Ski resorts have a mystique that transcends the slopes and trails, from crackling fireplaces and après-ski, hot chocolate to spas, kids’ programs, ice skating, cooking classes and boutique-packed streets waiting to be explored. Private cabins and winter vacation homes, on the other hand, draw families with wonderfully cozy and home-y settings. However, picking the wrong lodging option may result in a vacation wipeout. Furthermore, the choice can be overwhelming if a family group consists of members with different skill levels, abilities, tastes, interests and (often overlooked) ages.
“The main deal breaker for many families when searching for lodging is that the location offers nothing to do for the non-skiers, or smaller children who will only ski an hour or so,” says Zoie Kingsbery Coe, family travel specialist and founder, Kid & Coe.
“You should be asking around about what types of activities are available for the entire family, even those not fully-vested in skiing just yet. Also, if you don’t want to be responsible for cooking and prepping all of the meals, look for properties that have eateries on-site or are walking distance from appropriate restaurants. When everyone is tired at the end of the day, you want to have a comfy and cozy meal and put your feet up by a fire.”
Coe also suggests renting a house with friends or extended family, a cozy way to create quality time together when not on the slopes. That said, ski lodgings and offerings are definitely not a one-size-fits-all proposition. For that reason, she stresses the importance of working with a travel expert who can help simplify the overwhelming process of picking a “base camp” with the right fit.
“We generally look for a range of properties to suit a range of needs,” Coe explains. “An active family of experienced skiing might not need all the bells and whistles of ski school and nursery, and may prefer to just have close proximity to the slopes. Those that are traveling with mixed ages and abilities might prefer more resort type amenities with a broader offer of activities and services. As with all of the carefully curated assortment of Kid & Coe-affiliated properties, we strive to highlight the perks and all the details so a family can make a more informed choice for a hotel that suits their distinct needs.”
Most of the Kid & Coe properties have fireplaces, comfy living rooms for evening lounging and playing games, kitchens to gather for a group supper and good tubs for post-ski soaking. Furthermore, as private houses have access to nearby hotels and resorts, you can have best of both worlds — the space for a family to stretch and sleep comfortably with the activities and amenities of a traditional ski holiday.
Here is a sampling of Zoie’s picks for lodgings as unique as every winter-loving family:
- The Boiceville Residence in New York’s Hudson Valley is a solid option for those who may not want to ski the entire trip or for a multigenerational family. There is plenty to do in the house to keep homebody members entertained while the more avid skiers are only 25 minutes away from the slopes.
- The beautiful Rhineland Residence within the Tahoe Donner ski area blends the best of the American West and alpine Europe as well as proximity to the West’s best ski resorts. It also has the advantage of being located within a family-friendly community with resort-style amenities.
- The High Residence in Breckenridge, Colorado, is perfectly equipped for families, with such amenities as a bunkroom, high chair, portable crib and children’s dinnerware. Location is also a strong selling point, with easy access to the ski bus, a five-block walk to the slopes or easy drive to one of the many world-class ski resorts with a variety of year-round activities.
- In the heart of the French Alps, the Courchevel Residence’s Six Senses spa can organize a ski club or private lessons for kids depending on ability to catch them up to the more expert skiers in their group. For downtime, meanwhile, there is a heated, indoor pool in the Six Senses spa. On non-ski days, kids will be kept busy and happy with a range of activities including indoor ice-skating, sledging, luge tobogganing, dog sledding, pony rides in the snow, indoor wall climbing and an “Aquamotion” swimming area with indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, steam rooms, a hot tub, water slides, rapids, a diving pool and surfing with waves.
Beyond the offerings and locations of various properties, local and regional ski organizations will actively work with affiliated resorts to offer additional incentives for families to plan a trip to their area. For example, ISKINY, an association of ski areas in New York state, offers Kids Learn to Ski and a Ride Passport for children in 3rd or 4th grades offered at more than 20 resorts throughout New York.