There are now more ski nurseries to choose from than ever–find out some favorite resorts of skiing parents with tiny travelers.
It’s a common situation: you want your infant son or daughter to learn how to ski as soon as possible, but you’ll just have to wait for that. In the meantime, should you have to wait on a family ski vacation together? Thanks to ski resort nurseries, the answer is definitely no.
In this day and age, it’s standard for a major ski resort to have nursery facilities for its tiniest visitors, where childcare professionals tend to infants, toddlers, and preschoolers while parents and older kids hit the ski schools and slopes. In fact, a quality ski nursery should be an expectation that you bring to the table, since there are many options to choose from at top destinations around the country. Just be sure to make advance reservations and investigate the individual nursery’s hours, prices, required paperwork, and other regulations ahead of time!
Also, keep in mind that as focus on child care and instruction continues to develop, the minimum age for outdoor ski lessons keeps dropping at many resorts. If you feel that they are ready, kids as young as three–and sometimes even two–may have the option of starting to learn the most basic of basic principles of the sport with a resort instructor exclusively focusing on their age group.
Here are some of the best ski nurseries we’ve encountered or heard about:
Heavenly (775/586-7000) California’s nursery has been praised by family travelers for its ease of use, friendly staff, and clean facilities. Children six weeks to six months old are welcome with age-appropriate activities to keep them happy.
Also in California, Mammoth Mountain‘s (800/MAMMOTH) Small World Childcare includes “infant care” (newborn to 17 months), “toddler care” (18 to 23 months), “advanced toddler care” (24 months to 3 plus years), and “preschool/school age” (ages 3 to 12) with age-specific rooms and activities.
Other skiers said Beaver Creek (888/830-SNOW), Colorado pampered babies in a wonderful facility. Here, children two months to six years old can stay at the Small World Play School.
As you might expect, the other major players in Colorado tend to have great nursery facilities as well. At Vail, for instance, there’s another good Small World nursery, while Steamboat Springs (970/879-6111) caters to the six months to Kindergarten-age set. Breckenridge (800/789-SNOW) has two childcare centers for eight week to five year olds, while Winter Park (800/979-0332) keeps on eye on two month to six year olds at its Kids Adventure Junction Center. And don’t forget Aspen/Snowmass (800/525-6200), where the Snow Cubs program caters to those eight weeks to three and a half years old. A recent addition, Nanny Cub Care guarantees a full day of one-on-one attention for your tiny traveler.
Travel further, and the list goes on: Utah’s Snowbird (800/232-9542) watches kids from six months old, Wyoming’s Grand Targhee (800/827-4433) maintains a one to three caregiver to child ratio in its cozy nursery for ages two months to three years, and at the Jackson Hole (888/DEEP-SNO) Kid’s Ranch, the six month to two year old set are affectionately referred to as “Wranglers.” In the KinderKafig at Taos (866/968-7386), New Mexico, every two infants (six weeks to one year old) receive a caregiver, while toddlers (one to three years old) enjoy their own well-stocked playroom.
Anyone familiar with family ski vacations in the Northeast will know these two words: Smuggler’s Notch (800/419-4615). This Vermont mainstay lives up to its good reputation with a new Treasures childcare center with excellent staff. Treasures welcomes “Fireflies” (six weeks to sixteen months, “Little Dippers” (seventeen months to two and a half years), and “Little Rascals” (two and a half to three years) in its younger age category, and the center is located halfway up the slope for easy ski-in, ski-out access.
Killington (800/621-MTNS) also has positive word-of-mouth for its Friendly Penguin Chlid Care Center (ages six months and up), while another popular Vermont family ski resort, Okemo (800/78-OKEMO), has a Friendly Penguin Center with the same minimum age. Like in Colorado, the Vermont list of recommended ski nurseries is long, including Stratton, (800/STRATTON) six weeks to three years, Stowe (800/253-4754), three months to three years, Sugarbush (800/53-SUGAR), six weeks to six years, and Mount Snow (800/245-SNOW), six weeks to six years, where lodging packages can sometimes include childcare.
Bretton Woods (800/314-1752), New Hampshire has a cutely named Babes in the Woods Nursery for ages two months to five years (which preceeds the also cutely named Hobbit Ski Program for kids ages four and up). Waterville Valley (800/GO-VALLEY), also in New Hampshire, offers quality childcare in the base lodge for ages six months to four years. In Maine, parents recommend Sugarloaf‘s (800/THE-LOAF) childcare at Gondola Village (ten weeks to five years).
Whatever you decide, be sure to head for a resort that fits the rest of the family’s needs as well–chances are, you’ll be able to find a destination with both exciting skiing and safe, fun childcare. After your vacation, be sure to pass on your worth of mouth to the next family skiing with a tiny traveler!
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