This past weekend, we were hosted at Smuggler’s Notch Resort in Vermont. The whole family had been eagerly looking forward to this trip — some family time is always welcome, and Hubby and I were very keen to share some great outdoor winter experiences with the kids. Since Smugg’s is known for its award-winning children’s programs, we thought this would prove to be the perfect place to be able to do so.
Below, I’ve tried to note down as many helpful details as I can from our Day 1 experience so that if you’re reading this post, trying to decide on a holiday, you’ll have the information you need. If after reading you’ve got questions, feel free to jot them down in the comments box and I’ll be sure to get back to you.
Morning has broken
We had arrived in the dark the evening before, so we keenly checked out our view from the condo as soon as we woke in the morning. We lucked out! The day ahead was destined to be a gorgeous sunny day and our condo was right at the edge of a green ski run that we could ski right out to from our back deck.
Breakfast in the condo
I brought about $100 worth of groceries with us because I thought it would be easier (and of course, less expensive) to eat in the condo for breakfasts and dinners. Breakfasts because it’s always harder to herd cats in the morning. And dinners because my son, a toddler, would be tired after a big day on the ski hill and a restaurant experience with a tired toddler is anything but relaxing. (Plus, my girlfriend had just returned from a weekend in Tremblant ski resort and her tales of a $150 dinner that barely got eaten with her two young boys had not escaped my notice!).
The condo came equipped with full-sized fridge, stove, microwave, and dishwasher. These kind of amenities are soooo nice for families.
Checking into the Smuggler’s Snow Sport University
Max was registered to participate in the Discovery Dynamos program, which caters to children aged 3-5 years of age. These are all-day programs that run from 9am to 4pm and include ski lessons, indoor activities, snacks and lunch. Many of the packages for Smugglers‘ include these children’s programs, but if you register for this program separately, the cost is $139/day.
Since Max can often need coaxing to try anything new, I had been nervous about this when we first signed him up. But over the last few weeks, Hubby had gathered gear for him from Play it Again Sports and taken him up to a local ski hill several times. So, he was ready. Or so we thought.
He threw a full-blown toddler’s meltdown. Yes, we were “those” parents. Oh dear. We took the “tough love” approach and walked away, knowing full well that the counsellors had my cell phone and that we had a direct line to call them should we be worried as well.
Stella, on the other hand, had a perfectly easy hand-off. The group she was registered in was called Adventure Rangers and we were happy to see that there were a number of other children in her age and ski level. Off she went merrily. (In the photo below, we snapped a shot of her and her class on the hill while we were in the chairlift. Her instructor Blake, a great guy who really was really engaged with the kids, is in the front with the blue and red jacket.)
Picking up my gear
Hubby and the kids were all kitted out with full gear — some from friends, some bought second-hand, and some bought new. But me? I didn’t know if it would be worth the investment. As you might recall, I’m not exactly a cold-weather lover, so I thought I was better off getting rental equipment for our weekend at Smuggs.
They had a great system that was very efficient and everyone’s gear was adjusted to their specific level, height, and weight. After getting my rental equipment, all that was left was to actually ski!
Bunny hills here we come!
Despite being a total beginner, there was a very welcoming vibe here at Smuggs. At other ski hills I’ve been to, the other skiiers seemed to give off the vibe of “money” — sporting all the latest designer snow gear and equipment. Here, however, was a mix of cool and hippy.
As we took the chair lift up, Hubby and I realized that we couldn’t actually remember the last time we’d skiied together. It was nice sitting on the chair lift, with his arm around me, and the sun shining down on us and the bright white snow reflecting back. At the top of the hill, we had a picture taken with the two of us together as proof that we’d actually spent time alone together over the last goodness knows how many years!
While Hubby is comfortable snowboarding down black diamond hills and skiing on blue hills, I needed the bunny hills! He joined along with me and we had such a nice time on the runs. The conditions were amazing, the guys working the chairlift were cheerful, and I thought, “Maybe I could really get into this skiing thing.”
We really didn’t want to waste any time away from the hills to eat lunch, so Hubby and I decided to pop into the Green Mountain Deli. It was just a hop, skip, and a jump off the ski hill and was noted as the place to go for speedy service.
I thought we might end up with limited choice — hamburgers or hotdogs — but was pleasantly surprised. I opted for a grilled flat bread with chicken and pesto sauce, while Hubby chose “The Vermonter,” which was a sandwich with baked ham, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, apple slices, and honey mustard. All sandwiches come with fries or salad, and the price of $10.25 seemed reasonable.
We then hit the slopes again as quickly as we could wolf down our lunches!
Picking up the kids
The children’s programs follow a schedule of a morning session on the slopes, lunch, an afternoon session on the slopes, and then at 2:30 pm, all of the kids’ programs return to a central meeting area for indoor activities.
Hubby and I decided that at this 2:30 break, I would pick up Max and take him back to the condo for a nap, while he and Stella would hit the hills together. He was happy to see me, and gleefully told me how he had a good day skiing. Nevertheless, he looked like a tired little guy, so he and I caught one of the resort’s courtesy shuttle buses from the bottom of the hill back up to our condo.
But first, we stopped at the Treasures child care center for a tour. This center cares for babies as young as six weeks old! Shelley, who’s worked at Treasures for five years, welcomed us and showed Max and I all of the facilities. I was truly impressed and wouldn’t hesitate to leave one of my children in the center’s care. Like the Children’s Snow Sport University programs, childcare is included in many of the packages or you can choose to pay for it separately at the rate of $85 per child, per day, or $15/hour. (I’d like to share more details with any new parents out there, so I will try to do a complete post on this at a later point.)
I lost a couple of hours somewhere …
Once we got back inside the condo, it didn’t take Max and I long to cuddle up in the massive king size bed at the condo and doze off to never-never-land. Hubby and Stella skiied until the chair lifts shut down at 4pm and then went back to the condo as well. When they got there, I was snoring so loud that he was able to walk right into the bedroom and get his swimsuit without me noticing!
The two of them then went swimming in the outdoor pool. That’s right: OUTDOOR! The Mountain Laurels, where we were staying has a pool open year-round. Hubby dared Stella to lay in the snow with her bathing suit on in exchange for an ice cream, while she countered back to him for a back scratch. (I’m quite sure that both would have done it without any bribery needed anyhow.)
Hubby had made an extra large batch of spaghetti sauce during the week before we’d left so that we could bring the leftover sauce up with us. Everyone was happy to eat some good ol’ fashioned pasta after burning so much energy during the day!
We had two things to do before we would declare the day complete: ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and a visit to the FunZone.
With more than 15 flavors to choose from, it was a tough choice! The kids and I each had a kid-sized cup, while Hubby had a small adult size, totaling under $20. It kind of makes my mouth water just looking at the picture.
After the ice cream, we quickly packed ourselves up and headed over to the FunZone to catch some of the action before closing time. The FunZone is like an indoor fairground! There was a massive blow-up slide, bouncy obstacle course, air hockey, shuttle boards — you name it. Plus, a gated-off area for toddlers where they could play safely while toys and blow-up activity zones sized just for them. There is no cost to enter, you simply show your lift pass.
I couldn’t get Stella to stand still long enough for a photo — she was just was zipping around the place from one spot to another non-stop! So, this picture of the back of her while she was climbing up the giant slide is about all I’ve got.
Bed time was a breeze since the kids were thoroughly spent from all the day’s excitement. The condo had a room with four single beds in it, each with its own built-in drawers underneath as well as a wall-mounted night-light for reading. There was also a large, flat-screen tv in the room, which we never turned on, but I would imagine that a family with teenagers could make great use of.
Normally Max and Stella enjoy having their own rooms, but in this new, unfamiliar setting, they liked the security of having each other in the room with them.
The day is done
As Hubby and I settled into bed ourselves, I watched some trashy reality tv programming with a glass of red wine before turning out the lights. Then we read for a bit before falling fast asleep.
Day 1 was now done. We couldn’t have asked for more, really.