I’m what my family refers to as super indoorsy (they actually bought me a sweatshirt that said “indoorsy” for Christmas last year!). So yeah, I’m not the first one to jump in the lake. I will opt out of a long hike in lieu of a spa morning. And I’m always voted most likely to spend the afternoon in the ski lodge instead of venturing back out into the blizzard. So sue me.
I come from a large family of avid skiers. Born and raised in the foothills of Alpine, Utah, I was given my first set of skis at six years old and was inducted into the family heritage on many a bunny hill. We visited nearly every resort in Utah (14!) during my youth, spending weekends at dumpy lodges and sourcing thrifted skis to make the dream a reality for our family of six. As such, I feel more than qualified to write about why (and how!) to do a ski vacation even if you don’t like skiing. I’ve lived it.
It’s not that I hate to ski. There’s something exciting about whistling through soft powder, the snow lightly falling around you, the swish of the lift as it suddenly picks you up, and the beautiful views. But given the choice, I’d prefer not to ski. At least not every day. It’s cold, it causes sore muscles, and now that I’m considered an adult by my parents at the ripe age of 30, it’s expensive. I also have two young children not old enough to ski, which definitely cramps my style. But I’m not about to miss out on the family fun. In fact, some of my favorite family skiing vacations are those where I didn’t ski. Here are some reasons why.
The Lodge Is Better Than the Slopes
Hear me out: ski lodges are one of the best places on earth. There’s usually a large common room where people can socialize and for most resorts — there’s more than one. Imagine a roaring fire, friends gathering for lunch as the snow swirls outside. The people watching cannot be beat. Especially since there are often travelers from abroad, rich business types, and families with young kids, all blending together as they attempt to walk in their awkward boots. Some of my favorite moments of ski trips have occurred during long afternoons in the lodge. I always bring a book, order a hot chocolate or two and read while I wait for my family to trickle in. There’s usually great food too — or maybe it’s just the cold that makes the lodge food so good (my all-time favorite is Deer Valley’s giant chocolate chip cookie or the Gad Burger with loaded chili-cheese fries at Snowbird). It’s like being at a cozy restaurant all day but no one asks you to leave and you can wear leggings and socks. Basically, my dream life.
You Have an Excuse to Spa it Up
Some of the resorts I grew up going to didn’t have a fully functioning spa. But nearly all of them had a hot tub. Some afternoons after lunch I would opt to hang out there instead of going back out on the slopes. And some things haven’t changed. Some of my best spa experiences have been at ski resorts. They feel cozy and luxurious in a way warm weather spas don’t. And some of them offer really unique treatments (for example, the Waldorf Astoria in Park City offers a Mountain Salvation Sports Massage. It’s specifically designed for sore muscles acquired from long days of skiing). The Montage Deer Valley ski resort in Park City has a massive spa with copper soaking tubs, deluge showers, and redwood saunas — well worth booking airline flights to experience yourself!
Most often I’ll get the cheapest treatment, usually the express manicure or pedicure so I can use the spa amenities all day without having to splurge too much. The steam showers, saunas, and fuzzy robes are some of the best parts of the spa and if you overbook you won’t have time to enjoy them.
You Can See the Sights
Resort towns are my favorite. Quaint and quirky, no two are alike. Aspen, Colorado, is ritzy with designer shops like Prada, Gucci, and Hermes. Park City, Utah, is charming, with an old town General Store and great restaurants like Handle and coffee shops like Atticus. My favorite eggs benedict of all time can be found at Sundance’s Foundry Grill (order them soft boiled, not poached!) and no trip is complete without getting an apple pie caramel apple at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. If you go at the right time of year, you may even spot some celebrities (I’ve personally seen Amy Ryan and Sarah Hyland!). There are fantastic shops, craft beer, and fun photo-ops at nearly every resort town. Shop for souvenirs, grab some food, and explore while everyone else is skiing. They’ll all want your recommendations later.
There Are Other Sports to Try
So I know this doesn’t scream indoorsy, but some winter sports require less commitment and skill than skiing and can be really fun. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two of my favorites and you work up a sweat with both so you won’t mind the cold. A few years ago I learned how to snowboard and sometimes I’ll mix it up and board instead of ski (although some resorts only allow skiers, so check on that in advance!). Ice-skating is also popular, and can be romantic in the evening with the city lights and the twinkling stars overhead. Several resorts also have snow tubing courses where you ride the lift to the top and sled down groomed slopes. It’s just like a waterpark in the summer and it’s great for young families since there’s no age requirement. There’s also ice-fishing, dog sledding, and good old-fashioned snowman building. When we go with young kids to resorts we’ll usually take shifts so half the day the moms/dads watch the kids and the others ski (err, spa) and then we swap at lunch. Getting outside feels good and the best part is you get to come inside when you’re done.
It Is the Ultimate Cozy Experience
Hygge is a big buzzword right now. It’s the Danish and Norwegian word for a “mood of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of wellness and contentment.” So yeah, I think they’re basically describing the feeling of being inside during a ski vacation. Whether you’re in a cabin, lodge, or hotel room, there are ample opportunities to hygge it up on a ski vacation. Hot drinks, a good book, a blazing fire, and friends and loved ones. Waking up from an afternoon nap to see snow falling outside your window. Watching a movie with microwave popcorn after a hot shower. Some would argue that you don’t really earn the cozy feeling if you didn’t ski. But it’s not something you have to earn. It’s the ultimate goal of the winter trip — the reason you tromp through the snow with your luggage and brave the bitter cold.
Cozy togetherness is waiting for you at your next ski vacation, inclusive of skier and non-skier alike. Don’t let yourself miss that because of a minor thing like not liking to ski.