South Lake Tahoe Ski School Smackdown - 510 Families

South Lake Tahoe Ski School Smackdown

What are the main differences between South Lake Tahoe Ski Schools at Heavenly Resort and Sierra-at-Tahoe? Can a parent figure this out before shelling out hundreds of dollars? Let us share our research with you! I interviewed my good friend, Raphe, father of two in Berkeley to get his experience. Please add yours to the comments below.

South Lake Ski School smackdown: Heavenly vs Sierra-at-Tahoe

How do you decide if a ski school is “worth it”?

I think there are two metrics to think about:

  1. The kids’ experience (duh). (a) Do they enjoy it and (b) do they learn anything? Actually, the enjoyment part is probably most important, because if it’s fun, they want to do it more – and so they learn over time.
  2. The logistics — i.e., the parents’ experience. Some places make it quick and easy to drop off the kids and get your own butt on to the slopes, others have lots of waiting and lines. This may seem kinda whiny, but you end up paying hundreds of dollars to get lift tickets and rent equipment and stuff for the day, and it sucks to lose part of that day waiting around.

How would you compare the ski schools at Heavenly and Sierra-at-Tahoe?

South Lake Ski School smackdown: Heavenly vs Sierra-at-TahoeSki Heavenly ski school

We have been several times, and kid lessons are almost always good on both metrics. Kid drop off is easy and smooth, and only requires one line because the instructors take the kids and get them whatever equipment they will need while you scamper off to have your own fun. My kids have mostly enjoyed the lessons. Accounts are sketchy (because they come from my kids), but the success may be due either to a well-organized day or to lots of hot chocolate. Probably both.

Heavenly is expensive in all regards, including the ski lessons, but in my experience you get what you pay for, at least.

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Sierra-at-Tahoe kid ski lessons

We just went to Sierra-at-Tahoe this year for the first time. The lessons were pretty unpopular with the kids, for reasons never completely made clear. I suspect they weren’t well organized; the sketchy kid reporting seems to suggest a lot of downtime and groups of skiers not well-matched by ability. I also heard the hot chocolate machine was busted.

Logistics were not great, either. On the plus side, equipment was included in the price of lessons. On the minus side, that didn’t prevent a bunch of waiting around. The school instructions asked us to show up at 8:30 to sign the kids in, which we dutifully did, but then it turned out that we couldn’t actually leave the kids at school until 9:30. (Someone told us that the idea was for the parents to take the kids for a ski run before school starts, but that’s ridiculous. The check-in wasn’t a super-long process, but it took some time, and then most adults have to rent their own skis, and that takes some more time; you could never fit everything into an hour.) So, there was almost an hour of milling about with antsy and slightly stressed-out children. Pick-up was surprisingly time-consuming and difficult, too, including a very long process to deposit the kids in a Quonset hut where they were supposed to return their gear, but from which they didn’t emerge for what felt like hours.

Sierra had some advantages in pricing, but not as much as I might want for the subsequent complaining.

Have you checked out these South Lake Tahoe ski schools with your kids? Let us know what you experienced!

[Photo credit Raphe Goldman, all rights reserved]

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