This winter was the year that my daughter Jacqueline, girlfriend Stacia and my girlfriend’s son Makaya all started enjoying snow sports. Ten year old Jackie and twelve year old Makaya took some snowboarding lessons and Stacia started up skiing. A long time avid skier, I was excited for them to all learn their desired modes of making it down snow covered mountains. So I could be in learning mode too, I actually started learning how to snowboard, which is something I never thought I would do.
As a nice end to what turned out to be a good snow season, I decided to plan a spring break trip to Mount Bachelor Resort, just outside of Bend, Oregon. Mt. Bachelor has an excellent reputation as a fantastic, family friendly resort, with great snow conditions and excellent terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders. It surpassed all expectations.
We were very fortunate to be able to drive one of the best ski vehicles on the market – a 2014 Toyota 4Runner. The model we took to Oregon was a Limited 4×4 V6, which was super comfortable, well-appointed (I especially liked the heated and leather trimmed seats) and has a great design for a road trip. It comes standard with a JBL Audio touch screen system with navigation and apps, and includes Bluetooth, USB and HD radio capabilities. Although we did not make the opportunity to use them, another cool feature was that the 4Runner Limited had both 12 volt and 120 volt power outlets in the back. Super convenient and well thought out.
A few days before we left, Jacqueline got sick and was unable to go, but the rest of us were all very much looking forward to going and were excited for a great trip.
On the morning we were to leave, Stacia, Makaya and I packed all our gear in the 4Runner. Within moments, I had synched up my iPhone to the navigation system via Bluetooth technology and we were DTR (down the road). The drive to Bend from Bellevue is usually between five and six hours depending on which way you go, how fast you drive and of course traffic.
Since we weren’t due to check into the beautiful Oxford Hotel in Bend until 3pm, we weren’t in a real hurry and decided to drive east on I-90 to Yakima before heading south on US 97 into Bend. We timed it right so that we could experience Yakima’s Miner’s Drive-In for lunch. It was pretty tasty – with super huge portions. Both Stacia and Makaya had to take to go bags with leftovers that served as mid-afternoon snacks.
Once we got to Bend, we drove around town a bit to try to get our bearings and enjoy the scenery. We then made our way to downtown Bend to check into The Oxford Hotel. Once at the hotel, we were greeted by a very friendly concierge, and got to meet Sales Manager Ali Ward and General Manager Gregg Harper. They were all very kind and wanted to make sure that we got checked in quickly and enjoyed our stay. It was readily apparent that the entire staff at The Oxford Hotel is very friendly and attentive.
The Oxford Hotel in Bend is a boutique hotel and offers 59 large and luxurious suites. Besides providing luxury accommodations and first rate service in the heart of downtown Bend, The Oxford also takes great pride in being an Eco-Friendly Hotel. They used sustainable building materials during construction of the property and have an ongoing commitment to reducing their carbon footprint through the use of a long list of environmentally friendly operation practices.
After check-in, we went up to our room, which was a very nice King Suite, with kitchen and a balcony looking out over Minnesota Avenue. Our room also had two flat screen tvs – one in the bedroom area and another in the kitchen / living area. The king sized bed was a Natura green mattress and there was a super comfortable Tempur-Pedia sofa sleeper in the living area. One thing I had never seen at any other property was a full menu of specialty pillows! The Oxford Hotel obviously wants their guests to be extremely comfortable – and indeed we were.
During our stay in Bend, we were able to choose from a wide variety of dining options – including the 10below Restaurant & Lounge, which is located right in the lower level of The Oxford Hotel. 10below serves “Urban Organic” cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and guests at The Oxford Hotel can enjoy dining in their own rooms if desired, although the ambiance in the restaurant is very inviting and comfortable. 10below Executive Chef Ingrid Rohrer-Downer uses local and northwest suppliers and provides a menu that changes seasonally. I fully recommend trying the Oregon Ribeye Steak, or the Fish of the Day – they are both always delicious!
After a great dinner, we took a walk around town and found that we were just a few short blocks from the Deschutes River, Drake Park and Mirror Pond (namesake of the Deschutes Brewery’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale). We walked along the river for a bit, before heading back to turn in early in anticipation of enjoying the slopes of Mt. Bachelor in the morning.
Waking the next morning, well rested and anxious to ski and board, we packed up the Toyota 4Runner early and headed towards Mount Bachelor. Bachelor is just about a 30 minute drive from downtown Bend. The road the days we were there was bare and dry, the weather was beautiful and we enjoyed the scenic drive in the 4Runner (but didn’t get the opportunity to use the 4Runner’s 4 wheel drive).
We got up to the resort just as it was opening for the day, got our lift tickets and then headed over to the Mount Bachelor Demo Shop to pick up some gear. Many ski resorts I’ve been to have some sort of shop to pick up gear and souvenirs, but most pale in comparison to what is offered at Mt. Bachelor. There was a vast array of clothing and equipment available – with great selection and decent prices. The gear offered at both the rental and demo shops covered the spectrum, but what sets them apart is the people working in these shops. They were all so very knowledgable and kind. It was obvious that they really cared about the people they were serving and wanted us to have a completely enjoyable time on the slopes. This really set the tone for a couple of days of excellent skiing and snowboarding!
After Stacia and I got outfitted with skis, poles and boots and Makaya got his snowboard gear, we stepped outside to figure out where to go. Just next door to the rental and demo shops was a large lodge with the Pine Marten Express lift directly out front. Because Stacia and Makaya were still beginners and we wanted to get comfortable with our demo gear, we ventured off to the left towards the Sunshine Accelerator that took us up an easier slope.
One of the best things about Mount Bachelor is that they have a widely varied terrain that people of all skill levels can enjoy. They really cater to families like us, who are in different stages of skiing and snowboarding. Later in the day, after I switched to snowboard gear, we were able to explore more lifts and trails, and a lot more of the mountain.
The next day I was able venture to the top of the mountain on the Summit Express a couple of times – even as a new snowboarder. Mount Bachelor Ski Resort makes it possible for even an intermediate skier or snowboarder to enjoy the amazing views from the Summit – and then choose an easy or more challenging course down the hill.
Both days on the slopes of Mt. Bachelor, we enjoyed nearly perfect spring conditions – sunny, warm and lots of perfectly groomed runs. One thing we learned on our first day at the resort, is that we initially dressed too warmly. We didn’t need to wear our ski jackets with a bunch of layers and before the first hour was up … The next day we dressed much smarter and more comfortable.
We also learned that many people move to Bend or nearby Sunriver so that they can enjoy the excellent skiing and snowboarding offered at Mt. Bachelor for six plus months each season. Thousands of others visit Bend, Sunriver and Mt. Bachelor and Central Oregon in the spring and summer to take advantage of great weather, fantastic scenery and fun events, like concerts, festivals and wine tastings.
Bachelor or “Batch” as many locals call it, is also a great place for skiers and snowboarders of all ages to learn. An unique attribute we have for kids/beginners is that fact that the resort operates off the top of a dormant volcano; where the steeper/advanced terrain is located off the summit with the ability to ski/ride 360 degrees in any direction, with the lower lifts and slopes benching out as you decrease in elevation, which lends to a very consistent pitch and lends to an ideal learning experience. They also have a lot cool, family friendly events to enjoy while you are up there.
Mt. Bachelor Resort is currently in the middle of their Springtacular, in which they sell a super discounted Spring Season Pass that is good from March 31st through the last day of the season (tentatively set for May 25th this year). You’ll save money on the daily ticket rate if you plan to ski or ride just 3 days before the end of the season, so it is a real good deal.
I’d fully recommend taking your family or significant other to Bend and Mt. Bachelor for a great ski / snowboard vacation during spring break, winter time fun or anytime you can get away. To ensure it is an epic trip, book your stay at The Oxford Hotel – and get there in comfort and style in your 2014 Toyota 4Runner.
Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort
13000 SW Century Drive
Bend, OR 97702
The Oxford Hotel
10 NW Minnesota Avenue
Bend, OR 97701
Find a Dealer at:
2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $43,400. The model we drove was listed at $47,350 with upgrades, delivery processing and handling fee.
The EPA Fuel Economy is rated at 18 miles per gallon overall, with 17mpg in the city and 21mph on the highway.
Joe “The Connector” Kennedy is a travel enthusiast and freelance writer who can easily be found online or at JoeConnector.com.