Crystal Mountain Resort near Traverse City, Michigan a jewel in winter, too
Hard as this is to write, I might have had more fun at a golf resort in freezing temperatures last week than under the summer sun last July.
There are a hundred or so golf resorts around the country that transform into ski resorts in winter. I’ve played golf at many of them … Beaver Creek and Keystone in Colorado and Boyne Mountain and Shanty Creek in Michigan to name a few.
But I’d never skied any of them until an eye-opening trip to the fabulous Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville, southwest of Traverse City in northern Michigan. I’d never seen this northern Michigan resort sparkle like a jewel in the snow before. I’m used to reveling in sun-drenched fairways on the resort’s two courses.
It was easy to see why Crystal Mountain has been named the No. 1 ski resort in the Midwest by a respected ski magazine. There were so many entertainment options my family ran out of time to try everything.
My children – ages 7 and 5 – are new to skiing. Thankfully the resort caters to all ages. The “bunny hill” is separate from the main ski area, allowing beginners plenty of time and space to hone their budding skills. My kids found the Crystal Carpet, a sort of hands-free escalator that people ride to the top of the hill, much friendlier to use than a tow rope. Riding the Crystal Clipper, the fastest ski lift in the Midwest, was a little too much stimulation for my children on the main hill. As they get older, though, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the chance to get a few more runs in because of its speed.
By the end of our three-day trip, my 7-year-old skied well enough to conquer a “more difficult” blue run and my 5-year-old amazingly survived the easiest green run all by herself. They can’t wait to go again. They even tried ice skating for the first time by renting a pair of double-bladed skates.
We spent our time off the hill lounging in our spacious, 3-bedroom Cottage at Water’s Edge watching the Winter Olympics snuggled up to a warm fireplace and sitting in the nearby outdoor hot tub. One night, we rode a horse-carriage with several other families through the darkness before ending with a bonfire, roasted marsh mellows and hot chocolate. A chance to go dog-sledding or swimming in the brand new fitness center will just have to wait for next time.
There’s a moral to the story here. Yes, Northern snowbirds like me crave a winter golf trip to warmer locales. But too often we forget about how good our local golf-and-ski resorts really are come winter, too.
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