Park City Mountain Resort thrills kids with apres skiing activities such as the mile-long Alpine Coaster and tubing at Gorgoza Park, but the resort is an even easier sell for moms planning family vacations. The resort's attention to the needs of families and trip planning tools makes it easy for even first-time visiting moms to put together a chaos-free ski trip.
Trip planning tools help moms design winter vacations from home, reducing last minute travel stress. Park City's Snowmamas are one of the unique "tools." Moms can ask questions prior to visiting the resort and get expert answers from the Snowmamas, who are real moms that have visited the resort with their children. More than 500 questions were answered last year.
Snowmamas share their tips on where to dine, what to do after skiing, and great places to stay. Mary Flinn Ware, manager of the children's programs at the resort and a mom herself, also adds her expertise, advising parents how to prepare their children for lessons. "A well-rested and well-fed child is happier," she said. "When kids are mentally prepared, they always have a better chance of success."
Other trip planning tools are available online. More than 50 preplanned mountain tours plus interactive trail maps aid parents in nailing down itineraries. Kids can even get a sneak peek at runs with aerial photos, cross section pitch diagrams, and descriptions. Moms can design a personalized printable tour of the mountain, even accommodating family members with different ability levels on the same tour. Tour directions include lifts, runs, vertical, and distance.
Key to any family ski vacation is getting kids skiing or snowboarding. The learning environment in Park City's popular children's program translates into success for kids, due to small class sizes. "When families told Park City Mountain Resort they didn't like such big ski school classes for their kids, the resort did something about it other than suggesting parents pay mega bucks for private lessons," explained Eileen Ogintz, a Snowmama and creator of a family travel Web site.
Smaller groups resulted in faster learning and happier students. Children found they were in classes with their age group and made friends more quickly. Instructors discovered they were spending their time teaching rather than counting heads, and the entire class fit on a six-pack chairlift without some young kids sent up the lift with other adults.
The resort's Signature 5 all-day instruction program for ages 6 to 14 guarantees no more than five students in a ski or snowboard lesson program. Classes stop for lunch closest to their ski zone and dine in restaurants, rather than returning to a ski school cafeteria. Children satisfy their personal cravings by ordering from kid-friendly menus serving up pizza, chicken fingers, and fries, but featuring healthier choices of salads, sandwiches, and soups, too.
Younger tots 3.5 to 5 years old benefit from the Signature 3 program, which limits class sizes to three students for more accountability and personalized instruction. Time on the slope is shorter, but supplemented with activities in the children's center.
"Park City Mountain Resort's program has a good balance of time spent on the slopes and time playing games inside. By the end of the day, my daughter was exhausted but said she had a great time doing both," said Snowmama Amber Borowski Johnson.
The newest kid's program is the Signature 3 Superstars, designed for kids four to six years old who fall in between the other two programs. "We get some pretty skilled little kids," said Flinn Ware. "But even with the technical ski ability, the stamina isn't there to last through a six-hour program." Superstars ski more of the mountain than Signature 3 groups, but can return to the children's center to rest, play, read, or do crafts. Moms can book the reservations-required lessons online.
Park City also caters to kids with their new family-friendly runs through trees called Adventure Alleys. The resort purchased a small grooming machine that would smooth the narrow advanced beginner routes, launching Detonator and Short Fuse alleys last year.
"Tree runs can get really rutty, bumpy, and dangerous," said Flinn Ware. "But the alleys let kids start to experience a little off trail on a groomed surface."
Kids became so enchanted with the alleys that Park City is adding three more Adventure Alleys: Blaster, TNT, and Powder Monkey. Flinn Ware can't wait to get back on them. "They are so much fun," she added.
How much do families like Park City? Just ask a Snowmama.
(The above article is a paid "advertorial" by Park City Mountain Resort. However, it has been written and prepared by OnTheSnow's Western Editor).