Waterville Valley's golden rule: Keep families happy. And that starts with the wallet. Kids ages 6-12 ski for $19 all season and ages 13 and up can join free instruction clinics. And for $41, Women's Wednesdays offers moms a lift ticket, free child care, a ski clinic and-bless Waterville-use of steam rooms, saunas and indoor pools at the athletic club. The resort also offers the "Threedom Pass," which includes nearby Loon and Cranmore ski areas. Waterville's varied terrain caters to the different ski abilities found in families. "Extremely long and varied runs. Challenging when bumped up, with a great beginner trail from the top," says one reader. "Consistently good grooming," comments another. Beginners enjoy their own runs and chairlift in the Lower Meadows. The Sunnyside Slopes provide expert skiers with moguls galore on a trio of black-diamond runs: Ciao, Gema and True Grit. The rest of Waterville Valley's trails are long, wide and tree-lined intermediate cruisers, perfect for group outings. There is no slopeside lodging because the resort is built entirely on National Forest land, which will save Waterville's peak-filled horizon from development. But about a mile down the access road, the village of Waterville Valley offers all the off-slope activities a family could want. Legends hops during après. Shops and restaurants dot the pedestrian-only town square. An athletic club, indoor ice-skating rink and nordic center are enough to keep all ages busy, making Waterville, as one reader says, "a good family destination resort."
WHAT'S NEW The Kid Series: Little Slammer Kids Park, a kid's scale halfpipe and free competition, including slopestyle, snowcross and prizes.
A GOOD DEAL Free "From the Summit Clinics" offered daily at 1:30 p.m. for upper intermediate and advanced skiers, ages 13 and up.
MEDALS GOLD Family Programs; SILVER Snow, Grooming, Terrain, Access, Lodging, Off-Hill Activities.
HIGH/LOW RANK Family Programs (10), Grooming (15), Access (15); Terrain (58), Challenge (59), Scenery (59).
DON'T MISS A moonlight cross-country ski tour leaving from the Nordic Center (110 km trail system through the White Mountain National Forest) in the village of Waterville Valley.
READER REMARKS (+) "Good cruisers." "Great for families. Park the car and leave it."
(-) "Lodge is small; parking lots, far." "Too crowded on weekends."