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  • Cruizin Vail Resorts

    By Tammie Thompson

    Photo courtesy Vail Resorts/Dann CoffeyI 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 anothPhoto courtesy Vail Resorts/Jack Afflecker 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 of aPhoto courtesy Vail Resorts/Jack Affleck 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. Dream on.

    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.

    More on Vail Resorts to come.

    Don't wait, book your trip now here .

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