Five qualities to look for in a ski or snowboarding school

Kamp Keystone

For many families, ski or snowboarding lessons are a crucial aspect of a ski vacation. I concur: each of my kids learned to ski at age three, and ski schools were (and are!) a big part of our winter experience. Wherever you’re planning a spring skiing vacation, here’s what to look for in a ski or snowboarding school:

  • A way to measure progress:

A good ski school will have a way to measure your child’s progress, so you can know where he or she stands in terms of skill level for the next day or next ski trip. Most ski schools use a numbered level system from 1-9, and the better ones will describe each level on their ski school website for parents to peruse. However, this is only useful if you know where your child falls on the scale. Look for a ski school that gives you either a written or digital report card of your child’s progress every day. For example, Northstar California and other Vail Resorts use Epic Academy, tied to Epic Mix. After each day of lessons, parents can click on a child’s Epic Mix profile and select Epic Academy. It’s easy to see exactly where the child is in terms of progress. More importantly, it’s easy for his or her instructor to see the next day or next ski trip.

  •  Consistency:

Ideally, a great ski school will guarantee your child has the same instructor for every day of his or her trip. Who does this? Keystone Resort’s ski and ride school, for one, when kids are enrolled in Club Keystone. If you’re visiting another resort that does not guarantee the same instructor, you can ‘buy’ your own guarantee with a private lesson. A way to save: start with a group or semi-private lesson, and if your child hits it off with his or her instructor and you’d like to continue the relationship, book a private lesson for the subsequent days. Our son’s Burton Snowboard Academy instructor let us in on this tip: even if she’s scheduled for a group lesson, if a family requests her for a private lesson, she’s automatically reassigned.

  •  Ski school-only dining space:

This one seems minor, but makes a big difference. Ski schools with their own dedicated space for kids in lessons maintain more order and have more relaxed kids (and parents). During our ski experiences, we’ve loved when kids in ski and snowboard school have their very own lodge where they eat their lunch, have hot chocolate breaks, and warm up by the fire pits. Why does this matter? Well, have you been in the public lodge during lunch hour? Chaos. Kids in lessons are already working very hard…they deserve a chill place to relax, and their instructors deserve a chill place to keep track of them.

  •  A snow option for the little ones:

I don’t know how it is in your family, but in ours, the toddlers and preschoolers never appreciate being left out. While on-mountain daycare can be a lifesaver, once kids aren’t babies anymore, they really love the option of feeling like they’re on the slopes, too. At Northstar, for instance, sign 4-6 year olds up for lessons, and they’ll get to play in the Riperoo Riglet Park. The emphasis should be on fun: great ski schools let potty-trained kids play in the snow, try on equipment and give it a whirl, and make a snowman or two. If kids this age have fun, then everyone has won!

  • A great ratio:
northstar ski school

Enjoying Northstar’s ski school experience.

We’ve all seen ski instructors on the slopes trailed by a long, long line of little skiers following like duckies. While cute, this is not ideal. Instructors cannot hope to teach individually to a large number of barely independent skiers or snowboarders. A good ski school will offer a semi-private option of four or fewer kids. At Northstar, this is called Ultimate 4, and in our experience, it’s considered the standard, not the exception. They’ve got Ultimate 4 at Breckenridge, as well.

Safe Travels,

VacationRoost Ambassador Amy

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I-70 Corridor: Ski 7 Resorts in 7 Days

I-70 map of Colorado

I-70 Corridor is home to seven world-class resorts.

Summit and Eagle Counties are home to seven world class ski areas: Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Vail and Winter Park making it easy to ski more than one resort during your Colorado vacation. We’ve mapped out the I-70 corridor to give you an overview of what to expect at each resort — including terrain and amenities — along with the best way to combine resort visits during one trip.

A few possible itineraries include:

  • 7 Nights: Spend four nights in Dillon or Frisco and three nights at Winter Park. Then ski half day at Arapahoe Basin before heading to the airport on your last day.
  • 2 Night Romantic Getaway: Stay in Vail or Beaver Creek and ski at each resort one day.
  • 2 Night Weekend Reunion: Stay in Keystone for a weekend of great nightlife and fun with friends.

Visit our sister company’s website to learn more about each resort and to find deals on vacation rentals.

Safe Travels,

The Mountain Reservation Team

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Ski Butlers – Beaver Creek/Vail

Psyched about the Ski Butlers experience!

My brother and his friend recently came out to visit me for a few days of skiing.  Rather than lugging their old, outdated gear from NYC I suggested they rent gear from Ski Butlers.  I explained to them that the rentals would get delivered right to our house and that they would get custom fit in the comfort of our home.  They had never experienced a service like this.  They didn’t even know it existed.  Ski Butlers promptly arrived at the time we requested (right around cocktail hour on the evening of their arrival) and had them set up and ready to go in no time.  Not having to spend an hour in the rental shop the first morning of their visit was great as we were all eager to hit the slopes…especially seeing as it dumped overnight!  You simply can’t beat the level of service, quality of equipment, and the ease of renting through Ski Butlers.

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North America Snow Report

It’s snowing all over the country! We’ve compiled the latest snow reports to help you plan your next snow vacation. Taos had the most snow with 9 inches in the last 24 hours. Deer Valley and Snowbasin tie for second place with 8 inches in the last 24 hours. Whitefish Resort in Montana has the deepest base at 52 inches. (All totals are as of Sunday December 8, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. MST.)

Happy trails!

Snow at winter park

Winter Park’s new snow on December 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy Winter Park)

Colorado 

Aspen: 3″ last 24 hours, 38″ base

Beaver Creek: 4″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Breckenridge: 2″ last 24 hours, 34″ base

Copper Mountain: 2″ last 24 hours, 31″ base

Crested Butte: 5″ last 24 hours, 46″ base

Keystone: 1″ last 24 hours, 27″ base

Steamboat: 4″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Telluride: 5″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Vail: 4″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Winter Park: 3″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Canada

Kicking Horse:  0″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Whistler: 0″ last 24 hours, 31″ base

Utah

Alta: 0″ last 24 hours, 37″ base

Park City: 4″ last 24 hours, 24″ base

Deer Valley: 8″ last 24 hours, 36″ base

Canyons: 7″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Powder Mountain: 0″ last 24 hours, 21″ base

Snowbasin: 8″ last 24 hours, 40″ base

Snowbird: 1″ last 24 hours, 39″ base

Solitude: 5″ last 24 hours, 39″ base

Idaho

Sun Valley: 1″ last 24 hours, 22″ base

Wyoming

Jackson Hole: 1″ last 24 hours, 44″ base

Montana

Big Sky: 1″ last 24 hours, 38″ base

Whitefish: 0″ last 24 hours, 52″ base

California

Heavenly: 0″ last 24 hours, 37″ base

Mammoth Mountain: 2″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Northstar: 8″ last 24 hours, 30″ base

Squaw Valley: 5″ last 24 hours, 29″ base

Kirkwood: 0″ last 24 hours, 25″ base

Alpine Meadows: 7″ last 24 hours, 33″ base

New Mexico 

Taos: 9″ last 24 hours, 43″ base

 

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

 

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Hidden Gems

The Clymb recently blogged about the top 6 resorts that you “probably didn’t know about.”  We loved the list and were excited to see that we have vacation rentals at all of the North America destinations.  So, now that you know about these hidden gems you can start looking for your next vacation property. We’ve highlighted our top property in each town below.

Taos, New Mexico

The Columbine Inn is nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico. It is located 1.5 miles from the lifts of Taos Ski Valley. You can enjoy the Columbine Inn for its relaxed atmosphere, hearty breakfast, breathtaking views, outdoor fireplace and beautiful lobby.

The Columbine Inn

Crested Butte, Colorado

The Buttes are slopeside to Crested Butte Mountain. You will be able to ski/ride nearly all the way to the front door. Just walking the length of the property’s sidewalk will put guests on the slopes quickly. Splendid views from the newer outdoor hot tub.

The Buttes slopeside condos. 

Kicking Horse, Canada

The centerpiece of the resort village, Glacier Mountaineer Lodge comprises of  2 lodges offering over 130 alpine inspired guest rooms and 1, 2 and 3-bedroom condominium suites with every creature comfort in mind.  All of our condominium suites come equipped with fully appointed kitchens, gas fireplaces, washers and dryers and a private balcony with spectacular views of either the ski hill or Canadian Rocky Mountains.

The Glacier Mountaineer Lodge.

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

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First Snow Day

Chairlift at Brighton Ski Resort

First day of the season at Brighton.

November 21,  2013 may not have been the wisest day to use a Snow Day (yes, we get those at work) but somehow, the snow started to fall Wednesday night and never stopped. Being the middle of the week, there was nearly no one up at Brighton and every run was better the next time through. I was in shock arriving to the resort to 8 inches of fresh Pow dispersed beautifully.

New snow at Brighton Ski Resort

A nice dusting of new snow made for a great first day!

We arrived around noon and road constantly until four o’clock. This day may not be as exciting to some, but this gave me a huge sense of hope for a promising winter. Being a previous season pass holder, I was in awe to see the snow this good. With nearly sixty days under my belt last season, there were few that could top this beautiful Thursday.

Every chair lift is now running except for Great Western. Crest was unreal and even Snake had runs that were untouched. We did not spend much time on the ole Majestic but definitely got in laps through the park. I have attached a few photos and video to give you an idea of the shred we got to experience!

First Day at Brighton

Unfortunately, the sun has started to peak back out and the snow has already melted down in the valley. I will be returning this weekend to hopefully catch a few more turns in good snow before it vanishes. My fingers are crossed for a solid season. Here’s is to a good season ahead!

Safe Travels,

Dillon Fugate

Destination Expert

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Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving approaches we wanted to take a minute to list all of the things we’re grateful for here at Mountain Reservations.  As a group of ski and travel enthusiasts, it’s pretty easy to come up with our list of gratitude.  We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

We are giving thanks for…

  • the snow gods who brought the ski season early around the country
  • Beaver Creek‘s warm chocolate chip cookies season
  • the fact that all Salt Lake City ski resorts (Alta, Snowbird, Solitude and Brighton) are all open for the Thanksgiving holiday — and just down the street from our headquarters!
  • good workouts and good beer on the slopes
  • and all of our family and friends who share a love of winter with us.

Safe Holiday Travels,

The Mountain Reservations Team

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What’s Your Sign?

What kind of skier or snowboarder are you? Green, Blue, or Black? Not sure? Check out the descriptions below and find out which sign represents you best!

Green:  Do you occasionally knock people over when getting off the lift? Can you be seen wearing borrowed gear and sunglasses in a pizza wedge cruising down the mountain? Well then, you’re sign is Green! Green skiers can also be seen wearing jeans on the slopes and spend about 2 hours cruising around before taking a break in the lodge.

Blue: Do you love the corduroy on the groomed runs? Do you have half a dozen old passes still clipped to the zipper of your ski pants? Well then, you’re sign is Blue! Blue skiers love shredding up the groomed runs and catching 2 feet of air. They will spend about 3 hours shredding and then head to the lodge to refuel with a bowl of chili.

Black:  Can you do it all? Do you love shredding powder, cruising through tree runs, and finding the steepest and most challenging runs at the resort? Well then, you’re sign is Black! Black skiers can be seen with duct tape patching up their worn clothing. They will wear themselves out on the mountain for up to 5 hours before taking a break with nachos and a beer.

Whatever your sign may be, be proud and rock it!

What’s Your Sign?

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Top Resorts for Snowboarders

Snowboarder at Aspen

Photo Credit Jeremy Swanson

Snowboarding has been around since the 1920′s but did not become an Olympic sport until 1998.  Now with its growing popularity resorts are catering to the specific needs of snowboarders.  After all, not all terrain parks are created equally.  We consulted the snowboarding experts, Transworld Snowboarding, and found the top resorts for those that like to freecarve down the slopes.

  1. Aspen/Snowmass
  2. Park City Mountain Resort
  3. Mammoth Mountain
  4. Bear Mountain
  5. Whistler/Blackcomb
  6. Sierra-at-Tahoe
  7. Keystone
  8. Copper Mountain
  9. Breckenridge
  10. Northstar

We hope this helps you book your next riding vacation!

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

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Ski Magazine’s Top Ski Resorts for 2013-14 Season

Jackson Hole Mountains

Jackson Hole resort wins #1 ski resort title by Skiing Magazine for its “Western charm” and rugged terrain.

Ski Magazine recently released their Top Ski Resorts for the season.  You can read the whole article here, but we thought we’d save you the time and highlight a few of the top resorts.

Jackson Hole earned the spot of #1 resort in North America for its gnarly terrain, including the longest continuous vertical in North America, and for its Western charm.  After all, your visit would not be complete without a visit to The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

Other noteworthy (Western) resorts on the list:

  • #2 Deer Valley: in addition to boasting the world-famous Glitretind restaurant at Stein Erikson Lodge, Deer Valley is also the place to find untouched powder days after a storm.
  • #4 Sun Valley: famous for no lift lines and their dedication to grooming, Sun Valley is a great place to visit for a stress-free vacation.
  • #7 Telluride: known for its hard skiing (41% of the resort is advanced terrain), Telluride is Colorado’s most authentic and accessible ski town.
  • #11 Beaver Creek: not only do they offer terrain for all abilities but they offer warm, complimentary chocolate chip cookies everyday at 3 p.m.!

The full list includes 50 resorts (30 in the West and 20 in the East). Anyone up for a best-of ski resort road trip this winter?

Safe travels,

Mountain Reservations

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