Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Skiing at Smuggs

I'm still in the first couple of days back to reality after our family holiday last week.  After a wonderful vacation, followed by a busy weekend, it has certainly been hard to readjust to routine.  I don't quite feel ready to give up the holiday mindset.  Not just yet.   

So please allow me to fondly the details of our trip...

It was our annual family ski holiday with our in-laws.  Although we've skied in Vermont many times over the years, this was our first trip to Smugglers' Notch

Excited to have our three young girls learn to ski, we chose Smuggs this year because it is always highly rated by national ski magazines as a great resort for families, with excellent kids' ski programs.  Smugglers' Notch certianly did not disappoint!

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Grandma and Papa, the girls were registered for a week's worth of ski lessons.  Alice, not quite 3, and 4 1/2 year old Sophie were registered for five days of Discovery Dynamos Camp.  Six year-old Madeleine was signed up for four days of Adventure Camp and an additional half-day lesson.

Aside from lunch and bathroom breaks, the kids were all out in the snow from about 9 o'clock in the morning until 2:30 in the afternoon.  The afternoon program involved cookies, hot chocolate or lemonade and entertainment from the likes of The Friendly Pirate, a Magician, or a Science Show.

We couldn't believe it, but Little Alice was on the chair lift at Sir Henry's Hill by the third morning!  And Sophie and Madeleine were going past mid-station and skiing down from the top by their third day!  The teachers were kind, fun, supportive and overall amazing.

At the Cookie Races on Thursday afternoon, it was absolutely amazing to watch them ski down their little race courses.  And the pride on their faces when the reached the bottom to get their cookie and Snow Sport University diploma from Billy Bob Bear was priceless.

True to their accolades, the children's programs and activities at Smugglers' Notch were incredible.  And we didn't even get to take advantage of them all.  We did spend some time in the pool, and we checked out the FunZone, but with all-day skiing, the kids were very tuckered out by dinnertime.  One night, they were all asleep by just after 7 o'clock!  So we never made it to the skating rink, or to go tubing, and we unfortunately missed the Showtime Characters Dance Party on Thursday night, where winners from the Cookie Race are announced and race videos are shown.  Thursday nights also feature a Torchlight Parade and Fireworks.  We didn't get out to see the torchlight parade down the mountain, but we were able to watch the fireworks from the bedroom window in our condo.   It was a thrill for our little ones to watch fireworks for the first time.

We grown-ups were pretty tired out too.  Somehow I always forget how tiring a ski trip can be.  Being with Grandma and Papa for the trip, we would have had free babysitting if we were feeling lively enough for an evening out, which we never did.  But even for families who don't travel with their own babysitters, the Treasures daycare centre at the hill offers an "Kids Night Out Package":  for $30 a child, you can leave your kids (ages 3-11) at the centre for dinner and entertainment. How cool is that!

Perhaps the biggest downside to our trip was the weather.  (Thank you global warming.)  Not enough snow at this time of the season meant that my husband wasn't able to try out some of the expert runs he would have liked to ski.  And the +16oC weather on Wednesday, unfortunately made for some soggy skiing, and closed even more runs.  We were glad to see it get cold again on Thursday, but the rapid thaw followed by freezing temperatures left the slopes like 'skiing on a washboard', according to my husband.  I  wouldn't know since I chose to stay inside that morning and nap.  (Also important to any good holiday.) By Friday morning though, after some snowmaking and grooming, conditions were good again for our final morning of skiing on our trip.

We were also a little disappointed by the choice of restaurants and lack of shopping.  We brought and food for breakfasts and lunches, as well as meals for two evenings.  But part of the fun of a ski trip is heading out to check out some local restaurants at the resort or in the town nearby.   We had a decent meal at Morse Mountain Grille & Pub in the resort village on the night of our arrival, and ordered some great pizza from Riga-Bello's Pizzeria one night too.  But a trip into Jeffersonville to scout out restaurants for another meal left us a little disappointed.  We ended up at Three Mountain Lodge which had a charming ambience and fireside dining.  And although the kids menu was enjoyed by our little ones, I think our adult meals were little more than satisfactory.  

However, all in all, it was a great trip:  The girls can ski! Really ski!

The highlight of the trip for Daddy and Papa was skiing with Madeleine and Sophie after the Cookie Races. (Poor little Alice was exhausted and desparately needed a nap!) Sophie even asked to go for another run - It was like a dream come true!

We're looking forward to returning again next year.  And hoping for more snow!

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