All winter long, our boys have been begging us to take them snowboarding. They believed they had mastered sledding and all its nuances, and were ready to move on to the big leagues. So, my husband and I thought we would indulge their Olympic dreams and take them on a ski getaway. Enter Bear Creek Mountain Resort in Macungie, PA.Recommended by a friend for its beginner friendliness and close proximity to Philadelphia, we decided to try one of their mid-week ski and stay packages, that start at $100 per night, and includes an overnight stay, free lift tickets, and discounted rentals and ski school, because lets face it, skiing is an expensive sport, especially for occasional skiers, like us.
We arrived at the hotel, Tuesday morning, and were immediately impressed with the decor and cleanliness of the lobby. The rest of the hotel lived up to its first impression. Our first stop was for skis. The hotel has a separate rental shop for its guests, which was very convenient and efficient. My husband even remarked that it was easiest rental experience he has ever had. The staff was friendly, helpful, and patient, and gladly obliged when, on the second day, I wanted to switch out my boots to try to find a wider pair. I did this on whim, when I took my son back in to take advantage of the rental shop’s one time swap policy, to trade in his snow board for skis, so I didn’t have my skis with me. Rather than making me walk back to get my skis, because walking in ski boots is just ridiculous (Seriously, I can’t believe no one has come up with a better design for ski boots?), the attendant gave me another pair of skis and told me to bring the other ones back later. Score one for customer service.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but getting everyone ready when there are layers of clothes, buckles, bindings, rentals, zippers, helmets, gloves, and hats is really hard and annoying. If I was bundled in layers, sweating, and trying to get my self ready at the same time as all my children, it would have been a disaster. A middle-aged woman having a melt down is never pretty. So, since, I have only been skiing a handful of times in my life, and my husband was, at one time, an avid skier, I made the executive decision to ready the boys first, because they were chomping at the bit, and send them out with my husband until their lessons started. Then, I got Little Lady ready and dropped her off at her lesson, checked into the room (which became available in the middle of all this readying), and then took care of myself. It worked out much better that way, but it also meant that I didn’t get skis on until a little after one that first day.
To be honest, I didn’t mind, I have mixed feelings about skiing, I’m not really a cold weather person and skiing wasn’t a sport my family participated in, so I have no history. On day one, my feelings could pretty much be summed up with the question I asked my husband, “Who thought of this, insert expletive, sport?” I mean it’s cold, you can’t walk in the stupid boots, you’re in seventeen layers of clothes. It’s kind of annoying.
But, by the second day, with rentals out of the way, I got my groove back, and by groove, I mean, I could ski successfully on the smaller hills without wiping out, I was having fun. And, then, I wished (if it wasn’t so damn expensive), that we could have stayed just one more night. We didn’t even get to check out the indoor, or outdoor pool, which was tempting us with the steam coming off it. Though, when I later thought about it, since my kids are still young, unless I was actually in the water, I would have had to have been outside in the cold, watching from the side, so maybe it was a good thing we skipped that one.Anyhow, the first day, we insisted the boys go to ski school for two hours, if they wanted to snowboard. It was worth it and they were happy they went. Little Lady, because she was under six, had to have a private lesson, which was good because it got her up and skiing immediately, but it was bad, because it canceled out the savings I got from having a child who is under six, because they don’t need a paid lift ticket.Little Lady took to skiing like a fish to water, but the first day she stayed on the beginners mountain and rode the magic carpet (picture a people mover), which meant she, and whoever she rode with, had to take their skis off each and every time. Torture!This, combined with the boots, was enough to make me never want to ski again. (See above comment to husband.)But by day 2, we were all about the ski lift, and she was all about skiing past everyone, so things got way better. I think my daughter may have had the best time of us all. We were also lucky enough to get some fresh snow that morning.As for the boys, snowboarding was challenging. On the beginners hill, they were doing well. Once they got on some other runs, and actually needed to make turns, it was a fifty-fifty mix of snowboarding to falling. And they fell hard.By day 2, my oldest had taken such a bad spill that he was willing to swap his board for skis. He never looked back.
Second Son, stayed with the snowboarding the whole time. He did well, but again, he took a lot of hard falls.I would have liked to have seen him try skiing, because I think he would have had a better time with it, but you know the old saying, you can lead a horse to water…
We skied until about five the first day, went back to our rooms and freshened up a bit before dinner. I tried to get some pictures of the room before we left our mark on it. I thought our room was great, clean, modern, and spacious with comfortable beds. The couch pulled out in the sitting room for another bed.
We then headed down to dinner at The Grille, the nicest restaurant at the resort. We did not have a reservation, thankfully it was only a small problem. There was a forty-five minute wait for a table, but we could sit at an available high top in the bar, which was what we chose to do. Next time, I’ll be sure to make a reservation, preferably with a view of the mountains. The menu had plenty of fine dining options, but we opted for sandwiches, which were awesome, and the kids ate off the children’s menu.
Since food allergies are always a concern for me, I would be remiss not talk about it, and since, as a mom of a food allergic child, I specifically seek out online people’s experiences at places we intend to patronize, I always like to put our experience out there for our fellow food allergic friends. However, if you don’t care, feel free to skip this paragraph. For those of you new to these parts, my son has a tree nut and sesame allergy, so these are the foods we avoid. Eating in the cafeteria part of the ski resort was easy. The staff had a chart that showed what foods contained the eight major food allergens. However, as any food allergic parent knows, that’s not always the full story. The staff was very obliging in handing over packaging so I could read ingredients, which was very important, since their peanut butter had a tree nut warning on it, and hot dog buns often contain sesame. Their buns, happily, did not, so my son had that as an option. Also, we were told they do not use a shared fryer for their fries, so he was also able to have french fries with his lunch, which is always a bonus. It is also worth mentioning that you can bring a cooler into the Mountain Eatery, which would also save you from spending $15, every time your kids were hungry for snacks. In The Grille, because we sat at the high tops, the bartender took our order. I ordered pasta with butter for my son, and then told her my son’s food allergies, which seemed to leave her a bit confused because she asked me what (of what I ordered) those ingredients might be in. It was a reasonable (possibly tinged with sarcasm) question, I suppose, but I told her that I was more concerned about cross contamination in the kitchen than if the pasta contained nuts. It was the same thing in the morning, when we ate in the Trail’s End Cafe. The girl behind the counter clearly thought I was crazy when I asked her about the pancakes and what else was cooked on the grill where the pancakes were cooked. But you know what? I’m not crazy, because when we stayed at the Hershey Lodge, my son couldn’t have the pancakes there because they were made by Krusteaz, and that brand has a tree nut warning. I don’t take much for granted when it comes to food allergies. All in all, though, I think there were plenty of choices for my child, though he would have loved to seen mac and cheese on one of the menus.
We skied until 3pm, our second day, and we were home by 5:30, happy and exhausted. Would I go back, again? Definitely. I really loved everything about this resort and it was especially perfect for novice skiers like my kids and me. It might be great for more experienced skiers, too, but since I’m not one of them, it would be hard for me to say either way. However, we all agreed it was a great mini-vacation.
*After the glowing review, I just want to make it clear that I am in no way affiliated with Bear Creek Mountain Resort.