Traveling With Kids: Mount Snow
I think it’s fair to say that winter no longer drags along now that we ski as a family. In fact, it occurred to me this week that when I'm skiing the cold doesn't bother me, whereas when I'm trudging around the city or huddled in my office, there's a lot of complaining and groaning! Over the past few years, it's been so fantastic to explore skiing at different mountains and this past weekend we returned to Mount Snow as part of a media event with MomTrends. We first visited Mount Snow very early in the season two years ago and that recap has elements that are different from what I want to share today so I encourage you to also read that report! With a bit more experience under our belt, it was fun to return to a location (instead of being newbies all over again). Here are my thoughts on visiting Mount Snow right now; I’ll start with items related to amenities then move on to skiing.
1. Metro proximity + vibe
If you take a look at Ski Vermont’s map, you’ll see that Mount Snow is as far south in Vermont as you can get (The Hermitage Club is no longer open), which makes it an excellent ~3-hours-or-less target from Albany, Boston, Hartford, and Providence, as well as decent striking distance from New York. Mount Snow’s location makes for a vibe that is very Western MA/upstate NY, which is to say relaxed, friendly, and not pretentious at all (YAY). To further illustrate this point, here’s a story: On Sunday at Mount Snow I hopped a lift with two young dudes—Matt and Ben—from Dudley, MA and we were all freaking out because we landed on a golden chair (I’m not sure if all ski mountains do this, but at Mount Snow there were at least a couple of lifts that each had one golden chair). It turns out that these guys had visited Mount Snow with their Boy Scouts peeps for the last 18 years and never landed a golden chair. They immediately radioed one of their friends at the top of the lift (of course they had a walkie talkie! yay, Boy Scouts!), who snapped this picture and shared it with me. When I told them I was a travel writer they asked if they would be in my article and be famous so please, if you know an awesome pair of Boy Scouts named Matt and Ben from Dudley, MA who love to ski, please share this post with them!
2. Grand Summit Resort Hotel = Ultimate convenience
Though Mount Snow offers a few different lodging options, one of my favorite things about the Grand Summit Resort Hotel is that once you are there you do not need to use your car. Like, literally, on Friday we pulled up, tossed our belongings on a cart, and the valet took the car away and we didn’t use it again until we were ready to go home on Sunday! I’ll share more about some of the other conveniences below.
3. Ski check = Awesome
Another bonus about staying at the Grand Summit is the ski check service. When you pull up, they take your skis to the ski check building straight through to the back of the property so you don’t need to haul them around. When you’re ready to ski, just go to the back of the building (slopeside), grab your skis, and get on the slopes! And it turned out it worked the same in reverse. When we finished skiing on Sunday, we checked the skis and they moved them to the front of the building to load into our car.
4. Slopeside access FTW
So one of the big differences between when we visited two years ago and this past weekend is that now that Violet is comfortable on skis we could actually take advantage of the slopeside access. Hello, game changer! On our visit two years ago we needed to hoof it over snow/pavement to the learning area. In the grand scheme of things, not a far distance, but in ski boots (especially if you are me…sloooooow) it can take a while. This time, we just had to walk up a small area behind the hotel, pop on our skis, and go! We were able to ski right to the learning area, and there are lifts in both directions from the back of the Grand Summit, which is SO AWESOME. Also, it’s worth noting that Mount Snow is developing their Carinthia Base Area and will be adding over 100 ski-in/ski-out lodging units in the next couple of years.
5. Vermont Country Deli gave me life all weekend
There are a lot of dining options at Mount Snow (and word on the street is that the new food offerings at Carinthia Base Lodge are amazing) but during this visit I was obsessed with the Vermont Country Deli in the Grand Summit. Weirdly, I only recall going there for coffee two years ago, but this visit it ended up being the perfect place to grab sandwiches, coffee, snacks, and also some really awesome breakfast burritos for the road before we left.
6. Skiing in general
Mount Snow has plenty of skiing for all abilities. They have 86 trails (16% green, 66% blue, 18% black), 20 lifts, and a mindblowing number of snow guns (948). There are also terrain parks for the adventurous. I spent most of my time on the green trails and tackled nearly all that were available and could have kept going on them! In particular, I always love heading to the summit at a mountain and Long John is a beautiful, 3.1 mile trail from the summit that is especially amazing when it’s not busy. Jon, Laurel, and Violet skied some green with me, but they especially loved heading up Canyon Express and skiing down the blue trails Canyon and Roller Coaster.
7. Consider private or semi-private lessons
OK, so here’s the thing. We were at Mount Snow on a perfect, beautiful day in January; it got busy! And compared to our last visit (where we accidentally ended up having one instructor for just me and Jon), being in a group clinic with 8 adults was a bit tough. This is no knock on the teacher, it’s just challenging under any circumstances to teach 8 people at the same time. (And it turned out the same went for Violet and Laurel.) So my recommendation is if you’re looking to up your ski game, consider booking a private or semi-private lesson. It’s also worth noting that on Sunday, I happened to be in an area (Tumbleweed lift) where a lot of adaptive lessons were going on and the teachers were AWESOME. High fives!
8. Strategize crowd management
As I mentioned, it was a busy weekend at Mount Snow, and in hindsight, we should have planned our first day there a bit better. On Saturday we were all in lessons from about 9:30-11:30am and then the idea was that we would meet up and ski, then grab lunch and ski some more. However, our major fail was that we didn’t eat enough breakfast, which meant we needed to break earlier than we hoped, so by the time we got back out on the slopes after lunch, it was pretty nutty. That said, the Mount Snow staff is clearly accustomed to dealing with a lot of human beings; their line management system was impressively efficient and moved as quickly as one could hope. On Sunday we did a lot better! Our ideal pattern = have a really solid early breakfast, get on the slopes as soon as the lifts start turning, ski through the traditional lunch hour, grab a quick bite (see above point re: Vermont Country Deli), ski some more, and then start winding down when things get really busy in the mid-afternoon window.
In a nutshell, Mount Snow is a great, easy access ski resort from a number of cities, with all the trail offerings and amenities you could need (I heard from one of the pros that their gear staff + offerings are top notch, too, if you need to get outfitted). I just recommend being strategic in order to manage crowds.
Disclosure: We visited Mount Snow as part of a media trip coordinated by Momtrends. If you’re looking for other great ski info, be sure to check out the Momtrends Ski Guide! All opinions and experiences are, of course, my own.