At resorts, you don't have to ski

Does anyone actually go skiing anymore? The industry has reported a steady decline in skiing's popularity over the past decade (see graphic, page 20). Some have theorized that golf has replaced skiing as the current yuppie sport-of-choice (it's easier on the legs, though about as big a strain on the wallet).

Perhaps anticipating this trend, ski resorts have begun to diversify their offerings. This is good news for family members who once were forced to sit in damp lodges sipping vending-machine cocoa while their loved ones were out on the slopes. Now it's possible to have a fantastic vacation in the mountains without ever snapping on a pair of skis.

Moreover, even dedicated skiers sometimes want a break. "There are only so many hours in a day that people can ski," points out Vail's Kristin Yantis, in Colo. "People want a well-rounded vacation experience."

Winter-sports enthusiasts will find a number of choices available to them at most resorts. Ice-skating, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are common offerings. Vail even has miniature snowmobiles designed expressly for six- to 13-year-olds, as well as nightly "ski-biking" expeditions, and games of laser tag.

Another option is to hit resorts that have hosted (or will host) the Olympics. Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid, N.Y., has a bobsled run, a speed-skating track, and even a luge chute.

But for those who have little interest in these types of activities - or who would rather stay warm - most ski resorts present another enticing option: the spa. These have expanded dramatically in recent years, and many of them have a full range of services. You can sample a different massage each day - from conventional backrubs to "hot stone" massages - or try a variety of fitness classes, from yoga to spinning.

As an additional benefit, many ski resorts are also offering stepped-up childcare facilities, so parents can spend time on the slopes (or in the sauna). Of course, all these activities are at additional cost - but it's also possible to enjoy the spectacular views and crisp air, or read a book before a roaring fire, without spending an extra penny.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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