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Cool Family Travel Deals At Northeast Ski Resorts

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

If you planning to travel to the slopes for your family vacation, there are lots of great new family vacation deals and packages at Northeast ski resorts this year. In addition, a number of ski resorts have made significant improvements that will add to your family vacation experience.

Most Northeast ski resorts have been focusing on upgrading their snow conditions. Most of the area’s resorts have dedicated much of their capital improvements to augmenting their snowmaking and grooming capabilities. Some resorts have made lodging improvements or are completing final stages of their multi-year plans, such as Jay Peak’s Tram Haus Lodge and Cannon Mountain’s expanded base lodges. Many of the region’s resorts, however, are offering great incentives - particularly for families.

New Hampshire

Waterville Valley
This great family resort is offering $12 Kids Sunday Ticket. Kids (6-12) ski for $12 on non-holiday Sundays. In addition, a dollar from each of these Kids Sunday Tickets will be donated to the NH Food Bank. Three weekends in January are Kids Ski Free Weekends. The Ring In 2010 Package is offered at $210 per person, double occupancy during weekends and includes 2 nights lodging in the village of Waterville Valle, 2 adults minimum per room, 2 adult lift tickets for 2 days, lift tickets for ages 12 & under (one free kid’s ticket per paid adult), valet parking on Sunday, 50% discount on rentals, group lessons, all day Kids Venture Kamps and child care. Ring in 2010 weekends are January 8-10, 22-24, and 29-31, 2010. Families planning to take advantage of one of these deals will also love Waterville Valley’s “Love Sundays Again” checkout time. With the exception of holiday periods, Sunday checkouts will be 3:00 p.m., which is a relaxing way to end the weekend. No more rush to eat breakfast, pack the car, and get to ski school – just enjoy a relaxed Sunday morning on the slopes. For 2009-2010, Waterville Valley Ski & Stay deals now include skating at the indoor ice arena in addition to access to the White Mountain Athletic Club and use of the resort shuttle bus. For more information or to book packages visit www.waterville.com or call 800-468-2553.

Cannon Mountain
After achieving two consecutive record years for revenue, this ski area is looking to complete its two-year capital expansion plan. The most dramatic and visible elements of the phase two expansion are major improvements at its Notchview and Peabody base lodges that will nearly double the size of its pub, base lodge, and family room areas. There are also plans to trim and improve trails on Mittersill, an area of trails recently added to Cannon Mountains trail system. “We’ve made tremendous strides over the last twenty-four months with the repositioning of Cannon Mountain as a very affordable, high quality, family-based skiing and riding destination,” said John DeVivo, general manager of Cannon Mountain. Skiers who haven’t been to Cannon in a few years will experience a different feeling as a result of this move to make Cannon a more family-friendly mountain. For more information visit www.cannonmt.com or call 1-877-504-8070 for lodging information.

Gunstock
The ski area is completing a two-year $3.25 million expansion. Skiers will find a new fixed-grip quad lift along with two new trails and two extended trails in the Gunshy Beginner Complex. Upgrades to the snowmaking will result in nearly double the capacity compared to three years ago. Visit www.gunstock.com for more details.

Mount Sunapee
Novice skiers will enjoy the opportunity to do some gladed skiing on the new gladed trail, Paradise Glades, located between Paradise and Province trails on the South Peak Learning Area. Another trail improvement will found on Upper Cataract, as the trail has been widened and there will be a new mogul field going down on the left side. As the early morning sun hits this trail, some great morning mogul runs can be had. In addition to Sunapee’s usual ticket deals such as Magic Mondays’ $42 lift tickets, Tuesdays’ Ladies’ Day $49 Lift Ticket and Lunch deal, Wednesdays’ 2-for-1 deal, Thursdays will now offer a free lunch with each full-price all-day ticket. Visit www.mountsunapee.com or call 603-763-3500 for more information.

Vermont

Jay Peak
In February of 2010, Jay Peak skiers and riders will have a new spot to rest their tired legs. The Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak is scheduled to open its doors and will serve as the starting point for a number of facelifts planned for the next several seasons.

"While the new Tram Haus Lodge is small by industry standards - a mix of just 57 studio, 1 and 2 bedroom suites - it's a big step for us," said Steve Wright, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  "Adding a new restaurant and a small coffee shop will be appreciated; a bar with actual windows will probably be a big hit as well." The Tram Haus Lodge will also house a rental, repair and demo center - providing one-stop convenience for families heading to the slopes. In addition to the restaurant, bar, bakery and store, the Tram Haus Lodge will also include a fitness area with whirlpool, free weights and aerobic equipment. While the use of these facilities will be included in Tram Haus Lodge vacation packages, the amenities will be open to all resort guests, space permitting.

Okemo
If you are planning to ski this southern Vermont resort, be sure to check their “On-Line Only” deals for some great savings on lift tickets. These deals must be purchased 48-hours in advance and you must print your tickets at home. One such deal is Tuesdays’ Ladies’ Day $39 lift ticket. Ladies can also book a private lesson for $49. Call 802-228-1600 to book a lesson with an Okemo instructor. Online Thursdays offers skiers and riders the chance to pre-purchase $39 lift tickets for selected Thursdays. Also, be sure to check out Okemo’s “Steals & Deals” page when you visit www.okemo.com for more ways to save on lift tickets.

Smugglers’ Notch
This ski resort is adding another challenging, classic New England-style trail by extending Full Nelson from above mid-point to the base on Sterling Mountain. This increases the number of expert trails on a mountain known for its intermediate terrain to more than twelve.

All kids enrolled in Snow Sport University ski and snowboard camps (ages 3-15) will be outfitted with Flaik GPS units that will track the miles, vertical and trails skied each day and cumulatively. Every day, skiers can log on to review their skiing data and share their on-mountain experience with friends and family. Rentals of the GPS units for those not in the ski or riding schools are available for $19.95 per day. For more information visit www.smuggs.com or call 802-644-8851.

Stratton Mountain
Changes to some of the freestyle terrain and the creation of an Adventure Zone in the Sunbowl area headline what’s new at Stratton this season. The Sunbowl Adventure Center is the hub for après fun with snowshoe treks, snowmobile tours (plus Mini-Zs for the kids), full moon parties, music and libations at the third floor Loft bar. Stratton’s advanced terrain park and superpipe moves to Sunriser Supertrail at the Sun Bowl, home to the US Open Snowboarding Championships. A full-length Jib Park on Lower Middlebrook plus a boardercross course on East Byrneside contribute to the line-up for 2009-2010.

Also in the Sunbowl area is the new lift-serviced Coca Cola Tubing park located on the Big Ben trail. The tubing park features four lanes that stretch up to 750 feet long. The tubing park is open Saturdays and holidays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 4-8 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Helmets are recommended, and available for rent. With on-snow drop-off, base lodge and services, the Sunbowl @ Stratton is the insider’s favorite way to start and end the day.

Skiers looking to develop their bump skills will find “Mogul Learning Areas” on several trails including White Birch, Daniel Webster and Downtowner, as they work their way up to the mountain’s iconic bump runs like Bear Down and World Cup. Stratton is also outfitting all kids 12 and under enrolled in the Ski School programs with the Flaik GPS tracking systems.

Sugarbush
The Bush spent the summer expanding and adding 75 acres of new wooded terrain at both Mt. Ellen and Lincoln Peak. The expansion is part of the resort's continuing effort to create new challenges and experiences for their guests as well as removing the "fear factor" from wooded skiing and riding; some of the new areas have gentle slopes and more space between trees.

On-line learning; colleges have been offering it for years. But learning to ski/ride on-line? This year Sugarbush will be using its SugarTube to extend the learning experience off the hill. Instructors will video lessons and then post the clips on personal accounts created for guests of the Ski and Ride School. Using telestrating tools (think NFL instant replay) and voice over, instructors will analyze the lessons and offer tips on improvement. Clients will also have access to the on-line tools and can ask instructors questions via web cam.

Maine

Sunday River
Saturday, December 19 is Sunday River’s 50th Birthday celebration and the resort has plenty of kids’ activities and entertainment planned. The annual Children’s Festival Week, January 11-15, is an entire week dedicated to family fun with such activities as scavenger hunts, live entertainment, movies and themed Perfect Turn ski and snowboard lessons. And the best part of Children’s Festival? Kids can ski, snowboard, rent and learn all for free. Just call 800-543-2SKI or visit www.sundayriver.com to learn more.

New York

Whiteface/Lake Placid
Everyone at Whiteface Mountain is excited about hosting the 2010 U.S. Alpine Championships. The greatest alpine skiers in the country are set to return to the Olympic venue of Whiteface/Lake Placid from March 20 to March 23, 2010. Located in nearby Wilmington, the 1980 Olympic alpine venue will feature athletes fresh from the Olympic Winter games in Vancouver including two-time World Cup overall champion and double World championships gold medalist Lindsey Vonn and 2006 Olympic gold medalist Ted Ligety.

If you have never skied Whiteface, this may be the year to try this storied ski area as it preps for another championship event on its slopes. Some great deals on lift tickets are available, such as Why Not Wednesdays when lift tickets are $38 or Super Sundays (one selected Sunday each month) when lift tickets are $35 for adults, $30 for teens, and $25 for Juniors (ages 7-12). Kids 6 and under ski free all the time. If you plan to ski Whiteface and its sister mountain Gore, look into the Empire Card for adults and the Snowball Card for Juniors for some great discounts on lift tickets. For more information on Whiteface Mountain and the Olympic venues in Lake Placid visit www.whiteface.com.


Jeff and Stephanie Sylva have been travel writers for 21 years.

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