Spring Break: 15 Pro Tips for Trading Sand for Snow This Year
Updated: Mar 3, 2021
Winter getaways for the whole family have never been easier. A family ski trip may sound more like a snowy slog than a smashing good time, but don’t let the logistics deter you. You can equip your brood for a ski vacay for the record books with some expert advice.
Pro tip: For next year's post-pandemic winter fun – an all-inclusive ski vacation in Europe or Canada can cost less than one here in the U.S. You'll have to ask me how.
Plan ahead - Planning is crucial to avoid long lines, missed opportunities, and stressful on-the-spot decision-making. Hotels should be booked well in advance, especially for weekends or holidays, but it’s not too late and you can thank the pandemic for that as many ski families are opting to not make their usual out-of-state pilgrimage in favor of something closer to home. That’s a win for you.
Pro tip: ski-in/ski-out is always worth the splurge. The convenience of not needing to pack the car every morning, and the ability to escape the crowds, prepare your own lunch, and take away an extra layer if needed, are lifesavers when skiing with kids. By staying right on the slopes, you don’t have to board ski shuttles and you avoid other public spaces by zipping to your home, condo, or hotel for lunch or a hot chocolate break.
Pull off perfect timing - While many major resorts in North America and Europe stay open from around Thanksgiving through March, not all dates are created equal. For predictable snow, the money is always on February, but it doesn’t typically coincide with spring break. March is your next best bet. Most ski resorts still have wonderful snow, but in general the weather’s a bit warmer, meaning you don’t have to pack as many layers.
Prearrange lessons - Ski schools are a great starter to give kids the basics. In group lessons, your kids can meet other children; if siblings of different age groups want to stay together, try private lessons. A class for the littles also allows for some adults-only time, so you can ski the terrain you’re happiest on while the kids attend ski school. Then everyone can spend a few hours skiing together. And don’t overlook lessons for yourself, to get comfortable with the mountain. The lesson pays for itself in what you learn about runs and lifts that are less crowded.
ProTip: You can also bundle ski lessons, lift tickets, and rental gear ahead of time, often at a discount
Prepare for the cold - There’s no better way to ruin a ski holiday than with the words, ‘I’m cold!’ Dry out everyone’s gear when you return to your room at night. It’s a pain, but essential for a warm, happy family the next day. And as you are undoubtedly aware, it’s all about the layers. Once kids are cold and tired, that’s when the meltdowns and injuries occur.
Pro Tip: Coming well-armed can make a day on the mountain. Remember: sunscreen, lip balm, and snacks are key, as sometimes you get pretty far away from the closest concession area.
Pace yourselves - Schedule down time. It pays to factor a relaxed day into the middle of your vacation. Muscles get tired, and constant early mornings can be a grind. Consider a day of activities like snowmobiling or snowshoeing. The concierge can arrange horse-drawn sleigh rides, sledding, and ice skating and more. Overall, remember it’s a vacation, not an Olympic event, and family comes first. Kids love nature’s playground and you have easy resources right outside your door to entertain everyone, plus cozy quality time in the evenings.
How are resorts controlling crowds and encouraging social distancing? Many resorts are capping group lessons at four skiers max, and some are banning group lessons altogether. They’re also limiting the amount of skiers on the slopes.
Pro tip: Pre-purchasing lift tickets is a must to ensure access to the mountain this year.
More Pro Tips.
1. Consider a private home or townhouse to help social distancing. We can also arrange grocery delivery and save you a harried trip to the market when you arrive.
2. Ski areas farther away from cities are less crowded, with fewer day skiers driving in. Big Sky, Montana, and Sun Valley, Idaho, are a two great examples.
3. For families - Snowmass Village, which is part of Aspen’s four mountains has more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, with slopes as challenging or as effortless as you feel like, and an exceptional ski school
4. For great groomed cruisers, head to Deer Valley, Utah, is known for its corduroy. The Deer Hollow run is a long, green beginner run that passes right by The St. Regis – a nice stop for lunch or for après-ski by their outdoor fire pit overlooking Park City.
5. Do it in style: Week-long ski vacations include a three-bedroom, 2,600-square foot home that sleeps eight with ski-in/ski-out access, as well as five-days of lifts, ski and snowboard equipment delivered to the home, and a four-wheel-drive SUV
6. Hiking the Aspen Highland Bowl is a rite of passage for those looking for an in-bounds thrill. After a 45-minute hike, it’s a choose-your-own-adventure decent with a ton of options, including a 45-degree pitch right down the center of the bowl.
7. Corbet’s Couloir in Jackson Hole is regularly listed as North America’s hardest run – if you can even call it that. Just getting close to the entrance always gives me butterflies. It can look very different based on the snowpack, but it often consists of a “mandatory air” entrance, followed by a quick right turn to miss a rock wall then a quick left turn to miss another rock wall. Those who pass those tests are rewarded with a steep, often untracked, powder field down to the onlookers are standing in awe.
8. Telluride’s Stairway to Heaven off Palmyra Peak. You are truly off the beaten path in the San Juan Mountains, which have the tallest peaks in the state. To get up Palmyra Peak requires a bit of a hike until you arrive at the Stairway to Heaven, a narrow staircase. Once up and over the stairway, you have your pick of the Gold Mill Chutes: The entrances will make you a bit weak in the knees, but it’s worth it for the euphoria you’ll have at the bottom.
9. Stowe, Vermont, has a great snow-sports vibe and culture, terrain, beautiful accommodations, and a quintessential New England town. Its proximity to Burlington makes it one of New England’s most accessible resorts.
10. Dining: On-mountain dining looks different, as you can imagine. Many resort restaurants have elevated “to-go style” menus, ordering via apps, and outdoor, tented seating. Off-mountain, some upscale restaurants now offer take-and-bake options that can please any size group – many offer optional wine and cocktail pairings, and in some cases wine service by sommeliers.
It is important to plan ski vacations with a travel professional. Covid-19 has resulted in a lot of changes this season, which has led to understandable confusion. Virtuoso travel advisors work to guide travelers through all the different resort nuances and ensure a great mountain experience.
'til next week.
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-Juliet Weller, Founder