Last year we went to Alyeska for a 4 day ski vacation. This year when we started talking about Christmas break plans all the kids wanted to do was go back to Alyeska. We looked into plenty of housing options, tried to get some other families to go with us and split a house or condo rental, and finally ended up staying at Alyeska Resort again. Two free lift tickets per day for three days, plus free breakfasts four mornings tipped the balance and made it worth it to stay there rather than drive back and forth to a hotel in Anchorage.
Doug’s experience learning to snowboard last year was less than stellar so he decided to learn to downhill ski. He took lessons two days and felt ready to hit the slopes, despite never having been on downhill skis before. Denver took lessons a couple of days also, and advanced to the intermediate level for skiers. Aurora improved the most and her confidence level on her snowboard got a huge boost. Her instructor laughingly said, “I tried to make her fall but couldn’t!” taking her down some jumps. Aurora was thrilled to actually “get air” for the first time. Though I’d skied before I didn’t have a lot of confidence so I took lessons the first day and it helped give me some focus on what I need to do to improve my technique, as well as tips on how to conserve my energy so I don’t get tired so quickly. All of our lessons were worth the cost, though some of them would have been better had everyone in the group been at the same level.
The weather the day before we left was bitterly cold: single digits with a wind. By time we got to Alyeska it had warmed up to the 30’s and it was alternating snow, slush and rain. The first day was good snow; the second day was better since it cooled down enough for fresh snow overnight. Day 3 it was pouring rain. The kids had planned on lessons that day, and things proceed as planned despite pouring rain. Many parents opted out of skiing, but sent their little ones out for lessons. At 12:30 when lessons were over it was pouring rain and blowing so we opted for a run into Anchorage to do our shopping (Costco!). Finally, on the last day (we still had lift tickets left over since we hadn’t used them the day before) the kids and I skied. It was icy (the lift operators couched it nicely: fast!) and even the grooming hadn’t made it very nice so skiing wasn’t ideal, but we were still out there so the kids were happy. The cannons constantly booming and the rush of avalanches when they hit their mark was a little disconcerting (even hearing impaired me could hear them!), but everyone went about their business as usual so I figured we must be out of range.
There were a few sweet parts to our vacation. The second day we were there our breakfast vouchers were stolen out of our room. Security investigated, and the hotel willingly replaced them despite the statement in boldface on the front: Vouchers will not be replaced if lost or stolen. They were worth $80 so we appreciated their replacement. The day it was pouring rain Doug returned his ski rentals at noon. Normally they have to be returned within 24 hours of rental time in order not to be charged for the next day. When he requested a refund for that day they gave it to him without questions. That really earned our loyalty. They were little things that the resort could have been hard-nosed about, but they chose to consider our perspective. In doing so, we will consider returning and would recommend them to others.
Each day we ran into people we knew from around the state, so it was fun to feel part of the cozy Alaska community, which isn’t as cozy as it used to be, but still retains some of its small-town feel. Overall, it was a vacation to feel good about. We were talking about going to Hawaii for Christmas next year, but our kids are totally against it: “We want to go to Alyeska!” Such choices!