Smugglers' Notch Resort, Jeffersonville, Vermont
4323 VT Route 108 S, Jeffersonville, Vermont 05464| Map |
Ratings by kids' ages
- Tots (0-2)
- Little kids (3-5)
- Big kids (6-8)
- Tweens (9-12)
- Teens (13+)
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Full Service Family Ski ResortFlag review
What a week! We enrolled our 3 year old daughter in the Snow Sport University at Smuggler's Notch during her February break from preschool. My husband is a snowboarder and also took advantage of this time to do some serious boarding. As a non-skier, I accompanied them as the resident cook and Mama. :) We picked Smuggler's Notch because it has been consistently rated as the most comprehensive ski school for young children. The ski school runs full-day from 8:45-4, and then there are plenty of evening entertainment options for the kids, including a nightly bonfire, an indoor pool and the Fun Zone with toys and a bouncy house inside. Our daughter had a blast, even though she is still at the cry-through-the-entire-lesson phase of learning to ski (she did the same thing with swimming and is now fine with it). I'm glad she did lessons at home before coming here, because it gave her some frame of reference. She advanced from a Level 1 to a Level 2 in just four days! Very impressive! By the end of the week, she was even riding the chair lift with an adult. She said at the end that she liked the ski school and wants to go again next year. I think we will definitely be back again. The suite-style accommodations with full kitchens are very family-friendly, and the housekeeping staff is prompt and helpful. I just wish that it was more convenient to do laundry. If you're looking for a ski resort that really caters to families in the Northeast, I don't think you could do much better than Smuggs.
Tips for Families
Try to arrange your stay so that you will be staying overnight on a Thursday so you can take advantage of the weekly Winter Carnival. Be aware that there is a daily rate that applies for non-skiers as well. They will tell you that it's part of a "Winter Adventure" package or something like that, but your options are basically to go snowshoeing or to paint a snowman on a mug. The non-skier options are lame, to say the least. Your best bet is a Netflix binge or a side trip to Burlington in that case. With regard to our child's ski camp, we had to switch ski instructors after the first day when our 3 year old daughter came back to the apartment saying that her teacher had put her and another little girl on a cot because they were crying and that the teacher yelled, "LAY DOWN!" and "GO TO BED!" at them. Our daughter does not nap and was not misbehaving; she said she was crying because it was a new place and she missed us. Rather than comforting, distracting, and re-engaging our daughter, the instructor isolated, shamed, and yelled at her. I was furious. I called Harlie, the woman in charge of the Snow Sport University, and explained what happened. Harlie met my husband personally at drop-off the next morning and assigned our daughter to a new instructor and let us know that the incident was confirmed, that she personally had seen the girls on the cot and made the instructor include them again, and that the issue with that instructor was being handled. If you want to know which instructor to avoid, feel free to message me privately. I think that anyone who handles a homesick 3 year old by isolating and yelling at them should be fired on the spot, but I was pleased that Harlie took us seriously and transferred our daughter to a new class. Our daughter had no further complaints about the class for the rest of the week after the transfer. Above all else, at Smuggler's Notch and in any childcare situation, listen to your child! If your kid is telling you that an adult is being cruel to them, believe them and get them out of there. One final tip - you can ski/board the whole day that you check out. You don't have to leave the mountain just because you've left your room, so don't miss out on that extra day.
Suggestions for nearby family-friendly accommodations
We stayed on-site in a studio apartment in Hakone. You can save a ton of money if you opt for a studio instead of a 1 bedroom. There was plenty of room for our daughter's inflatable travel bed, a full kitchen, etc. and the apartment was very big for a studio. It wasn't fancy by any means, but it had everything we needed and we were pleased with it. If you have more than one child and/or older children, then I do think a 1+ bedroom would be better... but it's going to cost you. I'm talking the difference between a $2,500 stay or a $5,000 stay, just depending on whether you opt for that second bedroom or not and what time of year it is.
Suggestions for nearby family-friendly restaurants
Consider bringing your own food. The children's menus at the resort are very unhealthy and full of fried / junk food - chicken fingers, fries, pizza, etc. It's kind of strange since Vermont is usually a place where local and organic rule, but everything was super processed and the menus in general are straight out of the 80's. I did not want my daughter eating junk all week long, so I brought groceries for 4 dinners. We ate the last night's dinner at Hearth and Candle, which is the only restaurant I'd recommend on the premises besides the Ben & Jerry's Scoop shop, and even then there were issues with some of the courses. You'll be much better off cooking meals yourself in your apartment. Stovetop meals are best, since the heating element for the stove is on the bottom and it's hard to control the temperature with a small electric oven. For the first night, I brought a premade Greek salad, stuffed grape leaves, and baked some fish from Wegmans. Then for other nights, I made Tyler Florence's stovetop pot roast recipe, a roast chicken with vegetables (not quite a disaster but not great due to the oven issues I mentioned), pork chops with wild rice and green beans, etc. Another great thing about bringing groceries is that they all get used up, so it's less to pack back up when you have to leave. It's a lot cheaper than the resort food, too.
My Kid's Review
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