Resort Roundup: What's New for 2002/03
A Sampling of Family Resorts Across the U.S.
Here's the short list on what's new and noteworthy at some family resorts across the country. For a more detailed look at amenities, program and pricing, see our KidzResort Review section here. Not in any particular order:
Whiteface/Gore, NY. (www.orda.org)
It's all about new lifts in upstate New York. Whiteface gets a new
high-speed detachable quad lift that runs from the base of the mountain
to the bottom of the summit chair. It replaces a
triple and double chair and eliminates the need for the mid-station
unload area, significantly increasing uphill efficiency and betters
skier/rider dispersion on the mountain. Additional snowmaking, always
welcome, and an expansion of the Kids Kampus will also improve the whole
ski experience for families. By the way, if you're heading to Lake
Placid this winter, consider that The Verizon Sports Complex will host
the 2003 World Bobsled Championships in February.
At Gore Mountain, "The Topridge Triple," three new trails and a glade on
Bear Mountain have been added. The lift will provide service from Straightbrook Valley terrain to the summit of Bear Mountain. The Straightbrook Valley is noted for popular runs such as "Hawkeye" and
"The Rumor." "The Topridge Triple" will eliminate the need to traverse
the flats of "Cloud," an area that was once the only route to access the
base from the Gore Mountain summit. Win-win for everybody.
Jack Frost/Big Boulder, PA (www.jfbb.com)
Jack Frost has installed a new Double-Double lift, a surface lift to
their halfpipe and a new "Ski Carpet." Everyone now gets up the mountain
more efficiently. At sister mountain Big Boulder, a new 300-foot "Ski
Carpet" has also been installed meaning that, together, the two hills
have 44 ski runs served by 16 aerial lifts, plus those two carpets. Toss
in two dozen tubing chutes with nine lifts, two half pipes, and the
Mountain Dew Terrain Park, largest in the Poconos, and you've got a lot
of snow sliding options.
Better still, the famous Snow Monsters are coming to Jack Frost and Big
Boulder Children's Ski Schools. Can there be a more fun way to learn
than from guys like Snowball the Tiger and the Snowboard Beaver in a
winter playground adorned with foam fantasy elephants, dinosaurs and
Arches? The Snow Monsters package is a full day program packed with good
stuff: a ski or snowboard lesson, equipment rental, an educational video
and a lift ticket.
Best news of all? Prices have been held back to last year's or earlier
levels, and a bevy of on-line specials can be had at their website,
including: four lift passes for $99 (expires January 17, 2003); or
Ticket Express, available all season, midweek lift tickets $28 and
Bretton Woods, NH. (www.brettonwoods.com)
Used to be that Bretton Woods was just another small ski area. Then the
Mt. Washington Hotel opened for winters, and the place began to grow.
Now, with pipes, parks, glades, new lifts and plenty of holiday events
at the hotel, it's a major destination.
Two new quad chairlifts highlight this season's improvements, one a
high-speed quad that replaces the West Mountain fixed-grip quad, the
second a fixed-grip quad that will replace the Crawford Double, which
services a beginner area, and can be ridden free. A Salomon Demo Center
at the base area allows guests to test Salomon's newest stuff while. On
the hill, additional tower snow guns means more trail coverage, and new
pipe grooming equipment will make the area's halfpipe pretty cool indeed.
Skinny skiers and snowshoers will appreciate the revamped facility that
serves the incredible Nordic skiing on the grounds of The Mount
Washington Hotel. You'll find a rental shop, retail shop, locker rooms
for changing and storing clothing, and a new restaurant, The
Presidential Grill. Nice.
Loon Mountain, NH (www.loonmtn.com)
Snowplay toys aren't new at Loon, just special. We love that these guys
provide every conceivable way to slide downhill. Loon's has to rank as a
leader in offering new snow sliding options. So, what can you do?
Start with mini-terrain parks. C'mon - not all of us are big enough or
skilled enough to ollie with the big boys.
Ktubes. They call it "extreme tubing," these tubes are steerable. No
driver's license required, however.
Snow Skates and Snow Decks. Skateboarding for the snow. No bindings, no
edges, no limits. Go for it, dude.
Snow Cycles. The ski bike has been around since the early '50s,
according to Loon. But, folks in Switzerland have been doing this for
more than a hundred years. You can ride these K2 "bikes" all day or
three-hours at a time, and they'll give you free instruction on how to
Sno Scoots. An extreme, BMX-style snow bike that's perfect for the
downhill mountain biker or BMX enthusiast who misses the warm weather.
Another all-day or three-hour deal, with free intro instruction.
Tubing for Tots. You've gotta like a place that reserves a tubing run
just for the toddlers. By the hour.
Night Tubing. For eight years old/48-inches tall and up. By the hour.
Find the snowplay tools at the base of Little Sister in the east basin area.
Smugglers' Notch (www.smuggs.com)
The best always seem to get better, and Smugglers' has long been the
best place for families. Now they've added all sorts of new stuff and
programs to make them even better. Start with a whole new Children's
Center - Treasures. Consider: radiant floor heating, giant fish tanks in
every room, tiny toilets and small sinks, 5,400 square feet of indoor
space, ski-in and ski-out convenience, one-way mirror viewing for
parents, heated snowmelt walkways and easy drop off and pick up. More?
The place is filled with toys and games. The staff is trained in first
aid, CPR, child development and behavior management.
Smuggs continues its tradition of special evening programs, including
"Kids' Night Out" for ages 3-11 with different activities featured on
different nights: Wednesday nights - Make your own T-Shirt; Thursday
nights - Fireworks and party at the FunZone; Saturday nights - Movie
Night and Pizza Party.
You say you're stuck with teens in your brood? These guys have two
(count 'em) teen centers. Teen Alley serves 13-15 year olds with all the
teen necessities - Internet access, Playstation 2, X-Box, video games,
couches, a soda/beverage bar with stools, and music and a dance floor in
a club-like atmosphere. Right outside is the Snow Deck Park, with
rollers, rails, a fun box and jumps for snow-deckers. The Outer Limits
Teen Center - just as cool - caters to ages 16-18.
Most places won't teach kids to snowboard til they're seven. Smuggs is
introducing a Learn-to-Snowboard Camp for Four and Five-Year Olds, with
very low teacher-to-kid ratios.
Bromley Resort (www.bromley.com)
These guys have been teaching skiing and handling families since 1936,
so they've had some practice. Aside from lessons for all ages and
abilities, the Bromley Learning Center has gained an superb reputation
for handling little ones. Their Kids' Center _ features wonderful
official "Ambassadors to Childhood" - PigDog and Bruce the Moose. Kids
Bromley's been operating their day care, The Mighty Mites Club, longer
than anyone in the industry, where they handle kids 6 weeks young to 4
years old. When they're ready for on-snow action, Bruce the Moose's
Mighty Mooses (ages 3-5) combines skiing with play in such a way that,
as they put it, "makes it impossible for the Mooses to tell when the
playing stops and the learning starts."
Bromley is large enough to keep most of us entertained and challenged,
and small enough to keep us sane. A good choice - especially if you
don't want to drive too far.
Sugarloaf USA (www.sugarloaf.com)
Besides being a huge hill with lift-served, above-treeline terrain and
having a user-friendly, not-too-big/not-too-small base village,
Sugarloaf now has this place they call the Antigravity Complex. It's a
20,000-square foot building that holds Maine's largest indoor skate bowl
and one of the most aggressive street park designs in New England. Other
features include trampolines with harness rigging, an indoor rock
climbing wall, and a multi-purpose court with running track along with
weight training and aerobic facilities. They also offer private clinics
on the trampolines and climbing wall.
Turbo Tubing is another family-friendly feature we like. For ages five
to 100, the tubing park features a handle-tow and four thousand-foot
chutes, with slower tubes for younger children (height requirement: 42
And, many special evening activities events are regularly scheduled:
Game Night, with interactive games, board games and card games for
everyone; Movie Night, for ages 5-12; Pictures with Amos, in which
children meet a friendly moose; Families in Motion, with skating and
sledding; Snowshoe Safari; and Wild Card, in which a different activity
is featured each week.
Breckenridge, CO. (www.breckenridge.com)
We like Breck. It's funky, happening and, even though it can be large
and confusing, they handle families nicely. They've got a new
high-speed, six-passenger Independence SuperChair on Peak 7 this season,
which opens up 165 acres of intermediate terrain, including seven new
trails and the Peak 7 glades. This adds 30-percent more intermediate
terrain. And, to simplify moving riders between mountains, they've added
the new Peak 8 SuperConnect high-speed quad to replace and extend the
old Chair 4. A mid-station loading point allows skiers and riders to
board the lift where Chair 4 previously began.
Another nice program: Café Breck opens for kids in the evenings. Located
at The Village at Breckenridge Resort, you're can come as a family or
let your kids experience KIDS B.A.S.H. (Breckenridge After Ski/Snowboard
Hangout) on their own. It's open 5-9pm, Monday-Saturday, and serves up
home-style adult entrees and soup and salad bar for under $10, plus a
kid-oriented buffet for under $5. From 5:30-8:30pm, parents can drop off
kids ages 5-12 for three hours of food, activities, and professional
supervision, including face painting, games, and sledding. They
recommend you make a reservation.
Breck, too, has quickly become one of the premier Burton Learn To Ride
(LTR) Program Method Centers. LTR offers a unique snowboarding
experience for children 14 and under that includes trampoline training
worked into the snowboard lesson to enhance the learning experience, a
very low instructor/student ratio, and lunch with instructors included
in the price. Pre-registration is required. (Visit www.methodcenter.com.)
Copper Mountain, CO. (www.ski-copper.com)
Copper's new base village has changed the very nature of the place. And,
the change is much for the better. Parents taking kids to ski school at
The Schoolhouse at Union Creek can stop at the Union Creek drop-off,
where the Sled Shed has free sleds to carry kids and gear to lessons.
The Schoolhouse itself has been wonderfully designed for its users - the
kids - complete with child-sized bathrooms, a kid-sized cafeteria,
stairs, tables and chairs to help them feel more comfortable. Created
with a traditional schoolhouse feel, kids ages 3-13 start their day by
going down a giant slide from the second floor out to the slopes. A
kid-specific adventure trail is another spiffy idea.
Another ski school feature we like: an early end to the day that leaves
time for the whole family to ski another run together. Or, if you
must ski to the end, Kids' Camp from 3:00-4:30 pm provides
activities for kids after their lessons
Child care happens in the Belly Button Bakery and Belly Button Babies
for ages six weeks to four years. Offering combined indoor and outdoor
play experiences for older children and a specially-designed, separate
area for infants, the Belly Button Bakery is located right next to the
Copper's Kids' Night Out program fills an evening with fun and games,
videos and pizza for ages 10 and under from 5:30- 0:00 pm. Participation
is free to parents who spend the equivalent of $20 per child or more
while shopping or dining at Copper.
In The Village center, Burning Stones Plaza is the activity hub - a
great place to watch weekly big air demos and other on-mountain events,
or hear live music and see roaming street performers, event exhibitions
and a nightly cyber-light show.
Utah's "Stay & Ski In 2003" (www.skiutah.com)
Utah resorts want you back, now that the Olympians have gone home.
They're giving away a free day of skiing or riding when you book four
nights of lodging during your stay. The "Stay & Ski In 2003" promotion
offers up to two free lift tickets per lodging reservation (four nights
or more); just redeem the voucher given to you by the lodging company at
the participating ski resort ticket window. There are no blackout dates,
but lodging restrictions may apply.
Utah resorts participating in the "Stay & Ski In 2003" program are:
Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brian Head, Brighton, The Canyons, Deer Valley
Resort, Elk Meadows, Nordic Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder
Mountain, Snowbird, Solitude and Sundance.
Brian Head Resort, UT (www.brianhead.com)
Brian Head Resort is one of Utah's better kept secrets. But, did you
know they were named one of Family Travel Forum's "Top 10 Getaways for
Family Travelers." Whistler/Blackcomb) was the only other place awarded
this honor among North American destinations.
Brian Head sits on two mountains, which they've packed with 12 freestyle
areas/parks. That's a lot of parks. Want to bring a first-timer?
First-time skiers or snowboarders may purchase an all-day lift ticket
and all-day ski or snowboard rental and receive a 2-1/2 hour
Learn-to-Ski or Snowboard lesson for only $5. A "Get Better" lesson is
also offered for only $5, for anyone who has skied or snowboarded at
Good for Brian Head: they've created Navajo Mountain, which is solely
dedicated to children. The Navajo playground includes little volcanoes,
berms and rollers. Of course there's a Snow Tubing Park, day care and
all the other requisites.
One more unique idea: How about a Ski Las Vegas Package deal? Brian Head
is about three hours' drive from Vegas and, for as little as $155 per
person in the early season you can combine these two very contrasting
worlds with two nights at each place, including lodging, lift tickets,
show tickets and, if needed, you can add air and ground transportation.
Northstar-at-Tahoe, CA (www.northstarattahoe.com)
The quintessential family resort, Northstar offers all the amenities that families look for in a destination resort. Slopeside lodging, variety of dining options, lots of childcare and kid's ski school programs, plus off slope activities to keep the brood happy. Always seeking to perfect the experience, Northstar has added more! New this year: Self Paced Learn to Ski and Ride Program which offers first-timers a unique teaching method using learning zones and flexible, self-paces progression. $69 gets you instruction, rentals and limited lift ticket. No more excuses!
Take note of the new, longer superpipe. At 400 feet long with 17 foot walls, this is one serious pipe. Don't want to attempt the monster? Settle in for a hot toddie at the Lodge at Big Springs and watch the action from the comfort of the sundeck. The kids will love it! Also look for more terrain features all over the mountain that the whole family can enjoy.
Tahoe Donner, CA (www.tahoedonner.com)
Families love Tahoe Donner. For good reason: a small resort that caters to the clan, Tahoe Donner continues to offer innovative programs and unique ticket pricing. The prime spot to get your kids started on snow, the "Kids Learn Free" program gets you free lessons with the purchase of a child's lift ticket. Good Tuesdays through Thursdays, kids 7-12 can reap the rewards. Another incentive for parents is the Snowflake Parent Lift Ticket. Just $12 with the purchase of a Snowflake Ski School Package, parents can get out and make a few turns while the little one is getting some snow action. Good Tuesdays thru Thursdays, non-holidays. Stay at home parents love this one!
Boreal, CA www.rideboreal.com
Boreal, atop Donner Summit, has added a new beginner chairlift, the Discovery Chair. This should help alleviate lines during weekends and peak holiday times. Also new this year are changes to the Kids Club program to make the program easy to use for parents and kids! The Boreal Kids Club now offers a
full day program (The All Stars), which includes lesson, rental equipment,
lift ticket and lunch for $72. Parents can just go directly to the Kids
Club room on the first floor of the lodge to sign up for the program. New
for this season is the Kids Club two-
hour Discovery program. This program can
be purchased through the Boreal rental shop and kids go directly out to the
Kids Club corral. This program includes a 2-hour lesson, rental equipment
and lift ticket for $55. Reservations are recommended.
Diamond Peak, NV (www.diamondpeak.com)
Diamond Peak has been busy revamping their children's programs. A new "Kids Club" debuts this season. The Club is exclusively designed for kids. A season-long Sunday program, kids get pizza parties, races, giveaway days, t-shirts, membership ID - and parent's get discounts on lift tickets. The resort is also offering Weekend Ski Camps for kids 7-16 years of age. The focus of the camps will be on skill improvement, and will include terrain features (the hook!). Camps will take place on select Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season. On the lift ticket front, Diamond Peak introduces the Mini Pass. The Mini Pass is credit for lift tickets held electronically on a swipe card. Welcome to the new millennium!
Mountain High, CA www.mthigh.com
Mountain High has unveiled Phase One of its new Children's Learning Center, complete with tickets, rentals, sport shop and a large, indoor activity area. This state-of-the-art facility is double the size of the resort's current center and offers better kitchen amenities, larger bathrooms, personal storage areas and an enclosed site for parents to view their children.
On the snow, the learning area has been redesigned, as well and now offers 20% more terrain than before. It is less steep than its predecessor, and comes complete with its own moving carpet. For parents who don't want to get outdistanced by their kids, the 3-Peat For Success program is worth checking out. This three-day package includes lessons, rentals and lift tickets, and those who complete the program are rewarded with a free lift ticket and membership to the Mountain Access Club. With benefits such as $10.00 off 8-hour tickets, a free lift ticket after every five visits, and the ability to go straight to the lifts, the Mountain Access Club ensures that participants stay loyal to the sport and to Mountain High.
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