Industry experts nationwide say that multigeneration ski vacations are on the rise as older skiers and snowboarders share their love of the sport with their children and grandchildren.
A recent survey conducted by the National Ski Areas Association showed that more and more empty nesters are hitting the slopes. “Over the past decade, we’ve also seen long-term growth in the number of skiers who visit an area with their families,” says Adrienne Saia Isaac, director of marketing and communications for NSAA.
In the past, we’ve enjoyed multigenerational getaways to some of New England’s largest and most popular ski resorts. But last season, our families decided to check out some of the smaller areas, which tend to be less crowded, more intimate, and easier on the budget. Here are three we loved, offering great accommodations, a friendly vibe, and a slew of activities for all ages.
Retro, old-fashioned, classic is how some describe this little New Hampshire gem, tucked in the White Mountains, overlooking the slopes of mighty Mount Washington. We say fun, uncrowded, a bargain. In fact, this longstanding, independently owned ski resort is one of the best-kept secrets in the East. We like that there’s plenty of elbow room on the slopes, that it has a local, unpretentious vibe, and that it’s a stone’s throw from pretty Jackson village. And, baby when it’s cold outside, they have the sun, as the slopes are south-facing.
Stay: Jackson Village, arguably one of the prettiest little mountain towns in New England, has a number of charming country inns and plush resorts. The Wentworth, a restored and refined 1900s country estate, has deluxe rooms with fireplaces and private outdoor hot tubs. Your multi-gen group might consider renting The Wentworth’s historic Amster Cottage, with four rooms, a shared sitting area, an 1886 stone fireplace, private hot tub, and steam room. The Christmas Tree Farm Inn in Jackson is another great option for multi-gen groups. The resort has private cottages and family suites, and a fun, festive atmosphere.
Play: On clear days, you’ll have views of Mount Washington, and lots of room as you carve turns on Black Mountain’s 45 trails, including some steep chutes from the top, and a cluster of intermediate and beginner runs in the valley. Off the mountain, in Jackson, there are horse-drawn sleigh rides through snowy woods, ice skating, snowshoeing, and bonfires at 65-acre Nestlenook Farm. The Jackson XC is one of the top Nordic Centers in New England with some 100 kilometers of trails, and lessons from some of the best instructors in the industry.
Eat: Maybe you can talk Grandma and Grandpa into watching the kids while you and your other dine at The Wentworth (think: linen and candlelight). For a casual breakfast or lunch, head to Yesterday’s, a local, come-as-you-are favorite. The Thompson House Eatery prides itself in serving farm-fresh dishes, made-from-scratch dishes, like the artisanal cheese board with homemade jams and the herb-crusted local farm chicken.
Waterville Valley Resort
Not too big, not too small, this contained village resort, within the White Mountain National Forest, has a Town Square, with a cluster of shops and restaurants, and nearby activities. Hop the shuttle bus to the ski mountain, just down the street, where you’ll find 62 trails crisscrossing some 265 acres. We like it for its cozy village vibe (everything within walking distance), friendly atmosphere, and surrounding natural beauty. It’s also just over a two-hour drive from Boston.
Stay: There are a variety of accommodations, all within walking distance to the village. Town Square Condominiums have three-bedrooms, two-bath, full kitchens and separate dining and living areas, sleeping up to eight. There’s enough room to spread out, watch movies, play board games, and have dinner together. If Grandma and Grandpa would like a little more privacy, consider a couple of suites at the Black Bear Lodge, also in the village. Each suite has an open-concept living and dining area and full kitchen, and typically one bedroom with a queen and two twin beds.
Play: Park your car when you arrive and then forget about it. Go cross-country skiing on more than 70 kilometers meandering through the White Mountain National Forest (rentals and lessons available). There’s also snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, ice skating, and indoor tennis. The White Mountain Athletic Club has indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and a fitness center. And there are fireworks set off in the Town Square across Corcoran Pond every Saturday night throughout the season. At the mountain, skiers and snowboarders have a variety of trails that tumble down from two interconnected peaks: Mount Tecumsah and Green Peak. Moving around the mountains is easy, and the sweeping views of some of New Hampshire’s 4,000-footers are spectacular. Their ski school is top-notch, especially the kid’s program, which consistently receives rave reviews.
Eat: The village has a variety of restaurants, including lively Coyote Grill; try the lentil stew, buffalo meat loaf, or shrimp and grits. There are flatbreads and burgers, too. The Hacienda Mexicana has fresh, authentic Mexican dishes; Legends 1291 will be playing the Bruins, Celts, and Pats games and offering decent pub grub, and you can always order a pizza from the Olde Waterville Pizza.
Relaxed and easy-does-it is the mantra at this intimate ski area in Vermont. It’s one of the oldest ski resorts in the country, and still maintains friendly, old-fashioned charm. We like the bend-over-backwards service, and its connection to nearby Woodstock Inn, with its plush accommodations and slew of activities.
Stay: The elegant Woodstock Inn & Resort caters to everyone in your group. Rooms have classic décor and wood-burning fireplaces (get connecting rooms for your extended family). Kids will like the indoor heated pool, bonfires and s’more-making, and the fun, retro-style game room (billiards, shuffleboard, vintage pinball machines, and board games). Adults can curl up with a hot toddy and book next to the lobby fireplace, or head to The Spa, 10,000-square-foot facility complete with a relaxation space, Shaker wood stoves, a hot tub, and a Scandinavian sauna. There are free shuttles to the alpine and Nordic ski areas.
Play: Alpine skiing and snowboarding at Suicide Six is a laid-back affair. All 24 trails lead to the base lodge, so everyone in the family can choose a run and meet up again at the bottom. At the Woodstock Nordic Center, there’s cross-country skiing on 45 kilometers of groomed trails, fat-biking, and snowshoeing. There are also hiking and snowshoeing trails at the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park.
Eat: Perley’s Pourhouse at the Suicide Six resort is a popular hangout with hearty fare (try the BBQ Brisket Reuben or the Blackened Salmon Tacos), warm cocktails to take away the chill, and local craft beers. Depending on the ages of your kids and their focus on food, the Prince and the Pauper is considered one of Vermont’s finest restaurants, serving an elegant three-course prix fixe menu, and Mangalitsa offers creative small plates. Richardson Tavern at the Woodstock Inn, with wood-paneled walls and a log-burning fireplace, has a more casual setting, and solid food offerings, like shepherd’s pie, seafood stew, burgers, and flatbreads. Visit The Village Butcher for take-away salads, sandwiches, pastries, and other sweets. (Try the brownies!)
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org