By Eileen P. Gunn
Ski vacations can be some of the most memorable getaways. They enable you to embrace the great outdoors in beautiful winter vacation destinations. Not to mention, skiing is an activity that the whole family — from the little ones to grandma — can enjoy.
Ski vacations are among the most elaborate and often need their own special planning, though: You need to pack the proper clothes and gear, travel to relatively remote locations and navigate snowy ski towns.
Here are some smart vacation tips to help you make the most of the time and money you invest in your next big ski trip.
1. Stay Near the Slopes
Staying near the slopes helps you get the most out of your winter wonderland getaway. Being close to the mountain makes it easier to get kids suited up and out the door for morning ski classes, and you’re more likely to rent equipment and get in several runs before the lifts get crowded. Better still, you can take advantage of a ski village shuttle to go between your home base and the lodge, saving you gas, driving time and the hassle of finding parking.
For example, Diamond Resorts’ Embarc Whistler is located in the heart of Whistler’s Upper Village. It’s a short walk to the Blackcomb lifts and day lodge. A quick shuttle ride takes you to the larger Village Center, which offers more lifts and amenities like the village convenience store. Once you’re checked in, you barely need a car at all.
2. Prioritize Indoor Comforts, Too
A memorable ski vacation is about more than just the conditions on the slopes — the way you’ll relax indoors matters, too. A cozy indoor space is the yin to the yang of the beautiful but blustery mountain weather.
This is why apartment-style lodging makes sense for a skip trip. After warming up after a day spent on the slopes, the idea of facing the ice and snow outside is less than appealing — so it’s important to have amenities that make your evenings comfortable, such as a fireplace, a table where you can play games and a couch for reading or watching movies. Vacation ownership resorts typically offer more spacious, apartment-style accommodations that year after year, let you take your ski vacations to new levels of comfort.
There’s also the matter of practicality. Ski clothes are bulky and often wet by the end of the day. So, staying somewhere with plenty of space — including separate bedrooms with doors and a separate living area — gives you extra room to open a large suitcase, spread out clothes to dry and keep muddy boots out of the way. Some of Diamond’s resorts even offer in-room washers and dryers to clean any wet or dirty gear.
3. Make Sure You’ll Have a Kitchen
The other major attraction of apartment-style lodging is having access to a kitchen, which can come in handy for ski vacations.
Diamond Resorts Cedar Breaks Lodge & Spa has a microwave and toaster in every room, as well as a stove in one-bedroom grand rooms, plus all the dishes you may need. This makes it easy to eat a real, hearty breakfast and still get an early start on the slopes. Just stock up on items like oatmeal, whole-grain toaster waffles and plenty of coffee and tea.
In the afternoon you can create your own après ski environment by curling up under a blanket with hot cocoa and marshmallows. Once you’re settled and cozy, you can cook dinner — homemade chili sounds great — or order in, and sit at a real table to eat.
4. Make it a Week, Not Just a Weekend
Ski weekends often turn out to be as much driving and preparation as time on the slopes. Vacation ownership makes it easier to stay longer — five days to a week or more — and ultimately have a more relaxing experience.
With more time to enjoy your stay, newer skiers can take more than one lesson and practice their skills. In addition, it’s not as big a deal if the weather doesn’t cooperate for a day or two — there’s plenty of indoor space for family fun. Also, having more time means you can do more than just ski. You can even take a few days to try other winter sports. For example, Cedar Breaks has snowmobile tours nearby, and Embarc offers access to cross-country skiing. At Cedar Breaks, you can also treat your sore muscles to a well-earned day at the spa.
5. Try New Mountains
It’s ideal to have a ski resort to return to every year, but the runs can start to get too familiar after a while. Having access to a network of properties such as the ones available through Diamond Resorts makes it easier to travel around and try a new mountain every couple of years. New runs will challenge your skills, while access to a different ski school can boost your kids’ ability. And, exploring a new destination and different resort amenities provides additional fun and excitement.
About the Contributor
Eileen P. Gunn is a veteran journalist, parent and traveler. She’s written for Fortune, The Wall Street Journal and U.S. News and World Report. She’s traveled on five continents (three with her daughter). And she founded the family travel website FamiliesGo! You can follow her on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/familiesgo.