Whether you’re a die-hard ski enthusiast or a total newbie, keep these tips in mind when planning your next ski vacation:
For Beginners, It’s All About Convenience
If you’re new to the world of skiing, you may think the best choice for a beginner is a resort that offers up skiing down especially gentle slopes.
That’s part of the equation — but that’s not the only qualification beginners should be looking for. “Beginners should look for resorts with great ‘ski-in and ski-out’ lodging, with rooms that are close to the ski school,” says Linda Crouch, a mountain vacation specialist that we at Southern Travel Agency have worked with for years.
“When you’re still trying to get the hang of the sport, it’s a whole lot better to be close to the learning base.” If you’re a ski novice who’s booked a room a far distance away from the ski school, you’ll be exhausted just trying to make your way over to your instructor!
Lodging Options for Beginners
Solid lodging options close to the ski school are also ideal for families traveling with children, says Crouch, because that means the kids won’t have to be herded on and off the shuttle buses to find their way to the instruction zone. Crouch recommends the famous ski town of Breckenridge for beginners, since it has a lot of lodging options very close to the easy slopes.
Snowmass Village Outside of Aspen
Snowmass Village, just outside of Aspen. Almost 50 percent of the terrain around this resort is navigable by beginner and intermediate skiers, with some slopes that will appeal to more advanced skiers as well. Convenience is key here, too; almost all of the lodging is located right on the slopes, and the resort itself is just 15 minutes from the Aspen airport. While Aspen can be a difficult city for some people to fly into (without having to make a connection), Delta and a few other airlines offer nonstop flights from Atlanta to Aspen — making Snowmass a great choice for Georgians!
Snowmass, says Crouch, is also a great pick for families.
One evening per week, the Aspen Skiing Company offers “Ullr Nights” — named after the Norse god of snow, Ullr — where families can take a gondola ride halfway up the mountain for an incredible evening of food, fun, and family bonding.
The gondola stops at the Elk Camp Restaurant, where the entire family can indulge in some warm and tasty treats. Right outside, kids can get their fill of adrenaline-fueled adventure, with sledding, ski “biking,” tubing and more beneath the shining safety of floodlights.
The best part?
The whole evening is supervised, so parents can indulge in a cocktail or two from the restaurant’s deck worry-free while they watch their kids engage in some old-fashioned fun below.
Options Abound for Advanced Skiers
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
For more advanced skiers, an escape to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is in order.
This charming town full of Wild West cowboy history is surrounded by the awe-inducing beauty of the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. You can find many challenging runs near Jackson Hole, and the accommodations here run from the budget-friendly to the high-end — including the luxurious Four Seasons hotel.
But advanced skiers, says Crouch, aren’t forced to stick to certain areas out west for the biggest challenges. Challenging slopes abound at even the beginner-friendly resorts — you just have to know where to look. “At many ski resorts, advanced skiers can arrange for a ride in a Sno-Cat vehicle or even a helicopter that will take a trip to the back of a mountain where there’s fresh ski powder,” Crouch confides.
Pack Warm — And Light!
Packing for a ski vacation can be a little intimidating, especially for folks who are embarking on their first ski trip. But packing doesn’t have to be difficult.
Crouch says there are three clothing items that vacationers absolutely cannot forgo for a ski trip:
- good ski goggles,
- good gloves (“gardening gloves won’t cut it,” she says), and a
- good water-repellant bib or pant.
Crouch recommends that vacationers purchase gloves and goggles at the resort itself since these can be bought cheaply, that way you’ll save a little room in your luggage. But she warns that you might not be able to find entry-level apparel items at the resorts, so for a better bargain buy those items at a sports store at home and bring them with you.
And don’t worry about packing a variety of outwear — you can wear the same thing everyday. “Just switch out your long johns and t-shirts underneath and you’re good to go,” Crouch says.
Rent Your Ski Equipment
Another way to save some room in your suitcase and avoid extra airline fees?
Rent your ski equipment, unless your skis are fairly new.
“If a client says that their skis are almost ten years old, I tell them not to bring the skis,” says Crouch. “Skis have improved so much over the past few years in terms of quality, shape, and length. It’s now a much more forgiving sport, which makes it easier and a lot more fun. That means you’ll have a far greater time if you just rent newer skis at the resort.”
Airlines almost always charge a fee to check a pair of skis anyway, so save the fee by leaving your skis at home, and put that money to better use on a rental. Plus, ski resorts occasionally run good deals on rentals.
For example, at the Snowmass resort, kids ski free with an equipment rental from November through mid-April (with a few blackout dates in December and February). Parents aren’t required to also rent — or even ski at all — to get this benefit.
Are Your Ready to Plan Your Dream Snow Vacation?
While it may still feel a little hot and humid outside (that’s what we get for living in the South!), it’s not too soon to start thinking about an incredible ski escape during the coming colder months. To get started planning your ultimate ski vacation, get in touch with our travel experts today.