Morning dawned sunny and clear with temperatures in the single digits. My twin girls and I had just rolled out of bed in the slopeside Jordan Hotel, dressed, breakfasted, booted, snapped in and boarded the lift before 9 a.m., which, as ski parents understand, is no small feat.
It was cold at the top of Sunday River's Jordan Bowl, but views of snow-frosted mountains and fresh-groomed trails were worth the extra layers. The only thing left to do was race each other down the trail, and that's exactly what we did.
While we've been regulars at Sunday River since the girls were toddlers, we've never stayed at one of the slopeside hotels, and now we wonder why not. Especially with only one parent available to ski with the kids, it made for a weekend of ease vs. shlepping from town to mountain. This gave us renewed enthusiasm for a familiar sport, and bought time for some new on-mountain activities.
Maine may not jump to mind over Colorado or Utah for a family ski vacation. It doesn't offer significant vertical, champagne powder, or pristine weather. So what's left? The real draw here is the vibrant and dedicated ski community and family-friendly vibe. And, most of all, bragging rights, because learning to ski hard snow in near-zero temperatures is character- and confidence-building for children and parents alike.
We found the Jordan Hotel, a Boyne Resorts property, to be particularly family-centric, with apres-ski activities for all ages. Kids and family groups were frequently in evidence in the open common areas, outdoor heated pool and three restaurants.
The s'mores station around the central fireplace was especially popular, with marshmallow sticks and fixings free for guests. The girls also enjoyed the two hot tubs and heated pool with views of the slopes for both apres ski and apres dinner.
Our one-bedroom suite included a kitchenette, dining and living area with foldout sofa, which allowed plenty of room for a family of four. Included with lodgings was a buffet breakfast at the Grand Ave restaurant with made-to-order omelet bar.
Kids Night Out at South Ridge base lodge provided the option to drop kids ages 5 to 12 for pizza and a movie on Saturdays from 5 to 8. This was popular with parents seeking a date night at the Foggy Goggle bar upstairs for an apres ski scene and live music until 8 p.m.
Jugglers, fire dancers and magicians appear at 7 p.m. as part of the Black Diamond Entertainment series at South Ridge and the Grand Summit Hotel. South Ridge also hosts a lighted snow tubing course from 4 to 9 p.m. (additional charge); night skiing on weekends and school holiday weeks from 4 to 8 (included with the day ticket); and fireworks on select Saturdays after dark.
We ended our day at Sliders Restaurant for a cozy, pub-style dinner of poutine and seared salmon. Next time we plan to make reservations and take the gondola to Peak Lodge atop South Peak for a family-style dinner and some stargazing.
Nightly rates at the Jordan Hotel start at $149 and include breakfast for two. During Family Week (Jan. 8 to 11), lodging includes lift tickets, rentals and lessons for ages 4 to 12. Visit www.sundayriver.com.