The Best Family Ski Resorts
In the Canadian Rockies
Very Kid Friendly...
Looking for some of the best family ski resorts. Banff and the Canadian Rockies don't disappoint...
Want to turn your romance with skiing into a family affair?
You learned to ski as a child and now you want to share that love with your kids.
You remember your first trip to the ski hill. Remember the terror of the "beginner" slope. Getting up early, heading to the ski hill, it's cold, you're still sleepy and not really sure what Mom and Dad are so hyped about! You want to make sure this family vacation is one your kids will talk about years later.
Skiing as a kid can be one of the best experiences or one of the worst. That's why choosing the best resort for your kids is an important step in planning that family ski vacation. You want excellent ski schools, convenient and smooth learner slopes, and just as much off the hill, keep those kids entertained. Banff has the best family ski resorts...
The three Ski Areas include the following:
Sunshine Village is the highest resort in Canada and often receives the most snowfall, so if you’re a fan of the deepest powder, Sunshine is your spot. The perennially snow-safe Sunshine Village is one of the few resorts anywhere that can proudly snub snowmaking.
This resort crosses out of Alberta and into British Columbia, straddling the Continental Divide, which is kind of fun. Just introduced in the 2007/08 season is SlopeTracker, a GPS system of sorts that monitors such things as top speed, number of runs, calories burned and hours spent riding.
At the end of the day, and after the system is returned, guests receive a poster quality printout of their day on the mountain.
At Sunshine Village, they boast about having Canada's Best Snow. Thankfully that attracts some of the best ski and snowboard instructors in the world. This puts them on the list of best family ski resorts!!!!
In contrast, Lake Louise Ski resort, 35 miles from the village of Banff, is the largest ski resort in the Rockies. It offers 139 runs over 4200 acres on four mountains.
Every chair lift has a green run for beginners and the views from any spot on any mountain are magnificent. Great if you're just starting out....
This is a World Heritage Site. So development has been limited in these mountains. Lake Louise is also the beginning point of the World Cup ski races, an immediate endorsement of the quality of snow, terrain and facilities here.
Norquay Ski Area
The smallest and closest to downtown Banff is Norquay with 200 skiable acres. Norquay is quite popular with the locals for a couple of reasons.
One is that Norquay is the only mountain to offer nighttime skiing. The other is the ski-by-the-hour rates. So you can ski with your kids when they are ready to go....after a nap!!!
Skiing by the hour allows you the freedom to spend just a few hours on the mountain rather than all day. You'll feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth. Norquay is usually the first mountain to open each season. It's widely considered Banff's best family ski resort.
Traveling with the family on a ski vacation is high maintenance. You want to find ways to minimize the stress as much as possible.
When a ski destination gets it right, families flock back year after year. If the resort is full of children who know their way around from past seasons, congratulations—you’re in the right place.
It’s all about creating a safe haven, both emotional and physical. It’s a balance: You want to help kids feel secure in their environment and at the same time get out of their comfort zone and try new things. You want to make sure kids have fun and learn a new skill—one builds on the other.
So how will you recognize a family-friendly ski resort?
Here are some good signs you’ve found the best family ski resorts:
An emphasis on safety above all.
Helmets should be emphasized as fashionable for children these days, and the best family ski resorts will support that.
Kids should continue to wear helmets as they get older. As parents I encourage you to be role models and wear helmets yourselves. Really it’s like a seat belt; why wouldn’t you?
Before enrolling your kids in ski school, ask some key questions:
Are instructors trained in CPR and other lifesaving measures? What kind of communications system is in place in the event of an emergency? These ski resorts have qualified staff to ensure your holiday is a safe one....
The top ski schools believe that learning to ski should be enjoyable, not intimidating or stressful.
A big part of their philosophy is keeping the frustration levels down and the fun factor up.
Look for programs that group kids by age and ability and plan activities appropriate for each group. Exactly the sort of thing that has kids begging to return next year.
Flexible childcare options
Any good family resort will have a terrific daycare set-up for the under-3 set. Banff's best family ski resorts offer this service where kids do fun, age-grouped activities... so mom and dad get a few runs in and enjoy some awesome scenery!!!
Kid-friendly slopes and teaching tools
Especially with very young kids, you don’t need radical mountains.
You just need a place that understands what kids need.
Look for beginner-friendly “carpet lifts,” slow-moving conveyor belts that are easier to master and less intimidating than chair lifts.
Kids learn best with less talking and more doing. So instructors teach through simple, fun tricks—like showing kids how they can control their speed by “making a pizza” with their skis to form a wedge.
A sense of emotional security
The best kid friendly resorts understand that building confidence is as important as learning a skill. Look for kids’ programs that stress not only safety and fundamentals but emotional security and relationship building.
Young skiers benefit from routine and continuity. Having the same instructor throughout the week helps create a comfort zone.
Banff's instructors are more like camp counselors than teachers— As a result, you see a huge difference in a child from Monday until the time he leaves. They learn a new skill — that's a pretty important accomplishment for a child building great self-esteem.
Low staff-to-skier ratio
If you spot one instructor taking 10 kids out on his own, that’s a big red flag.
A comfortable staff-to-skier ratio for 3 to 6-year-olds is 1 instructor per 3 kids.
Just as important, instructors should be trained to work with children. Banff attract some of the best instructors in the world.
They love the quality of the snow and the length of our season, a great benefit at our best family ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies.
A smart layout
Enormous, sprawling resorts can be totally overwhelming to families trying to keep track of their kids on and off the slopes. And a resort that places the bunny slope right next to Daredevil Hill isn’t taking kids’ needs seriously.
Here in Banff our best family ski resorts are set up so that novices and experts naturally steer clear of each other. Look for a trail map that’s mainly beginner green and intermediate blue on one side of the resort and expert black on the other.
Until kids are big enough to haul their own gear, stick to smaller resorts with short walking distances from your condo to the slopes, daycare facilities, and ski school.
You should consider staying on the mountain at Sunshine Village. Sunshine Mountain Lodge is a fabulous place to stay!!!!
Anyone who has schlepped a family’s worth of ski equipment across a huge parking lot will appreciate the bliss of ski-in/ski-out lodging.
A first-rate ski shop
Goggles get misplaced. Sweaters get left behind. A resort’s ski shop should be able to provide all the winter-sports clothing you’ll need to keep your kids safe and warm on the slopes. Never skimp on mittens, socks, hats, and other items that protect the extremities.
Since children’s boot and ski sizes change from year to year, many parents prefer to rent ski equipment on-site. A friendly, kid-savvy staff should make it a priority to get your young ones into high-quality gear quickly and expertly, and agree to replace equipment at any time.
Banff's best family ski resorts have fabulous ski shops to ensure quality clothing and equipment.
Some good tips making sure your family has the best vacation. These three resorts offer excellent kids programs. They are the best family ski resorts in the Canadian Rockies.
Surprise your kids this year...how about Christmas? Spend the holidays in Sunshine Village. Stay on the mountain at the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. What a great way to spend the holidays!!!!
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