Ultimate Guide to the Group Ski Vacation
Written by Alexa Owen • Dec 23, 2016
Whether you just conceived the brilliant idea to jet away on an epic ski vacation with friends, or the plan has been brewing for some time, we've got the insider guide you need to execute the perfect group ski vacation.
Photo: Whistler Blackcomb
In this writer’s opinion, ski vacations were created to be shared with friends and family. Even one week of retreating to the mountains to ski world-class terrain, adventure into nature, kick back with craft beers and spend serious quality time with those you love is so worth the planning, preparation, and expense. And the true beauty of it all is that you can tailor your ski vacation to specifically suit your unique group – and even separate interests within that group!
Modern ski resorts are highly developed to cater to all sorts of interests, meaning regardless of the size or hobbies of your crew, there will be something for everyone (even the non-skiers). The guys can spend a day snowmobiling in the backcountry while the ladies have a spa day; adults can spend a night on the town while kids party with pizza and movies at Kids' Night Out. Rent a mountainside chalet for home-cooked meals in, or spend the week hopping from one fabulous restaurant to another. The biggest issue may very well be scheduling everything in – but we’re here to help with that, too.
Below you'll find our comprehensive guide to the ultimate group ski vacation, including insider tips on where to stay, what to ski, how to find the best nightlife and why quality time off the slopes is an important aspect of the group ski vacation. We offer insider tips on where to go for corporate getaways, family trips, bachelor parties, and reunions with friends. Keep reading for our guide to the top resorts in North America for group ski getaways, and how to craft your ideal group ski vacation.
Photo: Whistler Blackcomb
Contemporary Whistler was built for big groups – literally. Playing host to the 2010 Winter Olympics meant updated infrastructure, a boom in hotel and restaurant industries, and worldwide popularity that only continues to build. This massive resort – the largest in North America – has now been voted #1 Overall Ski Resort by SKI Magazine readers 2 years running. The downtown village boasts over 200 shops, award-winning restaurants, and a nightclub scene that draws in fantastic DJ’s throughout the season. We love Whistler for groups because there are plenty of activities, varied terrain, and dinner spaces to go around. Major hotels make hosting big parties seamless, while private slopeside villas also abound. Want to plan your trip around big events, like the World Ski and Snowboard Festival? Check the resort calendar – there’s always something big going off at Whistler.
Best For: Big mountain adventure lovers; the best nightclub scene in the Rockies.
Stay…at the Four Seasons Residences for fully equipped luxury with slopeside views.
Ski…between the Peak 2 Peak gondola, no matter what: it links the best of both mountains and offers thrilling views.
Fine Dining…Book a table at Araxi, which features the best of Pacific Northwest cuisine, an oyster bar, and caters to large groups.
Après...at Merlin’s for the quintessential ski bum crowd and local craft beers.
Party...at Moe Joe’s if dancing until the wee hours is your style – get on the guest list beforehand for no wait.
Off The Slopes…everyone can test their skills in the luge at the Whistler Sliding Center, which offers bobsled rides down the fastest ice track in the world.
Whistler is massive: not only does the resort (which boasts both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains) boast over 8,000 acres in-bounds terrain, but offers access to some of the best backcountry skiing on the continent. It’s a haven for extreme skiers, but also ideal for groups of ski vacationers with varying abilities. The resort truly caters to all, with miles of long, cruising groomers and even beginner terrain offering stunning mountainscape views. Do your best to get to the upper mountain in the morning before crowds set in; if the group wants to disperse for a few runs, simply plan a lunch meet-up at any one of the superb on-mountain restaurants.
Locations is key for group ski vacations; in Whistler, the best digs are located at the base of either peak – if you opt for further out, there’s access to a free resort/town shuttle.
Book on of the Four Seasons Residences for luxury service slightly removed from the hustle and bustle of the hotel.
We rank The Westin “mid-range” so long as you split one of the suites with close friends or family; the location is prime, and the on-site spa makes for indulgent après ski pampering
The Aspens on Blackcomb offer comfortable condominium accommodation with ski-in/ski-out access and heated outdoor pool; one and two-bedroom digs are available.
Photo: Whistler Blackcomb
Whistler chefs pride themselves on preparing top-notch cuisine sourced from fresh, local ingredients: most dining rooms are spacious and easily accommodate larger parties.
Trattoria di Umberto is elegant yet family-friendly; award-winning chef and author Umberto Menghi serves up classic Tuscan cuisine, and the wine list is one of the finest in Whistler.
For contemporary Pacific fare, book at Bearfoot Bistro; this place is cozy yet boisterous and next door is the famed Ketel One Tasting Room – the coldest vodka tasting room in the world.
Araxi Restaurant and Oyster Bar spearheaded the locavore movement in Whistler, and as such sources its ingredients from top-notch regional farms; the small plates of fresh seafood are great for groups.
Most nightclubs attract 20- and 30-something crowds and boast themed nights with popular DJ’s; the bar scene is less raucous depending on where you go – just cruise the village after 9pm and follow the music.
The Longhorn Saloon’s adage says anything goes, and that’s true for après hour ‘til late night; head here for casual beers and a great blend of locals and tourists kicking back in classic Whistler style.
Champagne Fridays at Garfinkel’s make for classy nights on a euro-style dance floor; it’s the largest bar venue in Whistler, and great for group events.
For VIP-style table service and dancing to Whistler’s DJ Rosco, head to Moe Joe’s; his Top 40 night is particularly popular.
Whistler is a hub for adventure enthusiasts; be sure to indulge in some outdoor fun together – you won’t find these organized thrills back home.
Get the best views of the mountains with zip line canopy tours; turns are one-by-one, but they make for super fun group experiences (and great photo ops!)
Dog sledding is a perfect eco-friendly way to see the sights; rides include expert mushing guides and tours through nearby forests and valleys.
Drop by the Whistler Sliding Center on an afternoon off for a ride down the ice luge with an experienced driver.
Whistler is massive; if you don't book a group ski lesson, at least take part in one of the free mountain tours to get your bearings and see the sights -- tours depart at 11:30am daily at the top of both gondolas.
There's no need for a car if you're not driving from home: everthing in the village is walking distance or accessible by the free town bus.
Photo: Park City Mountain Resort
Park City Mountain Resort gets big points across the board when it comes to the group ski vacation, mainly for accessibility, family-friendly activities, and huge variety of on- and off-the-slopes fun. It’s a mere 40 minute drive from Salt Lake City International Airport, boasts 7,300 acres terrain (since merging with The Canyons in 2015), and boasts an historic downtown chock full of gourmet restaurants and chic boutiques at the base of the resort. Accommodation is mostly major hotels and private condominiums, many of which offer group meeting spaces for banquets and conferences (corporate ski vacations are a hit here). We particularly love Park City for group family getaways: parents can rest easy with so many daycare and ski school options for kids – including daycare that starts for ages 6 weeks and up. New moms, that means you can hit the slopes, too!
Best For: Corporate ski vacations, group getaways with families.
Stay…at the ski-in/ski-out Waldorf Astoria, Park City’s only Forbes 4-star resort.
Ski…Lap the Tombstone Express at the Canyons for access to intermediate and tree skiing terrain that suits varied ability levels.
Fine Dining…Café Terigo specializes in small group dinner parties; enjoy the elegant dining room and French-Italian inspired fare.
Après...at High West Distillery for locally distilled spirits and a vibrant local scene.
Party...at Downstairs, which boasts an oh-so-classy lounge and hit set of revolving DJ’s.
Off The Slopes…Get everyone on board one night for the Snowed Inn Sleigh Ride and Dinner, located at a remote yurt in the Utah backcountry.
Park City Mountain Resort can now call itself the largest in the U.S. due to a recent merging with the Canyons. With 7,300 acres skiable terrain serviced by 41 lifts and spreading across 17 peaks, there’s enough for any hard-charging skier to keep busy for – well, many seasons. In classic Utah fashion, about half the terrain is marked as intermediate. Beginners can find plenty of cruisers on the lower mountain, and experts find their thrills on Jupiter Bowl and Ninety-Nine 90 areas. We recommend sticking to one mountain per day – Canyons or Park City – to get in the most runs and keep the group close. Both villages offer shopping and dining options for non-skiers, and everyone can easily meet for a midday lunch.
The hottest hotels are located at the base of the resort and the heart of downtown Park City; many cater to families and corporate groups, so be sure to ask about specialty services like childcare and conference areas.
Kids love the complementary s’more stations while adults can lounge in the world-class spa – stay at the Waldorf Astoria for the ultimate luxury experience.
Double Tree by Hilton offers newly remodeled rooms and contemporary vibes 5 minutes from historic Main Street; they also specialize in business and professional services.
Park City Peaks Hotel gets points for pet-friendly rooms and local, organic coffee; convenient location between PCMR and Deer Valley with free shuttle services keeps all skiers and riders in your group happy.
Expect contemporary Western fare and the occasional European bistro; Park City chefs continue to serve up award-winning fare sourced from the best regional farms, and foodies flock here regularly regardless of the skiing.
Café Terigo boasts two private dining rooms and award-winning French-Italian fare; the bistro menu sources from local ingredients like Utah trout and local cheeses.
For a classic western steak house decked out in Wild West memorabilia, head to Grub Steak; it’s quite casual, but the wild game selection is outstanding.
One of Park City’s oldest and most revered, Riverhorse on Main continues to serve up creative contemporary American cuisine; it’s also an excellent choice for wine enthusiasts.
Photo: No Name Saloon & Grill
Park City nightlife is eclectic and modern, with touches of rich 1800s history here and there; opt for historic bars, classy nightclubs, or quiet fireside lounges – it’s all available in PC.
Get raucous at the No Name Saloon & Grill, which has been serving up fine whiskeys and booze since 1903; they also take reservations for private events.
One of the newest nightclubs is Downstairs, a hip dance space that hosts regional DJ’s, table service, and the occasional live band.
For an elegant evening by the fire, head to the Troll Hallen Lounge inside the Stein Eriksen; comfy couches and gourmet small bites pair well with the creative cocktail menu.
Park City Mountain Resort boasts tons of kid-friendly activities, while the surrounding Park City area offers historic and cultural fun; consider a full day off from the slopes for one of these adventures.
Take a scenic ride on Utah’s 100-year-old Heber Valley Railroad; the Lakeside Limited excursion is our favorite for its stunning views and theatrical “train robberies” that kids will love.
Adventurers ages 5 and up can head out on daily snowmobile tours for rides through the backcountry of the Canyons; small groups and families are very welcome on these tours of 1,000 acres private land.
Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride to a gourmet dinner and live entertainment at one of the mountain lodges; 3 seatings from 5:30-7:30pm are available nightly.
The Sundance Film Festival brings thousands to Park City at the end of January each year; if you're keen on the party scene (and book far ahead!), this is the best time to go -- the slopes also happen to be empty, as most visitors are busy around town.
Liquor laws are actually not as strict as some assume for Utah, but don't be surprised if some restaurants ask you to order food before drinks -- the laws are a bit quirky.
Photo: Breckenridge Ski Resort
Breckenridge is one of those all-encompassing, one-size-fits-all resorts: and not in the impersonal corporate kind of way. This bustling Colorado ski town, which still maintains its Victorian mining town roots with vibrantly colored downtown buildings, offers guests delectable restaurants, lively nightlife, and a seductively laid-back Rocky Mountain culture. The resort prides itself on catering to large groups, with multiple services available to ensure good times on and off the slopes. Bookings for early lift access, reserved lunch spaces, and mountain tours take the pressure off when it comes to planning on-site logistics. The ski school is world-renowned, and over 300 days of sunshine per year ensure good weather throughout most the season. Come to Breck’ for snow, and sun, and Colorado fun.
Best For: The pre-organized group getaway; quintessential Colorado ski vacation
Stay…at Crystal Peak Lodge, which offers luxury one- to four-bedroom suites and slopeside access to Peak 7.
Ski…Peak 6 area for crowd-free groomers and some gnarly chutes on a powder day.
Fine Dining…Head to Hearthstone for upscale American fare in a lavish Victorian-style home; inquire about specialty menus for large groups and events.
Après...at the T Bar on a sunny afternoon – the sprawling beach-like scene is casual, upbeat, and offers space for everyone.
Party...at Cecilia’s Martini Bar for (yes) fabulous martinis – as well as DJ’s and dancing ‘til the wee hours.
Off The Slopes…opt for a hot air balloon flight for unparalleled views of the Rockies and superb photo ops for the family calendar!
Breckenridge attracts all sorts of skiers – especially early season when the snow just happens to blanket Breck’ like no other I-70 corridor resort. It’s also especially popular for park and pipe enthusiasts, as its 4 terrain parks and 2 half pipes are some of the best developed in the world. The 2,908 acres span across 5 peaks and include 187 trails. During peak periods the main base areas – around Peak 7 ad Peak 9 – can get clogged, so get your group to the upper mountain first thing in the morning. Late season brings openings to the best expert terrain, located off the Peak 8 summit. Check in with mountain services about getting a tour at the beginning of your vacation so everyone can get their bearings, as Breckenridge spans a huge base area.
Photo: Breck Resorts
Opt for slopeside lodging near the base of Peak 7 for easy lift access and walking distance to town; if you’re keen on full-service digs but also private space, ask about private residences through the establishment.
The lavish Crystal Peak Lodge is the ski-in/ski-out choice at Breckenridge; choose from a variety of rooms with fabulous views, and enjoy access to neighboring bowling alley, aquatics center, and media room.
The Lodge at Breckenridge boasts spacious rooms, 2 private residences, and a large space for corporate events; we also love perks like the on-site spa and babysitting services.
The Wedgewood Lodge is a 2-minute walk to the nearest lift and 5 minutes from downtown Breckenridge; the one- and two-bedroom condos are ideal for families.
Hit the saloons for hearty burgers, or the bistros for upscale western fare; many restaurants also do private catering – something to be considered if renting a private home and preferring to dine in.
Hearthstone is a local favorite, and although housed inside an old Victorian home, caters surprisingly well to large groups; expect Colorado classics like fish and wild game with contemporary flair.
Ember features upscale dining with plenty of options for those groups with dietary restrictions (there’s an entire gluten-free menu); the restaurant’s ambiance is elegant and caters best to small groups.
Breckenridge regulars praise the South Ridge Street Seafood Grill as the best in town for generous portions of fresh seafood; start with house smoked trout dip and follow up with Colorado lamb meatballs or organic salmon filet.
Breckenridge is known for its nightlife, making it popular among college folk; reserve a private space at clubs like Cecilia’s if going with the group, and enjoy local lore when stopping by historic saloons.
For a classy drink and live jazz, head to Blue River Bistro; they also serve delectable eats.
Don’t miss a night that the historic Gold Pan Saloon, which has been serving up libations to thirsty patrons since the late 1870s; the live music and toasty pot belly stove add to the laid-back local ambiance.
Cecilia’s Martini Bar boasts a huge dance floor and 3 separate bars; they’re also known for fantastic martinis and cigar selection.
Breckenridge blends cultural activities with outdoor adventure; choose from classic pastimes like snowmobiling and hot air balloon flights to Breck’ specialties like local distillery tours.
Take the kids to the Mountain Top Children’s Museum for interactive exhibits and specialty programs; they also run a Kid’s Night Out three times per week!
Gather the group for a sunrise hot air balloon flight for a one-of-a-kind experience over the Rockies’ landscape; packages include breakfast, champagne toast, and an opportunity to “take the reins” during flight.
Indulge in a tasting tour of Breckenridge Distillery – you’ll appreciate the nuggets of Breckenridge saloon history between sips of aged whiskey.
As a memeber of Vail Resorts, Breckenridge operates under the Epic Pass -- a multi-mountain season pass good for several resorts around the Rocky Mountains; consider purchasing one if you're set trips to Vail, Park City, and more.
Photo: Stowe Resort
Stowe is Vermont’s gem when it comes to getaways of all seasons, but winter especially offers a magical New England charm. Once you pull off the highway, prepare to be delighted by 19th century farmhouses, rolling fields of cows, and the occasional church draped in twinkling icicle lights. The resort itself, although nestled in an historic Vermont town, maintains top-notch infrastructure and continues to develop to meet interests of incoming ski vacationers. One of these interests is the group ski vacation – both corporate and family. New accommodation like the luxury Stowe Mountain Lodge boasts on-site conference center, spa, and multiple restaurants at the base of the resort. Structured kid-friendly events offer scheduling ease for families, especially around the holidays. As for cuisine, the farm-to-table charm in the Stowe area is 100% authentic, and totally unique – be sure to plan some special dinners out.
Best For: Local New England group getaways; big resort class with small town charm.
Stay…at the Stowe Mountain Lodge for ski-in/ski-out access and luxury digs.
Ski…Spruce Peak one day for mellow groomers away from the crowds.
Fine Dining…Book at farm-to-table Michael’s on the Hill for delectable local eats.
Après...with locals at the award-winning Matterhorn for live music and Long Trail drafts.
Party...at the Rusty Nail, a rowdy bar with regional music acts.
Off The Slopes…Explore surrounding areas with a guided snowshoe tour – great for group rest days.
At 485 skiable acres, Stowe remains relatively small compared to its Rocky Mountain counterparts, but the quality of terrain is stellar by Vermont standards. It’s an intermediate haven, and also a favorite for beginners, as a large portion of beginner trails are towards the top of the mountain. Nearly 30% of terrain is marked advanced/expert, making Stowe one of the best mountains for advanced skiers on the East Coast. Lift lines at the base can get crowded during peak periods, so be sure to head over to Spruce Peak once in a while (the kids love the transfer gondola). If you’re seeking cool points with the group, challenge yourself on Goat – Stowe’s infamous glade.
Luxury remodeled farm houses are the norm around Stowe, many of which include their own spas and restaurants; stay slopeside for easiest skiing access – otherwise, you’ll be best off with a car.
The Stowe Mountain Lodge specializes in major weddings and events; they also happen to have the newest luxury lodging right at the base of the resort.
Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa offers rooms with mountain views, state-of-the-art spa services, and quaint country charm conveniently situated between downtown and the ski area.
One- and two-bedroom units at The Lodge Condominiums are clean, comfortable, and ski-in/ski-out – ideal for a family group trip.
Farm-to-table dining has been a part of Vermont’s history for many years, and now that it’s popularized in mountain towns everywhere, expect nothing but the best – from the source – at Stowe establishments.
Situated in a circa 1820’s farmhouse, Michael’s on the Hill initiates guests into the full farm-to-table experience, and happily hosts large groups.
Expect upscale comfort eats at The Whip Bar & Grill, located in downtown Stowe; a rotating crowd of regulars mixes with tourists in an old dining room at the Green Mountain Inn
For the contemporary fine dining experience, head to Solstice at the Stowe Mountain Lodge; local meats and cheeses prepared with farm-fresh vegetables on white-linen tables makes for beautiful ambiance.
Stowe nightlife starts with après, then moves to a few bars around town that feature live music.
The Rusty Nail is a downtown Stowe mainstay that brings in live music acts every weekend; even if you don’t stay for the show, this place is worth a visit for the party atmosphere and 24 craft beers on tap.
While The Matterhorn is best known for après hour, the shenanigans can run late into the night; enjoy old timer ski stories and a cozy atmosphere at the resort.
For something a bit more cultural, opt for a show at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center; national music acts, dance companies, and film screenings fill the calendar – check online for details.
Stowe boasts all the classic resort activities, and a few specialty favorites (group tour of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory, anyone)?
Take a scenic sleigh ride through forests and under classic covered bridges; this is a great getaway from the group, or can be done all together.
For a break from the slopes (but not from the fitness), head to Stowe Mountain Lodge for fitness class favorites like bootcamp, barre, and yoga.
Guided snowshoe tours are an alternative way to see the sights – the resort offers morning, afternoon, and twilight excursions that last 1-2 hours.
Stowe's rental and demo equipment services are courteous and easy to plan: book online and pick up the day before hitting the slopes instead of schlepping gear from home.
Shoppers will delight in Stowe's country chic stores; for provisions and classic Vermont gifts like maple syrup and fine cheeses, stop by The Country Store on Main.
Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Bachelor parties, corporate vacations, family holidays: what group ski getaway wouldn’t choose the famous Jackson Hole? Since its beginnings in the 1960s, this place has maintained an allure that draws ski vacationers from across the globe. In the skiing community, it’s known as one of the few resorts that has not yet “sold its soul” – to understand what we mean, you best just go. With the most challenging in-bounds terrain in North America, a contemporary mountain town culture with just the right drizzle of city class, and natural beauty that may just make you think of dropping your life and setting up shop here, it’s a big time favorite for all sorts of skiers. The hotels are understated yet classy, the culture infatuating, and the food scene one to rival San Francisco. So round up your best buds and get ready for a fantastic group ski vacation in “the last of the Old West.”
Best For: Bachelor parties, business trips, adventurous families; a destination group getaway.
Stay…at the Snake River Lodge & Spa for luxury slopeside digs and group wellness offerings.
Ski…the Hobacks top-to-bottom for a classic Jackson Hole leg-burner.
Fine Dining…Head to Rendezvous Bistro for contemporary western fare in a private group dining area.
Après...at The Mangy Moose with local drafts and local laughs.
Party...at The Million Dollar Cowboy Barwith country rock music and two-stepping cowboys.
Off The Slopes…Spend a day in Yellowstone National Park with a guided snowmobile tour to remote wilderness and geysers.
Jackson Hole boasts the most challenging in-bounds terrain in North America, and some of the longest runs as well: opt for 4,000 vertical foot laps via the resort’s aerial tram for a true taste of what JH has to offer. Fortunately for intermediates, the resort opened the new Teton Lift in 2015, which services newly cut intermediate terrain and mellow glades. We like Jackson Hole for groups because there is only one base area, so meeting up with friends and family is easy at the end of the day. Intermediate level traverses also cross nearly the entire resort. Beginners find most terrain on Teewinot and Sweetwater; we recommend the Mountain Sports School for kids and adults who would like to get an idea of what terrain is appropriate for their ability level on this exceptionally advanced mountain.
Jackson Hole hotels are used to hosting large groups, and many offer concierge services that specialize in planning excursions on and off the slopes; stay in Teton Village for slopeside access, or downtown Jackson for shopping and nightlife.
For top spa services, ski-in/ski-out access, and the best indoor/outdoor pool in Teton Village, stay at the Snake River Lodge & Spa.
The newly remodeled Snow King Resort Hotel boasts modern rooms, a cozy restaurant, and access to downtown Jackson as well as Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Sometimes renting one big house is easiest and most money-conscious – you can cook in, split costs, and meanwhile stay slopeside; the Clear Creek Group rents great homes around the resort.
Jacksonites love their (good) food; expect excellent American bistro style fare with creative twists, and be sure to book ahead for group dining.
Omnivore favorite Lotus just opened a new location in downtown Jackson, meaning they can offer their fully organic menu featuring vegan, vegetarian, gluten free and meat options to large groups daily from 8am.
Spend an evening at the classy but casual Rendezvous Bistro, which serves up American bistro fare like grilled venison medallions and ginger-soy seared sea scallops; private dining is also available.
Local is a favorite among all for its contemporary American steakhouse cuisine and locally sourced ingredients; there’s also a private dining area for large groups.
Photo: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
Teton Village at the resort has a solid après scene, while you’ll find more late night parties in downtown Jackson.
It never hurts to stop by The Rose, which overlooks downtown Jackson and sits adjacent The Pink Garter Theater; bartenders here know how to shake a cocktail, so keep it classy with one of their specialty mixed drinks.
Affectionately known as “The Cowboy,” the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar brings in rockin’ country music bands on weekend nights; there’s also pool tables and the famous bar stools made of saddles.
A trip to Jackson Hole wouldn’t be complete without a raucous evening at the Mangy Moose; go for après, and stay for late night live music.
Jackson Hole is known as a mecca for adventure sports enthusiasts, but it also boasts some of the most beautiful scenery and wildlife in North America – all accessible by guided tours.
Opt for high-flying thrills with a tandem paragliding flight – it’s by far the most stunning way to see the Teton Range while being a part of it.
Access remote areas of Yellowstone National Park with a day-long snowmobile tour, which includes a visit to Old Faithful and thermal pools.
Spend an afternoon with wildlife on an Elk Refuge Tour: a naturalist-guided sleigh ride through the National Elk Refuge.
Save the wait in lift ticket lines by reloading your J card online.
Jackson Hole is known for its extensive backcountry skiing; if it interests anyone in your group, consider booking a backcountry guide for the day to explore beyone the resort boundaries.
Keen to get started planning your group ski vacation? We can help you find the best deals here.