Vermont Family Vacations at Jay Peak Resort

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

Northeast ski resorts have always been popular for family vacations. Family travel to Northeast ski resorts has changed considerably in recent years. One of Vermont's best known ski resorts, Jay Peak, now follows this trend, delivering a completely new family vacation experience for family travelers.

Families seeking a winter vacation that offers more than great skiing should look to Vermont's Jay Peak Resort. Recent improvements have transformed this ski resort, long-considered one of the top ski mountains in the East, into a family destination offering exciting recreation that the whole family will enjoy. Boasting the only indoor waterpark in Vermont, a new Nordic and Snowshoe Center and an incredible Ice Haus, families will find a myriad of activities to keep them occupied when they come off the slopes.

Where the mountain still matters

Jay Peak Resort has the most natural snow in eastern North America. The mountain averages an astounding 378 inches per year! Jay's terrain has always had a great reputation; its 76 trails offer some bodacious steeps and its glades are legendary – making Jay one of the Northeast's most desirable destinations for advanced skiers. Yet there are three novice glades that welcome skiers looking to hit the woods for the first time. Family members looking to try the trees or ski the fresh powder can take one of Jay Peak's clinics and hone their skills in either of these techniques.

If anyone in the family is just getting started on the slopes, Jay Peak's The Zone is the place to do it. This 80-acre beginners' area has 11 trails and is serviced by 4 lifts including a covered moving carpet lift. More advanced skiers can get to the summit to experience Jay Peak's 2,153-foot elevation in Vermont's only aerial tramway (60 passengers) or the Northeast's longest high speed detachable quad, The Flyer. Shredders will find all the jumps and jibs they need in Jay's 3 terrain parks.

The Pump House – an indoor water park for kids of all ages

The family fun at Jay Peak doesn't end when the lifts stop spinning. Doff the ski duds, don your bathing suits, and splash down at The Pump House, the resort's $20 million indoor waterpark, with thrilling rides like La Chute, which has a vertical drop of 60 feet per second and sends riders through a complete 360-degree loop at speeds up to 40 mph. This ride is nothing short of awesome.

Another attraction sure to thrill the kids is The Double Barrel, a double standing Flow Rider where you can start with a boogie board and then graduate to the standing board for some exciting wave riding action. The Pump House also has three other aqua slides, the longest indoor activity river (faster than a lazy river) in the country, a wading pool with a variety of splash features like the dump bucket, a climbing wall in the deep pool, and indoor and outdoor hot tubs.

Spectators can catch all the action in The Pump House at The Drink, the bar located on the mezzanine level. Game enthusiasts will love the more than 50 new family-friendly games in the Elevation 1851 Family Arcade. Families will love the fact that they can escape the deep freeze of -27 degree wind chill in The Pump House's constant 85 degree temperature.

More family fun

Another of Jay Peak's recent improvements is the Ice Haus Arena, a full-size, indoor hockey rink offering daily public skating sessions and "stick and puck" sessions where skaters can practice their moves and put some shots on net (helmets required). Equipment rentals are available. Visitors to Jay Peak can now find something fun to do on ice - not just dread it when encountering it on the slopes.

Family members looking for fun in the snow, but who are not alpine skiers, can head over to Jay Peak's Nordic Center and try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. The Nordic Center maintains an extensive trail system offering a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the North Country woods.

One of our favorite activities during our visit to Jay Peak was the nighttime Guided Snowshoe Tour. This two-hour tour, which includes rentals and a headlamp, was a lot of fun and ended perfectly with hot chocolate by a blazing fire pit. An interesting option that can be added to this tour is a dinner at the Clubhouse Grille. This tour is offered Wednesdays and Saturdays. A one-hour guided, private group tour (five person minimum) is also available and includes equipment rental, headlamp, trail pass, and that ever-important hot chocolate by the fire pit. Reservations for the snowshoe trips are a must.

Great lodging options for families

Families will love Jay Peak's new lodging facilities – the Tram Haus Lodge and the brand new Hotel Jay. Both the Lodge and the Hotel have accommodations from studio to multi-bedroom units, which include living areas with fireplaces, full kitchens, flat screen TV's, free wireless Internet, and unlimited access to the Ice Haus during public skate sessions. The Hotel Jay houses the Pump House, which is a great convenience; but it's just a short walk from the Tram Haus to the waterpark, most of which is indoors. A great selection of restaurants and pubs are available in both the Lodge and the Hotel.

Check out the many different packages available, such as the Ski & Stay, Splash & Stay and the Ski + Splash + Stay Packages. All of these packages offer kids 14 & under Stay, Ski & Splash for free (with full standard occupancy of accommodation unit). Another bonus is free day care for kids ages 2 – 7 (based on availability).

Other resort accommodations include a variety of condos and townhomes and the Clubhouse Suites located in the golf course clubhouse.

If You Go:

  • For more information on all of the packages, rates, and variety of accommodations call (800) 451- 4449 or visit www.jaypeakresort.com.

  • Consider bringing passports, as Jay Peak is just minutes from the Canadian border and only a 1 ½ hour drive from Montreal.

  • Air travel to Burlington, VT (a 1 ½ hour drive to Jay Peak) is serviced by a number of major airlines.

Jeff and Stephanie Sylva are parents and retired high school teachers who have been travel writers for over 23 years. Jeff and Stephanie love the outdoors and enjoy playing tennis, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, and of course, traveling.


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