Planning Next Year’s Holiday… A Skiing New England Review

Skiing with the boys in New Hampshire, USA

Skiing in New England – A Review.

An interesting alternative to Europe for families.

About this time of year, just when the wind catches the trees, blows the blossom off the branches and fools me into thinking that it’s snowing, I start to reminisce about our time skiing in the mountains this year, and wonder where we might holiday next winter. This, my non-skiing wife assures me, is strange and unusual behaviour, but fellow skiers will understand completely. Already the ski brochures are arriving through the post, and countless spam emails are tempting me with early booking discounts and/or lift price special offers.

The big problem though is that I’m not looking just for me. If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you’ll be aware that I’m also catering for a pair of full-on boys (the eldest being a proper tweenager), as well as a non-skiing wife (whose health is an issue too). We know broadly what is needed. There needs to be a decent variety of grades of runs, reliable conditions, some tree line skiing for poor weather days, decent watering holes, something for mum to do during the day, and most of all, plenty to keep the kids entertained. I’ll let you know what we are planning in due course, but for now, let me tell you how New England measured up this year.

Skiing with the boys in New Hampshire, USA
Skiing with the boys in New Hampshire

Most UK skiers have only ever skied in the Alps. And why not? Flights are less than 2 hours from Blighty, there are literally hundreds of resorts to choose from, many are linked, and hotels, food, lift systems, ski schools and reliable snow conditions under normal conditions, make it the prime destination for Brits. So how does a trip across the pond stack up?

Let’s take travel. Since the demise of Concorde, I can’t promise you a 2 hour flight. London to Boston is about 8 hours. But, there’s a 5 hour gain due to time difference, so the flight arrives only 3 hours later! Of course, on the way back there’s a 5 hour add-on, but you fly overnight so get some kip in recompense. Car hire and drive to resort is easy, 2-3 hours at most, on very good roads. None of those crazy hairpin bends and steep precipices you get in the Alps. All good there then.

What about the skiing? There is plenty of variety. Killington in Vermont, for example, has plenty of tough skiing for the experts, and is a regular venue for international racing. The resorts we visited though, all in the Mount Washington valley, were what you would call family resorts, and can be summarised as follows:-

Cranmore

– Closest ski station to North Conway (our base, just a 5 minute drive). Good place for finding your ski legs, mostly beginner or easy intermediate slopes, all tree line skiing. If you’re at a higher level than intermediate, you’d be pretty bored after half a day, but like I say, good for limbering up.

Attitash/Bear Peak

– 20 minutes from North Conway, 2 linked ski stations with a greater variety of runs. Most pistes are beginner/intermediate, but there are a few steeper runs for the advanced skier, and when there’s powder, some good skiing through the trees. The car park for Attitash is on the opposite side of the busy main road, but you can walk to the base station via an underpass. To avoid a long walk, park up half a mile down the road at the Bear Peak base lodge and get your lift tickets and trip up the mountain there. As I said, there is a link between the 2 mountains anyway. Enough to keep you entertained for a day or two.

Skiing in USA at Bear Peak, New Hampshire
Bear Peak, New Hampshire

Wildcat

– half an hour from North Conway, with magnificent views of Mount Washington, home of the world’s worst weather (Google it!). There’s a fantastic long, easy run from top to bottom, which is great for the kids, as well as a tough, narrow, bumpy double diamond black run from the top for the experts. I liked Wildcat, and could have spent more time there but the boys didn’t like it for some reason. Maybe it’s the weather, being so close to Mount Washington it is often very windy, and is much colder than the other resorts. One top tip though, the lift pass is also valid at Attitash, so if the kids start whining, go there for the 2nd half of the day.

Top of Wildcat Mountain, skiing New England
Top of Wildcat Mountain

Bretton Woods

– In a spectacular location, not far from Crawford Notch, just down the road from the world famous Mount Washington Hotel. It’s the biggest ski station in New Hampshire, but still quite small by European standards. Plenty of variety though, but emphasis is on beginner/intermediate for the main runs, although there is good off-piste through the glades. There is a cozy pub and restaurant at the base station, as well as Latitude 44 bar and restaurant up the mountain. There is plenty to keep kids entertained if they get fed up of the skiing, the older kids have a climbing wall, and they can even rent mini snowmobiles to ride around a marked track. How cool is that? Night skiing is offered here, and we loved it. The kids were just racing flat out as you can see every undulation in the snow.

6pm. The boys are night skiing at Bretton Woods. #nightskiing #brettonwoods #newhampshire

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All of the resorts have a great snow record. Bretton Woods for example averages about 20 feet of snow over the season. They look after their snow here, and all resorts have extensive snow making for when Mother Nature needs a hand.

That having been said, it’s not Europe, and there are some key differences. Unless you rent an expensive on-slope condo, there is no doorstep skiing. There are no tour operator ski kindergartens, no chalet parties, and with the exception of Bretton Woods, no mountain restaurants to dine in and enjoy a beer on the verandah. It’s different, to be sure, but in a good way. No language barriers (well, almost…) for a start. No lift queues, Plenty of places to eat and drink. Tax free shopping. And the friendliness of New Englanders is just incredible.

One final question. How did the cost stack up against a package holiday to the Alps? Well, we booked with Virgin Holidays, and the cost was considerably less than we’d have paid going to Europe. The issue with Europe was that we were going during the February school holidays, when prices were sky high, but not in New England, as their half term was a week later!

My advice? Consider it, even if you just go once. It is different, but as they say, variety is the spice of life. Now, where did I put that Ski Esprit brochure???

Please pin this for whenever you’re planning your next trip!

Are you tempted to start planning next year's holiday already? Will skiing feature in your plans? read our review of the ski resorts in New England, USA before you decide!
Planning Next Year’s Holiday – a skiing in New England review

 

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23 Replies to “Planning Next Year’s Holiday… A Skiing New England Review”

  1. I loved skiing as a child and, for the first time next year, we’re looking at a family ski trip! Only thing is we’re going with friends so Id have to convince them on the destination too! All the resorts you’ve named look stunning and I like the idea of night skiing!
    Lauretta @ Home and Horizon recently posted…Anna Nuttall from AnnaNuttall.com – a lifestyle & fashion blogMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Oh really, you’re going skiing? Wow I bet you’ll have an amazing time!

  2. Sounds fantastic! I’ve never been skiing, but would definitely love to give it a go and fancy taking the kids when they are older. I do like the sound of there being no windy roads, as I’m afraid that does put me off some places! We love the states and New Hampshire sounds lovely. xx

    1. We adore New Hampshire, and the kids loved it too! Highly recommend it!

  3. I’ve skied Vermont, but haven’t been to New Hampshire. The resorts found, but what about the towns? What were your favorite restaurants, local beers, and ski shops? Always good to sample the local culture along with the terrain.

    1. You’re right Alex! We wrote a bit about it in a post linked to this one, and added some videos too. We should probably write more – thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Thank you for the reviews! All of those resorts look fantastic, and I live much closer than you do! I’m not a huge skier. We have a few ski resorts within a couple hours’ drive, though, so I have been a few times. I’ve mostly only driven up for the day, though. I’ve never stayed over. I hope you enjoy your trip! #thelistlinky
    Nicole recently posted…Pinterest Group Boards for Mamapreneurs: Grow Your Home-Based Business!My Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Nicole. We’re jealous that you’re so close to ski resorts. Our nearest resorts (in Scotland) don’t get nearly as much snow, and get very crowded.

  5. What an awesome holiday! Those resorts look really fantastic and like you say a change from the Alps. I love holiday planning 🙂 #TheListLinky

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Jo, think we’ll be back to Europe next time though x

  6. Looks like fun. I’m with your wife on skiing but if the kids want to then I’ll go. Your blog gives an excellent comparison though and if you had a 2 week holiday you could couple it with something else and have the best of both worlds. #SharingtheBlogLove

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thank you – yes we found America good for non-skiing activities too, even when only there a week

  7. I’ve never been skiing before in my life and it is my dream! This place looks like an ideal place for to accommodate a versatile type of people. & If this is cheaper than the Alps then its a thumb up for me! You are getting me inspired now! 🙂 x

    Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…Tofu Scramble with Indigo Herbs Organic Turmeric PowderMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Oh you’ll have to let us know when you finally take the plunge and go skiing!

  8. Oh wow this looks amazing! My son went skiing earlier this year and due to loving it so much we said we would take him again next year. I’m not sure I’m ready for all four of the children to go skiing, but my husband and our eldest cant wait to hit the slopes! I’m more suited to the apres ski! Thank you for joining us at #sharingthebloglove
    five little doves recently posted…Joie Stages Isofix -from birth to 7 yearsMy Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      I’m all about the apres ski too, but don’t worry about the kids, they will be well taken care of in their classes and clubs. Then you can just chill!

  9. We’ve never been skiing, but I’ve recently seen so many people have wonderful holidays and it always looks amazing. I think in a couple of years, we should definitely give it a go. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Laura – Dear Bear and Beany recently posted…Liked and Loved June 2017My Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      I’m sure the whole family would enjoy it Laura!

  10. I would love to go skiing and it is so nice to have alternatives to Europe that I would never have thought of! #sharingthebloglove
    Laura | Little Ladies Big World recently posted…Being A BiBs Finalist & A New Look {The Ordinary Moments #23}My Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      I hope you get the chance to try it Laura

  11. This is all very appealing indeed – I’ve always wanted to visit New England. Great tips here. Sarah #FabFridayPost
    Sarah Stockley recently posted…Joy Festival 2017My Profile

    1. Familymakes says: Reply

      Thanks Sarah, I’d highly recommend it x

  12. […] many that I have decided to review them in a separate post to this brief report. To summarise, they were (all in New Hampshire): Cranmore, Attitash, Bear […]

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