Parents’ Travel Guide: Vail Winter Family Ski Vacation
A little planning and a less-is-more approach can go a long way in making your family's winter vacation one to remember.
Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail is a beautiful alpine retreat in Vail Village, with everything you need located within just a short walk down a heated pathway. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding on vast Vail Mountain is what beckons. After all, Vail is the largest single-mountain ski resort in the U.S.—complete with the backdrop of the Colorado Rockies. But for those who don’t ski, there’s plenty more to choose from as well: ice skating, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and horse-drawn sleigh rides can all be easily arranged.
- Size and variety. Vail boasts great powder, 31 lifts and nearly 5,300 acres (2,145 hectares) of terrain, including huge bowls. There are hundreds of alpine and cross-country ski trails, plus 300 days of sunshine a year.
- World-renowned. Vail is the ultimate in alpine vacations.
- A resort that’s both luxe and family-friendly. For you, complimentary Mercedes-Benz SUVs for scenic drives. For the kids, suites have TVs in the bathroom mirror, so they can take a bubble bath in the deep soaker tub while watching a movie. (There are also in-room DVD players, plus a mini library of movies to rent available at the concierge desk.)
- Vail Village. The charming, Tyrolean-style pedestrian village is filled with eclectic shops, boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
- Service on the slopes. The Ski Concierge service eliminates the need to be burdened by anything. The staff does everything for you, so you can enjoy your mochaccino and hit the slopes with ease. And for kids, hot chocolate and muffins are always available.
What the kids will love
- The outdoor pool. Kids will love swimming in the Resort’s 75-foot heated outdoor pool, while snow gently flurries overhead. Afterwards, they’ll be wrapped up in a warmed towel and bathrobe to stay cosy.
- Kids For All Seasons. The kids’ club has plenty of toys and games to entertain, including pinball, a racecar game and Nintendo Wii.
- Goodies. They’ll be welcomed with toys from the front desk team, plus cookies and milk with the kids’ names written on the plate in chocolate.
- Tents in the room. These are so fun to play hide-and-seek or to curl up in with a book!
- Ice skating or bowling at nearby Solaris Village. Bol Vail is a stylish bowling alley with computerized scoring, comfy couches, and for mom and dad, a menu of shared plates plus a 100-bottle wine list.
What you will love
- The peace and quiet. It’s easy to forget the hustle and bustle; just let the serene beauty help you unwind and de-stress.
- The award-winning Spa. The Resort’s Spa offers indoor and outdoor co-ed relaxation lounges, spacious whirlpools, steam rooms and saunas. Enjoy a couple’s massage in a suite with a fireplace.
- Kids For All Seasons. Complimentary childcare for ages five and up—need we say more? The Resort also has ample babysitters available within short notice.
- Après ski. Who doesn’t love sipping cocktails by a roaring fire? Enjoy a glass of wine wrapped up with a luxe fur blanket on the terrace of Fireside Lounge, as you soak in the mountain views. (Try the mountain sushi or bison pot stickers with Pinot Noir mustard.)
Vail has an impressive collection of public art. While strolling the Village, be sure to notice the interesting sculptures scattered about—some in the least expected places.
At Flame, the Resort’s signature mountain steakhouse, kids five and under eat for free. Try the the Signature Short Rib with blue cheese bread pudding; or for breakfast, Bananas Foster Stuffed French Toast. Nearby Sweet Basil is also a favourite. Pepi’s Restaurant & Bar is a longstanding Vail tradition, with lots of Austrian specialties on the menu, such as Wiener schnitzel. To sample more regional Alps cuisine, be sure to order some traditional raclette (Swiss-style heated cheese) at Swiss Chalet. Bol Vail is great for cocktails and light bites, and don’t miss out on The Red Lion’s nightly live music for après ski or late night fun—for when you have a sitter, of course.
The Resort offers complimentary hot chocolate, complete with chocolate shavings and decadent whipped cream, or treat the kids (and yourself) to house-made chocolate moose lollipops from Flame. Poolside, enjoy snacks from the Sugar Shack, open daily from 3:00 to 5:00 pm, as you warm up by the fireplace. For a fun, traditional Québécois Canadian dessert, watch as an attendant pours hot maple syrup onto a trough of snow, where it hardens and can be rolled into lollipops. (Grown-ups can enhance this treat with sea salt or chili.)
5 family to-dos
1. Embrace the bears in Vail Village. Bears are the Vail mascot, and they decorate the Resort, too. There’s a giant stuffed teddy bear by Flame, and an outdoor wire sculpture of a mother bear and her two cubs. Ask the front desk about the bear scavenger hunt (kids can earn five stars for their ski helmet) and the bear-in-a-can stuffed animals. Moms, be sure to do a little shopping at The Golden Bear, a Vail institution; you’ll likely start to notice the local ladies wearing their iconic bear necklaces.
2. Fun in the snow. Go ahead and do it all: skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding and tubing. Vail Resorts offers skiing and snowboarding lessons, both private and group lessons for adults and children. Or, join a dog sledding guide who leads trips through the some of best trails in historic Camp Hale or down in Wolcott at 4 Eagle Ranch. Pair dog sledding in the afternoon with a sleigh ride dinner at the ranch.
3. Visit Adventure Ridge. If your kids are old enough (ideally, five or older), this is the place to go for active families. Here you’ll find tubing, ski biking, ice skating, a bungee trampoline and kid-size snowmobiles. Tip: The fun really picks up after dark.
4. The journey to Game Creek Restaurant. An experience in itself, a trip to Game Creek Restaurant involves taking a gondola and then riding a snowcat up to the secluded on-mountain restaurant.
5. Après ski for teens. At Four Seasons, mixers called the Epic Teen Après Ski, are a chance for young adults to mix and mingle, chat about their best runs of the day and win fun prizes. They can also check out a complimentary helmet cam to record their time on the slopes, and the Concierge will give them a DVD of their footage to take home—the perfect souvenir.