Skiing as a family requires a substantial commitment. It’s not only the financial commitment required to outfit everyone in ski pants, jackets, gloves, skis, boots, poles, helmets, and goggles. It also takes mental and physical fortitude to endure lugging all of this gear to the mountain, putting everything on everyone, then hoping against all hope that nothing hurts and everyone is still happy enough to finally get on the lift. Add in the extra effort of hauling ski gear on a plane and through an airport, and it’s easy to see why family ski vacations are overwhelming.
On our first family ski vacation, we went to Copper Mountain, Colorado, and wrestled with whether to bring our gear on the plane or rent at the mountain. Our young kids wouldn’t have been able to manage their gear, so my husband and I would be carrying twice the amount – and crossing our fingers at baggage claim that everything arrived in one piece.
That was when we stumbled upon what was then a new service: a rental shop that comes to your hotel, condo, or wherever you’re staying. You provide the sizes and other details of everyone in the family and these services show up at your door with a vanload of everything you need, along with one or more staffers who understand how to fit boots, adjust bindings and size the latest skis. (As an added bonus, they can also give you tips on where to find secret stashes of powder and how to avoid crowds on the mountain!) No other innovation comes close to turning a hassle into a convenience.
Skiing is a high-hassle endeavor and that’s why renting skis at the mountain seems like an obvious solution. But most people who ski as a family, especially those that fly, ski during peak travel times. Trying to set up a family in a ski rental shop on a typical weekend – let alone a holiday weekend – can be noisy, crowded, and uncomfortable. With a short window to ski and many other vacationers ahead of and behind you in line, there’s pressure to move fast and high hopes that no one complains his or her feet hurt the next day. Many ski resorts have improved their rental procedures over the years but on a busy day, the rental shop is still usually a place to be avoided.
With a delivery service, simply tell them what time you are arriving at your lodging and they come to you. I can be unpacking or putting groceries away while the kids are getting boots fitted.
My family most recently used Ski Butlersin Park City, Utah, for our ski delivery (they also offer service in most of the major western ski resorts). Our gear was top notch and their customer service was fantastic. The fact that this company can operate successfully in many of the same resort areas testifies to their high level of service and to the immense value that experienced skiers place on convenience. We don’t even think about bringing our skis through the airport anymore.
Ski delivery services typically carry a variety of skis and boots with them when they come to you, and they are expert at getting you in the right gear. All of our gear fit on the first try, every time. The skis arrived waxed, sharpened and ready to go. And the technicians were knowledgeable, courteous and professional. But the best part is you can swap out your equipment at any time. Not much snow? Start with a front side carver to rip the groomers. Then when the big storm comes, swap out the carvers for the latest powder skis. One phone call and they bring new skis to your door. No extra charge.
While getting skis delivered directly to your lodging isn’t cheap, it’s not too much more than renting on the mountain or at a ski shop and it most certainly makes the entire vacation smoother. After all, your time on the mountain as a family is limited, so why not make it easier to enjoy that precious vacation time together?
Originally published by Shannon Entin on 100RoutesAcrossAmerica.com.