It's not easy finding a resort that appeals to kids of all ages--something for the very young set as well as for teens and everything in between. Fortunately, I found that resort at Smugglers' Notch, a year-round mountain vacation resort on 3,000 acres in northern Vermont.
Named the #1 family resort in the Northeast by FamilyFun magazine, many people are familiar with the facility for winter-time skiing options. However, I visited in the summer with my two young kids and found it to be absolutely ideal. Once we arrived at the resort, we unpacked our bags and didn't leave the premises until three days later when it was time to check out. We could have easily stayed the week.
There are three packages for each condo booking depending on interest and budget. In addition to the price of the lodging, all three packages include use of the pools and waterslides, guided hiking programs, use of the FunZone, and family entertainment. SimplySmuggs, is the basic and least-expensive package; FamilyFest includes the kids' program; and Adventure Connection is the top-of-the-line package and includes plenty of extras for many ages and interests. They also offer a "Family Fun Guarantee" which stipulates: "If any member of the family participates in one of our programs and doesn't have fun, Smugglers' will refund the entire program portion of that family member's stay."
Smugglers' Notch Resort: Guest Rooms
The resort has a plethora of condo options, ranging from studios to five bedrooms. I was in a three-bedroom condo in the Kestrels community, the newest complex at the resort. It was perfect for our family of four and could easily have accommodated several more children. The master bedroom had an en suite bathroom with a large Jacuzzi bathtub, separate shower with two shower heads, and plenty of space. One of the bedrooms had four twin beds, making it the ideal place for a slumber party. The condo also had a full kitchen which we used daily, a washer and dryer (also used frequently), a full living room, a balcony and a screened in porch. Additionally, there were two fireplaces, one in the living room and one in the master bedroom. The condo was extremely spacious and there was plenty of room to spread out.
Regardless of which condo size you choose, all condos have fully-equipped kitchens, with linens, cookware, dishware, glassware, utensils and in-home or in-building access to laundry facilities. There are five communities of homes - each with their own pros such as slope side skiing access, proximity to the Village and dining options or convenient pool location.
In order to get to the pools, dining options and other facilities, there are free resort shuttles that run throughout the day. You can also drive to each spot, as there are parking spaces available throughout the resort.
Smugglers' Notch Resort: Amenities and Activities
One of the reasons I wanted to visit the resort was the kid's amenities. There are eight, yes, eight pools, several of which were absolutely perfect for our two-year-old. Our favorite was found in the aquatics center in the North Hill community. It included an indoor pool with a water slide, mushroom fountain and plenty of sprinklers and water gadgets perfect for the toddler set. Notchville Park is another aquatic favorite with three pools, a water slide, waterfall, climbing tower and giant swing. The pools alone are a big draw to the resort in the summer.
If it's raining, or if you have a very high-energy child (like ours), the FunZone is a great afternoon option. It opens at 3 p.m. daily and is full of blow-up slides, houses and other bouncy items that are a great way for kids to release steam.
What's really great about the resort is the fact that there's so much to do. A weekly activity booklet is given to guests upon check-in and you can plan your vacation around their calendar. For instance, we noticed that there was a fair on Friday night and the kids had a blast experiencing the pony rides, hay ride, games, races, face painting and BBQ food.
While the kids were in camp, my husband and I participated in a Segway tour. I had often seen Segways at various resorts and on city tours, but had never experienced it and was glad to finally give it a try. It was a wonderful way to experience the resort, as we glided along the pathways, into the forest, along the hiking trails and into the resort's center. Our guide, Bruce, kept the tour interesting and everyone in our small group enjoyed the experience.
Other activities at the resort include kayaking, hiking, yoga, tennis, golf and there's even a llama trek.
Smugglers' Notch Resort: Kid-Friendly Features
We decided to put both kids in daycare for one day. Our six-month and two-year-old boys loved the facility. For the toddler set, they took them on walks, had music class, watched a dog-Frisbee show, explored the grounds and had a fun time. The babies had ample toys, played on the swings and napped. The facility/program is called Treasures and it's exactly that. The 5,400 square foot building has a giant fish tank, a mountainside playground and tons of toys and games. I appreciated the fact that there was a one-way mirror-viewing area, so I could check on the kids throughout the day without the kids seeing me.
For older kids, the resort offers a variety of camps, starting at age 3.
The resort also has a Kids Night Out program for kids ages 4-11 in which the kids are entertained from 5:30-9:30 while mom and dad get to enjoy a quiet evening. Babysitters can also be arranged through the resort.
Other kid friendly touches? You can rent large-wheel strollers that make it easy to get around ($40 for a 5-7 day stay for the single; $60 for the double). You can also rent backpacks ($40/5-7 day stay), bike trailers ($40/5-7 day stay), cribs or pack-n-plays ($25 per length of stay), highchairs ($10 for length of stay), bed rails and booster seats (both $5, length of stay). The on-site country store also stocks wipes, diapers, baby food and formula.
More About Smugglers' Notch
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30 miles east of Burlington International Airport in Vermont. The resort is easily reached from Boston (225 miles), New York City (342 miles), and Montreal (91 miles).
4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Smugglers' Notch, Vermont, 05464-9537 USA
Phone: (800) 419-4615;
Web site: Smugglers' Notch Resort