“A NEW YEAR, a new slope” could be the mantra of Lisa Parilla, whose Bay Area family of four like to try out new ski runs during winter breaks. So for our second Trip Quandary, a feature where travel pros recommend problem-solving getaways, we tasked our experts to find exciting but convenient terrain for the peripatetic Parillas. “My husband is an aggressive and enthusiastic skier, as is our son—up at 6 a.m. so we’re the first family on the lift,” said Ms. Parilla, a travel-industry strategy director. While dad and the couple’s 11-year-old son ski all day, she and their 13-year-old daughter like to squeeze in shopping, sightseeing and leisurely lunch breaks. “I want to do other things after skiing for a few hours,” she said. Given high travel costs, booking flights, food and comfortable digs for a five-day spree at $10,000 demands creativity and flexibility. Luckily, the family’s Ikon Pass saves money on resorts and lift access at 54 destinations, including the three suggested here by the ski-vacation specialists we consulted.
OPTION 1: Big-ski Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Skiing may be the wintertime draw of this destination but snowmobiling, sleighing and spying moose, wolves and birds of prey on a wildlife safari in Grand Teton National Park rank high as well. With more than 13 lifts and 130 trails, 40% of them intermediate, “the mountain will exhaust the most intrepid skier before they can exhaust the mountain,” said Alyson Nash, founder of Millburn, N.J.-based Cloud 10 Travel, an affiliate of Cadence Travel. Its iconic Corbet’s Couloir run, however, with a terrifying 45-degree pitch, is not for the faint of heart. For this family trip, Ms. Nash suggests Hotel Terra in Teton Village, or a 1-2 bedroom with full kitchen at Teton Mountain Lodge, a ski-in, ski-out option in Mountain Village. Downtown, the Gaslight Alley area draws seasoned shoppers. Top-notch family restaurants are also plentiful.
Pros: Abundant slopes, wildlife and off-mountain diversions, as well as night-skiing at Snow King Mountain.
Cons: Nonstop flights to Jackson, Wyo., cost a lot.
OPTION 2: Real-deal Revelstoke, B.C.
Right now, the exchange rate favors American travelers, but that’s not the only reason Shane Paquette, owner and travel adviser of En Route Travel, suggested this ski destination in the interior of British Columbia, which is less expensive than big-name resorts in the U.S. or Canada. It’s also tougher to reach so Mr. Paquette, who is based in Malibu, Calif., suggests staying six nights and factoring in a rental car. Once there, the ski buffs will discover that Mount Mackenzie has excellent downhill terrain and lots of snow (over 34 feet annually), and Sutton Place Hotel—the condo-style ski-in, ski-out accommodations—is steps from the Revelation Gondola. With a car, the family could splurge on a day trip, perhaps to Halcyon Hot Springs on Upper Arrow Lake, among the choices an hour’s drive away.
Pros: After a long day on the slopes, on-site restaurants make it easy to eat.
Cons: You’ll need to take a connecting flight and drive two hours from the Kelowna, B.C. airport.
OPTION 3: The Affordable Side of Aspen, Colo.
All three travel advisers considered Snowmass Village an ideal destination for the Parillas. “Sunny days, dry snow, terrain for everyone,” said Sarah Plaskitt, founding director of Scout, a ski-travel specialist based in Sydney, Australia. Though Aspen is known for being costly, Snowmass has enough condos like Tamarack Townhomes by Destination Residences that offer great value because they’re not ski-in, ski-out. Another plus: no car required because of the free shuttle transport between the town and all four mountains. And Snowmass has terrain for all levels, from moguls for adventurous skiers to the easy slopes of Buttermilk for the tentative. The many family-friendly activities include snow biking, ice skating, dog sledding, hot air ballooning and (ideal for many 13-year-olds) shopping.
Pros: Best option for families, with its frequent shuttles and varied offerings.
Cons: Winter break brings crowds—so locking in restaurant and extracurricular reservations should be done in advance.
This article was originally published in The Wall Street Journal on December 2, 2022, and written by Donna Bulseco.
- Image courtesy of WSJ/Jeremy Swanson
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