Family skiing - NE
November 29, 2007
Hi Everyone - I am the wife of Myrto and am looking for your opinions. We are travelling to New England with another family to ski this March. We have gone to Tremblant in the past and have loved it. The reason we love Tremblant:
we park the car and never get back in it.
our 2 teenagers and their counterparts have lots of freedom both on the mountain and in the village (love those walkie talkies).
i am happy to cruise blue trails all day long!!!! i will do an occassional black but i'm not looking for the ultimate challenge! i love being outside on a beautiful day or while its snowing!
i also don't worry too much about the choices the boys are making in terms of where they ski!
We are leaning toward Stowe, but the trees and front 4 scare the bejeebers out of me!!!! My son is a good skier but he is 16!
So any opinions are very welcome! Skiing vacations beat out every other type of family vacation we have ever taken! So we are looking forward to exploring Vermont (or NH)- but would like our first trip there to be wonderful.
As far as skiing goes, Killington has a lot to offer for everyone. On my last trip they were only about 2/3 open and we came down the mountain a different route a good bit of the day (all 3 days). I noticed that they also had plenty of variety too. You can cruise all of the way down from the top on greens and blues, but there were still plenty of blacks if you wanted to get down a little faster. As for family things to do off the mountain, they might be lacking a little bit. We stayed in a condo that was right down from the Grand Resort Hotel and had a 4-5 min drive to the K1 gondola. That was nice but if you wanted to do anything else you were forced to drive down the access road. Again, there didn't seem to be a whole lot of family stuff out on the access road. So I guess Killington would be good to go for the skiing, but not as good for the off-hill activities. I hope this helps!
Hi myrto, early March should be good at many VT, NH, NY, and ME places, unless we have a really off year. Late March is a little more dicey. Some nominations for family fun in the Mont Tremblant park-your-car-and-leave-it vein:
-south/central VT: Stratton, Killington, Okemo,
-northern VT: Smugglers Notch, Stowe
-Sugarloaf and Sunday River, ME.
There are many more. Connie Lawn reported on Bretton Woods, NH a couple years ago: http://www.dcski.com/articles/view_article.php?article_id=905&mode=headlines
It has been growing in stature as a destination in recent years and like Okemo and Stratton is renowned for manicured, intermediate slopes. Notice that Connie did not catch the best conditions in late March, but then you could lose yourself in the Mt. Wash Hotel. The town of Stowe, a few miles from the ski area, but linked by shuttles, is considered by many to be one of the more diverting ski towns in the East, although late March can get pretty quiet in New England ski country. Lake Placid, NY (several miles from Whiteface ski area) also scores well in apres ski.
I have a "primer" article coming out soon on DCSki with tips on family ski road tripping which you might be able to relate to.
Well, it sounds to me that the whole faux village set up (i.e. Intrawest Model) really worked well for you. So, although it is not one of my particular favorites, Stratton sounds like it would be a good match. Have you ever been to Snowshoe? If so, Stratton is very similar except the village is at the bottom instead of the top. Also, much like the shoe, mid-week is the best time.
I'll second Ullr's recommendation. It sounds like the faux village set up has worked real well for your family (freedom to come and go without cars plus plenty of non-skiing activity.) Stratton is by far the best for that in Vermont, but it likely pales in comparison to Tremblant for size of the village. Stratton can also be $$$$ (close to NY and emphasizes a pseudo exclusive club type of ambiance), so choose your packages there wisely.
(Caveat: I've not been to Tremblant but have read a lot about it and am familiar with Intrawest's model. I've skied just about every area in Vermont.)
Sugarbush was slated to do some development at the Sugarbush South base (including upgrading the base lodge.) Anyone with current info? (I haven't skied the Bush in about three years.) Smuggler's Notch and Okemo might also have added to their pretty small villages in the past couple of years.
Vermont has some excellent ski towns and non-skiing activity, but the layout generally requires a drive from the slopes to that activity. (Stowe is a classic example.) I personally prefer minimal development on the slopes, but I can understand how the village model works for others.
If you can handle the weak dollar, if Tremblant is not broken why try to fix it?
Like JohnL I've never been to Tremblant either, but one of my teenage daughters went there twice in recent years. My impression is that it features the largest slopeside village in the Northeast. One of the times my daughter went there it was very cold and she spent almost the entire four days socializing indoors in the village rather then doing much skiing. Most of the other places in the East that could keep you entertained like that, such as Stowe, Lake Placid, Manchester VT, North Conway NH require a short drive to actual ski slopes.
While we do love the Tremblant set-up we are not married to it. What I think we are hoping to find is the genuine article that the village is modeled after. So far from the research we have done, Stowe is looking good. We would stay there (we are looking at the Golden Eagle resort) and then hope there are plenty of places we could walk to. And use the shuttle to and from the slopes which still leaves the kids (teens)some autonomy.
Has anyone had experience with the village of Stowe?
Ok, here is the straight poop. The so called Stowe village, is more like a town, and it is several miles away. Lots of really nice resturants and antique shops. Yes, I have been to Tremblant, and like John said it is much better then Stratton. I have not been to Sugarbush since they started the remodel, but then again, Stowe has done some remodeling since we were there last.
Okemo's Jackson Gore areas is VERY small (i.e. one ski shop and two resturants). One place that you may want to look at is Smugglers Notch. It has one big indoor pool/water park, and another smaller pool. They also have a kids zone type set-up with video games, ping-pong etc......
MRG is out and so is Killington (everything on Mountain Road is a drive. The town of Lake Placid is nine miles from Whiteface, and even more to Gore, so they are both out as well. My personal favorite is Jay Peak, but it too has nothing except skiing.
Other then Stratton and Smuggs, you may want to check out Sunday River and Sugarloaf in Maine. I have not been to either of these yet, but they are on the list for this year.
What I think we are hoping to find is the genuine article that the village is modeled after.
It's actually in Florida. It's a place called Disney World.
If you're looking for a true New England experience, I'd go to Stowe or Okemo.
For skiing terrain & snow, Stowe would be my choice. I also like the town of Stowe, it really has that New England feel to it.
On the other hand, Okemo has great snowmaking & tons of ski of ski in/out lodging. The lodging is less expensive that Snowshoe. Lots of long groomer runs. They also have lots of things to do for the kids. The town of Ludlow is another classic New England town that is right at the base of the mountain. There are shuttles to/from the on slope lodging to town.
Someone mentioned Stratton, Stratton is one of my least favorite ski areas in the east. They have a village, but after about 10 minutes, you be bored of it. They also have one of the most expensive lift tickets out there $78.
Since I grew up in New England, I guess I'd qualify as an Expert Witness.
IMHO, true New England experience != faux Intrawest village. I personally prefer the former greatly over the latter, but as I said earlier, I can see the appeal of the village setup (more common out West.) New England towns are a loooot more spread out than the New Urbanism-inspired faux villages. If you are happy with that, odds are you'll have a great time in New England. For a classic New England vacation, I'd personally recommend the Trapp Family Lodge outside of Stowe. $$$$, but worth it.
Can anyone think of any purely walkable section in Vermont that would keep 13-16 yo's entertained for more than an hour? I can't, but maybe others can.
Burlington, and it's Church street area, is probably the most walkable section of Vermont.
I love both places. Tremblant is excellent for the Dysney-type amenities, self-contained in a man-made village. As a matter of fact,I will be visiting both places this year as they're both super dog friendly. Tremblant is the Eastern crown jewel of Intrawest. Lots of restaurants, much larger than Stratton AND without the attitude of nuveau rich New Yorkers with Hummers. Stowe is a REAL village and the likely site of my retirement. I love Stowe for the New England feel, the live-and-let live attitude, the cultural diversity, and yes, great skiing. With kids, the Ben & Jerry's factory tour (6 miles down the road) is a winner, so is the Trapp Family Lodge, and the other winter activities in the place, glass blowing, hand craftsmanship and activities that are seldom seen outside of this village. The Cabot Cheese coop is not that far, nor is Morse Farm, just down in Montpelier. The good thing about Stowe is that if you don't like the crowd there, go down 12 miles and you're in Sugarbush and Mad River and then there's some REAL skiing.
You may want to consider, given you're interested in a family environment, the place just at the other side of the mountain from Stowe, Smuggler's notch, http://www.smuggs.com/
. It is about the most family oriented ski area in Vermont. You used to be able to ski from Stowe to Smuggs, but that went away some time ago. The road between the two is not plowed and it is a Xcountry ski heaven. The notch is a very historical place as it was Ethan Allen's logistics transport road in his Revolutionary War forays. Smuggs was my first foray into skiing as I went to College barely an hour from there. They have one of the best children activity packages everywhere. And since you're on the other side of Mt Mansfield, you're relatively close to Jay Peak. And if you want to take in some culture, Burlington is a step away with a lively arts calendar, the Shelburne Museum, and more college kids than city residents.
I love Killington, but IMHO, it is the place for testosterone-laden 20-somethings. I'll go there in a heartbeat with my adult ski group; I wouldn't take my 5 year old niece there. It is brash, big and rude, although great skiing.
The reason we love Tremblant:
we park the car and never get back in it.
The reason for this thread. Great points by all, but can this happen in Vermont especially when you have to keep 13-16 year olds entertained? Most of the options I can think of require hopping in a car to go from interesting place to interesting place...
Edit: if the teenagers are 17+ and very responsible, I'd let them take the family car and do some exploring on their own.
Completely OT - JohnL - I didn't know you were in IT. I had a good chuckle when I saw != in your post
Oh, don't get me wrong, not saying I would like these places, just the poster said his family liked that kind of stuff. Most on here who know me, know I am the "Anti-Intrawest"!
In defense of Intrawest, they've got a product that does appeal to the family environment and the result is a winning symbiosis between company and customer base. No, it isn't pure New England, but it's about the only place where you can park your car and forget about it... That's the Intrawest model and it is working for them quite well.
I do want to forget the car and concentrate on a vacation, and that's why I own at an Intrawest resort. When I park the car on Thursday evening, I don't want to even look at it until Sunday afternoon. Case in point, Stratton has one of the most expensive lift tickets in the world, and if you want to be treated humanely, you have to shell out an additional 20 grand for membership in its private club room that also allows you head-of-the-line privileges. Even with that over-the-top pricing structure, they can't keep people away. Simply, they answer a pent-up demand of people, many of them well-heeled, who want a self-contained experience. The fact that the value of real estate at Snowshoe has tripled in the last 7 years is a testament to this demand.
It isn't only Intrawest that is listening. Vail is offering its Game Creek Resort as a self-contained vacation for those who want to splurge $2,800 a day and they're about booked for the season.
Stowe has also listened in this regard, and their excellent shuttle system takes you virtually anywhere on the village all the way into the new resort part. However, I don't think there is Ben and Jerrys shuttle...yet. Nevertheless, between Stowe and Tremblant, frankly, I'll take the real New England village.
The good thing is that this year I'll do both.
Clay, to show you how geeky I am about programming, I had to think for a sec about whether to use != or <> or .notEquals.
We appreciate all the input. Sounds like Stowe is doable for us. We love skiing as a family - so really we're willing to try anything. Stratton does not have the same appeal to us as Tremblant. What took us to Canada to begin was the strong $ (alas - no more) not the 'faux village.' We spend the full day on the mountain but the kids like to go off on their own after skiing all day, as do the adults! So it sounds like Stowe will work for us as well.
Thanks again for all your input! By the by - even skiing in a 'faux village' is better than WDW anyday! We've done both - we'll take the ski vacation please!