Top Photography by Tomas Cohen
I’m going to shake the boat a little bit in today’s article. Reid and I will take a ski trip to the mountains over a trip to Disneyland any day. Yes, it’s true! For those diehard Disney goers, feel free to blast me in my comments below…kindly though. But here are my thoughts. Skiing is a great way to be active, learn something new, improve at a sport, challenge ourselves physically, face our fears, encourage each other…I can go on and on. Skiing is good for families.
When we plan our ski vacation we always pick Vail. For us personally, it’s centrally located for Reid’s parents who meet us there. We fly from the west coast and they drive from the midwest. They love the opportunity to see the kids ski and help us by babysitting Levi so I can ski. If you have grandparents who don’t ski, you need to know Vail offers free scenic gondola rides after 3:30, so the grandparents can join the kids on top of the mountain, watch them ski and then grab hot chocolates at Bistro Fourteen.
We flew Southwest Airlines from Burbank to Denver. Southwest is one of the few airlines that has bags fly free and with snow gear, and we knew we’d have a lot of bags. We got into Denver late afternoon and by the time our shuttle picked us up, the sun was down and we missed the scenery. When you book your trip, make sure to get to Denver no later than 1:00 pm. It’s a two-hour drive from Denver to Vail and the sun goes down around 5:00 pm.
Vail has world-class skiing and attracts people from all over the world. Vail has amazing restaurants like Flame (our favorite) and Standard. Also, the streets are heated, so you don’t really have to slosh around in your boots to explore the town. Where were heated streets when I was a kid? They also have free transportation that will take you from one side of Vail to the other.
We recommend ski lessons for the kids to get reacquainted with their skis and learn mountain etiquette. Secretly, Reid and I wanted to run off together and ski alone while they were in school. We met up with them for lunch and then did some runs with the ski instructor and the kids in the afternoon before I had to run off and feed Levi. You can book ski lessons online or even the day of. They offer private, semi-private or group lessons. With the four kids, we chose a private group lesson. Be aware though, you can’t mix snowboard lessons with ski lessons.
Besides skiing, we also took the kids to Adventure Ridge at the top of the Lionshead Gondola. Adventure Ridge offers snow biking, an alpine coaster and snow tubing. The kids chose snow tubing so while I stayed home with Levi and ordered room service, Reid took the kids tubing. Very much a highlight for the kids.
The final day we were blessed with lots and lots of snow! We almost got up early enough to make first tracks. It was beautiful skiing with the snow falling and we skied the morning together as a family. With the fresh powder, the kids were able to take on the blue runs with no problems. Even our five year old was taking them on. Can I remind you how cute kids are skiing? Making fresh tracks in the powder was a great way to end our day…even though we didn’t really want it to end.
If you are curious, we stayed at Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail. Our place had two bedrooms, a spacious living room with a pullout couch, a well stocked kitchen, 2 bathrooms, a powder room and convenient washer/dryer. The hotel staff was friendly and helpful and provides shuttle service anywhere you need to go. I went downstairs to order a quick bite to eat while the older kids were tubing and the staff brought it up shortly to my room. Reid and I loved the gym area. We got to try the new Pelaton bikes. If we were brave enough, I would love to try the hot tub and heated pool. Funny enough, our kids jumped in and quickly begged for warm towels and blankets. Oh to be a kid!
Eat Little Diner (breakfast) Mountain Standard (dinner)
Flame (steak dinner)