Cruizin Vail Resorts
have to admit it. Vail never did much for me. A little too foo-foo. Way too spread
out. Not a lot of ski culture. But, determined to revisit Vail, plus some of the
other Vail Resorts, I set out with an open mind to explore the family amenities
of these resorts. More info will follow - but here's a quick read on what I found.
Let me preface this by
saying, that though these resorts are all owned by Vail Resorts, each maintains
its own personality. Breck is way more freewheeling than Vail. Beaver Creek is
the ultimate in service. And my apologies to Keystone for not having the time
to visit. I'll just have to go back!
The first stop was Breckenridge
in Summit County. We arrived in the evening with a quick drive from DIA (Denver
airport). Settling in quickly to the slopeside Marriot, it was just a quick walk
into town. Ahh, Breckenridge town was ablaze with activity. It was the middle
of Ullr Fest where homage is paid to the mythical Norse God of Winter - Ullr.
Parades, Ullr costumes, ice sculptures, what fun! The town of Breckenridge is
so quaint, very western, and worthy of a visit at any time of year.
To the mountain! The Marriot
is slopeside right next to the super fast Quick Silver lift. Hop on that and exploring
is easy. We cruised the mountain, hitting all peaks (Peak 7,8,9 and 10). A bit
confusing, but each peak was like an area within itself. We found lots of cruising
terrain, well groomed, and great for families. For a challenge we hit the t-bar
to the top of Peak 7 - well not actually the top, but at 12,141 feet, it was a
far as I was going. The real challenge lies in hiking further up, way beyond treeline,
to get the awesome bowls from there. I was saving that for another
day (year, century). The center of activity for families is definitely Peak 8
- so it might make more sense to start from there. Kid's Adventure Zones, ski
school and lots of mellow terrain are accessible right from the bottom. More on
Breck coming soon.
Next up was Beaver Creek.
I had first visited Beaver Creek about 19 years ago. Their base lodge was a tent,
there was one hotel, and the skiing was awesome. A lot has changed, yet some remains
the same. I still love the skiing. Lots of vertical, impeccable grooming, and
such a great ambiance. Where else can you fumble around looking lost and have
a red coated host give you directions without asking? And cookies, and escalators,
its enough to spoil you for life. Speaking of spoiled, we stayed at The Charter,
semi-slopeside, and loved it. Our one bedroom was equipped with a full kitchen,
fireplace (wood too), and yet had the feel of a lodge or hotel. A quick walk to
the center of the village, you can ski back to The Charter at the end of the day
or take the shuttle if you prefer.
It's easy to explore Beaver
Creek. Lots of high-speed quads, several that dump you back at the village. Sort
theater in the round effect. The relatively new Bachelor Gulch area is perfect
for families to explore. Lots of green and blue terrain, you can also head over
to Arrowhead Village from there or get back to Beaver Creek Village. There's also
a picturesque cross country and snowshoe center at the top of the mountain. Beautiful
views, plus some incredible terrain that is certain to enhance these sports. Ahhh,
Beaver Creek has so many family amenities you'll just have to wait for the full
article. Excellent restaurants, European village feel, wonderful ski school, Kid's
Adventure Zones, and did I mention I want one of those new homes in Bachelor Gulch.
It was Super Bowl Sunday.
The Vail Village was deserted. And it was dumping. That nice kind of snow, where
the flakes are coming down hard and splaying on your jacket so you can examine
the snowflake's pattern. And lots of them. We wandered the village looking for
a place to eat. It was such a beautiful night that we made it all the way to Lionshead
and discovered the Kaltenberg Castle. What a trip. Giant screens, Bavarian beer
and great food. Giant's demise.
18" of prime Colorado fluff
came down over night. Big thrills. The mountain was socked in, but hey, that's
OK. Fresh tracks, lots of them. Blue Sky Basin - I think I was there. No friends
on a powder day but I did find a few people in the trees. One guy with a heavy
New York accent was flailing, but smiling. He said, "I feel like I'm ten years
old." That about says it all. Vail, revisited, had also brought me back to feeling
like a kid again. Playing in the snow. Laughing, with a frozen fingers and toes,
I do feel like a kid again.
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