Why North America for families?
Though the journey to America or Canada is longer than to Europe, it takes no more than one day each way, and you’ll find the benefits enormous. North American resorts offer spacious, quality accommodation, excellent ski school programmes as well as activities and entertainment for everyone…. all for less than you might think!
- Great offers - e.g. free lift passes and rentals for children, free nights accommodation and free room upgrades. Book early and skiing in North America need not necessarily be much more expensive than a European holiday.
- Excellent ski schools - North America is renowned for its flexible ski school programmes with enthusiastic, English speaking instructors. Full day ski programmes, teen camps and speciality programmes are the norm e.g. Whistler’s ‘Ride Tribe’ for 13-18yr olds and Othello’s Rail Rider for 9yrs + in Aspen.
- Excellent day care - for infants and toddlers. Always high quality, well organised and reliable. Certain resorts even offer electronic pagers or mobile phones to parents. Flexible programmes are available that combine child minding with ski tuition e.g. Sun Tots programme for 3 - 5 yr olds in Sun Peaks.
- Facilities for kids in resort - many resorts have themed ski areas and boarding parks for kids e.g. Sun Peak’s Adventure Park. One-stop children’s centres housing day care, ski school, rentals and child-size ski accessories are increasingly common e.g. the new Treehouse Kids Adventure Centre in Snowmass and Big White’s Children’s Centre.
- Non ski activities - e.g. tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling, dog sledding and sleigh rides. Many resorts organise weekly family activities such as Sun Peaks’ ‘Pizza & Movie’ nights and their ‘Kid’s Casino’ nights, or the ‘Family Fun races’ and ‘Wii nights’ organised by Big White.
- Family-friendly accommodation - condominiums are spacious ‘home from homes’ with full size kitchens including dishwashers and washing machines. This gives you the convenience of cooking at home if you wish and is great for those on a budget. Some condo complexes have games rooms, mini movie theatres and swimming pools.
- Quieter & safer slopes - slopes are generally quieter than in Europe and the lift lines shorter, which means more times on the slopes! Pistes are well patrolled and there are designated beginners areas that are safe and protected.
Top tips for family skiing in North America
- Easter is a particularly good time to go skiing in the USA rather than in Europe - the local American holidays will have finished meaning quiet slopes and cheaper prices!
- Plan ahead - flights on key dates at holiday times get booked up a long way in advance. By booking earlier you will secure the best flight prices and will also be able to take advantage of early booking special offers at Canadian and America resorts that can save you a fortune!
- Organise as much as you can in advance - buy lift passes, ski lessons and rentals, reserve day care slots and baby sitting and schedule aprés ski and other recreational activities. This will save you valuable skiing time when you arrive.
- Book tables for evening meals - People tend to eat early in North America and in many resort if you want to eat with your kids at 6pm you will need to book. If staying in a hotel, ask the concierge for their advice and to assist with making the bookings.
- Travel with another family - kids love it when they can ski with their mates and it helps prevent any nervousness about them being left with an instructor and other kids they don't know.
- Try to book multi-day ski school packages for your children - they will get far more out of them. These usually have the same instructor each day. Also you only need to register your child on the first day, rather than every day for daily lessons - less admin time, more ski time!
- Full day lessons for kids (i.e. approximately 8.30am - 3.30pm) are recommended rather than morning or afternoon sessions (usually only a couple of hours). They get to know the instructor and other kids in the group better, there is more 'fun' built into the day and of course more ski time and more opportunity to learn. They will be worn out and sleep well! You get pretty much a full day to ski, have a long lunch, soak in the hot tub, or go back to bed!!
- Stay in a condo-hotel. These have self-catering accommodation within a hotel - the best of both worlds!
- Make use of restaurant delivery services, many will deliver to your accommodation.
- Pre-order groceries for arrival at your condo, available at many accommodations - you’ll particularly appreciate this if arriving late as you’ll have supplies for the following day’s breakfast.
Please call us on 01273 224060 for any more tips and advice on travelling as a family to North America.
Three seasons in Europe, one in New England and one in Utah. Since working for Ski Safari I have skied most of the main US and Canada resorts and tested the Ski Safaris (at least once!!).