Archive for the ‘Skiing’ Category

Touring BC, From Vancouver to Revelstoke

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Vancouver is a huge city comprising many smaller cities, so bring a map to find your way around. Also, be patient because rush hour traffic seems to be ever present. Vancouver has many beaches to choose from since it is located along the west coast.

Bridal Veil Falls Located just off Highway#1, Bridal Veil Falls is the perfect place for people of all ages. Accommodations range from hotels to an RV park to a campground to pitch your tent. There is a golf course for the adults, and beautiful hiking trails winding through the lush foliage in the jungle-like forests. There are also many activities for the kids. Children can try the waterslides, bumper boats, and Dino Park. All amenities are within walking distance. Finally, within a short hike, you’ll find beautiful Bridal Veil Falls.

Whitecliff Park Located at the northwestern tip of North Vancouver, Whitecliff Park is a beautiful, nearly isolated beach and park. No pets are allowed in the park, and seashell picking is prohibited. If you’re lucky, as we were, you may get to see some seals up close. There is a family of seals that comes by once in a while to sun themselves on the small rock island just a short ways of the main beach. This rock island is not too difficult to access because it is connected to the beach by a strip of large rocks. However, be careful to get back to the beach before the tide comes in.

Pacific Northern Exhibition This fair is a definite smorgasbord of activities. There is something for everyone of all ages, and it is only $6 + tax to get in and enjoy all the attractions. Ride tickets cost extra, though. Lots of food, activities, rides, and games are the many highlights at the PNE. Here is a partial list of the scheduled events for the summer of 2000:-Eukanuba Superdogs: exciting and fun canine performances and competitions-Demo Derby: the largest demolition derby in North America with 51 exciting, crashing, noisy shows-Pig Races: pigs racing around a track sounds like fun, and it is very popular and hard to see, so come early.-Casino and Bingo: exciting gambling, and all proceeds go to PNE’s non-profit attractions-The Track: world-class thoroughbred horse racing – very high-energy

The Ferry – Vancouver Island Scheduled throughout the day, visitors can take the ferry to Vancouver island. Remember to bring a jacket because it is very cold travelling on the ocean. There is a restaurant, washrooms, and a gift shop on board. Vancouver Island is a beautiful place to visit with many attractions such as the wax museum, an underwater sea museum, and the stunning Buttchart Gardens.

Kelowna

Situated in the heart of the Okanagan valley, Kelowna is a gorgeous city to vacation at. The atmosphere is nice and relaxed, and the weather is usually hot and sunny. The main beach near downtown Kelowna has plenty of space to spread out and the sand is soft. There are also many orchards with plenty of fresh fruit.

Salmon Arm

Located in the Shuswap area, Salmon Arm boasts beautiful summer weather that complements the many beaches along the lakes. There are various summer activities in this small city, including camping by the lake or renting a houseboat with friends or family.

Minos Restaurant My favorite restaurant in Salmon Arm, with many delicious items on its menu. The selection is very impressive; dishes range from a humble donair to a juicy prime rib dinner. The prices are also quite reasonable. The service is excellent and friendly. This restaurant is extra interesting because of the many ghost stories floating around it. Our waitress confirmed the abundance of these tales, but did not actually experience the presence of any supernatural entity. Minos is definitely highly recommended because of its large selection of tasty and inexpensive meals. It is a great place to bring your friends or family.

Sandy Point This campground is located by one of the many lakes and has a beautiful beach (as its name suggests). There is a playground for the children and many water sports for all to participate in. While the campground does not offer much privacy, it is obviously very popular since it is often quite busy.

Other Activities While you are in Salmon Arm, you must stop at one of the many fruit stands along the road. There are always many kinds of seasonal fruit and veggies to choose from, and they are very tasty, fresh, and juicy. Making a trip to the waterslides is always a favorite with the kids, and Salmon Arm has a great waterslide park to try.

Revelstoke

Whilst those not-in-the-know continue to head in their droves for overpriced, overcrowded and overhyped Whistler, the die-hard snow sports enthusiasts head for Revelstoke. The ski resort’s moto, ‘The Longest Skiable Vertical in North America’ (over a mile) translates into magnificent skiing, with incredible powder rarely ‘skiied-out’. Revelstoke also promises lift-skiing, heli-skiing and cat-skiing all from its compact base. Heaven-on-earth for powder skiiers!

Sugarbush Ski Resort, Vermont

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Sugarbush ski resort is located in Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains. It’s about a 3½ hours drive from Boston, and 5½ hours drive from NYC.

Sugarbush was first opened as a small ski area in the late 1950s by Damon Gadd and his wife Sara, together with their business partner Jack Murphy. It quickly became established as a popular winter destination for the rich and famous, and the resort enjoyed several halycon years. But gradually Sugarbush fell out of favor. In 1977 Roy Cohen bought the concern off the Gadds, and enlarged it substantially by annexing the neigboring Mt Ellen Glen ski operation. Slowly Sugarbush returned to popularity. In 2001 ownership again transferred, this time to Summit Ventures. A substantial redevelopment program has now paid dividends, making the resort attractive and appealing. Not only does it now boast some super slope-side accommodation, but also a state of the art snowmaking system, covering over 70% of the slopes. This gives Sugarbush one of the most reliable snow records in the East.

Thanks to its history the resort is divided into two areas, ‘North’, the area at Mt Ellen Peak (4083′) and ‘South’, the area at Lincoln Peak (3975′). The two areas are connected by the very up-and-down Slide Brook chair, which traverse Slide Brook, the large valley between the two mountains. It can be a lot easier to travel from Lincoln Peak Base to Mt Ellen Base by free shuttle bus.

Ski-school sessions are run at both Lincoln and Ellen base areas. If you’re a beginner there a plenty of green trails at both sites. At Lincoln favorites for improvers include the greens reached by the Gatehouse express quad. Make your way (tentatively) down the gently-sloped Pushover, which connects to Easy Rider to return to the chair’s start. At Mt Ellen there’s a couple of short slopes, Graduation and Sugar Run, both very beginner-friendly, accessed by the Sunshine chair.

At the Lincoln area, one of the best areas for Intermediates is Allyn’s Lodge. There are 5 blue runs which peel off Snowball, all are brilliant runs, not too testing, but exciting and exhilirating. My favorite is Domino chute, which carves a big right hand turn down the hill. Oh, and don’t forget to visit the Lincoln peak’s summit at least once, to experience Jester, which gives some of the best views at the resort. Over at Mt Ellen, the best blues are Rim Run, Elbow and Way Back – all off the very top of the mountain.

Expert skiiers are spoilt for choice. At the Lincoln Peak summit, Paradise and Ripcord two steep bumps can both be recommended. At Mt Ellen summit, the blacks at the top, FIS and Black Diamond are similar lines, technical and demanding.

Ski-in, ski-out accommodation is available in the Lincoln Peak base, at the up-market Clay Brook residences. Alternatively there is the excellent Sugarbush Inn, a short drive away. There’s also lots of condo lodging in Sugarbush village.

Best Ski Resorts‘ (from 100BestEverything) rating (out of 5 stars) 2-expert,3-intermediate, 4-beginner.

The Best Family Ski Resorts – USA

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

You both love skiing. Before the children came along, you’d go on skiing vacations together. Now it seems so much harder. It’s more expensive, more difficult to organise, and you risk suffering screaming, upset, tearful kids. But get a grip of yourself. Plan slowly, pick carefully, budget wisely, and a skiing vacation can be amazingly successful for the whole family. For show me a 5 year old that doesn’t get a kick out of sliding down the snow, and I’ll introduce you to the real Father Christmas. Family-friendly resorts are not that hard to find – avoid the double-black obsessed, the luxury hotel centered, or the limited ‘things to do’ resorts. Here are 3 possibilites that tick all the boxes to make a truly memorable family vacation.

#1 Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky is located in the spectacular wilderness area of South Western Montana, just a few miles from Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. There’s a good range of terrain to suit all skiing abilities, all the way from first-timers to experienced double-black addicts.

 Accomodation in the ski village is convenient and modern, and for the most part of the ski season, ski-in, ski-out. Thanks to its small quiet ski village, wide uncrowded slopes, and great kids’ ski school, Big Sky is a big hit with families.

 

 

 #2 Steamboat, Colorado

When you decide to Ski Steamboat Colorado, you’ve made a great choice. The town has the nickname ‘Ski Town USA’, and it’s well-earned, because many say the skiing is better than anywhere. The town is split into two, the old downtown section, dating back to the 19th century, with an authentic cowboy ambiance, and the more modern ‘Mountain Area’ village higher up the valley, spread out in front of the gondola area. There’s a free shuttle bus that connects the two which takes about 10 minutes.

Steamboat pioneered ‘Kids Ski Free’ concessions – these now can even include rental gear and accomodation. Next to the base area the large Kid’s Vacation Center offers comprehensive daycare and starter skiing lessons on an adjoining gentle slope. Non-skiing care for 6 months – 6 year olds is handled by Kiddie Corral. Most kids though will want to try out skiing – they can join the Buckaroos (2-3yrs), the Sundance Kids (3 to 5yrs), or Jackalopes (5 to 6yrs) – all these programmes include short skiing sessions. From 7 years onward, your kids can join tailored sessions run by the proper ski-school. In the evening, the fun’s not over. There’s a large skating rink – always very popular with kids. And if you’re not already cold to the bones after a day on the slopes, take them swimming – the pool complex has a brilliant water slide.

#3 Vail

Vail is a pleasant pedestrianised village, built mostly in Swiss-chalet style. The resort’s accomodation spreads along the highway, so when arranging your vacation, make sure to book within walking distance of the center. This way it’s a pleasant stroll to town as a family, or if your kids are in their teens, they can make their own way there.

 

The skiing is perfect for kids learning to ski, with a large number of suitably-graded slopes within easy access of the village. The ski school runs a fully structured programme from Mini Mice (3-4 yr), Mogul Mice (4-6yrs) and Superstars (7 and older). In the evenings, younger kids are well catered for by the Fort Whippersnapper area – they’ll love its ski-through Lost Mine. Older kids head for Adventure Ridge (a short gondola ride from the village – free in the evening) which offers night skiing and snowboarding, ice skating, tubing and laser tag. The whole atmosphere is very child-friendly – nobody bats an eyelid when a snowball fight breaks out amongst your little ones.

#4 Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont

Smuggler’s Notch (or Smuggs as it is affectionatley nicknamed) is located in the heart of Vermont’s beautiful Green Mountains, about 10 miles south from Jeffersonville. The resort is spread over two centers. Firstly the village, nestled at the foot of the slopes of Morse Mountain, and secondly a second separate base area, a short distance from the village, serving the larger Madonna and Sterling Peaks.

The ski village at Smuggs takes family-friendliness to the next level. Day child-care is provided at the excellent (and fully licensed) Treasures center, where capable staff will care for your child in an large and colorful kindergarten with attached and fully secured outdoor area. From the age of 2 1/2, kids can start to learn to ski with the Little Rascals on Snow group.

Older kids are catered for by a comprehensive range of ski lessons, provided on a day camp, or extended day camp basis. For 3-5 year-olds there’s Discovery Dynamos, 6-10 Adventure Rangers, 11-15 Notch Squad, and 16-17 Mountain Explorer.

But it’s really off the slopes that Smuggs excels. There’s a huge Fun Zone, an indoor play area, complete with inflatable play structures like slides and ramps, fuzzball tables, table-tennis tables and electronic games. Nearby is a good-sized heated pool with hot-tubs.

Accommodation at Smuggs is based on ski-in ski-out condos, which are close to the village center and ski-slopes – very convenient and so much better than sheperding all your kids into a shuttle bus with miles to go to reach the slopes.

Smuggs claim’s itself to be America’s Family Resort, with some justification since most familes have an enormously enjoyable vacation. But be warned – you may find the camp atmosphere a little overwhelming.

Other Resources

Nothing beats a little research when it comes to picking a suitable ski resort. A great resource is

Best Ski Resorts A useful roundup of the best ski resorts.