Family Vacations, Summer 1996
THE PEAKS AT TELLURIDE
Back at The Peaks, you've got a one-acre spa to explore, with a 25-foot indoor climbing wall, Cybex weight room, and indoor lap pool. Kids spend time in the KidSpa, which offers two programs: the Explorers Package (half-day, $25; full-day, $40; lunch included), two-and-a-half- to five-year-olds get to cook, swim, hike, and make T-shirts; and the Mountaineers Package, with gold-panning, horseback riding, aerobics, swimming, and hiking for six- to 11-year-olds (half-day, $40; full-day, $60; lunch included). Doubles run $225-$350; kids under 12 free; $20 for each additional person (call 800-789-2220 for more information).
Adults can sail, snorkel, water-ski, and take scuba lessons (extra charge). Certified divers will want to take an excursion to Harbour Island and down to a coral plateau rife with sea whips, sea rods, curious groupers, and angelfish.
Accommodations are clean and simple, brightly Bahamian-hued in greens, blues, and, of course, pink. Weekly rates, including meals and all activities, are $910 per adult and $590 per kid under 12; one kid (five and under) per parent goes free between April 13 and June 22. Call 800-258-2633.
LONE MOUNTAIN RANCH
Besides daily rides, a family week at Lone Mountain is filled with high-country hikes, llama walks, excursions to Yellowstone, and fly-fishing clinics, while other activities are reserved for the small-fry: animal-tracking, making plaster casts, map-and-compass courses, campouts, and low-to-the-ground rope-and-balance maneuvers. Between epiphanies, kids can hang in their own Sarsaparilla Lounge or do crafts in the HideOut.
A one-week package ($1,600 for the first adult; $970 for additional guests over age five; kids two to three are $335; four to five, $675) includes all meals and most activities; one of 23 hand-hewn-log cabins that sleep two to nine; or space in the new, six-bedroom Ridge Top Lodge--which can also be reserved for big family gatherings. Call 406-995-4644.
STRATHCONA PARK LODGE
Of course, you can skip the tutorials and opt for hiking in the high country, where turquoise waterfalls tumble into glacial tarns. There's good mountain biking on logging roads outside the park and fishing for cutthroat and rainbow trout on the lake. Or you can rent kayaks or canoes ($6 per hour, $22 per day) and paddle the lake on your own. Accommodations are in lodge rooms ($50-$72) or cabins ($65-$116) that sleep from two to ten. They're equipped with full kitchens, but there's little reason to cook when mountains of wholesome food are served buffet-style in the Whale Room for about $22 a day for three meals (kids under 12 are half-price). Call 604-286-3122.
The Kennebec is Northern's primary lure: 12 miles of Class II-IV water with enough froth to get your heart rate up, but without the overwrought challenges of The River Wild--your PG-age progeny will love it. Most families take the one-day trip through Kennebec Gorge ($79- $109; kids eight to 15 half-price). The day's foamy climax is Magic Hole Wave, a recirculating hydraulic that'll stand a 16-foot boat (but not yours) on end. Even cooler is the Family Overnight Adventure ($209 for adults, $109 for kids under 16), with a tame-water paddle, camping, lobster cookout, and raft trip through the gorge. Bouncier outings on the Penobscot and Dead rivers have minimum age requirements of 12 or 15, depending on the stretch of river to be run. But you have tamer options, too. Hire a guide for smallmouth bass-fishing ($75-$180 per person), take a one-day rock-climbing course ($75; minimum age 12), or rent inflatable kayaks ($20-$25; minimum age eight).
The lodge includes six motellike lodge rooms that sleep up to six ($30-$45 per person) and ten kitchen-outfitted "logdominiums" that sleep up to eight ($25-$40 per person). Everyone hangs out in the main lodge, where reruns of the day's rafting video are shown, and nonpaddling deadbeats are resoundingly booed. Call 800-765-7238.
NANTAHALA OUTDOOR CENTER
NOC's big backyard encompasses 50-plus miles of singletrack in the Tsali Recreation Area, seven miles from NOC, and 300 miles of gated forest roads in Nantahala National Forest. NOC rents specialized bikes--Rockhoppers ($25 a day) or full-suspension Ground Controls ($30)--and runs bike "samplers" three days a week ($70 for ages 13 and up includes guide, equipment, and lunch). The docket also includes sea-kayak or rock-climbing samplers ($70) and short rafting trips on all the local rivers ($25-$85). The Nantahala trip is the best bet for little ones, who only need to weigh 60 pounds. Because Nantahala's cabins often fill up in July and August, you might opt to stay three miles up the road in Nantahala Village (800-438-1507), an old stone lodge with 14 motel rooms ($70) and 43 vacation cabins with kitchens ($80-$225) that sleep from two to 13. Call Nantahala Outdoor Center at 800-232-7238.
HYATT REGENCY KAUAI
Meanwhile, back at the 600-room resort, there's snorkeling, diving, boardsailing, a 500-yard white-sand beach, and a 25,000-square-foot spa. Kids (three to 12) are happily farmed out to Camp Hyatt, where they're busy snorkeling, hiking on nearby petrified dunes, or poking around archaeological sites. For $45 a day, they also get lunch and a T-shirt. The best deal for families is a three-night Hyatt Vacations package--rates start at $440 per adult and include a double-occupancy room, rental car, spa pass, and $3-per-day discount on Camp Hyatt. Kids under 18 are free in the same room as adults, or 50 percent off in their own room. Call 808-742-1234.
Amid the orchestration, the beauty of the place is undeniable. And, yes, a river runs through it (a stream, actually; fly-fishing for fat browns is done nearby on the Provo River). Ride horseback through the 6,000 acres, glimpsing deer and elk en route to 350-foot Stewart Falls, then feast on lunch packed by the Sundance chef (two-hour ride with food, $65). Or ride the new quad lift (full-day, $12) up a flank of Mount Timp to mountain bike on 25 miles of private singletrack, hooking up with more rides in Uinta National Forest (mountain bike rentals, $25-35 per day; guided tours available). A new tepee is headquarters for the complimentary Sundance Kids program for ages six through 12. It's actually three programs in sequence: Native American/Environmental Day, with native games, crafts, and storytelling; Recreation/Adventure Day, with horseback riding, hiking, and camping in the woods; and Theater Workshop Day, when kids create and perform an original story based on their previous days' experiences.
As for evenings, you can lie back and watch free Redford videos (among others) in your room, attend screenings of films from the Sundance Festival on Fridays and Saturdays, or partake of live outdoor summer theater ("West Side Story this year, "Mirrette" for kids).
In the same spirit as Sundance granola, the Tree Room uses local organic herbs, veggies, and critters in special dishes that change weekly, such as campfire-style stuffed trout with four different mushrooms and saffron rice. Entr‰es there run $20-$25; $7-$15 will get you pizza and pasta in the Grill Room. Accommodations are in cottages (double-occupancy rooms, $150 per night; junior suites, $225; suites, $275) or two- to four-bedroom mountain cabins ($475-$950 per night). Ask about special family rates. Call 801-225-4107 for additional information.
Every cabin comes with a canoe, and the Kerfoots can steer you to easy paddles, such as an eight-miler that traces an early voyageur route. Fishing guides are always available, and Trek mountain bikes can be rented ($15 a day) for rides on forest roads and cross-country ski trails. A daily schedule of free family activities includes naturalist-led walks in the woods for viewing and calling wildlife (yes, the moose do answer--sometimes), evening paddles in search of beavers, kids-only hobo hikes (with lunch wrapped in a bandanna and hung from a stick), and half-day fishing outings for kids. Or you can relax and splash on Gunflint's private sandy beach.
You can book a cabin with full, modified, or no meal plans, but be forewarned that pancake breakfasts, picnic lunches, and such hearty dinners as barbecued walleye and pan-roasted duck breast are hard to resist. Daily rates, including meals, are $269-$309 for two, plus $75-$85 for each additional person. A one-week family package for four is $2,195-$3,000 ($280 for each additional family member), all-inclusive. Gunflint is 48 miles up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais, the eastern road-access corridor to the Boundary Waters. Call 800-362-5251.
TOPNOTCH AT STOWE RESORT AND SPA
Out-the-door hiking can lead four miles to the top of Mount Mansfield (4,393 feet) and a view of most of New England. Or let hooves do the walking--horses are stabled in a 200-year-old barn for guided trail rides three times a day ($22). Fly-fishing is good in the West Branch River; Topnotch can steer you to an experienced local guide. Children are provided for through the Kids Program, which runs from July 4 through Labor Day. Kids ages five to 12 can play outdoor games, go on nature hikes, paint, and play in the pool for $30 a day, including lunch. Other nearby kid-lures include an alpine slide on Mount Mansfield and--everyones' favorite--the Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory ten miles away in Waterbury.
Besides the waterfall-whirlpool, Topnotch's 23,000 square-foot spa has an indoor lap pool, heated outdoor pool, Cybex weight room with all the trimmings, and a menu of massages and wraps. Minimum age for the spa is 16. The two-tier main dining room, Maxwell's at Topnotch, serves "new Vermont cuisine"--local organic vegetables, venison, and trout ($18-$30), while Papa Jake's has
a lighter menu for $7-$10. Double rooms are $186-$236 (kids 12 and under are free); add $48 per person for breakfast and dinner. Call 800-451-8686 for information.
Copyright 1996, Outside magazine