What I love about skiing is the family aspect. Because of my business and my teaching experience I have always been blessed to ski with my family. And there is no better sport for family activity than the sport of skiing.
OK, I must declare I’ve got a fantastic wife, who’s been so supportive of our ski escapades. But let’s be realistic, she is the one who does most of the real work involved not only with the ski adventures, but also in rearing the kids and is still amassing points with our eight grand children.
(Now, because we were so supportive of our kids, they are now reciprocating by letting us hang around with them as they now take their kids on the fun-filled ski excursions. Although it’s difficult with all the kids and the grand children together one trip – what with the career obligations, plus the myriad school and sports commitments – we still average about three our five households per trip each year.)
The annual mountain “reunion” has been centered around Kji, our #2 son whose home is in Denver), thus it’s Summit County Colorado. Of late, we’re now beginning to spread the venue to more distant areas. (Hey, there’s absolutely nothing shabby about the Front Range in Colorado, it’s just that I’m afraid the kids have inherited the wanderer gene that runs in the family DNA.)
So what are the keys to a good family ski excursion? Wow that’s a tough question. The children come first. Slopes that appeal to their ski skills are the #1 consideration. Realize that even the steepest and toughest slopes usually have a green or blue “cat” trail off the top that provides access for groomer. But DON”T push the kids or your ski partners beyond the comfort levels!
Next, if the kids are somewhat skilled and experienced, good equipment is a major concern. Consider rentals as a viable option. Unless you’re a very experienced skier with your own unique equipment, rentals are likely the best answer, especially with airline luggage fees. And even then, a good rental program will have high-end equipment that allow you to test and work the latest in mountain technology. Swap ‘m out each day and you might find new preferences and favorites.
Lessons with good fun-centered instructors will make the experience. Consider day long group lessons for a day or two to begin with. Drop the kids off early. Don’t be bothered with lunch, and enjoy your time on the mountain!. But always leave an hour each day and a day at the end so the kids can ski with you to show off (and maybe even teach you a thing or two.) Line up lessons and day care ahead of time. The programs often sell out on holidays and weekends.
An instructor can help with more than skiing. They know the slopes and the locale better than most. And then the surface conditions are important yet with todays technology shouldn’t be a worry.
For accommodations, I highly recommend renting condo or even an entire house if there are three households or more. It’s always better together on with ski adventures, and believe it or not, the kids actually behave more (or maybe they’re more fully engaged) in the presence of peers.
Your schedule has to be fully active, so “close” or” shared” quarters of the ski lodge is really not a concern. The kids usually take care of each other, and have more fun than the adults. Baby -sitter? One, and split the costs. Or of course, invite the grand parents. You can’t beat the price, and they love it!
If “ski-in; ski-out” is even remotely possible, go for it. Yes, it can run the expenses up initially, but in the long run it’s well worth the extra investment. The convenience will add to the fun and drastically reduce the stress. And there is money to e saved in reduced meals, especially lunches. Most on slope facilities will have more inclusive packages that reduce lift costs. And the need for a rental car is virtually eliminated. Most resorts offer regular free shuttle service to just about every thing and everywhere in the village.
Oh and then there is the weather. Sun and reasonable temperatures are good. We always say, if there is sun, the week will be a memory. Lots of luck on this the weather factor. It’s ultimately a function of “mother nature” But again there are ways to make it up if nature heaps on the challenges, And that leads us to secondary considerations like ancillary activates and après ski life.
The après scène is important for those family members (usually in-laws) who may not have the same passion for skiing. But food is always good, the beverages are omnipresent and the camaraderie is always par excellence. The difficulty lies in the stamina of the skiers. After a day on the slopes, a soothing hot tub session compounded by age and the ability to remain awake is the only concern. Our family meals are all moments of memories.
One fun thing that has become the tradition or perhaps even the modus operandi is home-cooked meals. Each family takes the responsibility for breakfast and a diner. It’s theirs to set the menu, shop the ingredients and prepare the meal. Breakfasts have produced almost unbelievable variety. And the suppers likewise, but even more fun, The preparers can get so involved, they knock off early from the slopes or even take the day off as a welcome respite.
And then there is the impromptu, unscheduled mid day breaks of after close happy hours. Spontaneity is the key and fun plus memories are the products. New friends even be a bonus, but often the cronyism can preclude the making of new relationships. And then too there might be the designated driver issue. Again, the free shuttles are a bonus!
Now the planning process in probably the most cumbersome, touchy, yet important process. Begin a year in advance. School scheduling in central, but once the dates are set, all other family priority become secondary . Scheduling other events seem to fall before the trip. Low airfares as well as resort specials are significant when booked in advance.
Talk and listen to others. Their experiences are very helpful. Finding a knowledge travel agent can be difficult. But if you find one, listen and rescue! Web sites as well as social media are so valuable. Need I say more? Involve family members by assigning specific tasks . And enjoy the experience. Don’t get hung up on the small stuff, details and minutia- the “nickel ‘n dime stuff. And take lots of pictures. Their value multiplies over time.
Have the time of your life. Make memories. Count your blessings. And then, redo it annually.