WCKC’s Worth the Trip Report: Wintertime at Smugglers’ Notch!
Written by Sarah Lefebvre
We had the pleasure of visiting Smugglers’ Notch a few summers ago, so we were incredibly excited to see what it was like to visit in the winter time. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I tend to be more of an indoor winter person. Full disclosure, my husband used to ski regularly but hasn’t in several years, and my daughter and I have never skied before. We were blown away again with the incredible kid-friendly experience we had!
Ski Camp Exceeded Expectations
Emma, who is four, went off to ski camp for three days. I will be honest, I was very nervous about sending her to a full day camp that would be outside in the cold doing a sport I had no knowledge about nor did she. Emma can be shy and nervous especially about new experiences. I couldn’t have been more surprised or happy with the outcome of her lessons.
Ski camp for the four year old (level one and two) consisted of time in a small park with different equipment to engage kids in learning either skiing or snowboarding. They start on a small hill with a “magic carpet” to bring them up. In addition to learning to ski, Emma’s group took a break to build a snowman, ate lunch, and enjoyed afternoon entertainment to unwind.
Although she had a tough first morning getting used to it all, she had a fun afternoon and her teachers were so incredibly patient and kind to her. They held her hand and sang with her so that she didn’t feel scared going down the hill. Emma was beaming at her teacher in the afternoon when we left despite having a few tears in the morning. Then, she told me she was upset that I was picking her up before the end of the day! By day three, she had completed almost all the tasks in level one and two including going down hills not in the kid training area – by herself! She was skiing with some five year olds.
I say all this to demonstrate how well the staff knows their stuff. I would bring Emma back for ski camp again in a heartbeat. What it did for her self-confidence was amazing. She is still talking about how at first it was hard but how she worked hard and got better! What an important thing for a preschooler to learn. We got daily reports in the form of a conversation with her teacher at drop off and pick up as well as a written report card.
Did I mention ski camp includes lunch? Emma was pleased with the choices which were healthy and kid friendly, and it was all topped off with some dessert of the day. If skiing wasn’t going to tempt her back for day two, dessert and the promise of no nap surely did!
Lots of Love at the drop-in Day Care
Riley, who is six months, was not getting on any skis! But she was able to spend a couple days at Treasures day care. The staff was knowledgeable and nurturing. We were greeted with smiles, lots of information and questions that demonstrated their level of care and attention for babies. The women who cared for Riley sent me picture updates through an app I could download alerting me to all naps, feeds and diaper changes. I felt assured that she was in capable and loving hands while I was enjoying the resort.
My husband Ben took advantage of ski lessons. He used their descriptors of lessons on the website to find the level that he should fit in and it worked out perfectly. He loved the instructor who was helpful, knowledgeable and motivating. Ben was really happy to have a lesson before hitting the slopes as he hadn’t been skiing in a few years and was a bit rusty getting back on the skis.
Burning off Some Energy
I don’t know that my daughter had any energy left to burn off after ski camp and skipping her afternoon nap. But nevertheless, we headed off to the fun zone to check out the arcade and kids corner. The kid’s corner had huge inflatables that Emma loved, and I was shocked to see how quiet the place was. Everyone must have been tired from all the good skiing weather, so she enjoyed mostly free reign over the inflatable obstacle course (which I raced her on a couple of times) and the giant slides.
We also went to an area for kids younger than 7 – the littles’ loft – and Riley rocked on a rocking horse and played with some age appropriate toys while Emma jumped on smaller inflatables and played in a child sized pretend play store. There was a reading corner with a small television as well. It was a perfect spot for a rainy morning or afternoon, but our good luck afforded us great weather all weekend.
Other activities include snow shoeing and tubing, but we were much too tired to check out the evening tubing activities. There are other family activities throughout the week, and we had the pleasure of joining the resort’s mascots – Bill Bob Bear and Mogul Mouse – for an afternoon bonfire with hot cocoa. Other scheduled events included (but aren’t limited to) Thursday fireworks, Tuesday kids night out and building roller coasters (a STEAM activity).
For the Practiced Skiers
There are three mountains with trails for every level. Smugglers’ Notch has a way of spreading out skiers so that even on a busy Saturday afternoon, we could find ourselves alone on trails. Over the course of three days, we spent no more than fifteen minutes in lift lines. The serenity on the trails coupled with the views and forests made for some of the most enjoyable skiing we could have asked for.
My husband met some locals on the lift who were regulars at Smugglers’ Notch, and they were welcoming and friendly. They gave him tips on which trails were best and for what reasons, and they were excited to share their mountain with him. It is clear that there is a community of lovers of skiing who frequent Smugglers.
Our residence in the North Hill community was spacious and quiet. We enjoyed the full kitchen cooking in for breakfasts and dinners, and the area pool was just a short walk from our residence. The beds were incredibly comfortable, and I especially enjoyed the oversized Jacuzzi tub and steam shower. There was a four-season porch with breathtaking views of the mountains, and I enjoyed drinking my coffee, reading a book and enjoying the scenery from that spot in the mornings. We also had a hot tub in our complex – one outdoor hot tub to six rented condos.
While it is not a very walkable resort, the shuttle service is easy and quick to use. We also enjoyed skiing right down the hill from the Treasures Day camp rather than having to drive back to the base.
Overall, we had a fabulous trip. Smugglers’ Notch has set the standards for us for family resorts – winter or summer. I know Emma will be asking us yearly about when she can go back to ski camp at Smuggs!
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
4323 Vermont Route 108 South
Jeffersonville, VT (800) 419-4615