Crested Butte Mountain Resort's vacation experts have pulled together top family ski travel tips (photo courtesy of CMBR).
Family travel can be challenging and ski trips in particular, can be daunting because they require preparing for weather, multiple activities, logistics of getting kids dressed and to ski school on time. But there are ways to avoid the most likely derailments. Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) Vacation Experts have pulled together top family ski travel tips, highlighting ten ways to save money and maximize enjoyment this season – no matter the ski resort destination.
1. Pre-Book. Not just for flights and lodging anymore, pre-booking most trip details before arrival can save headaches at the rental shop, and certain disappointment at restaurants during peak periods and at ski and snowboard school year-round. It is also a good idea to pre-book activities as space is generally limited for outings such as snowmobile tours and dog sledding excursions. To help with this daunting task most resorts offer an information center or a resort concierge program designed to help guests make the most of their vacation – from booking logistical trip components to the fun stuff. These staffers know the area like the backs of their hands. They generally know hotel general managers, tour operators and restaurant owners personally and that can be key to a great experience and to snagging a table at the newest, hippest restaurant in town on the busiest night of the week. Crested Butte Vacations makes planning and executing a Crested Butte family ski trip – from flights to fondue – a breeze. To book a Crested Butte vacation with all the trimmings, call 800-600-2803 or visit www.skicb.com.
2. Do Some Research or Contact a Travel Agent. Resorts across the globe post a variety of specials and packages designed to entice skiers and riders. A little research can unveil a bounty of offers that will make a family ski trip a bit more affordable, such as Colorado Ski Country USA’s (CSCUSA) 5th & 6th Grade Passport Programs – free skiing at member resorts for fifth and six graders (http://www.coloradoski.com/Passes/PassportProgram/), or CBMR’s Parents Ski Free offer – one free adult single-day lift ticket with the purchase of a multi-day child or young adult lift ticket (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/butte-specials.aspx?mode=detail&id=parents). No time for research? Ask an expert. A Travel Agent can be a valuable resource for traveling families. In addition to help with general booking needs, utilizing an Agent can mean the difference between a trip to remember and a trip everyone would like to forget. Travel Agents help with changed or cancelled flights, lodging recommendations and can even offer personal insight on renting a car versus using public transportation.
3. Ski-in/Ski-out. Resorts make it easy to get into town from the mountain (if it’s not in the same location), however traveling to the resort during morning “ski rush hour” can test anyone’s nerves – especially on a powder day. Solution? Book ski-in/ski-out lodging. Ski-in/ski-out lodging may be a bit pricier but it will make the morning rush a piece of cake and the kids will remember it forever. Getting the gaggle off to ski school on time will be no problem if lodging is located at the base of the mountain, where ski instructors meet students. And, if someone forgets a glove, goggles, lip balm, snack, or just a little break in the action, “home” is just a few steps away. With only one base area at CBMR, ski-in/ski-out options also mean problem-free meeting arrangements post-run or post-ski day. The resort offers a free shuttle to the Town of Crested Butte (just three miles away), which means no parking woes and a fun ride for everyone (Crested Butte’s buses are decorated by artists so each is unique, upping the fun-factor). For information about ski-in/ski-out lodging options and vacation reservations visit www.skicb.com or call 800-600-2803.
4. Reserve a Condo or Private Home. One of the best ways to save and create a comfortable home-away-from-home-base is to rent a condo. Better yet, rent a large condo or a multi-bedroom home with extended family or close friends (and take advantage of CBMR’s Friends & Family Fly Free offer at the same time: http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/butte-specials.aspx?mode=detail&id=test1). The option affords a full kitchen so meals are a refrigerator away, keeping little tummies full and saving valuable dollars for a special evening out or additional activities. Plus, everyone gets a little space (separate bedrooms, personal baths, etc.). Book lodging and lift tickets and discover some of the best rates of the season at any CBMR property with the resort’s Stay & Ski packages. Pricing starts at $110 per person, per night, and guests realize a savings of up to 15 percent off standard lodging rates and up to 20 percent off window lift ticket rates. Available while supplies last. Call 800-600-2803 or visit www.skicb.com for information or reservations.
5. Pack Smart. The condo has been rented, airline tickets booked and anticipation is building. Now it’s time to pack, a daunting task to be sure. Not to worry, CBMR’s Vacation Experts can help. Most importantly, bring layers – for everyone. Although that condo or private home rental will have a washer/dryer, no one wants to be doing laundry all day or night on a ski vacation. Include several pairs of long underwear – tops and bottoms – and socks, which will need to be washed after each use. Also include fewer, heavier fleece tops or warmer layers that won’t need to be laundered after every wear. One coat and one or two pairs of ski pants to interchange during the trip should round out ski wear needs. For evenings on the town, jeans are the norm. And, CBMR boasts a variety of retail options to assist with forgotten items or “that certain something” (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/shopping-mtcb.aspx). In addition, pack only supplies needed for travel days and anything that cannot be purchased at the destination. Check options for shopping (groceries, supplies, etc.) prior to arrival in case the best stores are near the airport, versus in town (a great question for the resort concierge or Travel Agent).
6. Rent Equipment. As a continuation of the “Pack Smart” tip, don’t pack equipment. It adds bulk, baggage and one more thing to lose en route – especially with sets for each family member. With the quality of equipment stocked at most reputable ski and snowboard shops, there’s no need to lug gear. Opt for a demo package and test different skis, boards and boots daily. Guests who are attached to their equipment should bring boots only. The performance packages at ski and snowboard shops feature excellent options whether riding two planks or just one. Check on-line for pre-booking opportunities at the local rental shop. Visit http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/mountain/equipment-rentals.aspx for information on equipment packages and early rental reservations at CBMR.
7. Don’t Over-Book. This is hazardous for both the kids and the adults. To avoid meltdowns from either age group, check out the destination’s events calendar and research activity options prior to travel. Select three potential options for each day of the trip and let the family select one for each day…and then be flexible. The daily option selected by the family should be the first priority. The rest of the day can fall into place around that activity. And, make sure to accommodate everyone’s first choice at some point during the trip. The resort concierge can help with activity and event options and with booking. CBMR’s resort concierge can be reached at 800-600-2803.
8. Take a Lesson. For those who have never seen snow, been on skis or snowboard, or were once subjected to tips from a significant other or well-intentioned parent, take a “learn to” lesson. Most resorts offer a learn-to-ski or -ride option and they generally include lesson, lift tickets, and sometimes even rentals. The learning curve is shorter and the time spent honing new skills is much more enjoyable. Note: January is “learn-to-ski” month in Colorado. Know how to ski or ride? Wondering why anyone would suggest taking a lesson now? First and foremost, instructors are the best mountain guides and they love to share secrets for making the most of a ski day. Taking a lesson also allows access to the coveted “ski school lane” at the lift maze. Beware: the experience is addictive. CBMR offers private lessons, child and adult group lessons and a variety of special ski camps, including the Beginner Adventure Lesson: special full-day lesson-and-lift packages geared toward aspiring skiers and snowboarders, age 18 and over. And, anyone can save five percent with early on-line booking by reserving space for a Beginner Adventure Lesson at least seven days in advance at http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/mountain/adult-group-lessons.aspx.
9. Take a “Rest Day.” By day-four everyone will need a break from the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. slope sliding extravaganza that is the mission of most ski vacationers. It may be the only family ski trip of the year, and getting in full days may be important to all, but more fun will be had on rested legs (and mental wellbeing) than on an exhausted – and sore – rear end. Plan a fun, less physically-demanding activity away from the slopes. Try snowmobiling, dog sledding or horseback riding. Check out the local museum, or the local shops. Enjoy a long, leisurely breakfast, attack a puzzle or bake cookies. Explore a nearby town, meet the locals, take a nap. Try a sleigh ride or learn to drive a snowcat (CBMR introduces the Snowcat Driving Experience: http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/snowcat.aspx). No matter the destination, alternatives to skiing and riding are abundant. If all else fails, build a snowman or a snow fort and go sledding. Let the kids take the lead and enjoy following along.
10. Let Kids Be Kids. Any ski destination provides a great environment to let kids have a little freedom. This works especially well with tweens and teens. Let them explore town on their own and encourage them to choose activities for the family to try – or maybe they’d like to test a skill by themselves. Many resorts have activity centers at the base of the mountain, like CBMR’s Adventure Park (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/adventure-park-winter.aspx). Kids can move between base area lodging and the Adventure Park with ease, sampling ice skating, rock climbing, lift-served tubing and bungee trampolines. CBMR also boasts the Trailhead Children’s Museum in the base area, which features playful adventure, art, science and discovery for young children and parents (http://www.skicb.com/cbmr/info/things-to-do/summer-trailhead.aspx). The experience and the thrill of independence will make heroes of parents and wonderful memories for everyone.
Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte is committed to preserving the pristine landscape and mountain lifestyle. With vibrant Victorian store-fronts and expressive local characters, the small historic town remains true to its heritage and radiates an unparalleled welcoming and inviting spirit that celebrates a simpler life and time. Thanks to a widely diverse landscape, whether beginner or burgeoning national champion, outdoor enthusiasts of all levels will find a new challenge with each visit. From world-class mountain biking, to legendary skiing and snowboarding, to a secluded fly-fishing experience, Crested Butte is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets. This season, Crested Butte celebrates 50 years of skiing and riding with a year-long celebration, Crested Butte-style. www.skicb.com
For more information about Crested Butte’s lodging, conference, meeting facilities, and special packages, call Crested Butte Vacations, (800) 600-2803 or visit the web site at www.skicb.com. For information on ski area real estate opportunities call (970) 349-4999 or (877) 805-6109 or visit the website at www.cbliving.com.
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