Monday, December 8, 2014

Skiing at the Westin Kierland


You may not think of us as a Christmas town but, more and more, Scottsdale’s got a lot to offer during the holiday season. There is Las Noches de Las Luminarias at Desert Botanical Garden, Sister’s Christmas Catechism at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and now, Family FunFest at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.

I had the opportunity to swing by the inaugural Family FunFest to check out the festivities. Upon entering the FunFest (which is out by the pool complex, making it feel legitimately cold), I was loaded up with wristbands for the all-you-can eat chili and s’mores bars and access unlimited activities. After a bit of convincing, I also opted in for the SnoPro, a ski simulator. Oh yes, you read that right – an actual ski simulator in Scottsdale, AZ. More on that (and my attempts to ski) later.

Family FunFest is filled with activities geared towards children three and older. You can snap a selfie with Santa, make holiday crafts, decorate cookies, ride a holiday train, watch a magic show and more. $10 will get you in to the FunFest and an additional $5 provides access to the s’mores bar, which includes coconut and oreo dipped marshmallows, dark chocolate and peppermint patties, plus all the usual fixin’s. Also available are holiday-inspired cocktails and the gourmet chili bar, with choices of Elk Tomatillo, Turkey or Vegetarian and about 15 different toppings.

Before I settled in with a cocktail that tasted like butterscotch candy and some yummy comfort food, I tried my skills on the SnoPro. It’s basically a slope with carpet rolling up it. When you are pointed downslope, the SnoPro gives you the feeling of skiing or snowboarding. Before hitting the “slopes”, you’re outfitted with skis or a snowboard and boots. Since my only attempt at snowboarding was nothing short of a disaster, I opted for the skis.

Once I was all suited up, I climbed up on the SnoPro. There was guided instruction throughout the 30-minute course, providing me with a fast-track of all the techniques I had forgotten since I last skied, which was sometime last decade. They taught me the snow-plow, how to move from side to side along the slope and provided continual instruction for my posture and performance. I was a bit nervous at first but was having lots of fun by the end.

If you decide to test out the SnoPro, plan to pay $25 for the first rider and $5 for each additional rider, up to four riders. As an added bonus, they throw in a $20 discount to a one-day lift ticket at Arizona Snowbowl. The sessions are 30 minutes each and, while that may sound short, it was about as much as my body could handle. One session is equivalent to one day on the slopes and, two days later, I’m feeling. My body is sore and I literally felt as if I had spent all day skiing. But, it was absolutely worth it; better than any crash course you could take at an actual ski resort. There are no bumps, other skiers, wet snow or chair lifts to contend with. Just you and pure, pristine carpet.

We finished off our evening by watching the 3-D Holiday Paintscaping Lightshow on the north side of the hotel, just outside the doors from the lobby bar area. This animated light show is set to music and is multiple stories high. Everything is holiday-themed, with elves scampering about, Santa flying across the sky and Christmas carols filling the speakers. Paintscaping is free and open to the public.

Be sure to swing by the Westin Kierland this month, and check out all of their holiday-inspired activities. PaintScaping takes places daily, every 30 minutes from 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. and the FunFest is open from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays between Nov. 28 and Dec. 20, 2014.

from Official Travel Site for Scottsdale, Arizona |


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