Think a family ski trip means lugging gear and lost mittens? Our Mountain Travel Experts are here to share the recipe for a perfect family getaway, proving that the best family memories are made in the mountains. Imagine evenings reminiscing over the ski day while roasting s’mores around the fire, or sharing laughs over a high– stakes game of Banana Grams while dad nods off on the couch after a long day on the slopes.
We turned to one of our seasoned Mountain Travel Experts, Jennie Graz, to roundup her favorite mountain properties to take the kids skiing this winter– and some of her secrets of what makes for a dream family getaway. Let’s dive in!
MEET ONE OF OUR FAMILY MOUNTAIN TRAVEL EXPERTS: JENNIE GRAZ
On top of her two decades of experience planning ski vacations, Jennie has also raised a family of young mountain enthusiasts. She has mastered the art of ensuring that the only tears that fall on a family getaway are due to belly laughs. Jennie spends winters in Crested Butte, CO and summers outside of Jackson Hole, WY chasing her kiddos over the rivers and through the snow. If you’re looking for proof, her 10-year– old summited The Grand Teton last summer—a huge accomplishment at any age!
Jennie’s travels have allowed her to see world renowned ski destinations, both through the lens of a parent and of a ski-industry pro. She knows exactly what makes a resort and property an excellent fit for kids of all ages, considering options for non-ski days, activities for after the mountain closes and access to a premier ski school with amazing instructors. Read on to hear from Jennie about her top three favorite kid-friendly properties worldwide for every type of travel style.
1. FOR THOSE WITH A BUDGET: THE SPRINGS CONDOS AT KEYSTONE
“As any previous client of mine will tell you, one of the best perks of The Springs is its location,” says Jennie. “The whole family will love the convenience of hopping out of bed and walking straight to the gondola. The action at River Run Village is right out your front door and is brimming with boutique shops, gourmet food, bars for après and a community fire pit for roasting marshmallows.”
We all know that pool time on a ski vacation is almost as sacred as hot cocoa. Jennie thinks The Springs pool is the best spot to keep afternoon sugar crashes from derailing family time. She suggests taking advantage of the outdoor covered grills, a shallow baby pool, and best of all, a waterslide. Kids will be shouting “JUST ONE MORE,” and who’s to blame them?
One of Jennie’s family’s favorite things to do is roast s’mores after skiing and then snuggle up for a movie after. Springs’ private movie theater allows for some much-needed vacation downtime. And let us not forget about adult amenities. There are outdoor grilling areas, fitness area, two hot tubs, steam room, pool table, ski lockers and coin-operated laundry facilities— on property.
EPIC LOCATION: KEYSTONE RESORT – ALL ABOUT THE KIDS
“Keystone is one of the most family-focused resorts I have had the pleasure of experiencing,” says Jennie. And a lot of what they focus on is hosting family-friendly events throughout the year. During Kidtopia, family-fun activities include the “Giant Snowball Launch” or a hunt through the forest for Bigfoot during the “Bigfoot Adventure Walk.” These activities are free and meant for children of all ages! Below are some other family-friendly offerings Jennie recommends to her guests.
SNOW FORT EXTRAVAGANZA
One of Jennie’s favorite seasonal activities is the Keystone Snow Fort Dercum Mountain. It’s the WORLDS LARGEST and for the 2023/2024 season they are building two! You can ski in the morning and explore the snow fort at lunch. Jennie’s clients’ kids love spending hours exploring the snow fort, making friends and creating life-long feel-good memories of fun in the snow. The kind of memories that create snow hounds for life.
Have a little one that isn’t ready for skis or a snowboard just yet? Jennie suggests the groomed tubing lanes as a great alternative! The lanes offer a breathtaking view of the mountain and are fun for the whole family. “My clients are always proud to report they had just as much fun as the kids!” says Jennie.
For a taste of winter magic and crisp mountain air, Jennie suggests snuggling up under blankets with your family for a sleigh ride. The sleigh driver and horse will meander around winding trails while you look at the stars and drink hot cocoa. It’s an experience that leaves those long-lasting feel-good memories.
Another gem of Keystone is the opportunity to go night skiing with the family. This is the only night skiing available in Summit County! Jennie guarantees kids will absolutely get a kick out of flying down the mountain underneath the stars. Her advice? Bundle up well.
2. FOR THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVELERS: AIRELLES VAL D’ISÉRE
If elegant and sophisticated travel is more your flair, look no further than the Airelles Val d’ Isère. “This is one of my favorite resorts to send families who are interested in an unforgettable ski vacation abroad,” says Jennie. Les Aierelles is an iconic ski-in, ski-out, 5-star hotel nestled at over 5,900 feet in the Tarentaise mountains of France, close to the Italian border. “Staying at this Alpine resort allows you to intimately experience the worldly charm of Val d’Isère, one of Europe’s most breathtaking ski destinations.”
The hotel’s picturesque setting, nestled at the base of the slopes, coupled with its warm and refined ambiance, creates an ideal retreat for families who savor life’s luxuries. Taking inspiration from traditional Savoyard, the exterior of the hotel seamlessly blends with its natural surroundings, crafted from natural materials. On the interior, architect Christophe Tollemer has curated 41 rooms and suites that effortlessly blend tradition and sophistication.
SKI SCHOOL AND APRES FUN
You cannot find a property closer to ski school! Watch your little ones in Club Piou Piou snow garden while kicking off your ski boots and tucking under a blanket for a long European lunch on the slope side terrace at LOULOU. Enjoy down time with petered out kids watching a movie in the in-house cinema or share laughs over pinball with your teens in the young adult room. Jennie says not many properties offer daily, staffed kids camps, so she suggests taking advantage of longer days on snow knowing that your little adventurers are seeing the best of the French Alps.
KIDS CAMP & MAGIC AWAIT
The resort offers amenities and adventures to create an unforgettable vacation. Aierlles Val d’ Isère has created the Aierelles Winter Camp for children. The camp is set amidst the Brocèliande Forest and offers a magical playground for children’s imaginations to run wild with games and creativity.
The resort offers snowshoe tours that meander through the forest directly out the front doors of the hotel. Your guide will lead you throughout the forest to discover secret spots and special vistas. Jennie recommends this experience as a great option for families with older children who are looking for a unique way to play in the snow. And with some luck–and magic–you might end up discovering the rich diversity of Alpine wildlife! “So far, all of my clients have had this luck!”
A THRILL SEEKERS PARADISE
Aierelles Val d’ Isère hasn’t forgotten about fun activities for adults, either. While the kids are whisked off to a winter wonderland at Camp Aierelles, adventure seekers of the family can take a break from the mountain and try other adrenaline pumping ventures. “I would be remiss if I did not suggest helicopter tours, ice scuba diving or paragliding,” says Jennie. All options offer a thrilling way to discover the valley and are sure to give you epic tales to bring back home.
3. MADE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY: MONTAGE DEER VALLEY
Montage Deer Valley is a destination in and of itself. Nestled in the Wasatch Range of Utah, this property is easily accessed from Salt Lake International Airport. Staying ski-in, ski-out to world-renowned Deer Valley Ski Resort allows for little ones to pop in for a break or parents to drop kids at ski school and enjoy a leisure breakfast. Recent room refreshes honor Utah’s natural beauty with a blend of traditional and timeless décor.
Kids will run the show with personalized attention from hotel staff ensuring that parents have time to après in style at the swanky slope-side Après Lounge. Jennie’s tip: leave time for the family to venture down to Main Street Park City for t-shirt shops and high-end boutiques or stay cozy at the hotel for a night of bowling at Daly’s Pub and Rec (Yes, it’s inside the hotel!) Don’t miss hand spun shakes at Burger’s and Bourbon too!
EXTREME PILLOW FORT FUN
Montage Deer Valley showcases their dedication to crafting family-friendly experiences that go beyond the ordinary. One such special experience is their personalized camping experience where they will transform your room into a magical hideaway! “It truly is one of the more unique offerings I have seen at resorts and is the perfect opportunity to let your children’s imaginations run wild,” says Jennie.
A FAMILY FAVORITE – MURPHY, THE CANINE AMBASSADOR
“Once you meet Murphy, it’s hard not to fall in love with Murphy,” says Jennie. You have been warned. Murphy is an affable Bernese Mountain Dog who calls the Montage home. Murphy is available for daily meet and greet in the Montage lobby Mondays through Friday’s at 11 am. (You don’t want to miss it, I promise!) That being said, of course the Montage is dog-friendly! Feel free to bring your furry friend along for the ride.
MONTAGE MERIT BADGES
Young guests at Montage Deer Valley can earn 12 different accolades, like badges that scouts earn, by learning valuable life skills. These badges celebrate skills in a diverse array of activities and include mastering ski run levels from green and blue to black diamond and double black diamond! Children can also earn badges for tubing at powder park and going on a snowshoeing adventure. “These activities are a great way to make your vacation goal oriented and inspire your littles to learn new skills,” says Jennie. Activities are tailored to each season and offer a sense of triumph and adventure children can proudly display!
Paintbox is a unique children’s program designed for kids between the ages of 5 through 12. The program offers a fun and engaging mix of games, crafts, movies and activities year-round. Jennie suggests that her clients check out Paintbox, as it is the perfect opportunity for children to experience the fun outside of skiing or snowboarding. Outdoor adventures feature activities such as snowshoeing and exciting mountainside scavenger hunts.
FOR THE ADULTS
Of course, no exceptional resort would be complete without a world-class spa and wellness program. And Spa Montage offers the perfect tranquil escape. Jennie’s favorite facial during winter is the “Hydration Ritual – Source of Bliss.” Jennie says “it’s the best for skin that is craving moisture after a day of fun in the sun!”
Along with the spa, Montage Deer Valley offers 5-star dining options, a salon, and upscale boutiques on the property. For date night, she suggests booking a sitter for the kids through concierge at the hotel and checking out Apex Steakhouse. The dishes are made with locally sourced ingredients and offer an adventure of culinary delights.
READY FOR A FAMILY GETAWAY?
What is good for one family may be different for yours. That’s why speaking with a Mountain Travel Expert at Ski.com is the best way to curate an unforgettable family ski trip. Jennie has been at Ski.com since 2005 and is ready to make your dream trip a reality! Start planning your family ski getaway today by calling 800-610-8911, or connecting with any Mountain Travel Expert at Ski.com.
Nobody gets why you crave spending time in the mountains more than we do and nobody knows how to guide you there better.