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  • Ski Nanny? Ski Resorts Catch a Trend

    By Suzanne Stroh

    Beaver Creek magic carpet; photo by Tammie Thompson Off the magic carpet and onto the lift!

    Out of the green and into the blue!

    From corduroy to all terrain!

    Every parent of a child skier dreams of a steady progression in building ski and snowboarding skills, followed by a "WOW!" - the spectacular breakthrough that brings the family closer together on the slopes. The odds of success increase when parents invest in professional instruction for kids. At some stage in the family's ski saga, the focus is on building wider experience in the high western mountains. But the price of ski school can be way steeper than the bunny slope. And when many families can only get together for a ski week once a year, ski school becomes a high-stakes investment. Kids want results, as do parents. But with so many details for parents to manage, making the most out of children's ski school while also making time for oneself can sometimes feel like running the high hurdles.

    Part of Jeff Davis's job is to change all that. As recreational supervisor of a Colorado kids program with all the bells and whistles, Davis wants to take the stress out of ski week for parents and kids. That's why he's managing a new hire this season: a ski nanny.

    Cookie Power; photo courtesy Beaver Creek Davis directs the Kids Roundup at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, Colorado. "Even at the very best ski schools in the country, like Beaver Creek, it's easy for parents to get overwhelmed with admin after long journeys to high altitude places where the kids have never been before." Davis pauses then reaffirms: "Yeah, especially parents of really little kids or first time skiers and boarders."

    The ski nanny understands kids and their special needs exercising outdoors and staying healthy at altitude. "Our goal is to get the children to Beaver Creek Ski School with a full belly and a smile," then pick them up after school, "allowing parents to get in every last run." Nanny's there for the instructor's debriefing at the afternoon handoff when it's important to cheerlead ski schoolers and keep an eye on learning curves. Nanny knows how to work the system at ski school so that chores get done, details get handled, children aren't rushed or paralyzed by separation anxiety and students aren't late for school. Nanny ensures that there's always adult backup on the mountain in case of any problems during the day. Nanny translates gear talk and ski/board jargon with ease. Best of all, the ski nanny ranks right up there with Mrs. Doubtfire in that all-important ski vacation skill: having a total blast.

    The ski nanny program, for Ritz kids in ski school between the ages of five and twelve, "is designed to assist parents in transporting their children over to ski school on time in Beaver Creek Village, while allowing them to still make first tracks on the mountain." It may sound like a dream, but if Jeff Davis has made the right bet, "ski nannying" will emerge as one of the hottest trends in ski vacations.

    Children's program managers and ski school directors agree that when kids have more support in making the most out of their instruction days, parents have more time to themselves on the slopes. So it's no surprise that "the M.F.S. degree (Masters in Family Ski Vacation)" comes with a hefty price tag. At Bachelor Gulch, it's $50 a day on top of the ski school fees and lift tickets, plus $10 for each additional child in the family. (Check it out at Just in case you're not booked into the Ritz Carlton next ski week, here's expert advice on how to be your own ski nanny.

    ......Suzanne Stroh ... A veteran ski nanny to her four-year-old daughter, Suzanne Stroh is a Washington, D.C. based writer, skier and mountaineer who has made high mountains her second home for the past 10 years. Stroh and her daughter will return to ski school in Colorado this winter.

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