Lake Tahoe is a leading winter destination for families and kids this season thanks to new resort amenities and offerings that transcend shore to shore, including new terrain and family friendly play areas, on-mountain lodge experiences and the first-ever introduction of a chairlift youth safety system in North America. Lake Tahoe boasts more ski resorts in close proximity than any other winter destination and its new family and youth amenities and limitless recreation options both on and off the slopes enable families to choose from an endless variety of fun adventures that can fill an itinerary like no other destination.
World-class ski and snowboard instruction is available at all seven resorts and several of the resorts have introduced new terrain as “Beginner Zones” or “Family Fun Areas” complete with interactive features and entertaining characters, tubing areas and special youth lifts. For parents looking to get out on the hill, certified daycare options exist both at the ski resorts and at many of the lodging properties in addition to interchangeable lift tickets so both parents can use the same lift ticket.
The seven Ski Lake Tahoe resorts and surrounding lodging properties offer the most affordable ski vacation packages in the country including a number of kids stay-and-ski free promotions throughout the season that create levels of affordability that change the game for the average family ski trip. Many resorts have recession-minded offers this season with added value and free additional nights that can help turn a weekend trip into a true vacation.
Averaging more than 300 days of sunshine each year, the California skiing and snowboarding experience includes slightly warmer temperatures which allow families to focus on the fun side of the sport and leave the face masks and extra layers at home. Ski Lake Tahoe resorts were designed with the specific needs of families in mind boasting heated walkways, specialized surface lifts, enclosed gondolas and aerial trams, all of which make for a more enjoyable day on the slopes for mom, dad and the kids. Throw in off-the-slope options such as ice skating, tubing, sleigh rides, swimming lagoons, bungee trampolines and paddle wheeler boat tours, and Lake Tahoe quickly separates itself as the ideal winter destination for family ski vacations.
The modern mountain villages located on both shores of Lake Tahoe serve as ideal base camps for the entire vac
ation with restaurants, shopping, theaters and arcades all within walking distance. Convenient lake-wide shuttle options exist between the resorts and most lodging properties as well as reliable roundtrip transportation options for destination guests flying into the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, which has never experienced a closure due to snow.
New this season, Alpine Meadows became the first North American ski resort to offer a breakthrough children’s chairlift safety system. Designed by Magnestick®, the new technology uses an electromagnetic seatback and magnetic vest worn by children riding a chair lift to secure the child during the ride. The resort also utilizes GPS tracking technology for all kids enrolled in ski and snowboard day camps allowing not only for an additional element of safety, but families can also log on to the resort’s web site to view the trails skied during a given day. Also new this season, the resort has unveiled an expanded children’s indoor center including automated registration stations for parents.
Additionally, the resort has opened a new outdoor snow play area that includes a new magic carpet surface lift, multiple tubing lanes and a mini terrain park (including the ever popular Tuga Tunnel – guests have to ski it to believe it). For more information, log onto www.skialpine.com.
Heavenly Mountain Resort has family travel covered from “A to Z” starting with the recent improvements to the resort’s family recreation area Adventure Peak and climaxing with the new Tamarack Lodge located mid-mountain at the top of the Heavenly Gondola. The multi-million dollar lodge offers more than 500 indoor seats along with 250 patio seats with the 40 foot floor-to-ceiling windows providing families with a breathtaking view of all the activities available at Adventure Peak. Last season Heavenly introduced a four-lane tubing hill accessed by a state-of-the-art magic carpet reminiscent of the Jetsons. Stretching hundreds of feet up East Peak, the new tubing hill is an incredible addition to Adventure Peak which already boasts sledding, ski bikes and other family-friendly diversions. On the mountain, Heavenly offers three ski school locations for convenient and easy access. Heavenly also offers the only California-state-certified Day Care accepting children as young as six weeks. Off the slopes, families can choose from an entire array of activities such as sightseeing, ice skating, dogsled rides, snowmobiling, arcades, spas, boat cruises, sleigh rides, incredible shopping and a variety of dining options all conveniently located throughout the recently renovated village surrounding the Heavenly Gondola. Log on to www.skiheavenly.com for more information.
Kirkwood Mountain Resort serves as an ideal base camp for families hoping to fill their vacations with adventurous experiences such as snowmobile tours, tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or evening snowcat tours to the top of Red Cliffs Mountain for spectacular views of the High Sierra. The resort’s new High Alpine Adventure Center is conveniently located near the Mountain Village serving as a central hub for family adventure including the new ZipTahoe Treetop Canopy Tour consisting of 10 zip lines, aerial spans and bridge networks throughout the slopes of the resort. The Tahoe Learning C
enter at Timber Creek offers all the products and services families need for an enjoyable day on the slopes and Kids Ski Free on Sundays with the purchase of any Adult Lift Ticket (one child per one adult lift ticket). New this season, Kirkwood is offering an introduction to snow lesson called “Small Fries” designed to be a parent and me program for toddlers as young as two years old as well as a “Daycare Dilemma” transferrable lift ticket that allows parents to alternate time on the slopes. For further details, please visit www.kirkwood.com.
The layout and design of the modern mountain village at Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort was designed with the family experience in mind and parents will appreciate courtesy wagons for toting gear and young children, streamlined rental processes and numerous enclosed gondolas including the new 8-passenger Highlands Gondola providing a direct connection between the Village at Northstar and the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe. The resort’s Bear Paw double lift access
ing the beginner teaching area was recently replaced and realigned with a new fixed grip quad chairlift that provides ski-in, ski-out access to and from The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe and greatly improves access to Northstar Resort’s beginner teaching terrain. Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort’s beginner teaching area has been expanded and redesigned to include more of the sculpted Smart Terrain™ that the resort has successfully demonstrated helps improve the learning curve for beginning skiers and snowboarders. After the lifts stop turning, the fun truly begins as the resort becomes a beehive of family-focused activities offered throughout the Village at Northstar including the addition of two new movie theaters that are slated to open soon. The centrally located Village Ice Rink is surrounded by comfortable viewing cabanas complete with lounge chairs and fire pits. More adventurous types can check out Northstar’s Apex Bungy trampoline, mid-mountain tubing park and moonlight snowshoe tours. Visit www.northstarattahoe.com for more details.
Families can make turns right off the plane at Mt. Rose-Ski Tahoe, boasting Lake Tahoe’s highest base elevation and stunning views of Lake Tahoe. The resort’s layout is ideal for families with its naturally funneling trails, dedicated beginners’ area, easy-to-use conveyor lifts and detachable six-pack lifts. The Wild Horse Adventure Trail is always a hit with the kids as it winds through the trees and is made up of whoop-de-doos, rollers and banked turns. Families can take advantage of the $148 “Runs ‘N’ Roses” lift ticket package good for two adults and two children ages 12 and under valid every day of the season. The new Winters Creek Lodge offers families a state-of-the-art day lodge facility with a contemporary style and the positioning of the new lodge lends itself to a more conducive guest area providing improved traffic flow for parents as they pass from the slopes to the lodge with their children in tow. Log on to www.mtrose.com for more information.
Kids 12 and under ski and ride for only $12 at Squaw Valley USA every day, all season. This lift ticket price makes Squaw Valley one of North America’s most affordable major resorts for families with young children. And the newly renovated Squaw Kids Children’s Center has streamlined the morning process for families. The Village at Squaw Valley offers a family-friendly setting with countless activities including a bungee SkiJump and the ever-popular Cable Car rides up to High Camp where guests can choose from ice skating at the Olympic Ice Pavilion, swimming at the pool/lagoon or touring the Olympic Heritage Museum. Back for its second year, Kid-O-Rama is a two week-long extravaganza for kids and families currently taking place at the resort February 12-27 with costumed skating parties, family ski racing, street parties, scavenger hunts and kids concerts. Also back by popular demand, renowned extreme skier Robb Gaffney will be offering clinics throughout the entire season aimed at parents and children wanting to experience together what it is like to be in a ski movie. Based on Dr. Gaffney’s popular ski-the-book clinic, parents and kids will learn how to tackle the terrain made famous in his book Squallywood. Visit www.squaw.com for details.
Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort continues to improve upon the experience for beginners and families with the addition of two new surface lifts for the 2010-11 winter season. Totaling 700 feet, the two new carpet conveyor lifts allow beginning skiers and snowboarders to access 11 acres of sculpted Smart Terrain™ that shortens the learning curve for beginners. Recognized by Transworld Snowboarding as a “Best Value” resort, Sierra-at-Tahoe Resort understands that families are in search of added value and ways to stay within a budget while on vacation. In response, the resort created the 3-Pak lift ticket allowing adults to ski/ride for $51 per day while kids 13-22 pay only $42 per day. The resort has also announced the return of its popular $35 Learn to Ski or Ride package for adult beginners including rentals, lift ticket and group lesson. New this season, the resort opened Blizzard Mountain, a dedicated tubing park and expanded snowplay area complete with snowman kits, snowball makers, picnic tables and fire pits. Families looking to experience everything Sierra-at-Tahoe has to offer can take advantage of the resort’s Kids Ski Free package starting at just $219 per night for a family of four. Go to www.sierraattahoe.com for the entire lowdown.