As any parent knows, expectations run high this time of year for young and old alike. With so many tasks to juggle, I'm hoping this list of tips will help make your ski vacation be just that: a true vacation from the everyday, with time to truly cherish some family moments.
Following your holiday festivities with Santa next week, many of you will be joining me for a week filled with all things Winter Fun: skiing and riding, skating, snowshoeing, dogsledding, sleigh rides, tubing, and of course, a little hot chocolate at the end of the day.
Here are a few dos and don'ts as you head to the resort next week:
Make sure that you make reservations for all the great activities you'd like to take part in. Ski school, canopy tours, babysitting, sleigh or dogsled rides and many other activities fill up over vacation week, so be sure to call the activities desk ahead of time to make sure you don't miss out. (And don't forget your Spa reservations; you deserve it after all you've done to get the gifts under the tree and the family to the mountain!) Lift tickets, rentals, and ski school reservations can also be made online ahead of time, which will give you more time when you're at the mountain to be on the snow.
Show up for first tracks. There are some days when it's nice to linger over your morning pancakes and coffee, but vacation week is the time to get an early start. You'll get a better parking spot, avoid lines for rentals, lessons, the lifts, and enjoy some fresh corduroy, or even perhaps some untouched powder tucked away in the woods.
Make use of those friendly red-coated Ambassadors you see in the parking lots and along the entrance to the lodge. Need some help carrying all that gear AND managing the kids? They'll be happy to help. Wondering where to go for lessons? They'll head you in the right direction. At your mid-morning break, search them out: they'll be handing out steaming cups of hot cider to warm you up.
Ski on trails that you can't see from the lifts. There seems to be a draw for people to ski on Bigger Ben and Range View, perhaps because you can see all the great snow you'll find as you speed over those trails on your way up the lifts. But if you're looking to find a trail that's a bit less populated, do a little exploring. Just to skier's left of Bigger Ben, In Between is a "hidden gem" that winds over the terrain cut to take advantage of the contours of the mountain. Crawford's Blaze will also take you away from the masses along an undulating ride through the forest.
Ride on lifts you can't see from the base lodge. When the Bethlehem and Zephyr lifts get busy at high times, usually between 10:00 and 2:00, enjoy some of the terrain you can access from the Rosebrook or West Mountain lifts. The lines at these lifts are usually much shorter, and again, you can explore new trails that are less frequented than those that you can see from the lifts.
Break early for lunch. The base lodge will get busy at high noon with hungry skiers and riders looking to fill up on hearty soups and sandwiches, so buck the system and head in closer to 11:00 for lunch - you'll be ready for some chow by then, since you arrived for first tracks! Then, when everyone else piles in for lunch, you can be back out on the trails. For an elevated lunch, try Latitude 44, at the top of the Bethlehem Express Quad, for a quick sit-down lunch and stunning views of the Presidentials.
Relax and have fun. Remember to enjoy each other's company, whether you're sharing a lift ride or just waiting in line to pay for that chocolatey brownie you'll share as a reward for a few good runs.