Family time might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of terrifying downhill runs such as Highland Bowl in Aspen. This is precisely why so many ski resorts are ramping up features to better engage and excite families with beginner skiers. Here’s a rundown of some of the additions:
• Aspen: Though the alpenglow of 14,000-foot peaks is this resort’s calling card, Aspen Snowmass — composed of four mountains: Buttermilk (green), Snowmass (green/intermediate), Aspen and Highlands (both steep black terrain and backcountry) — is a terrific spot for beginners.
This season, it will expand its signature Terrain Based Learning for the 6-and-younger set with sculpted snow features designed to introduce spatial awareness and rudimentary skills with props. Translation? Curved walls, controlled wave tracks and wee halfpipes allow beginners to practice starting, stopping, sliding and balance.
On the hospitality front, the Limelight Hotel Snowmass is a dream for parents who crave sophisticated digs without the constant pressure to shush their brood. In the heart of Snowmass Village (with its celebrated apres-ski s’mores cart), the 99-room ski in/ski out property’s amenities — two pools, an outdoor skating rink, a five-story indoor climbing wall and a ski valet — are the definition of family fabulous.
• Beaver Creek: Aside from being home to acclaimed race course Birds of Prey, Beaver Creek Resort — which famously serves hot cocoa at chairlifts and just-baked cookies at the mountain base — has been burnishing its reputation as a family destination for some time.
Building on last year’s debut of Red Buffalo Park, a 200-acre, 13-trail family adventure zone for intermediates, comes Haymeadow Park, a learning terrain focused on the beginner experience. The new space includes Smarte Terrain, the sculpted runs that allow skiers and snowboarders to hone skills such as speed control, turning and carving.
The Ranch — the ski school’s kids-only restaurant — will unveil an ice cream parlor specializing in nostalgic sweets. After the lifts close, the village of Beaver Creek offers apres-ski programming that includes outdoor, big-screen movie nights, fireside readings of classic stories, demonstrations by snow and ice artists, and ice skating.