Resort Spotlight:  New Jersey’s Crystal Springs Resort

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

East Coast families looking to hit the slopes for some great family skiing and winter adventures need look no further than northwestern New Jersey to find a great winter family travel destination. Families from the New York metropolitan area who plan a quick weekend family vacation getaway after school’s out can check into one of Crystal Springs Resort’s lodging options and be on the slopes for some of Mountain Creek’s all–mountain night skiing before the sun sets.

Within the last few years, the addition of a number of family attractions and resort accommodations has made Crystal Springs Resort/Mountain Creek a family vacation destination with something to excite every member of the family. The property’s convenient location is a real plus as well. We visited this family vacation destination recently and were impressed with all it has to offer.

Great Skiing and More

Because Crystal Springs Resort offers so many options in addition to Mountain Creek’s 44 trails across four mountain peaks and a collection of terrain parks with 67 dedicated freestyle acres, families will experience a fun–filled getaway with endless activities. What activities, you ask? One favorite is the Drop Zone Snow Tube Park – believed to be America’s largest snow tube center – with 30 tubing lanes totaling six miles of runs. Check out the “Family Tubing Session,” offered on Fridays from 4 to 7 p.m., for a great deal on this family activity.

Family members yearning for some thrills will gravitate to the Zoom Zipline course, with 4 ziplines stretching from 200 feet to 1,500 feet long. We experienced the two–hour tour and loved the adrenaline rush of soaring high across a mountain–top lake while suspended on a cable. Zoom uses a seat–like harness that provided an added sense of safety. Our guides were experienced and enthusiastic as they led us through the zipline course.

Families will also enjoy the excitement of the Alpine Mountain Coaster, a cross between an alpine slide and a twisting roller coaster and the Soaring Eagle, a family–friendly attraction that creates the sensation of flying while soaring down the mountainside on a suspended cable.

A Variety of Lodging Choices

The fun doesn’t end on the mountain at this resort destination. Once the family returns to their lodgings, a variety of fun activities awaits. With three superb choices, the lodging accommodations here are enticing. The newest and most upscale lodging choice is the luxurious Grand Cascades Lodge. The big family attraction here is the tropical Biosphere pool complex. With free–form heated pools (including an outdoor, all–season pool), a spacious grotto–like hot tub, the twisting 140–foot water slide, and a cave–themed steam room and sauna – all in a lush tropical setting, families might even skip the trip to the slopes just to enjoy the warm and relaxing atmosphere. The Biosphere’s unique retractable roof, which allows tanning year round even when the roof is closed, creates an extraordinary outdoor effect.

Parents may also enjoy some pampering with the rejuvenating treatments and soothing atmosphere offered at Reflections, Grand Cascades’ luxurious spa. Guests always look forward to the pampering provided before and after their treatment.  Chocolate truffles, a glass of champagne and a foot soak awaited after a recent treatment, for example.

Dining at Grand Cascades is a world–class experience at the restaurant Latour and the award–winning Wine Cellar. The less formal Springs Bistro and the upscale–pub inspired Crystal Tavern offer wonderful dining choices and are great for families. While enjoying a great meal at the Crystal Tavern one evening, we noticed that most of the tables were occupied by families.

Other Crystal Springs lodging choices include The Appalachian and the Minerals Hotel, both located within steps of the ski lifts. With ski–in ski–out accommodations, four–season outdoor pool and hot tubs, family game room and family movie nights, The Appalachian is perfect for families wanting to enjoy their vacation and get to the slopes quickly.

Located next door to The Appalachian is Mountain Creek’s main base lodge, the Red Tail Lodge, which houses a number of dining choices, including a superb restaurant, the Hawk’s Nest. This more intimate gourmet restaurant offers great views of the mountain slopes and base area. As we sat by a roaring fireplace, we enjoyed a fabulous meal while watching the skiers and riders making their way down the mountain. All dining options at this lodge are family–friendly.

The third choice of hotel stays, Minerals Hotel, is also great for families because of its multi–faceted Mineral Sports Club, which has 7 indoor/outdoor heated pools, indoor tennis and racquetball, massive fitness center, indoor running track, daily fitness and yoga classes (offered free to guests), indoor basketball court, steam rooms and saunas, and a variety of children’s programs. Minerals is also home to Crystal Springs’ other award–winning spa, Elements.

Four Seasons of Family Fun

Crystal Springs is a four–season resort, so the fun continues when the snow melts and the lifts stop toting skiers and riders. Golf enthusiasts will find seven world–class courses, many of which are great for families. Minerals Golf Course features 4–seater golf carts, junior tee boxes, oversized cups for kids, and weekend family golf tournaments.

In addition to the continued operation of the Zoom Ziplines course, the Soaring Eagle and, the Alpine Mountain Coaster, Mountain Creek operates its Bike Park. Here, families will find something for riders of every ability level. Crystal Springs Adventure Center offers the family more outdoor adventure with both on–site and off–site activities such as horseback riding, kayaking and canoeing, family hiking and trail biking, as well as hot–air balloon rides, airplane and helicopter tours, and skydiving.

During the summer months when the temperatures really begin to rise, Mountain Creek Water Park’s 70 acres of white water fun will thrill families with more than 30 different rides, slides and attractions. The newest attraction is the world’s tallest, double–looping water slide. Minerals Sports Club’s outdoor pools and Kids’ Splash Area give the family a great chance to cool off and continues to offer its wide arrangement of fitness and recreational activities.

For more information about all of the family–friendly offerings at Crystal Springs Resort, visit their website at www.crystalgolfresort.com.

If You Go:

  • Getting around to the three resort hotels, base areas, and recreation facilities is easy with Crystal Springs’ free shuttle service.
  • Ski & Stay packages are available at each of the resort’s lodgings. Check the resort’s website for rates and availability.
  • Capture your zipline experience on video by renting a Go Pro camera with Zoom Ziplines. Check their website at www.zoomziplines.com for information about Go Pro rentals as well seasonal specials and family passes.
  • Snowboarders looking for a more intense, yet fun–filled learning experience may want to check out the High Cascade Snowboard Camp, a joint venture of Mountain Creek and the Mt. Hood (Oregon) snowboard camp. Incorporating all the fun, coaching, and camp experience found at Mt. Hood, Mountain Creek is excited to offer this experience at its South Peak area. Check the Mountain Creek website for more details including camp dates.
  • Be sure to check the list of “Resort Activities Suggestions” for some special kids’ activities such as Kids Ballet Class and Kids Hip Hop & Tumble, available at no charge.

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