Carving around corners, bumping down moguls, breathing in cool mountain air and sweeping views. Ah, the essence of skiing. What a rush. Plus, there's also the company of like-minded ski aficionados. Ski villages offer whatever nightlife you crave, from a quiet family dinner to dance floors for shaking your groove thing with friends.
Boarders and skiers put their passion for powder to practice on slopes across North America from mid-November through March (later if snowfall permits). Skiing is an ideal activity for groups, fostering camaraderie and a healthy dose of competition among friends and family. It allows adventure-seekers to vacation together, skiing off on separate runs if desired and meeting up at the lift lines to swap slope stories. At the day’s end, everyone regroups for some après ski activities. Here’s a guide with tips and resources to help you plan your group ski trip with ease.
Planning Ski Trips
- Find a mountain and ski resort for your group
- Invite friends, family, or team/club members (ski team, church group, school mates, professional organization members)
- Discuss trip details with travel companions
- Create an event schedule of dinner reservations and other key itinerary details
- Shop for flights, hotels, rental cars, activities and attractions and share booking details
Ski Trip Checklist
When planning a group ski trip, there are plenty of factors to keep in mind. Does anyone in the group require child care for their kids? Is anyone interested in taking group ski lessons and how varied are the ski skill levels? Is everyone buying group lift tickets before arriving or while there? Here's a quick list of things to consider before you go:
- Lift tickets
- Ski rentals
- Group discounts
- Group ski lessons
- Ski lessons for kids
- Daycare for kids
- Restaurant reservations
- Bulk food assignments made (who's bringing what?)
- Hotel or rental home reservations
- Pet-friendly hotel rooms, condos, or houses
- Extra gear for those who may have forgotten gloves, goggles, hats, wool socks
Top Ski Resorts in North America
Take your pick of ski areas, states, and snow conditions for the upcoming ski season and start planning your ski trip. Since there are simply too many ski areas to list, but here are 10 popular ski resorts for groups for starters (in no particular order):
- Vail Ski Resort, Colorado
- Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
- Heavenly Ski Resort, Lake Tahoe
- Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort, British Columbia
- Steamboat Ski Resort, Colorado
- Mammoth Lakes Ski Resort, California
- Killington Ski Resort, Vermont
- Aspen Snowmass Ski Resort, Colorado
- Park City Ski Resort, Utah
- Jackson Hole Ski Resort, Wyoming
Ground Transportation Options
Find out what options are available at the airport and ski resort your group is heading to. If you're on a budget, shuttle services offer group rates. One of the greatest benefits of a group trip is being able to split costs such as transportation to and from venues.
- Shuttle service – There are usually private services that transfer you from airports to your hotel or ski resort area. Some ski resorts themselves even offer airport transportation to and from their resort. Call ahead so you find the best deal for your group.
- Private limo
- Rent cars, SUVs, vans
- Hotel/resort transportation service
- Friend as chauffer – best option if available
Ski-In, Ski-Out Accommodations
Convenient for those who plan to spend most of their trip skiing, you can save gas and glide right outside your hotel door. Hotels, condos, and resorts can all fall into this category. Examples include Snake River Lodge & Spa in Jackson Hole, Sunshine Inn (Banff's only ski-in/ski-out hotel), and The Loft at the Mountain Village 3-bedroom condo in Park City.
Vacation Rental Homes
One of the best ways to enjoy a group ski trip is by renting an entire house. I've done this several times and it's usually been the best option. Do a Google search for your ski area or look at this worldwide directory for ski area vacation homes.
TripHub allows you to discuss, plan, and make decisions on group activities with your trip mates all in one central location, saving you the hassle of sending a zillion emails to coordinate.
- Shopping – Most ski resorts cater to skiers and the fact that you're a relatively captive audience, having traveled through snow-covered roads to the mountain. So there's plenty of shopping variety from apparel boutiques to candy shops to cafés to video rental stores.
- Sightseeing – Whether driving or flying in for a weekend getaway or vacation with friends or family, ski destinations often have more to offer than just mountain with slopes. There may be historical or art museums/galleries, or nearby attractions such as lakes to explore. Find out what interests your group most and offer suggestions before the trip.
- Nightlife, Restaurants & Bars – You can always find a variety of restaurants, many of them high-end, to recharge after a day on the slopes. And all major ski resorts (Whistler, Vail, etc.) have nightlife equally as invigorating as the day life (if you're in a party mood). But there are also quaint, charming pubs and restaurants as well as the cheap eateries. If your group is set on a certain type of food or restaurant, book reservations as early as possible to ensure a seat.
Wintry Activities – Numerous ski resorts give snowbirds other ways to play in the snow either before or after they ski (or when taking a day off of the slopes):
- Ziptrek or ziplines through treetops
- Dog sledding
- Cross-country skiing (most major ski areas have trails for this, including Lake Tahoe, Telluride, Stowe, The Canyons, Sun Valley, and smaller resorts around the continent)
- Massages at spas
- Ski history includes Swedes and Russians hunting on skis, Norwegians popularizing the sport in the 1700s, the Winter Olympic Games in 1936 including alpine skiing for the first time, and Austria and Switzerland developing the first ski resorts shortly after World War II.
- Historical ski cartooning – who knew such a thing existed? – includes a look at ski humor from 1500 to the present. My favorite is a cover page cartoon from The New Yorker.
- The U.S. National Ski Hall of Fame, located in Michigan, was born in 1956.
Best of the Web (Ski Related Links)
Photo: Sun Valley/Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau