By Elizabeth Kang

This could be the year the family (finally!) learns to ski. And why not? This winter may be one of the best ski seasons yet.

Sure, it’s going to feel a little different with Covid-19 precautions in full effect, but Kirkwood Mountain Resort has been preparing for these changes for months, and the process will be more streamlined and better than ever. With fewer people on the mountain, contactless transactions, and cozy condo-style suites equipped with full kitchens, Kirkwood is the perfect resort to plan a fun-filled family ski getaway full of fresh, white powder and warm, lasting memories.

What’s great about Kirkwood is its suitability for beginners, advanced skiers, and anyone in-between. Beginners have access to one of the best ski schools around, and the “bunny” runs are totally separate from the more advanced ski runs, (so your four-year-old won’t be getting plowed over by a black-diamond daredevil.) Advanced skiers love it too for its steep, rowdy terrain and relaxed vibes — Kirkwood is less known for its après ski scene and more known for its actual skiing.

The mountain gets a ton of beautiful fresh snow, thanks to its high base elevation of 7,800 feet, and the ski slopes face north, which is said to keep the snow fresher and more plentiful. Kirkwood is also closer in distance to the Bay Area than Tahoe resorts are, (which is always appreciated when driving with impatient kids in the car.) The resort is secluded, cozy, and casual. It’s a great place to ski or snowboard with the family.

Covid-19 Precautions

Kirkwood management and staff have been working tirelessly to comply with new Covid-19 safety standards and to make sure their guests enjoy a seamless and safe ski season. Here are some of the new rules they’ve put into place to help ensure guest safety:

*Reservations are required to ski. (Pass holder will enjoy priority access.) Reservations can be booked online at kirkwood.com. Tickets go on sale December 8th.

*Face coverings will be required in all indoor areas, while riding the courtesy shuttle, while in line for the chairlift and gondola, and wherever social distancing is not possible.

*All transactions will be cashless, including at the hotel, in the rental areas, in the restaurant, and at the Ski & Ride School.

*Social Distancing will be maintained on the mountain, including on the chair lifts. (Single riders will ride just two at a time seated on opposite sides of a four-person lift.)

*Relaxed cancellation policies have been put into place so that guests are able to obtain a full refund if cancelling reservations at least 48 hours before arrival.

Ski Lessons

Kirkwood offers a fantastic selection of ski and snowboard lessons at its family friendly Ski and Ride School. Here, children, teens and adults can choose to join a group lesson for a half or full day, or a private lesson for a half or full day. A family of up to six people can enjoy the personalized attention of a private lesson with one of Kirkwood’s friendly and competent ski or snowboard instructors.

The world-class ski instructors at Kirkwood teach ski basics and safety first. Once beginners are comfortable with the basics of riding down the small and private gentle slope of the ski school area, the instructors move on to learning to ride (and get off) chairlifts with ease and comfort, as well as riding down the bunny slope.

With just one full day lesson or two half-day lessons, families can reasonably expect to be proficient enough skiers to be out enjoying the bunny slopes on their own. (Ski lessons include mountain passes, so once a lesson is over skiers can still go out on their own to ski some more.)

Lodging

Most of the lodging options at Kirkwood Mountain Resort comfortably accommodate both small and larger families, with spacious condo-style suites, luxury townhomes, and airy lodges that include all of the comforts of home. There is a surprisingly expansive variety of lodging options to choose from at Kirkwood, from ski-in ski-out suites to large, three-bedroom townhomes

The Sentinels — These are 1,500-square-foot, two-bedroom luxury townhomes with full kitchens, private 1-car garages, and washer and dryers, just a quick walk or shuttle-ride to the slopes. Great for medium to larger families who enjoy privacy and plenty of space and comfort.

Timber Ridge — These three-bedroom townhomes are perfect for large families or groups, and are conveniently located right in the middle of the action, walking distance to the Village Center dining and shopping. These 2,200-square-feet townhomes boast gourmet kitchens, washers and dryers and private two-car garages.

Snowcrest Lodge — The slope-side luxury condos at Snowcrest Lodge offer the upmost convenience and comfort. Families can choose between one, two or three-bedroom residences with full kitchens, gas fireplaces, and underground parking.

The Mountain ClubThe Mountain Club offers mountain access at its best, with skiers able to ski right from their door. The accommodations here range from hotel-style rooms with two queen beds to spacious one or two-bedroom condos with kitchens. Amenities here include an outdoor hot tub, a sauna and steam room, ski lockers.

The Meadows — Perhaps the most popular lodging, The Meadows are centrally located one or two-bedroom condos just a short walk or shuttle ride to the ski lifts or Ski and Ride School. These budget-friendly accommodations include full kitchens, an indoor hot tub, wifi, and more.

Dining

With most of the accommodations at Kirkwood equipped with full kitchens, dining as a family is easy, convenient and cost efficient. Head over to the nearby on-property general store to pick up groceries to whip up meals in your suite, or purchase easy grab’n’go items like breakfast burritos, slices of pizza and sandwiches. Don’t forget the craft beer and local wine!

For delicious pizza and a family friendly atmosphere, head over to Cornice Pizza, or order a poke bowl and cocktail at Wall Bar. Craving something green? Monte Wolfes offers a nice selection of salads and grain bowls, as well as taqueria favorites and kid-friendly grub such as hot dogs, mac n cheese, and burgers.

*Due to efforts to reduce crowds and adhere to new capacity limits, dining on the mountain will be limited to pre-packaged food options (no hot food.) Guests are encouraged to bring their own water and snacks while skiing or boarding to avoid waiting in lines for the quick-service restaurant.

During this upcoming winter, there’s no better resort to learn (or re-learn!) to ski and board than at Kirkwood Mountain Resort. In under a three-hour trip, families can enjoy a winter wonderland of sparkling, fresh powder and luxurious accommodations where they can spread out or cozy-up. While many trips have been put on hold this year, a memorable ski trip doesn’t have to be one of them. Hot chocolate, a cozy fireplace and plenty of downhill fun awaits at Kirkwood Mountain Resort.