacations
Ski resorts that are geared toward the new and beginning skier are not hard to find. Most promote themselves as the premier place to learn to ski.
Look for a resort with a dedicated area for new skiers, including a slow, easy means of transport to the top of the learning hill, a package deal that includes a full day ticket on the learning area, appropriate skis, boots, and poles, and at least a two hour lesson in a guaranteed small group. If any of these features are not advertised ask about availability, and if any are not to your liking, look elsewhere.
You're the Customer
Ski resorts really want your business. If you are new to the sport, many will offer a selection of accommodations that ease you through the process of parking, getting outfitted, and getting placed on the hill for your first appearance on skis. In some cases, a resort photographer is even available to record your experience for posterity! You should expect to be coddled because if your experience is not pleasant, the resort knows you won't be back. Remember, it is a buyer's or learner's market because the resorts need your return visit in order to prosper.
Ski and Stay Packages
Family ski and stay vacation packages typically offer free children's lift tickets, with an adult purchase, as well as free lodging for children. Many ski areas offer multi-day packages with lessons every day, sometimes twice daily, and appropriate equipment upgrades as you progress. Most resorts have a planned progression of lessons that can step you through higher skill levels at your own learning pace.
Check to see if the resort has slopeside condominiums available. A condo is ideal for a family ski vacation. There are usually two or more bedrooms, a dining room or eating area, and a kitchen, so it isn't necessary to spend time (and money) eating every meal in a restaurant. A good alternative is a suite with a kitchenette. Also handy is outside access. A door to the parking lot saves dragging skis indoors, and it makes for easier access to, and from, the slopes. In fact, the last time we stayed at Killington Resort, in Vermont, our hotel not only had outside access, it had a built-in storage closet for our skis and boots.
If possible, an exercise room and pool, are good extras. You may be surprised to see that your children still have energy, when you're out of it, and an indoor pool is a good way to expend that extra energy. Regardless of the accommodations you choose, it's useful if a shuttle, or other transportation, to the slopes is provided directly from your condo or hotel.
If you have little ones, plan ahead. Review child care options and make your reservations well ahead of time. Heavenly Mountain Resort, for example, has on-site child care for children ages 6 weeks - 6 years. The resort has an impressive combination of ski, play, and child care programs, as well as the option of arranging a nanny to accompany your child throughout the day. Plan your nights out on the town, too. Check in advance to see if the resort can provide you with a list of approved babysitters. Make those reservations in advance, when possible, as well.
Finally, remember this is a family ski vacation and you will want to ensure that it's a good one. To be certain, most resorts have your best interests at heart, and can be trusted to provide an excellent product. It's up to you to cover all the bases, and to make sure your family ski vacation is planned, from beginning to end, in advance.