Family vacations are a great way to bond over the winter holiday season, and most ski resorts say that they welcome families. However, not all ski resorts are created equal when it comes to family ski vacations. With these tips comparing our picks for resorts in Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia, you’ll know just where to go, making this winter vacation the best one yet.
Mont Tremblant is an East Coast family favourite, 45 minutes outside of Montreal. The charming village is pedestrian-only, making it a great and safe place for families to wander.
Kids are welcome in the daycare from the age of eighteen months, while the ski school offers a fun and educational day or week-long programs. Youth (aged 5-12) and children (aged 3-4) can enjoy full day ski (youth can also snowboard) lessons including lunch for around $100 or four full days of lessons, lunch, and photos for $300 (please call for exact rates). There is also a ski or snowboard terrain park for older kids with 20 rails, 15 jumps, and a 15-foot high half-pipe.
There are also a staggering number of family-friendly activities off the slopes, like child-friendly snowmobiling and snow trains, skating, sleigh-riding, and more. The La Source aquatic center is a family-friendly après ski with an indoor pool, whirlpool, and “Tarzan” rope.
Tremblant hotels also impress with their family-friendly rates – in almost all properties kids can stay in the room for free! Tremblant hotels also remain significantly cheaper than many other Canadian resorts, family-prices or not. Dining options range from old-fashioned pizzerias to more ‘adult’ properties, so all ages and palates are well-accommodated.
The stats: 94 trails over 625 acres, with a rise of 2871 feet and an annual snowfall of 150″.
Sunshine Village wins points with young kids from the second they arrive at the resort. Cars are prohibited in the village, so skiers travel up the mountain in a six-passenger gondola.
Once on the slopes its parents of young kids who are won over, as children 5 and under ski free. Sunshine Village also offers a lesson guarantee – if you’re not satisfied with your child’s lesson, receive another lesson for free! During Tiny Tigers daycare, children, aged 19 months to 6 years, enjoy playtime inside and out as well as lunch and snacks. If young children (aged 3-6) are eager to learn to ski, the Tiny Tigers Ski & Play program is the way to go. Groups are a maximum size of 3 and the Tiny Tiger pros are experts teaching kids. Participants will enjoy one hour of ski & play with their instructors in the morning and another in the afternoon, as well as all the fun of the Tiny Tiger daycare. Kids Kampus offers the same fun learning for children 6 to 12.
Sunshine Village provides the only ski-in/ski-out lodging in Banff National Park, as well as access skiing in Mount Norquay and Lake Louise – giving parents of fickle kids the opportunity to make every day’s adventure a little different. The town of Banff is close-by and offers a greater variety of family-friendly lodging, most hotels let kids 16 and under stay free.
The stats: 107 runs over 3358 acres, with a rise of 3,514 feet and an annual snowfall of 396″.
Whistler-Blackcomb is the biggest and, some say, the best. This beautiful mega-resort definitely goes above and beyond when it comes to facilities for families. Children as young as 3 months are welcome in the daycare (parents get pagers), while lessons can start at age 3 (for skiing) or 6 (for snowboarding.) If kids are apprehensive about skiing, Whistler’s Family Mountain Zone is a great place to start. This specially designated area has a slower pace better for families who wish to stick together. Whistler has all the usual ski schools – one day lessons run around $115 and five day lessons approximately $550 – and also features the popular alternative of a two or five-day Ride Tribe camp, where 12-to-18-year-olds can learn tricks and new terrain with a hip instructor and other teenagers. They can then show off their new skills in one of the resort’s five terrain parks. Children aged 6 and under ski free.
Non-skiing snowy fun can include exploring the kid’s adventure park (there’s one on each mountain!) where kids can put their skis aside and climb around a castle or tree-house, or going tubing at a family snow tubing park.
A popular accommodation choice for families in Whistler is the rental of ski-side condominiums, offering a little taste of home while away. Most resorts and hotels also allow kids under the age of 18 to stay in their parents’ room for free.
With time off the slopes the village is especially exciting for older children and teenagers to explore, with movie theatres, rock climbing walls, a youth center, and pool – all easily explored independently by foot.
The stats: 200 runs over 8,171 acres, with a rise of 5,280 feet and an annual snowfall of 360″.
Learn more about these great resorts, including snow conditions, restaurant guides [http://www.freshtracksski.com/information/accommodation_guide.php] and more, with online ski Canada resort guides [http://www.freshtracksski.com/information/resorts_secrets.php].
Ready to take the plunge? Fresh Tracks Ski [http://www.freshtracksski.com/ski_family.php] offers exclusive packages of the best hotels, activities, and extras for families to Tremblant, Whistler, and Banff.
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