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Crystal Mountain in Any Season

Published in the Battle Creek Enquirer

We’ve stayed at the Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in every season and there is certainly a fun purpose no matter what time of year. Once snow flies, though, Crystal shows its prettiest face. Located in northern Michigan near Thompsonville, the resort offers many types of lodging, some 45 downhill slopes and several good dining choices.

This time we went with another family and choose to stay at a Mountainside Townhouse with five bedrooms and a ski in/ski out location (with a bit of a hike!). The townhouse was well equipped with three floors and big finished basement. The master bedroom had a lovely whirlpool tub. With five teenagers and one tween, we needed the extra rooms.

We’ve also stayed at Kinlochen, the Inn, Pinehurst Condos and Mountain Top. I said we’d been there in every season. Kinlochen was our favorite for its location at the bottom of the lifts and the Thistle Pub and Grille on the first floor.

Although we mostly cooked at the townhouse, we lunched at the Thistle. I love that the restaurant buys from local farmers, not to mention a macaroni and cheese to die for. Smoked turkey and pesto and the Mountain Burger were favorites.

Crystal also has bus service that freed the teens to go to the outdoor hot tub, indoor swimming pool and Peak Fitness Center.  Everything closes up tight at 9 p.m. though with few organized activities for young people.  When I mentioned this to the front desk, they politely told me that this was a family resort. Funny, my teenage daughter is part of our family.

The main event for everyone was skiing. It’s one of the few resorts where the rental ski boots are actually comfortable.  After a falling down afternoon for our novice snow boarders, we enrolled them in three back-to-back lessons. With small classes, they quickly got the hang of it. You wouldn’t catch me on a snowboard for love or money! The downhill runs were well groomed and mostly intermediate which for an occasional skier like me, were fine. The more discriminating skiers wanted more runs— the perennial lament of the black diamond skier!

I like Shelburg’s Chute and Hoot Owl, both longer runs on the Kinlochen side of the mountain. Little Vincent’s run got my blood pumping. After a hard day of skiing though, a visit to Crystal Spa was a one way to ease the knotted muscles. I didn’t feel even a little bit guilty leaving everyone else on the slopes

Like the restaurants, the environmental ethic of the resort was present at the spa as the only LEED certified spa in the Midwest (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  I opted for the Boot Relief Ritual, a fancy name for a pedicure with lots of extras. The foot and lower leg massage was amazing. It was our night to cook so I wasn’t able to sample any other services but as Arnold says, “ I’ll be back.”

On the night no one wanted to cook, we went to Mountainview Mobil, which houses, A. Papanos Pizza. The gas station also has a nice selection of wines in case you run out.

The resort got its start some 50 years ago as Bucks Hill. The same family has owned it since 1981. It’s grown from a two rope tows and a warming hut to a year round resort with 36 holes of championship golf and a 4,500 square foot water park. There is something to do at Crystal Mountain in any season.

If you go:

Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa

A. Papanos Pizza

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