Feb 272011

     Smugglers’ Notch offers visitors one of the largest self-contained ski resort village experiences we have seen on the East Coast.  From humble beginnings as a local ski hill with two Poma Lifts in the 1950s, Smugglers’ has evolved into a full service, four season destination with a wide range of lodging options.    Based on what we saw, they definitely have something for everyone.  Here’s a quick summary of the choices and trade-offs to consider when booking your stay.

Ski-in condos on Smugglers' Notch Morse Mountain

     Families visiting Smugglers’ Notch can choose from hundreds of timeshare and rental condos ranging from studios to premium 5-bedroom chalets.   The original condos built in the 1960s and 70s are located closest to the base village.  The base village houses several restaurants including the Morse Mountain Grille and Pub, which serves up a teen-pleasing burger, the Riga-Bello’s Pizzeria, which delivers to the condos after 5 pm, a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop, a deli, the small Bootleggers’ Lounge for adults, and a well stocked general store where you can pick up everything from snacks to the fixin’s for a full home cooked dinner.   The ski school for younger kids, the lifts to Morse Mountain and connections to the Madonna and Sterling Mountain trails are also here.  There is limited parking but a fleet of shuttle buses serves it continuously.

The Morse Mountain Grille signature burger

    We had the opportunity to stay in a premium 3-bedroom unit at the Kestrels, which is one of the newest complexes in the well appointed North Hill area.  The unit was outstanding with a large fully furnished kitchen, a sprawling master suite that included a large jacuzzi and steam shower, a second bath, and two other bedrooms including one with 4 beds for kids and teens. 

Master suite at the Kestrels

     It also had several gas fireplaces, a balcony,  a large screened in porch overlooking the mountains and lots and lots of closets!     Ski access is via shuttle buses or a very short drive down the hill.

Living room at the Kestrels

       This type of unit would be perfect for extended stays, two families traveling together,  a multi-generational group or any family looking for together time.  We took advantage of the space to order in pizza and have a family game night one evening. It was really relaxing after a day on the mountains.  If you want quiet and amenities the North Hill, or the nearby Highland Hills,  is the place to book. 

Sunset view from North Hill

     By comparison, the older and smaller Village East and Village West condos located adjacent to Morse Mountain and the base village are more active after the lifts close.  In the afternoon we noticed the teens staying in these units were running from their condos to the pool complex in their bathing suits and sneakers – regardless of the fact that it was about 20 degrees out.  This location makes it a bit easier for teens and tweens to independently walk or ski to the lifts and to visit  base area evening activities such as Teen Alley, the FunZone and the ice skating rink.  They can also dash over to Ben and Jerry’s for ice cream in the base lodge without having to wait for the shuttle or beg a ride in the evening.   West Hill, half way up Morse Mountain, offers ski-in access although it is a bit futher walk to the base area.

Ice skating is popular in the afternoon and evenings

      Most lodging packages include lift tickets and access to the majority of the off mountain activities.  Our teens checked out the parent-free Teen Alley located at the base area but were not motivated enough to go back down the hill in the evening.  We will say that it looked busy and we got the sense that teens who had a friend along might feel a bit more comfortable dropping in to use the computer games and pool table and to participate in the activities.    We also visited the FunZone, which is primarily designed for younger kids but does have ping pong tables for players of all ages.  A dodgeball tournament was offered for teens and tweens there at 9 pm on our first night, but we opted to make it an early evening so the Princess could make it to the Notch Squad at 9:15 am.

The FunZone

     When designing your Smugglers’ vacation consider how important options such as ski-in access, high end amenities or walking distance to the base lodge and evening activities are to you and your teens and tweens.   The resort surely has something to fill the bill.

Disclosure:  Smugglers’ Notch provided lodging, activity passes, lift tickets, group lessons and #1 Son’s visit to Arbortrek during our stay.  We paid for meals and private lessons on our own.  Accepting this opportunity in no way required that we write a positive review.  Travel with Teens and Tweens retains full editorial control over this article and all opinions are ours.

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