Traveling With Kids: Woodstock Inn & Resort + Suicide Six
Over the last few years that my family has explored skiing, I have realized that one of the reasons skiing is so magical is because winter in Boston can be tough on the spirits—in particular, at times like this when there’s no snow and everything just seems cold, gray, and dirty (sorry, Boston!). Trading the hunched shoulder, shivering urban shuffle for gliding down beautiful snowy mountains is pretty amazing. This past weekend we explored The Woodstock Inn & Resort’s Suicide Six ski area and it was wonderful—a super family-friendly, non-chaotic ski experience all around. Today I’m sharing why I think it’s worth putting this property on your ski calendar.
The town of Woodstock is adorable
A couple of years back I shared a summertime post on traveling with kids to Woodstock, VT. Definitely check out that recap for specific recommendations around town, but in a nutshell this is a town whose beauty you will immediately appreciate, and that offers ample shopping and food options within an idyllic setting (the gorgeous covered bridge below gives you an idea). Added bonus? Woodstock is under 2.5 hours from Boston, which makes it a very doable drive with kids.
Because we were so focused on skiing this visit, we actually did not really get to prowl around town as much as we did during our summer visit, but I do want to shout out the Soulfully Good Cafe, which did not make it into my summertime report. We stopped at Soulfully on our way out of town to get lunch for the road and not only is the food tasty, but it’s an entirely nut-free cafe, which is immensely comforting if you, like us, deal with life-threatening nut allergies. I discovered this detail when I inquired about their cookies that are literally the size of a child’s head. (Yes, I bought the cookie. And it was delicious. Go get yourself a cookie.)
The Woodstock Inn & Resort: Accommodations
Luxurious and elegantly appointed, the Woodstock Inn & Resort has all the details down—whether it’s the luxe bedding, delicious smelling body products in the bathroom, or fluffy robes in the closet. From a ski lodging perspective, it’s different than staying at a ski resort where there are ski chalet type suites (meaning, we had one large traditional room versus separate spaces), but if you need more room to spread out, there are a number of common spaces throughout the Inn & Resort where you can relax, read magazines, or play games. Laurel and Violet loved these spaces and after dinner one night played a game called something like, “Act Classy” (where they literally tried to stop laughing and sit and act classy).
The Woodstock Inn & Resort: Service
Service at the Woodstock Inn & Resort is amazing—friendly, thoughtful, and attentive, from the staff who insisted on helping us with our luggage (we were totally ready to carry it on our own) to the waitstaff to housekeeping to the front desk. I didn’t even remember that I mentioned Violet’s tree nut allergy when we booked the visit, but on two different occasions people checked in with us about the tree nut situation with food (I’m wondering if an alert was hooked up to our room number).
The Woodstock Inn & Resort: Food
And speaking of food, if you don’t feel like leaving the property (say, if it’s a real feel of -12 degrees) you’re all set on the food front. The buffet breakfast at Red Rooster is amazing, complete with a dizzying array of options and a warmed tureen of Vermont maple syrup that Violet was beyond thrilled to put on what she called the best waffles she has ever eaten. Also, big ups to Curtis, who managed the omelette station the two mornings we were there. His cheerful, warm demeanor is the perfect way to start any day! We also decided to pop in for dinner at Richardson’s Tavern one night, which was delicious. Oh, and our first night there we got the girls settled in with a movie and headed down to the Red Rooster bar for cocktails. The Smoky Vermont Martini was amazing. Go get one. I want another one soon.
Suicide Six: Scope
Now, to skiing! Suicide Six is different than going to a big ski resort; it is one mountain (1,200 ft elevation) including a mix of 24 trails and slopes (30% beginner trails, 40% intermediate, 30% advanced). Perhaps super hardcore skiers would feel that this isn’t enough terrain, but I will say that there are four trails marked double black diamond and both days we skied there were competitions (teenage competition on day 1, adult on day 2) going on down The Face, which runs along the central quad chairlift and it looked both impressive and somewhat terrifying for this advanced beginner. (In the photo below you can see the quad chairlift. Directly below the chairlift is an ungroomed black trail and it was really fun to watch skilled people zip down this section. To the left of the orange net fencing is where they were setting up for the racing.)
Suicide Six: Transportation
Suicide Six is about an 8-minute drive from the Woodstock Inn & Resort. To date, my favorite arrangement has been resort’s with ski in/out lodging but I will say that the transportation situation at Suicide Six was a non-issue, likely due to the size of the mountain and parking lot. There are shuttles that run every 30 minutes from the Woodstock Inn & Resort but we decided that we wanted the flexibility of having our car and it ended up being easier not to have to haul our skis on and off a shuttle. Because it’s a reasonably sized parking lot, getting from the lot to the base of the mountain was easy—and that’s saying something coming from me...I am notoriously slow walking in ski boots!
Suicide Six: Logistics
Suicide Six has a base lodge with a restaurant, bar, cafeteria, and rental and retail shop. We’re fans of not jockeying for cubby space in lodges so we got our boots on in the parking lot in the cold, which worked fine. The lodge is set up with good flow so you can get your tickets straightaway then head out to ski. On our first day we grabbed a quick lunch and honestly, it was the classiest “fast lodge food” I have had to date; they have the usual kid fare like chicken fingers and fries but I had a delicious bowl of clam chowder with bacon and scallions + a salad with blue cheese and chicken. Added bonus: they have designed the lodge so that one of the ways to get in and out of the lodge is directly through the bathrooms, which makes for easy pee breaks from the outside. (It’s the little things, you guys.)
Suicide Six: Lessons
Our favorite way to set up ski lessons is to do lessons in the morning then ski together as a family the rest of the day. Laurel and Violet took two-hour lessons on Saturday and one of my favorite things was seeing them periodically on the mountain as Jon and I were skiing! My impression from the kids was that Laurel’s lessons were somewhat less directive than she has experienced in the past; they did talk technique tweaks but otherwise she and instructor did more skiing than talking. Violet’s lesson definitely sounded more (appropriately for her age) directive; she came away knowing an acronym for specific things to work on and clearly was practicing what she had learned later in the day. And I guess the most telling thing is this: our last ski trip in December marked Violet’s first time ever on a lift and first time ever going to the top of a mountain and skiing a green trail from top to bottom. At the end of Violet’s lesson at Suicide Six, her teacher said she was ready to hit blue trails from top to bottom (they had already done partial blue together). WHAT?!
Suicide Six: Skiing in General
It may seem odd to close with the general skiing report, but there are clearly a number of things to consider before you get going! As I mentioned, Suicide Six is one mountain; it is not going to give you a sprawling resort feel if that’s what you’re looking for. However, a non-resort feel could be exactly what you want and it is wonderful for families. It occurred to me while we were there that there are some major pros of going to a small mountain: it’s less crazy in general, it’s easier to create meet-up spots with your kids if you get separated, and the vibe is just more chill. Even on a beautiful, perfect January weekend with races going on both days, we never had to wait long to get on the quad lift (which, I should note, was fun because we all could ride together…another first for us!) and it did not feel crowded on the trails. Also, I found Suicide Six to be particularly well marked for trail merges, which was especially comforting given that Violet is a pretty new skier who is learning to navigate flow.
On Saturday we pretty much skied all day and on Sunday we skied about 3 hours before we needed to head home and pick up our bird. We at no point were bored and in fact, the kids were begging us for just one more run, and even when we finished, Violet skied off with her head down in the Charlie Brown position because she did not want to leave! And I should quantify to say that we spent all of our time going around on 3 trails: Easy Mile (green), Bunny’s Boulevard (blue), and Skyline (blue). There was plenty for us to work on, and playing with the cut outs on various trails and splitting up and meeting up at the bottom was so fun!
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a gorgeous escape and a relaxed, super fun family-friendly ski experience, check out the Woodstock Inn & Resort and Suicide Six. At less than 2.5 hours from Boston, you’ll get to spend less time on the road and more time enjoying the fun stuff!
Disclosure: The Woodstock Inn & Resort kindly comped our lodging, lessons, breakfast, and lift tickets while I explored the property for editorial consideration; I incurred other meal and entertainment expenses. All opinions and experiences are, of course, my own.