Sometimes time and circumstances don’t permit us to get to the very best or biggest mountain resort for a family snow getaway – that’s when you discover resorts like this metro-area New York secret which offer a real vacation and money savings.
Windham Mountain Resort is one of the sweetest family ski destinations in New York’s Catskill Mountain area, and even in all of New York State. When Hudson Valley Magazine gave Windham Mountain its reader’s award for the “Best Downhill Ski Area” in the Hudson River Valley, we decided to give it a try. With 3100 feet of elevation, 1600 ft. of vertical drop, and 46 trails, it’s a nice-sized mountain, with a very strong family focus.
“We’re primarily a family resort,” boasts Marketing Director Ingrid Williamson. “It’s what we do best!” We wouldn’t argue with her. Between the ski school, the fine base lodge, good food service, and the many small but significant amenities, Windham has a lot to offer.
The Snowsports School offers ski-less childcare for ages 2-7, with the Mini-Mogul ski and snowboard programs available for ages 4-7. The facility is first-class and the ski instruction rock-solid. Reservations are essential on weekends and holidays.
Kids from 8-12 can join the Mountain Masters guided program for half- or full-day guided skiing or snowboarding. Our son joined a snowboarding group and loved the instructor, who was only a few years older than him, but a top-notch guide. A number of the friendly instructors are graduates of Windham’s Leadership Training Program for local teens.
The trails are kid-friendly, as well, with 30% beginner, 45% intermediate, and 25% expert/advanced. (Expert skiers often head to nearby Hunter Mountain for variety.) For snow boarders, there are 6 terrain parks, as well as a 510 ft. half pipe, with lots of “jibs” for the jib-minded. At our peak holiday visit, it didn’t feel crowded because the 12 lifts can handle 12,600 skiers per hour. With 100-110 inches of snow each season, there is a mountain full of snow well into April, when the season ends in mid-month. Windham offers a good mid-sized ski experience for residents of nearby New York City, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
Families should note that Windham has jumped right into the tubing movement. The newly fashioned tubing run features 8 lanes, 2 tow ropes, and sturdy attendants who will sling you down the hill in your solo tube, or in conga-line-style with multiple attached tubes. It’s great fun and well worth the fee. Dual 500-foot long, 40-foot high zip lines, ice sckaing and a Kids Snowmobile Park round out the attractions. There is even a cozy little lodge adjacent to the tubing hill, with hot food and a roaring fire, where weary parents can warm their toes while the kids speed down the slope.
Extras & Snacks
How about those amenities? There are many small pleasures offered by this well-run mountain. The Equipment Valet will pick up your equipment at the curbside drop-off zone, and hold it for you mountainside, while you park the car, or give it to the valet parker. There is a holding tent for your equipment, right by the slope. The Business Center offers computer and office services to parents who just can’t quite get away from it all, or who, like me, are tending an injury and need a comfortable place to read and work. There is a nice lounge area on the second floor, where many parents were minding the very young while waiting for sibling ski bunnies to return. And, best of all, there is a real sit-down restaurant upstairs above the normal (and tasty) cafeteria. Reservations are taken, tables are available, and the food tastes especially good in the civilized environs of the not-very-express Express Grill.
Another impressive facet of the Windham operation is their Adaptive Sports Foundation program for handicapped skiers. Special equipment and trained guides help physically impaired skiers enjoy the sport. It’s a very special program and really thrilling to see these kids and adults enjoying skiing thanks to the efforts of the Adaptive Sports team. Bravo!
Windham Mountain Resort (800/754-9463) is 118 miles north of New York City and 60 miles from Albany, 25 miles west of the New York Thruway. There is decent lodging nearby, though nothing yet available on the mountain, which we consider something of an asset. Never fear, though, development is on the way below the bunny slope. Nearby condos and houses (including some pet-friendly lodging) can be rented through the Windham Central Reservations line at 800/754-9463.
Windham Mountain owns the Winwood Inn (518/734-3000), five minutes from the mountain in the charming village of Windham. It offers both comfortable guest rooms and condos for families that need more space. Many consider the Albergo Allegria (518/734-5560), a 21-room 119th-century Victorian Mansion, the area’s top hotel. The nearby Hotel Vienna (518/734-5300) is also well regarded.
Photos Courtesy of Windham Mountain Resort
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