UPDATE 1/6/16: Opening day for the 2016 season is Friday, January 8th! This post was written in 2015, and while it should still give you a great overview of the Ski Sundown experience, it is possible that some of the information may be outdated. Please be sure to check Ski Sundown’s website for the most current information, especially concerning things like hours, pricing & lesson schedules.
Disclaimer: Ski Sundown provided my little ones, Bruiser and Sparkles, with a complimentary ski lesson. All opinions expressed her are 100% my own.
In case you didn’t notice, it’s cold outside and we have probably three feet of snow on the ground. [Wait, how could you NOT notice that!]
While some may think the fact that it snows about every other day is a big ole pain, there are others who think this weather is rather fantastic. So who likes, I mean LOVES snowy weather? Well skiers (and snowboarders) of course!
Back in the day (you know, those pre-kid days) I would go on a few ski trips a year with friends and later with my husband. There was actually a period of time when I lived in Atlanta and worked for Delta Airlines (re: could fly for free) that I would catch a plane out to the west coast for a spur-of-the-moment weekend ski trip. [Pausing for a moment to reminisce a little about my pre-kid days . . . okay back to reality].
Today, with three little kids in tow, skiing has not been a part of our winter weather activities for quite a few years. But, a few months ago when my twins, Bruiser and Sparkles, turned four I realized that they could finally try out this fun sport and maybe, in the not too distant future, we could actually go skiing as a family. That could be fun, right?
So when our local ski destination, Ski Sundown, invited us to their mountain in New Hartford, Connecticut for a lesson, I knew it was something we had to try.
The world of ski lessons is a brand new one for me. I didn’t grow up skiing and neither did my husband; we both taught ourselves later in life. So knowing when my kids could start learning to ski and how the whole process worked was something I was excited to learn about. And with Ski Sundown being located just about 30 minutes from our home in West Hartford, I knew that if they enjoyed their first lesson there, we could easily return for more lessons in the future. Plus, with so much snow on the ground and the weather having to warm up a bit in the coming weeks, having my four-year olds take lessons in the warmer, spring ski season might not be a bad idea.
So my husband and I pulled the kids out of school early on a Thursday afternoon and we all headed over to Ski Sundown for their first-ever ski lesson. Neither my husband nor I had ever been to Ski Sundown before so we really had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, Google Maps guided us right there, we parked in the large parking lot out in front of the main entrance, and then made our way to Ski Sundown’s Welcome Center.
Once inside, we made our way over to the main desk where we were able to sign up for the lessons.
There were a few options for four year olds:
- Private Lessons: either individually or as part of the Parent/Tot Program (starting at age 3) or
- Group Lessons: which can either be drop-in (offered three times each day) or as part of the weekly Puffins program.
Sweetheart and Bruiser would be taking a semi-private lesson that day, but my understanding was that their experience would be fairly similar to that of someone taking the group lesson. They were going to be getting the whole package for this ski adventure: ski lessons, a lift ticket (needed for all lessons), and a ski rental. For group lessons, you could purchase a similar package for $81 per child. Looking at the group schedule that day, my kids could have just dropped in for the next group lesson of the day which was being held at 2:00 pm (during the week, group lessons run at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm and last for one hour).
After signing up for the ski lessons, we left the Welcome Center and went to the building directly across from it to get our ski equipment.
The first step was to fill out the form for equipment rental, then show my receipt for the ski rental purchase, and then the kids could get fitted for boots.
First time in ski boots!
In the rental area, there were plenty of spots where visitors could store their shoes and other items. Non-valuables could be placed in these cubies and there were also lockers where you could store more valuable items for 50 cents.
After they were done getting fitted for their ski equipment, we all made our way out the back door. Right outside was the learning area and where we would meet up with our instructor.
Bruiser and Sparkles were excited to get their skis on and start trying them out.
Look! Their first time on skis!!
Before long their instructor, John, met up with us and the lesson began in the Sunnyside Learning Area.
Ski Sundown is made up of 16 trails including a whole section dedicated to those just learning to ski. There was the main learning area with a small and larger “magic carpet” and then just past the treeline there was a slow lift that led to several green trails.
Ready to start their lesson!
It began with learning the correct positioning for their feet and the best way to stand.
Then they learned to maneuver with one ski.
Then it wasn’t long before they were heading up the small “magic carpet” and taking their first run down the hill. I think I teared up a little when this was happening. It was a big moment!
They had their fair share of tumbles on the hill but their instructor was extremely helpful and patient and knew how to continue to motivate them. They must have gone up and down that hill 20 times! (okay maybe I’m exaggerating but it was a lot).
Towards the end of the one hour lesson, Sparkles was trying to get John to take her up the big “magic carpet” and down the big hill. He did decide to let them go up, but then he took them the long way down the hill and gave them a chance to check out the chair lift on the other side.
After their lessons were over, they actually could have stayed and skied longer but, unfortunately, we needed to head home.
They returned their skiing equipment and we returned to the Welcome Center and Lodge for a quick cup of hot cocoa and (of course) to snap some more pictures of that area.
The Lodge at Ski Sundown contained quite a few amenities:
- The Welcome Center
- Two self-serve food areas (Sunnyside Kitchen and Waffle Corner)
- A tavern
- Plenty of seating and eating areas with a view of the mountain
- Storage areas; and
- Free WIFI
Plenty of storage areas and lockers.
I even found a high chair!
Here are the restrooms.
And right outside the Lodge, on the deck, is the location of Sundown BBQ which offered a variety of grilled specialties on the weekends and holidays.
Ahhh. A well-deserved hot chocolate for Bruiser and Sparkles!
And with that, another “first” was in the books for my oldest two. Bruiser and Sparkles really had a great time learning to ski at Ski Sundown. I know we will be back in the coming weeks for another lesson or two and I’m looking forward to next ski season when I can sign them up for the group class Puffins series. I have a feeling that our first trip down the mountain as a family is not too far away!
Want to learn more about the ski lesson options at Ski Sundown? Go here for details.
How are you embracing this winter season? Tell us by leaving a comment below!
For the 2014 – 2015 season:
The mountain is open in season from 8:00 am – 10:00 pm on Weekends & Holidays and 9:00 am – 10:00 pm on Weekdays
Group lessons for kids ages 4-6 are offered:
- Monday – Friday, non-holiday at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 2:00 pm (1 hour lesson);
- Saturday & Sunday 10:15 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm (1 1/2 hour lesson);
- Holidays 10:00 am, 12:30 pm, and 2:30 pm (1 1/2 hour lesson)
Get more information on hours here.
Get more information on group lesson times here.
- Child Ski Lesson – $51 (Group lesson without equipment rental, lift ticket/pass required)
- Child Ski Package – $81 (Includes child lift ticket for all lifts and trails, child ski rental and child group ski lesson)
Information on the Parent/Tot private lessons can be found here.
Get general information on lift tickets and rentals here.
- Stroller Friendly: N/A
- Coffee Mug Friendly: N/A
- Restroom: YES. There are restrooms located in the welcome center.
- Baby Changing Station: YES. In the women’s restroom there is a baby changing station on the back wall.
- Parking: YES. Free parking available near the welcome center.
- Food for Sale: YES. There are a few eating options available at Ski Sundown. Sunnyside Kitchen, Waffle Corner, Sundown BBQ, and Last Chair Tavern. Get all the food options details here.
- Outside Food Allowed: YES.
- Cash Required: MAYBE. The only thing that requires cash is the lockers (50 cents). All other activities and food purchases can be made with a credit card.
- Dress Code: YES. Well there really isn’t a dress code, but you most likely want to dress for playing in the snow and, of course, you will need ski boots and skis!
- Evening/Weekend Hours: YES. They have night skiing. Fun!
- Discounts: YES. Earlier in the season, you can purchase multiple lessons through their Puffins program.
- NEW — Sleep, Baby, Sleep
- Bounce Town – This popular indoor play destination now has two ultimate bounce centers to choose from with awesome giant inflatables that will have your kids jumping, bouncing, running and laughing the whole time: Bounce Town in South Windsor, CT and Bounce Town in Canton, CT (opening March 1st).
- Connecticut Children’s Medical Center – The state’s only free-standing hospital that offers comprehensive, world-class health care to children. Based in Hartford, Connecticut Children’s also provides services at several locations throughout the state.
- The Independent Day School – Located on a rural campus in Middlefield, CT this private pre-school, elementary and middle school serves families from over 20 communities.
- Little Ms. Bella Beautique/Bella Beauty – Located in Farmington, this one-of-a-kind boutique is a girl’s dream that caters to your Bella for an exclusive Beauty Day, Make Your Own Spa Treats, Tea Parties with Dress Up and the Ultimate Girly Girl Birthday Parties.
- Mandell JCC – The Mandell JCC, Zachs Campus, 335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT, welcomes and serves families and individuals of all ages, stages, backgrounds and faiths. Our fitness, wellness and recreation, arts and culture, camp, early childhood education programs, classes, clubs and services are open to all. You Belong Here!
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