The people who run Crystal Mountain are masters of the "resort tweak." As one reader puts it, "This is a small resort that maximizes its assets; they get the details right." On the hill, Crystal uses every inch of terrain to its utmost potential. Loki, Thor and Nose Dive are a dandy trio of yard-sale black diamonds. Buck compares with any intermediate slope in Michigan.
Main Street gives novices a half-mile cruise. And Totem Park is perhaps the most innovative learn-to-ski center in the Midwest. Two years ago, eight additional runs on The Ridge, off the backside, were opened, bringing the total number of trails to 34. "What brings us to Crystal are the family programs and excellent learn-to-ski packages," notes one reader. This is one of the few resorts in the country where skiers can find ski-in/ski-out lodging at both the base and the summit. At the bottom, the Inn at the Mountain, Peaks Pool and Fitness Center, and an array of condos and chalets, offer a variety of accommodations. Crystal's new Mountain Top Townhomes are a luxurious addition at the top of Giggles ski run. At Totem Park, children not only receive ski instruction, but also information on the area's ecology and birds of prey. Toddlers have Pooh's Corner, built to scale for tiny skiers. Adult first-timers make parallel turns within their first lesson, thanks to Crystal's Guaranteed Easy Turns program. And this season the rental department will offer women-specific equipment.
If there's been a knock on Crystal in the past, it's the lack of dining and shopping. Not to worry¿this year a new restaurant, the Little Betsie Bistro, will open, featuring pizza, specialty coffees and family meals. This spring, construction begins on a new clubhouse that will be the southern anchor in a new base village development, which when completed will include retail shops, eateries and more slopeside lodging.
WHAT'S NEW Crystal Mountain Crystal Glide Finish Center will open for ski tuning and waxing.
A GOOD DEAL Family Value Days, $79 per adult for nightly midweek lodging and lift ticket, plus up to three kids 18-and-under sleep and ski free when sharing accommodations with two adults.
HIGH/LOW RANK Family (3), Service (4), Lodging (4); Terrain (17), Challenge (17), Access (26).
DON'T MISS A snowshoe trek into the 30-acre Michigan Legacy Art Park located on the Crystal property; Third Annual Jiggle Jump (into a pool of Jello) on March 18.
READER REMARKS (+) "Price is right; best terrain in Michigan south of the U.P." (-) "Too many beginners; lack of steeps."