- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- iHaveNet.com: Travel
By Eileen Ogintz
Skiing Knee-deep in Powder
Forget the beach. Bridget Kerr, 10, would rather play in the snow.
"Winter is my favorite season," declares the fifth-grader from Shelburne, Vt.
Eleven-year-old Nate Gourd, an avid snowboarder from Manchester, Vt., couldn't agree more. "You feel like you're flying when you come down the mountain," he says, adding that kids "definitely should wear helmets."
Meet Vermont's vice presidents of fun. Bridget -- who says she's always waiting at the bottom of the mountain for her "slowpoke" family -- and Nate, the proud, sole snowboarder in a family of skiers, won their posts through an essay contest sponsored by Ski Vermont. The lucky duo will blog about their exploits at Vermont ski areas this winter at www.skivermont.com and let kids know that all fifth-graders -- whether they live in Vermont or not -- can ski free three times each at 18 of the state's ski areas, as long as they sign up for a Fifth Grade Passport at the kids zone at www.skivermont.com.
There are similar Fifth Grade Passport programs in Colorado (www.coloradoski.com or e-mail passport(at)coloradoski.com) and Utah (www.skiutah.com or e-mail skiinfo(at)skiutah.com). These programs may also include deals for equipment rentals and lessons.
Let's not let the dire economic news deter us from having some fun in the snow this winter. Sure mountain sports can be pricy, but they can also prove to be wonderfully memorable family times, whether kids are preschoolers who are seeing snow for the first time, fifth-graders who are showing off a new trick on their snowboards or college students bringing their significant other to meet the family.
There are also many terrific opportunities for those with special
challenges to enjoy winter sports at deeply discounted prices with
adaptive equipment and specially trained instructors at programs like
the National Ability Center
Park City, Utah, the
If we plan smart -- and in advance -- we can hit the slopes with the kids without busting the budget.
In fact, there are more deals than ever
to choose from -- everything from kids fly and ski free, deeply
discounted lesson packages for first timers to free nights and credits
for airline baggage fees that will allow you to stay and ski for little
more than the cost of a lift ticket. Before you book anywhere, check
online to see what special deals and value-added amenities the resort is
offering. For example, if you are heading to Stowe,
Vt., (www.stowe.com) buy
your lift tickets online a week ahead and save 15 percent -- even at
holidays -- and save even more on kids' ski school. Get a free lift
ticket the day you fly in at Park City, Utah
quickstart) for details. Get a $50 gas card with the
Green Package at Northstar-at-Tahoe in
Book a four-night package at one of
If you are flying, check packages from companies like Rocky Mountain Tours (www.rockymountaintours.com) and ski.com, which specialize in snow getaways.
Look for kids-ski-free deals at resorts like Steamboat in Colorado ( www.steamboat.com) and Snowbird in Utah (www.snowbird.com). Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire (www.mountsunapee.com) invites grandparents over 60 to bring their grandkids and get half off the kids' lift tickets. Other resorts, like The Canyons in Park City, Utah (www.thecanyons.com), are throwing in two adult lift tickets -- and discounted tickets for the rest of the gang -- for each unit you book for each day you stay. Consider that adult lift tickets cost $79 each this season. Kids six and under always ski free.
At neighboring Park City Mountain Resort (www.parkcitymountain.com), where kids six and under also ski free, the Extraordinary Family Package allows a family of four to stay and ski for three nights for under $400 a night, as long as they can come early or late season. That adds up to more than $500 in savings. And since Park City Mountain Resort has night skiing, you can stretch your day into the evening.
Book by Nov. 23 at Copper Mountain Colorado (www.coppercolorado.com) and you will not only save 20 percent on your lifts and lodging package, but kids 12 and under ski free. At Winter Park in Colorado (www.winterpark.com), they'll throw in a fourth night of lodging and lift tickets, if you book by that same date, while for much of the season, the Family Package at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia (www.whistlerblackcomb.com) gives the kids free airport transfers, as well as lifts and rentals.
Avoid the holidays and head to the snow before mid-February, you will find that kids 12 and under not only ski free, but fly free (one child per adult) -- from Steamboat to Jackson, Wyo., (www.jacksonhole.com) to Vail Resorts (www.vail.com). If you're a beginner, look for deals during the month of January, the designated Learn-a-Snow Sport month (www.winterfeelsgood.com).
You can also save some bucks by opting for smaller resorts -- often a good bet for beginners and those with younger children. For example, check out the E-Z price Bolton Valley packages in Vermont (www.boltonvalley.com), which offer lodging, lifts, even breakfast. Packages start at $79 a night for adults -- less than the cost of a lift ticket at some places. At Powder Mountain (www.powdermountain.com) in Utah, night lift passes are being rolled back to 2002 rates -- just $15 for adults and $12 for kids. And night skiing starts at 3 p.m.!
Look hard enough and you can find deals even for holiday weeks this
season. Spend Thanksgiving on the slopes and leave the
cooking to the chefs at the historic Alta Lodge
(www.altalodge.com) where the kids,
including teens up to age 18, stay and eat breakfast and dinner free the
entire weekend. Book by Nov. 15 for Christmas at
Aspen's new kid-friendly Limelight
save 20 percent, while Crested Butte Mountain
offers a four-night Grandest Christmas Package for "under a grand" for a
family of four and the
"Give it a try," urges Bridget Kerr. "Even when it's cold, it's really fun to be outside in the winter."
Absolutely. See you on the lift line.
© Eileen Ogintz
Taking the Kids - Skiing this Winter without Busting the Budget