With the ending of the Red Sox’s baseball season and the weather turning cooler in New England, we’ve been starting to think about ski country destinations for the coming winter. With one teen that snowboards, one that skis, and mom and dad sometimes looking for less strenuous activities, we need a destination that offers lots of options. Smugglers’ Notch, in Vermont’s Green Mountains, with 3 mountains and over 300 acres of trails, is a four season resort that caters to families with kids of all ages, and really makes an effort to offer teens and tweens some fun and unique opportunities.
We particularly like the fact that the resort’s Snow University ski school treats teens and tweens differently from younger kids. Tweens and younger teens ages 11 to 15 can join the Notch Squad skiing or snowboarding day camp, where they can enjoy a full-day program of onslope instruction and lunch together. Private lessons are also available for those who need a little one-on-one attention to get going. Since we know that the mere thought of having to take beginner lessons with “little kids” is enough to put a tween off the whole idea of learning to ski we think this is a great option.
During holiday weeks more advanced kids ages 11 to 14 can participate in Ski Racing Camps if they want something more challenging than normal lessons and ride time. This 11 to 15 year old age group can get together in the evenings at the supervised Teen Alley teen center for video games, music, popcorn, ping pong and pool.
Older teens ages 16 and up have more freedom on the mountains although the Resort does try to help them meet one another by hosting afternoon teen meet-ups everyday where they can participate in a 1.5 hour lesson format that provides an opportunity for instruction as well as time to meet some other teens that they can hang with the rest of the day. This group gathers at 1 pm, so teens can sleep in if they want! In the evening, older teens have access to the parent-free Outer Limits teen zone with internet access, ping pong, video games, pool tables and dancing. Weekly dance parties and special events like dodgeball tournaments are open to teens 13 and up.
Other popular teen activities include airboarding (fast snowtubing on an inflated raft), and Night Schools for snowboarding and jibbing opportunities to learn about terrain park features. Also, new this winter, Smugglers’ is introducing a zipline canopy tour that will be available year-round for the adventurous of all ages. Participants in this 2.5-3 hour tour will ride more than 4000 feet of cable on eight sections of zip line, They will cross suspension bridges, and rappel from trees while tour guides provide insight about the local flora and fauna, ecology and natural history. Participants will need to weigh a minimum of 80 pounds.
Finally, for anyone who doesn’t want to hit the slopes, Smugglers’ has a wide range of diversions. Outdoors there are opportunities to join day or evening snowmobile tours, hitch a ride on a dogsled, participate in guided winter walks, or go ice skating, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Indoors, there is a heated pool, a couple of hot tubs, and the Mountain Massage Center.
Lodging at Smugglers’ is in fully equipped resort condos that range in size from studios that can sleep 3 or 4 to 5-bedroom units that can sleep an extended group of family and friends. All the units have cable TV, telephones, internet access, linens, cookware, dishware, glassware, utensils and in-home or in-building access to laundry facilities. Daily maid service is available at a nominal fee.
With the availability of kitchen facilities some families may choose to cook their meals on their own. However, if you want to eat out the resort has a number of on site options including pizza, pub, and deli food as well as casual family dining. There are additional choices a short drive away outside the resort.
As with most family oriented resorts, Christmas and school vacation weeks fill fast. Be sure to check the Resort’s deals and packages page. They are currently offering the 7th night free for Christmas week and have deeply discounted weekly rates during January. Depending on the package you select many activities may be included. In some cases packages rates are half the cost of paying for activities and lessons individually so be sure to check them out.
As with all the articles in our “Wishing We Were Here” series, we received no compensation or incentive to write this article. We just wish we here here! Visit the link to see some of the other ski destinations on our wish list.
Photos courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch Resort