En Famille: Five Resorts in the Vanguard

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Outside Magazine, November 1994

En Famille: Five Resorts in the Vanguard
By Meg Lukens Noonan

It’s hard enough, when you take the kids skiing, just to keep track of mittens. The last thing you need is more challenge –like a children’s rental shop that’s a ten-minute schlepp from the ski school meeting spot. Thankfully, such hassles are becoming much less common as resorts scramble to be “family-friendly.” Most major ski areas now offer decent day care and a kids’ ski
school. These days it’s often some little extra thing that sets a place apart. At Vermont’s Stowe, for example, beepers are offered to parents whose children are in day care. We think that’s smart. Here are a few other resorts leading the way in the family ski business.

Steamboat, Colorado
With the doubling in size this season of its kids’ teaching areas and the addition of two new children’s lifts (including a Magic Carpet conveyer belt that’s a real boon for the preschool set), Steamboat continues to enhance its already fine children’s instruction program. Under the umbrella of the Kids’ Vacation Center, 60 instructors teach children from ages two and a half to 15
at two kids-only areas (all-day lesson $52, including lunch). The center also houses day-care facilities for ages six months through six years ($52 per day, including lunch). Evening care is offered Tuesday through Saturday ($6 per hour). And for each parent who purchases at least a five-day lift pass and stays in a participating lodge, one child skis free. For details, call

Okemo Mountain, Vermont
Resort managers at Okemo noticed something recently: The kids who once jammed their day-care center were no longer satisfied by graham crackers and a nap mat. The resort now offers afternoon and evening activities for teenagers–volleyball, movies, dances, pizza parties–in addition to its full schedule of young people’s ski-school classes. Also new this season is Club Altitude
($60 per day), a program for kids 13-16, as well as a young-adult lift-ticket rate ($38 per day for ages 13-18). A junior ticket, for ages 7-12, costs $28 per day, and kids six and under ski free. Day care begins at six weeks ($40 per day, including lunch). Limited evening child care costs $5 per hour. Call the resort at 802-228-4041.

Grand Targhee, Wyoming
Thanks to 3,000 acres of broad slopes and gentle fall lines, plus an average annual snowfall of 500 inches, Grand Targhee, just west of Grand Teton National Park, is one of the country’s best training grounds for junior powder skiers. Powderbusters, Tar-ghee’s children’s powder classes ($30 per half-day for kids five and older) have become so popular that four new instructors are
joining the program this season. Day care in the Kid’s Club starts at two months ($36 per day, including lunch), and three- to seven-year-olds have a lesson option ($55 per day, including lunch, lifts, lesson, and activities). In-room baby-sitting is offered on Saturday nights ($3 an hour). For information, call 800-827-4433.

Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Afternoon bingo, open gym time, ice cream socials, and pickup ice hockey are some of the ways Waterville keeps kids busy during off-snow hours. An under-21 nightclub called Zoo Station and a video arcade keep teens occupied in the evening. Besides daily ski lessons, the resort also offers five-day Ski Weeks for children of all ability levels, ages six through 17, with instruction,
video feedback, fun races, and a family farewell dinner ($195, ages 12 and under; $270, ages 13-17). Day care for ages six weeks through three years is provided in the base lodge nursery or in the Curious George house, former home of children’s author Margret Rey ($35 per day); there’s also limited evening care ($15 per night). Call Waterville Valley at 800-468-2553.

Dodge Ridge, California
This central Sierra resort was dedicated to family ski instruction long before it was fashionable. This year, veteran ski-school director Paul Mundy, a former schoolteacher with a degree in child psychology, has added another dimension: In the new Trackers program ($50 per day, including lunch; reservations required), children ages 9-12 work on skiing skills but also learn about
nature, the environment, and local history through a series of elaborate on-snow exhibits, such as a mining-town facade. All kids’ services are housed in a new children’s center. Reservations: 209-965-3474.