Skiing in the USA and Canada is almost always going to be more expensive than skiing in Europe. Flight costs see to that – although if your package company has, or uses, a charter airline, there’s more chance of a special deal. But remember that while an apartment on the slopes in France might be easier and cheaper, it’s simply a ski holiday, whereas in North America you (and, more to the point, the kids) get much more out of your trip as you travel through cowboy country, the great American West, the picturesque East Coast countryside and more.
Whereas in Europe half-board accommodation is common, in North America it’s rare to find a hotel offering anything other than B&B, and in some smart hotels even breakfast is extra. The good news for families is that most modern ski-resort hotels have rooms you don’t mind spending time in. When we were in Whistler, our children’s favourite evenings involved picking up a takeaway pizza the size of a wagon wheel (around £10) and slumping on the sofa with a movie. Add a £4 bottle of wine and you’ve got a bargain evening. Many hotel rooms and almost all apartments have first-rate kitchen areas so you can easily prepare all your meals – North American restaurants can be cheap, but it all mounts up over a week. Lift passes tend to be more expensive than in Europe, but this season there are lots of deals.
"In North America you (and, more to the point, the kids) get much more out of your ski trip
than you would in Europe as you travel through cowboy country, the great American West, the picturesque East Coast countryside and more."
This is one of the easiest areas of the USA to get to – it’s a seven-hour hop over to Boston, Massachusetts, then a two-hour drive. The resorts are small, low and child-friendly (cute Cranmore in particular); five of them situated less than 30 minutes apart share a lift pass.
Copper Mountain, Rocky Mountains, Colorado
Great for families, this traffic-free village with luxurious condos is only two hours from Denver. The Woodward at Copper sports training facility offers year-round skiing and boarding and indoor lessons, plus skateboarding and trampolining sessions.
This colourful, traffic-free centre built in the style of a historic French town is very convenient – flights to Montreal from London take around seven hours, then there’s a transfer of less than two hours and, on your doorstep, low mountains that won’t give youngsters any altitude problems. The ski school provides GPS armbands so you know exactly where they are, with their daily movements charted on a website. Look out for special offers at the luxury Fairmont Tremblant with its indoor and outdoor pools.
Whistler, British Columbia
This massive resort is one of the best organised for families, with its traffic-free village and easy (and spectacular) seafront transfer from Vancouver. It also has an exceptional ski school (our children rated it the best anywhere) with great teaching slopes. And youngsters will be thrilled to see the site of the Winter Olympics 2010.
Read more about our favourite skiing and winter sports holidays with kids.