In early December, three intrepid Ski Safari employees and keen skiers, Sheila Martin, Natasha O'Mahony and Maggie Jago road tested our New England Ski Safari.Their seven day ski and shop itinerary kicked off with a city stay in Boston and then Sunday River, Jay Peak and Killington. They've shared their 10 essential East Coast experiences you have to try, particularly recommending this itinerary for first-timers to the USA.
Where they stayed
The first night was in Boston, known locally as the 'walking city' as it's so easy to get around by foot, at the very centrally located Omni Parker House Hotel. In Sunday River we stayed at the comfortable, ski-in ski-out (conditions permitting) Jordan Grand Hotel. Situated in a quiet location it has its own restaurant and bar so there's no need to go out if you're too tired after your exertions on the slopes. Next up was travelling to Jay Peak to stay at the new Hotel Jay, a fantastic property with an amazing indoor waterpark - brilliant for the kids in your party (even the big ones!). Its one bedroom suites are very spacious and perfect for a family with small children. There are various condo options in the area too, all served by a complimentary shuttle bus. Our final stop was Killington at the Killington Grand Hotel (the resort's only ski-in ski-out property) with a fantastic spa, outdoor pools and hot tubs, ideal for relaxing after a long day skiing.
1. Experience America's East Coast
Whether you’re a group of friends or a family looking to venture across the big pond for the first time, the state of Vermont, on the east coast, is a brilliant place to start. Flights are shorter than the rest of North America (less jet lag and travelling time). There are a number of stop over options. We did Boston but New York can be easily combined too. The altitude is low - so there's no adjustment time - and extremely snow sure resorts thanks to the mastery of snow-making.
2. Take a road trip together
Fly to Boston and then embark on your road trip in a 4x4. With your favourite CDs pumping through the car stereo and your friends or family as company, driving between resorts isn't just easy but it's so much fun too! You'll drive through pretty towns, and if you visit around Christmas the decorations are awesome.
3. Shop ‘til you drop
On your way back to the airport stop at the one of the many outlet shopping malls in New England. All shopping in New Hampshire is 100% tax free. We were there in early December (just after Black Friday) and there was not one store without at least 50% off. There's a huge choice of stores including Coach, Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, Calvin Klein, Nike and Adidas - to name just a few. "When we stopped to do our shopping Tash declared she'd spent her budget for the trip and wasn't going to buy anything", reveals Maggie. "Two hours later she arrives back at the car drowning under carrier bags! She even bought new trainers and put her old ones in the rubbish bin!"
4. Spend 24 hours in Boston
Spending time in Boston - especially during the Christmas holiday season - is definitely something to see! The whole city is lit up with decorations and there's something for everyone. We managed to squeeze in ice skating on Boston Common, shopping on Newbury Street, taking a stroll on the Freedom Trail and relaxing in a tucked-away coffee shop. Happy Holidays!
5. Visit a Snowflake Factory
Snowmaking in Sunday River is so good they can claim they have the most dependable snow in New England. With 1900 snow guns and their own snowflake factory, where it is possible to take a tour and find out how snow is made, unfortunately you can’t take snowflakes home! It made for the lightest, fluffiest powder and some incredible skiing.
6. Go Underground
The Hotel Jay in Jay Peak is connected to the Tram Haus Lodge next door by a large underground tunnel. This means that you can access both properties and their bars and restaurants without stepping outside - and considering it was -20F when we were there we could see what a beneficial touch this was.
7. Ride the rapids at The Pump House
Where do we start! The Pump House at the Jay Hotel is like something out of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, but instead of chocolate, there's water (thankfully!). You can take a leisurely float around the water rapids (watch out for the waterfalls), hit the water slides (Le Chute is the one to do, but unfortunately we chickened out!) and relax in the inside or outside Jacuzzis. If you're a wannabe surfer you can even take lessons (or just freestyle if you want). It's very cool if you can stay upright - but as much fun if you can’t!
8. Eat at Choices Restaurant in Killington
The Grand Summit shuttle will drop you off and pick you up at local's favourite, Choices. Its recommended for its friendliness and relaxed atmosphere, and their rotisserie daily specials are hard to beat.
9. Ski undiscovered winter gems
The east coast in the USA is an undiscovered gem for skiing and the distance between the mountains makes it an ideal multi-centre Ski Safari around the beautiful White Mountains!
10. Improve your turns if you're an intermediate
Every lift pass that is purchased for six days or more at Sunday River receives get one free Perfect Turn lesson, per day. It's valid all season for anyone aged 15 years and over.
With so much shopping, and skiing, what were the girls' highlights? For Maggie, it was Boston: "The Freedom Trail is an amazing way to learn about the history of the city, taking you past 16 historically significant sites. The moving holocaust memorial is something I'll never forget either." For Sheila, it was spending time in the beautiful White Mountains: "Amazing views, wonderful friendly people and fantastic company!". And for Natasha? "Jay Peak. The resort offers so much, from incredible terrain and stylish accommodation to extremely helpful, friendly staff and some breath-taking scenery. I thought I was in Narnia at one point!" Of course it goes almost without saying that East Coast resorts are having a superb time, due to the recent severe storms dropping several inches of the good stuff all over New England. Which means Killington, Stowe, Jay Peak, Sugarloaf and Sunday River are all having a very, very good time right now.
A 10 night New England Ski Safari starts from £975pp based on 2 adults travelling and includes accommodation, flights and car hire. Click here to request a quotation tailored to your particular requirements, or please call us on 01273 224 060.