Winter Vacationing for The Non-Skier at Keystone, CO
My first trip for 2014 was a bit of a whirlwind. After a bit of trouble getting out of New York due to weather, I made my way to Las Vegas for conferences…more on that soon.
I have to say that conferences are nice, speaking at them even nicer, and reconnecting with friends is the best, but I most enjoyed the latter part of my trip where I connected with family in LA and then with my husband and kids in one of our favorite ski areas: Keystone Resort.
It has been two years since I last visited the area with my family and a few things have changed. For one, I refused to get on skis this time around. I can’t say that I will never, ever get on skis again, but I have somewhat convinced myself that if it’s uncomfortable and not 100% enjoyable, I wasn’t going to do any of it. Unfortunately skiing has fallen into that category for the time being.
My husband and teen took to the slopes, while my children took to the ski school, and I was left to my own devices most of the time. You would think that my convictions would have me utterly bored at a ski resort, but it was quite the opposite.
It’s no secret I love the mountains and I managed to get in a lot of what I enjoyed, and made a list of other things I couldn’t get to for my next visit.
I spent a good portion of the morning riding the gondola up to the summit and indulging in taking photography of the landscape, which even on a cold, snowy day was a pretty view.
Gondola rides, snowmobiling, snow tubing, ice skating, and sleigh rides (including dinner sleigh rides) are just some of the many activities I had to choose from. As someone who really loves to hike, snowshoeing was a highlight activity for me. Our group was incredibly lucky in that we had one of the most beautiful days during our stay. We went a little over a mile and got to enjoy the many views expert skiers get to enjoy from the top before taking on a black diamond or two.
Then of course there’s the spa and fitness center. Most condo buildings in River Run Village, including the one we stayed in, have a small fitness center in the lower level. If you want a fuller spa and fitness center, visitors can take the free shuttle to Keystone Lodge and for a small fee (I paid $10 at the time of my visit) I was able to use the gym and all the spa facilities. I did this a couple of times and even enjoyed a wonderful spa treatment on another day during my stay. Getting a spa treatment is definitely something you want to make time for, whether it is for relaxation or treatment of sore muscles from all the outdoor fun.
Our condo had a full kitchen with all the necessary supplies to prepare food and dine. There’s a supermarket in River Run Village, perfect for stocking up. But if you don’t want to cook, the restaurants at Keystone are really great options. Some of my favorite eateries are in River Run. Kickapoo is a great pub food spot with large portions and awesome beers. Inxpot is a nice breakfast spot, as is Half Moon. The pizza place there delivers to your condo (just like home!) and for finer dining outside the village, the restaurant in Keystone Lodge is family friendly and delicious.
For those who want an even more high-end experience, Ski Tip Lodge is the place to be. The five-course set menu is such a wonderful treat. Not really a kid-friendly restaurant unless your children are a bit more adventurous eaters and great at restaurants of this caliber. My kids (7, 8, and 16) enjoyed the mussels and foie gras, as well as the jalapeño bread and lavender Crème brûlée. You can complement your dining experience there by requesting that your dishes be paired with the perfect wine in each serving. We’ve done this in the past, and it is really a wonderful treat.
Steamed Prince Edward Island mussels with homemade Boursin cavatelli, basil pesto cream, and divina roasted tomatoes. Good riddance to the “kids menu”. No such thing at Ski Tip Lodge’s restaurant.One of the things I enjoy the most about dining at the Ski Tip is retreating to one of their living room areas for dessert. There are several spots for post-dinner chatter, but the main one towards the front with the large fire place is our favorite.The lavender Crème brûlée has been a dessert choice since I first discovered the Ski Tip Restaurant, and still my first choice.
During our visit, our hosts at Keystone Resort provided my younger boys with ski lessons at Camp Keystone, opened year-round. I was nervous because though they have taken lessons in the past, it hasn’t always gone perfectly (my kids reacted from the altitude in a bad way last time we were in CO). But this time, they loved the school and enjoyed their instructors so much that they begged to go back, even over going snow tubing, so I paid extra for them. I mention this only to further emphasize how wonderful that entire experience was for my boys and for me. I can’t even describe the pride and joy in seeing my non-skiing children gain the knowledge and confidence in just a few days to go up a ski lift on their own and ski down a hill successfully. On their last day, even after their instructor had signed them to us, they kept skiing – we had to beg them to stop for dinner!
I also want to compliment and thank the instructors and staff at Camp Keystone. Their patience and understanding with my boys was far more than I ever expected from a ski school team and their knowledge in working with children really helped to propel my boys past fear and insecurity and towards confident, happy skiers. I am so incredibly grateful. It is worth every penny for those looking for ways to expose their children into snow sports while visiting the resort.
Something else that has changed since my last visit two years ago, is the expansion of the Kitopia program. When I last visited it consisted mostly of a huge ice fort (which is still there) and snow tubing, but now the program is made up of a series of events and activities for the entire family to enjoy.
We got to enjoy a night of painting and pottery in the new Kidtopia center (and were able to conveniently have all our items shipped to us afterwards).
As far as travel for 2014, I think we had a great first trip. I was able to enjoy a lot of what the resort offers, even as a non-skier, my boys were able to get past their insecurities and fall in love with the sport, and my husband and teen got to take in the mountains at their leisure.
I wanted to mention something else that happened during our visit that really helped to solidify our affection for Keystone. Towards the end of one of my husband’s ski days, he was terribly injured having torn his ACL and MCL. The speed with which he was picked up by the emergency crew from the slope and the level of attention and care he received at the clinic by the staff who tended to his injury really touched my heart. We received such wonderful attention not because I was there as media – actually, no one knew who my husband was affiliated with and we never wore our VIP badges when out and about so as to have the most authentic experience possible. When it comes to caring for my family, there is no doubt that any place that goes above and beyond expectations is guaranteed to seal itself in my heart forever.
We are home now recovering and waiting for treatment, but even with the injury my husband stated that beyond that, his experience there was a highlight for him.
I want to send a special thank you to the Communications team at Keystone Resort, Tucker Vest Burton and Laura Parquette, for their hospitality, but also for extending so much support and help after my husband’s accident, something we never expected nor requested and greatly appreciated. Thank you so much ladies. We are grateful for everything and had a wonderful time!
Photo courtesy of EpicMix a free app and service provided at Keystone Resort. Find out more at EpicMix.com
Next, we hope to visit during the warmer months, as I can’t get enough of the summers in the Colorado mountains, but have never actually been to Keystone during that time. You can read about my visits to other Colorado mountain visits to Beaver Creek and Vail.
As for the boys, they are hoping that a visit to Keystone and their sister resort Breckinridge is something we can turn into an annual excursion.
Till then, they’ll be practicing down the icy mountains of New Jersey.
All photography is property of GirlGoneTravel.com and may not be used without direct permission from the publisher. For more images please check out my Storify “Kicking off 2014 Travels at Keystone Resort“, a collection of my Instagram during our visit.
Disclosure: My family and I received a complimentary stay and amenities during our visit to Keystone Resort for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed here are my own.