familiarycerz's Passport
 

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Member since:
17 June 2009


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About Me & My Family

We're a traveling band of pseudo-hippie geniuses. Okay, not really. My husband and I met early in life, had kids early in life and are now taking the brood along on all of life's adventures! We love to travel around the US and beyond. Our current interests include "extreme hardcore" camping, hiking, geocaching, exploring other towns/cities, checking out museums and perfecting our goofball-ery. :)
Our Family's Travel Personality
adventurous, curious, relaxed, easy_going
We Just Got Back From
central Connecticut
Our Favorite Vacation Spot
Oahu, Hawai'i
A Place We'd Love To Visit
Nicaragua
Favorite Vacation Memory
Walking along Waikiki Beach at sunrise, snowboarding with my kids at Smugg's (VT), dancing with the street performers at Disney's CA Adventure, exploring the many hiking trails in central NC ... too many to list!
Worst Travel Moment With My Kids:
Any moment that involved a complete meltdown of a toddler on an airplane. It hasn't happened often in our family. We're usually the parents that are coming across the plane to help another family calm their wee one. Benadryl? Calms Forte? Chamomille drops? WHAT DO YOU NEED SO I CAN SLEEP THROUGH THIS FLIGHT, MA'AM? Yes. That's us.
Websites I Like:
www.nps.gov/nr/ http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/places www.smithsonianjourneys.org http://www.ecofamilyadventures.com/ www.kiwimagonline.com www.familyfun.go.com/family-travel

What's family-friendly at Smuggler's Notch Resort

A list of family-friendly activities at Smuggler's Notch Resort

Upper-drifter-smuggs

4323 Vermont 108 South
Jeffersonville, Vermont


reviewed on: February 18 2010

"The family that has a group lesson together ... stays together."
Smuggler's Notch Resort offers a wide variety of ski and snowboard programs for everyone in your family, from the not-yet-potty-trained to the mogul of the mountain. While visiting Smugg's, my husband and I took two day group lessons while our 4 kids were enrolled in their respective day camps.

The meet up spot for group lessons is the same spot where older kids meet for day camp. Riders line up based on ability, in clearly marked areas. I chose the L1-L2  (level one) class, since it had been awhile since I'd been on a snowboard; my husband chose the L4 class, because he's a showoff.

I was surprised to find an 8 year old, a few tweens, a 16 year old girl (yay! company!) and one Mom-Dad couple in my group. In L2 next to us, there was one Mom (I later found out she was the mother of the 8 year old in my class). L3 was melted in with L4, as they were all chummy and regaling each other with tales that started with, "...this one time, dude I had such a sweet ride".

All instructors were amiable and working together in order to provide the best, manageable experience for each group. My husband left with his rowdy group of L4 comrades, eager to get on the mountain. The L1 instructor, Chuck (Charles) led my group out to the heavily populated "bunny hill".

I found the L1-L2 class to be an overview of all the basics, but with no real time spent on any one skill before moving on to the next. It was literally, "Okay, now that we've skated around on our boards, let's attempt going downhill". Then, "You'll notice that the hill has a slight curve; let's master compensating for that curvature while going downhill". In this sense, private lessons (which are available - you can arrange them at Guest Services) would be a better choice. Chuck did his best to make sure everyone was having fun and loving the experience. He was as encouraging as he was helpful and always had a smile on his face. I found it admirable that he didn't lose patience with any of us. Those who successfully came through the 90 minute lesson would be joining Chuck the following day for the next level up. Those who didn't were welcome to take L1 again and/or sign up for private lessons.

Back at the L4 class, my husband was making friends from all over the country. There were teens from local high schools, adults from Dallas, TX, a gentleman from Bermuda and another from Colorado. His instructor Ben, had each rider demonstrate their skills before giving out pointers on how to perfect his/her technique. My husband boasted that he "only needed one pointer" and was good to go. The group spent the majority of their time on the mountain, experiencing different trails and terrain.

At the end of our classes, I was exhausted and my husband was "so stoked to get back on the mountain". He must have picked up some of that teenage adrenaline by osmosis. I noticed my 8 year old classmate was intensely proud of himself, though. "Mom! I passed that lady right there soooo many times".  Yeah, yeah. It was the wax!

Group classes are available for teens and adults in two different segments: MAX5, a 2 1/2 program and the normal 90 minute program. Contact guest services to figure out which program fits best for you and your family.

*Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary stay at Smuggler's Notch Resort. I received no other compensation and the owner  did not state any requirements that I present a particular point of view.

Treas1

4323 Vermont Route 108 South
Jeffersonville, Vermont


reviewed on: February 16 2010

"Quality, FUN care for children 6 weeks to 3 years"
During our recent visit to Smuggler's Notch Resort, I was given the opportunity to visit their on-site daycare, Treasure's. As a former administer of a daycare facility, I have to say - this place deserves five stars all its own. The staff took great care in designing this million dollar facility, right down to the toddler-sized urinal.

Treasure's open concept room plans allow for a LOT of space for your little ones to crawl, explore, play and make new friends. The staff are clearly invested in their time with the children; making sure all their needs are taken care of, from safety to allergies. For moms concerned with such allergies, you'll be happy to know that Treasure's is a nut-free zone and all dining utensils are color-coded according to dietary needs. "It's something that the kids will never notice, but we as staff members pick up on right away" said one staff member.

You'll notice upon entering how bright and cheery the building is, with it's colorful carpeting and the giant teddy bear out front, perfect for little ones who love lap time. The staff is friendly, professional and upbeat - something I have yet to see at my local Kindercare.

Treasure's offers age-appropriate ski lessons for children 2 1/2 to 3 years old. Near the main desk is a mini 'gear rental' area with skis and boots for your wee ones. Staff are knowledgeable about the products and the lessons; available to answer all your questions. Lessons are not rushed or forced; it's totally up to your child whether she/he wants to get in on the action. What I enjoyed most was that the ski/play area of the center is situated next to the main lift area, so your little ones can see you whiz past Daddy at the base of the slopes (or wave as you ascend).  And for those wondering, you CAN ski/ride into the center if need be.

Treasure's also offers babysitting and Kids Night Out, along with specials associated with a Club Smuggler's Package. Check their site for up-to-date information before heading out on your excursion, and to download the registration form you'll need upon arrival. Keep in mind that Treasure's does adhere to strict state and site-based security measures - all with your precious bundles of love in mind. :)

*Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary stay at Smuggler's Notch Resort. I received no other compensation and the owner did not require that I express a particular point of view.

010103_0078

4323 Vermont 108
Jeffersonville, Vermont


reviewed on: February 12 2010

"BEST value for snow-bound families!"
Have you ever jam-packed your vehicle with kids, various sundries and clothing to drive 4+ hours to the melodic sounds of “I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves”  in anticipation of barreling down a mountain so fast that snot freezes to your nose?
Yes?
Allow me to tack on one final challenge: Have you done all the above and come away saying, “This was the Best Trip Ever. I can’t believe what a great deal we got!” Ah, I gotcha there. Introduce your family to Smuggler’s Notch Resort this snow season, and I promise you, you will be that family.

Located in beautiful northern Vermont, Smugg’s boasts as many picturesque views on the drive in as on it’s well-groomed trails all the way down to base camp. Speaking of base camp, upon check-in you’ll be greeted by some of the friendliest, happiest people in the state at Guest Services. If you’re lucky, Kevin will be spearheading your check-in experience. He was uber-patient and helpful when answering my myriad of questions about the resort.

Before you can get on the mountain, you gotta get the gear. We headed over to Smugg’s own 3 Mountain Outfitter’s rental office. For anyone who has experienced the special joy that is site-based rental, 3 Mountain Outfitter’s will wow you with their professionalism, knowledge of available gear and laid back attitude. For first timers, you might get a little overwhelmed. The staff has organized the building into three distinct areas: Part 1 – outerwear, Part 2 – boots and helmets, and Part 3 – boards and skis. At each station, there are two to four employees to assist you and your family. This is particularly appreciated when your 6 year old son has decided that the entire process is taking too long and he’s going to run the show from this moment forward. Word to the wise: call the resort before your arrival to see if any large groups (say, tour buses, youth groups and/or church groups) are going to be arriving during your stay. Gear rentals are first come, first serve!

On the mountain, staff are visible. Everywhere we went, there were at least two staff members (easily identifiable by the trademark Smugg’s red vest or jacket) present. This was quite reassuring, as many youth groups and families with young children were on the mountain during our stay.

Catching sight of all those gloriously yellow school buses at the front entrance might have you thinking that your family vacay was in serious jeopardy. Smugg’s has already planned for this – clever folk – each “village” of residences has its own shuttle route and activity center to prevent overcrowding. On the mountain, the lift attendants (2 at each lift) keep the line moving at a steady pace.  Not too fast like a 6-person hydraulic loader, but not so slow that you feel like you’re on a sketchy ferris wheel at the county fair. Old school riders like my husband and I had a whiff of nostalgia riding the 2-seater lift. These lifts might frustrate the impatient, but for us it was a sweet peaceful space in time to scope out the mountain, drink in the scenery and stretch the legs before another glorious ride down.

78 trails awaited us to test our skills (or shatter the ego … lookin’ at you, 7 year old who continually passed me on the blue trails!). My husband and I found that the majority of the trails were suitable for riders and skiers, the exception being that snowboarders tend to “flatten out” on the green trails. Papa Rycerz found the perfect solution to this dilemma: have a ski friend drag you to a sweet steep spot. Lather, rinse, repeat. It’s a great bonding experience.

While Papa Rycerz and I played “I feel like I’m in an 80’s ski movie” the kiddos were engrossed in their own funtime: Smugg’s age-specific day camps (also reviewed here).  

I know what you’re thinking: Where’s the part about what a great value this is? I’m getting to that. For families looking for the ultimate vacation at the best value possible, you’ll want to book a 3 night stay with a Club Smuggler’s package. This includes use of the Fun Zone, your lift tickets, mountainside condo lodging, Discovery Dynamos all-day camp (ages 3-5; lunch included), group lessons, guided winter walking, two teen centers and hefty discounts on many more activities for the entire family. With all the kids at their respective day camps, Mom and Dad have plenty of time to reconnect. All that activity is bound to have you missing out on some primo Kodak moments, but Smugg’s has you covered! For just $99.00, you can purchase a CD of professional quality photos taken during your stay. You can also access and select your images online. See Smuggler’s Notch website for up-to-date rates and more opportunities for discounted stays and packages.

Are you still hesitant? Don’t be! In the words of my children, “This was way better than Disneyland!”

*Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary visit to Smuggler's Notch Resort. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view.

Mmg1

4323 Vermont Route 108 South
Jeffersonville, Vermont


reviewed on: February 16 2010

"The hostess was grumpy, but the food was great!"
The title truly says it all.

After a few hours on the mountain, our party was "dying of hunger, man" (that would be my husband's swan song). We hightailed it over to Morse Mountain Grill, what appeared to be the quickest solution to our hunger problem.

The host staff were rude, plain and simple. I understand that the younger crowd that work resort restaurants aren't always in the best humor, but after encountering so many friendly, mellow Smugg's staff we were dumbfounded that there could be an alternative. One hostess glanced at us and walked away to entertain conversation with another employee. Another hostess came into the front to ask us if we wanted to eat (to which my husband said, "Um ... is there food here?"), then huffed us over to our table before slapping the menus down and walking away. As my 9 year old would say: "Excuuuuuse me!". (She really watches too many "Full House" re-runs)

The menu is what you'd expect to find at Chili's or TGI Friday's, with comparable price points. We had the black bean burger (vegetarian) and the house salad. Our skiing compadres had what they called "the typical ski resort $12.99 burger" and various appetizers to share. Our server was friendly and upbeat, offering many suggestions and answering questions we had about vegetarian items on the menu.

While we were eating, I noticed that our favorite hostess (huh huh) was giving new guests the same treatment, which was quickly recovered by a friendly server. Groups of skiers and riders, mostly families, were engrossed in conversation over Morse Mountain Grille's delicious steak fries, a testament to their pacifying power. One hot morsel in your mouth and you've forgotten all about whatsherface at the host stand.

Our party? We were busy debating on whether or not we had to wait an hour before getting back on the mountain.

*Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary stay at Smuggler's Notch Resort. I received no other compensation and the owner did not indicate that I express a particular point of view.

010103_0081

4323 Vermont Route 108 South
Jeffersonville, Vermont


reviewed on: February 13 2010

"It's all smiles and frozen noses"
During our visit to Smugg’s, our kids (four; ages 4-11) had the opportunity to enroll in the all-day ski and snowboard camps.

Our eldest was enrolled in The Adventure Squad snowboarding camp, while our 9 year old chose The Notch Squad ski camp. Both groups met outside at clearly marked meet-up spots at the base of the mountain, just past the Village center. At drop-off, parents hand in paperwork for each child (one slip per child; basically like a field trip permission slip but with more details) and are able to ask any questions prior to leaving their child(ren) with their instructors. Our two girls were just as giddy about getting the day started as the other kids in their group. The kids began introducing themselves to each other right away, which was our cue to slip out (lest we embarrass them with our weird, parental attachment).

Our 4 and 6 year olds were given the opportunity to stay together in their snowboarding camp, a great relief to Mama Rycerz (who is prone to child-induced paranoia). Upon check-in at the Meeting House, we were guided to a specific check-in table to turn in their papers before escorting our children to their respective “camp counselor”. The check-in point also served as a sort of Guest Services desk; many parents had questions about pick up times and what their kids would be doing throughout the day.  Never fear; Dave is there with all the answers you seek.  Dave and his coworkers also possess a rare trait: they are visibly HAPPY. Each child is warmly greeted with a smile and encouraging words like “Are you excited for camp today?” Our little ones were soon busy with the Mega Blocks at their table (each table is designated for a specific group) while Papa Rycerz and I introduced ourselves to their instructor, Ashley.

During their respective  camps, the kids were instructed on how to ski/snowboard (Smugg’s offers Burton and Head gear), played games, had a hearty lunch of “yummy pas-ta!” and ended the day with a comedic science show put on in the Meeting House. The younger kids were treated to a tractor ride around the resort, which our 4 year old described as “the funnest ride ever in the world”.

At pick up, we encountered a few snafu’s:  our  9 year old’s ski camp was dismissed to the pick-up spot, but when I arrived, their instructor had gone to watch another group of kids. No instructor or staff member took his place, but there were plenty of staff in the general vicinity of the kids. Just to be on the safe side, I remained with the group until all the parents showed up. I also noticed that we had to remove a GPS device from my daughter’s leg, but wasn’t given any explanation as to what the device’s purpose was or why it was necessary.

Papa Rycerz and I spent some time trying to locate our eldest’s camp group before heading into the Meeting House (other staff members suggested we try there). It made me a little panicky, not knowing exactly where my child was, but the staff members we encountered were all so relaxed and happy, it rubbed off on me. Everyone was confident that their group was OK and we must have had a miscommunication. Turns out they were correct; she was with her group sipping hot coco when  we arrived at the Meeting House. Her instructor, Andrew L., was happy to recall the day with me and suggested that Eldest was ready for some private lessons. He gave me all the information on how to request private lessons as well. Andrew also handed us a red card, which was what the GPS devices were for. Parents can log on to www.flaik.com and see a re-play of their child’s day, stats included. (Instructor Ashley also gave us cards for our littlest ones and had to endure some tears over their departure – a true sign of a job well done! Our kids did NOT want to leave!)

Upon check-out, each parent should have been given a card to hand to the door monitor in order to leave with their child. We were not given a card for our 9 year old, but after proving our identity to Dave, we were given a card at the check-out point. While the process might be viewed as time-consuming to some, I was relieved that staff cared about the safety of the kids so much that we’d have to produce identification and answer some questions in order to leave with a child.

I heartily recommend Smuggler’s Notch to any family who wants to get the most out of their vacation time. All four of our children are still wearing their Smugg’s Pass on their coats and beam when recalling their experiences to friends and family.

I should also mention that Smugg’s has programs suitable for those with special needs and is rolling out a new program for Autistic children. I had the opportunity to observe several instructors working with special needs kids and let me tell you – it is nothing short of inspiring. I’m excited to see other parents try out these programs, and hear about their experiences!

*Disclosure: This review is based on a complimentary stay at Smuggler’s Notch Resort. I received no other compensation and the business owner did not state any requirements that I express a particular point of view.