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Downhill Skiing

Things To Consider When Selecting A Ski Resort



It is important to do some research before you decide to plan a ski vacation. Each resort has something special to offer and you need to decide which one works best for you. You may find that your requirements change as your children get older and become more advanced skiers. In addition, advance planning is necessary if you are going to attempt a vacation during one of the holiday weeks. Asking the right questions and gathering useful information will give you the ability to properly evaluate each resort. 

Important things that you should consider when you are selecting a ski resort for your family:

First, you must determine how much you are willing to spend on this vacation. This will help you to decide what type of lodging you need. Lodging at ski resorts can range from hotel rooms to multi-bedroom condos or houses and of course prices will vary accordingly. Depending on whether you are on or off the mountain will also determine the cost of lodging.  Consider traveling with another family to share the cost of lodging. In deciding on lodging keep in mind that walking in ski boots is difficult. You should attempt to keep walking distance to the slopes minimal.  My suggestion, from experience, would be ski-in, ski-out lodging.  The convenience of being able to ski almost to the door of your lodging is worth the extra money.

Second, do you want to fly to your destination or drive? You must investigate distance to the resort for either choice. Flying can sometimes be tricky because you will fly into a major city airport and then either have to drive or take a shuttle flight to the resort area. Many resorts can be several hours from the airport. If you plan to drive you must determine the distance and whether your children can handle the trip.


Third, do you need to rent a car when you arrive at the resort?  Can you walk or shuttle to all resorts, restaurants and attractions? What is the cost of renting a car?  Make sure it is something that will be able to accommodate all of the equipment if you are carrying it from home.  Again, based on experience we always flew into a major city and rented a car and drove to the resort.  We enjoy having the convenience of and flexibility of being able to drive where we want to go.  You learn more about the area and tend to venture out and see the surrounds.


Fourth, the difficulty of the slopes at each resort will vary. It is important that you select the proper resort for the skill level of your family. If you have beginners in your family check the resort website to get information regarding the percentage of beginner/intermediate slopes.  Most sites will contain a trail map that you can view and the slopes are labeled using the following symbols.

You will find at the resorts that each day they will post slopes that were groomed during the night.  This will help you to decide where you may want to ski that day.  Remember a groomed more difficult slope may be fine for an experienced beginner whereas one that is not groomed may be too difficult.


Fifth, consider other options to keep the kids amused. Does the resort have a pool, ice skating, sleigh rides, or tubing? Do you need to make reservations in advance for these activities? What is the cost and does it fit your budget? Does the resort have childcare available if you need it? Remember in most cases ski school is only part of the day. Consider who will care for your child for the rest of the time.


Sixth, investigate how the resort's ski school programs are structured. Check to see if advance reservations are required and find out the cost. Determine if they give sibling discounts? Ask what are the age requirements and how the children are grouped? Be sure to find out how long the lessons are and where they take place. What if your child wants to stop skiing after one hour? Does the ski school offer beepers or a way to contact you? Be sure that there are instructors available to communicate with your child in their native language.


Seventh, if you don't have your own equipment, rental costs can eat up a large portion of your vacation budget. Compare rental prices at local ski stores with those at the resort. Consider the hassle factor of carrying all of that equipment with you on the trip verses renting it there. Renting at the resort can be beneficial in case something is uncomfortable or breaks.