Smuggler’s Notch Resort
Our family just had the best winter break at Smugglers’ Notch ski resort in Vermont. We chose Smuggs’ for its focus on young families and outstanding programs for kids, and after five fabulous days there with our 7, 5 and 2 year old, this Poshbrood can’t wait to go back.
We arrived two hours before check-in to find our condo ready for us to enter—a welcome surprise for our weary gang after a 3 ½ drive from Boston. Our condo was located just minutes from the Village. (Tip: some families prefer to be in the Village, a short walk to everything. We had no problem being a bit removed thanks to the on-demand shuttle service.)
The three-bedroom condo (1700 sq ft!) exceeded our expectations. We were glad to be on the first floor with no stairs to negotiate in our clunky boots, and we loved the storage in the private ski locker outside our front door and huge mudroom. We give Smuggs’ high points for superb attention to detail for families: there were more than enough linens, extra blankets, crib, stepping stools in the bathroom, and all the kitchen and cookware you need right down to detergent for laundry and dishwasher. Flat screen TVs, stereo, bunkroom with four twins, whirlpool in the master bath--all terrific. We brought our own groceries from home but didn’t need to because the country store in the Village has everything you need, and The Morse Mountain Grille and Riga-Bello's (pizza) delivered.
Vacation truly began when we dropped our kids off at their lessons. Our toddler went to Treasures, the childcare center located trailside so parents can ski in and ski out. A bright orange fish resembling Disney’s “Nemo” swimming in an aquarium at child’s eye-level greeted our daughter as we entered, and mom was very happy to meet the director and learn that she has young children of her own (note: all three directors of childcare, activities, and ski school at Smuggs’ are moms with young children.) The childcare center was state-of-the-art, the teachers sunny and experienced, and we enjoyed spying on our little one from our chairlift during the day as she took her first ski lessons on the 30 foot magic carpet just outside the center.
The boys were well matched with their respective programs, and we recommend parents spend some time thinking about this before the trip. We described our kids ages, skills and needs to Smuggest’ staff before we arrived, and they did a great job pairing our boys with the right programs. Our kindergartner was in the all-day Discovery ski program and enjoyed lessons in small groups with two instructors. They learned on the mountain that had a low and slow lift with operators who assist children on an off their seats. The lift also unloads the kids midway up the mountain, making the runs more manageable for beginners.
We opted for private lessons for our older son who has special needs and was paired with a fantastic instructor through Smuggs’ Adaptive Ski program (programs for kids with differences.) At the end of the trip, when we asked our son what his favorite thing was at Smuggs’, he said, “skiing with Brian!” Both boys had GPS tracking devices while they skied so we could watch them on-line and see where they’d skied that day, how far and how fast. How cool is that?!!
After drop-off the morning was ours. Mommy took a much-needed group lesson, and my expert skier husband did some off-trail glading with a friend. The resort’s three mountains served our family’s diverse needs (gotta have the black diamond runs to keep dad happy, and the ski boutique for those extra warm gloves and hat for mom. If only we’d made time for the spa!) Though it was a busy President’s Day vacation week, we found the lift lines tolerable and the trails weren’t too crowded.
We lunched at the Grille every day because it was just next to the ski school and had comfortable booths, good service, and lots of choices on the menu. There were lodges and warming huts at the top and base of each mountain serving food and drink if we didn’t want to return to the Village.
Apres ski options were endless: tubing, ice skating, indoor swimming, bonfires and hot chocolate, movies and shows for the kids in ski school. Our family met friends two days in a row in the Fun Zone and we couldn’t get our kids off the moon bounces or out of its arcades when it was time to leave.
Our best late afternoon was spent hiring two dogsleds for a ride through the Nordic trails. We recommend you reserve these spots in advance and do it in the late afternoon or evening to save yourself a short drive (the day-time rides are up the street from the resort.)
Early to bed and early to rise for the kids, and after a few family nights of take-out and hosting friends for pizza, mom and dad lined up a babysitter through the child-care center and went out to dinner. A true Mary Poppins arrived a few minutes early and even brought books for the kids. We dined at the resorts upscale restaurant, Hearth and Candle, and loved it. Ask for the cocktail menu and reserve a table in the “adults only” room upstairs, we guarantee you won’t be disappointed. This cozy candlelit restaurant offers a sophisticated wine list and menu with local game (dad had ostrich and elk) but also the more familiar (I had steak.)
We headed home happy and relaxed. Everyone had fun. We give Smuggs’ high ratings for its service-oriented staff and programs that did their very best to lighten mom and dad’s load –key for a family with young children on a ski vacation. See you next year or maybe this summer to enjoy the pools, hiking, bonfires, s'mores, arts and crafts and biking?
In winter, one bedroom starting price for the Base package (includes lodging, daily lift tickets, use of the pools and FunZone, tubing, family and adult entertainment but no instruction) is be $376 plus tax per night. For summer, the one bedroom starting price would be $238 per night (June rate). Check Smuggs' website for all the deals and specials here.