1. Have an awesome family.
When we suddenly found ourselves in the family way, our biggest fear was that the life was over and ski adventures would be the first casualty. So, last month, we invited a crew of our favourite people to share a long weekend with us in a ski cabin at Silver Star, and discovered that shredding the slopes is actually Fun on Steroids when you take the nuclear family tribal.
In short, the surest way to have an awesome family ski vacation is to have an awesome “family.” That means: Curate your crew well. And don’t get hung up on the Family Tree. Invite the super fun single “aunt,” grandparents who actually enjoy babysitting and playing endless rounds of Go Fish, the adult friends who love sharing their passion for skiing or ice-skating with your teenagers, and the teenage friends who want to spend time with the baby…
Skiing is a social sport. It’s an experience better when shared.
2. Choose a destination that caters a little bit to everyone.
After WHO, the second most important decision in creating an awesome family ski vacation, is WHERE. Choose your destination well, and everything after that pretty much takes care of itself.
For example, our gang of seven covered the entire spectrum of ski keeners from the lukewarm to the obsessive. From an 8-month-young foetus still in utero who had telepathically requested some nice open uncrowded groomer runs and a great couch for 3pm naps (for more on why a ski resort is the perfect place to take a babymoon, go here), to an ice-hockey obsessed 16 year old, a lukewarm-on-skiing 13 year old, and 4 adults whose wish list comprised, variously: great snow, spectacular views, XC skiing, ice hockey, tubing, a hot tub, a fire place, a big table for dinners, somewhere to get a great coffee, and who, for all our high-level demands, had relatively low-end budgets to work with – we all came away recharged and stoked.
Who knew Silver Star would be so perfect?
- Ski in, ski out, and a free shuttle from the village back to all the lodges
- Free tubing, skating and XC skiing with a lift ticket (or for really modest drop-in prices)
- Night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays, 3:30-8:30pm, for just $10
- Champagne caliber snow (that comes with such consistency that the resort doesn’t even own snowmaking equipment)
3. Take turns playing “hut girl.”
The best thing about staying in a self-catered condo or lodge on the slopes is that you can accommodate your own appetites and bio-rhythms.
The worst thing is that someone has to do the work of catering and cleaning up the crumbs. So, spread the chores around to prevent Mum getting stuck working even harder on her vacation than she does in her everyday life. PS Fellas, “hut girl” aka “the chalet host” doesn’t have to be a girl. The changing “hut girl” hat also means you all discover some groovy new recipes for one-pot chili, chocolate chip cookies or home-made nachos (“Finely diced chives, eh? Nice touch.”)
4. Every day should end with après.
Apres, of course, takes various shape and sizes – from beer and nachos in front of the fire, to hot chocolate and nutella on toast, over a game of Cranium. As a subset of this rule, remember: you can never over-cater the snacks. (Our entire supply of potato chips was consumed in the first night. And seriously, there’s nothing worse than rationing out a bag of chips. Especially with teenagers in the house.)
A plethora of night activities at Silver Star meant that, just because après had been celebrated, didn’t mean nothing more was on the agenda. After refueling, our crew explored night XC skiing, tubing, ice-hockey, night-skiing, hot-tubbing, and intensely competitive boardgames.
5. Travel fast and light.
It’s a basic rule of survival for mountaineers, and it works just as well for family ski vacations, where it means: you don’t have to do everything together, en masse, like a pack of wildebeest. (All that leads to is everyone getting frustrated.)
The benefit of ski-in, ski-out ski hills means the cars get parked, the free shuttle schedule is scoped, everyone gets a room key or the code to the front door, and can come and go according to their schedule. Coming back together to report on your adventures and laugh over your burning thighs is half the fun.
What tips do YOU have for planning an awesome family ski vacation?