Resorts throughout New England are gearing up for a great winter with improvements, events, activities and programs that will enhance the resort experience for the whole family, whether it’s for a day, a week or all season long. Here is just a sampling of offerings from areas around the region.
Are you new to skiing or snowboarding? Or have family or friends who want to get into the sport? Ragged Mountain has just the thing for you. The Bebe Wood Free Learn to Ski and Ride Program is an affordable way to get into what can become a lifetime of winter fun. And yes, the introductory program is really free.
It’s only for first-time skiers and riders and includes three two-hour lessons for ages 7 and older as well as all rental equipment and a lift ticket for the beginner area. If you want to reinforce what you’ve just learned, you have several options.
After any of the three lessons, you can purchase a $20 ticket and keep skiing or riding for the rest of the day. Once you complete the three lessons and “graduate,” you can purchase additional lessons for the current or following season for just $29. Or you can get a season pass for the remainder of the current season for only $69. The program does require advance registration and has been very successful the past couple of years, so plan ahead.
For a huge variety of winter activities for the whole family — youngsters, teens and adults — Bretton Woods has a ton to offer. Of course there is spectacular skiing and riding with everything from gentle learning areas to great cruising trails to glades for all abilities, all with a wonderful vista of Mount Washington. This winter, Bretton Woods unveils an eight-passenger gondola, the first in New Hampshire, which will whisk riders more than 6,000 feet in just under five minutes.
But at this world-class resort, the fun doesn’t stop on the ski slopes. There’s the spectacular Omni Mount Washington Hotel with its lovely lodging, gourmet restaurants and cozy bars where guests can enjoy a night, a week or a longer vacation. Hotel amenities include a variety of activities for children and adults. With 100 kilometers of cross-country trails, the Nordic Center is a prime destination for many. If you have some nordic skiers in your group, everyone can be happy and still be nearby. The Zip Line Canopy Tour is offered all winter with a Zip and Ski package for both activities on the same or consecutive days. Dog sledding and snowmobile tours are offered nearby through third-party vendors. A kids snowmobile park at the base of the ski area will have youngsters experiencing the thrill of trail riding on childsized snowmobiles while being safely supervised. Sleigh rides, fat tire biking, tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, a climbing wall and even more are on the menu.
Most resorts have seasonal programs for adults and kids that run all season long either on weekends, weekdays or weeknights depending on the area’s location and operating schedule. One example is Wachusett Mountain, just an hour from Boston, where the Women’s Only Days run Thursdays, 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., from Jan. 3 to March 14. The program, timed for mothers’ hours, is designed for women and taught by women, allowing each participant to progress at her own pace, with no pressure, and get outdoor exercise at the same time. There are programs like the School Vacation Clubs, running daily on holiday weeks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for kids ages 6-15 of all ability levels. The Development Team and Competition Team meet all season on either Saturdays or Sundays and have several levels for different ages and interests.
Waterville Valley in New Hampshire offers a Junior Seasonal Program for kids ages 4-16 who ski or ride at least at an intermediate level. Running for 15 weekends and a few midweek days during vacation weeks, there are a variety of groups broken down by age and by special interest such as freestyle, telemark, snowboarding, racing and all-mountain skiing. The Adult Seasonal Programs meet for 14 weekends, with emphasis on socializing and enjoying the mountain experience. Groups are formed based on skill level, starting at intermediate and led by an instructor. An added benefit is line-cutting privileges.
Stowe, Vermont, has a program for more advanced skiers ages 13-16 running weekends from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. AMP (all-mountain program) is a wonderful way for younger teens to be supervised, keep refining their skills and have fun with friends. Kids will be kept busy challenging themselves and ripping up bumps, trees and steeps with a coach.
Adults and kids can have fun and improve their skills all season long at Sunday River. With programs for all ages running from mid-December through late March on weekends and holidays, each family member can find something geared to their age and ability level. For the younger set and teens, there’s entry-level and learning-to-ski-independently programs. An all-mountain adventure program and one for learning to be an instructor are perfect for teens. The Prime Time Club is a social group of skiers ages 50 and older who meet Monday through Friday all season long.
Almost every area in New England, large or small, has programs that will challenge you, improve your skills and provide companionable skiing with likeminded people.