It’s one word that will either bring a SQUEE of…EXCITEMENT or TERROR.
Excitement. Thinking about the mountain, the speed, and your ability to conquer it.
Terror. Thinking about the mountain, the speed, and your ability to fall on your behind.
I’ve been in both camps before. Let me explain.
I’m a Midwest girl. I was born and raised in Nebraska. I now live in Kansas. All during college, I would hear people talk about heading out to the slopes over winter break and enjoying the “fresh powder” of the Colorado mountains. So, my senior year, I went with my boyfriend and his family and attempted to learn to ski.
(Note: Never have your boyfriend or husband teach you to ski. It’s one of the surest ways to have a breakup.)
In a nutshell, I was awful, it was a rough weekend and I hated skiing.
Fast forward five years. I decided to give it another go…I went with my husband and our friends and tried to learn to ski again.
(Note: Husband did not teach me to ski. Good friend did.)
I had a wonderful time. It was great weekend. I loved skiing.
Now, I have two children under the age of eleven and we were contemplating going skiing as a family. And I worried. Would my kiddos have Experience #1 or Experience #2?
It’s tricky planning a family ski trip, especially if your little ones have never been skiing before. These were all sorts of questions racing through my mind as we planned…
- I love to ski. I want my kids to love skiing. But the thought of me teaching them is a sure-fire way for them to hate it. (See above comment about boyfriend/husband teaching you.) Is there a good ski school available?
- If they don’t like skiing, will there be other stuff to do to salvage the trip?
- Skiing is hard. How long will the kids last each day? Are the condos close, so we can have breaks throughout the day?
- Affordable. Of course I want all of the above, plus I want not spend a fortune to do it.
The answer, Keystone Resort.
Keystone Ski Resort Review
I’m happy to say, that our trip to Keystone Ski Resort was one of the best family vacations…EVER.
If you have questions/concerns like me, know that Keystone was able to solve every single one (and a few I hadn’t thought of before.)
Our accomodations were amazing. We stayed at The Springs Condos on the River Run side of the mountain. Our two-bedroom, two-bathroom full-kitchen condo was perfect. It was big enough to allow us to have family time and alone time. Also, while we didn’t drive to Keystone from Kansas City, the kitchen was fully equipped so we could have brought meals from home or shopped at the local grocery store in Dillon and avoided the cost of eating out.
And to top it off, our condo was super close to the River Run Gondola and Ski Lift, so while not technically ski and out, it was dang close.
In addition, there were several “common” areas including a heated pool, hot tub, billards area, home theater, and kid’s play area.
Hubs and DD spent every night in the hot tub…DD thought it was especially hilarious that her hair would always freeze. While DS and I always took in a game of pool in the recreation room. (He’s a pretty good shot, by the way.)
And the fact that it had a gas fireplace, means that I ended every evening like this…
Since neither of the kiddos had skied before (and we knew teaching them ourselves was a recipe for disaster), we chose to enroll them in ski school for two days. Let me just preface…it is an investment to send your kids to ski school. It was a $163 per child for a full day of instruction, lift ticket, snacks and lunch.
I’m so glad we chose to have the kids complete ski school. Not only did they get first rate instructors, but Hubs and I were able to have some alone time. We dropped the kids off every morning at 9:00 am and picked them up at 3:30 pm.
The instructors were first rate. Not only are they amazing skiers, but they dig kids. Our kids had best friends from the minute they walked into the door till they left for the evening. At Camp Keystone, there was a ski school area just for the kids, so they were able to practice skills like getting on and off the lifts, skiing using the “pizza” method, and stopping without the crowds (or the pressure) from normal skiers.
And at the end of the day, all of their information was loaded on to a Epic Mix hard-card. So that in the evening (or even next year) we can look back and see what level they completed in ski school, how many miles they have skied and what trails they have mastered.
After two days of school, the kids had made enough progress to be cleared for green runs on the “big” mountain….and they were EXCITED about it. Not scared. Not threatened. Not fearful….EXCITED and READY to tackle the mountain. So off to the Schoolmarm slope and family skiing we went. They were even so crazy about it, that we were able to night ski as well. (Keystone is one of the only mountains to offer both day and night skiing.)
Proximity to the slopes and transportation.
Keystone is one mountain with two main slope areas – River Run and Mountain House. While we stayed on the River Run side of the mountain, ski school was on the Mountain House side. Luckily, there is an awesome bus system that runs every 15 minutes and can take you WHEREVER you want to go in Keystone. Even better, it was just a short walk from our condo to the bus stop. This was incredibly convenient, because it meant we didn’t have to drive anywhere, map any destinations, or contend with parking. (And that was a good thing, because every night looked like this by 8:00 pm.)
Other First Rate Attractions.
First, Keystone prides itself on a being a more than just a ski resort…it is a family-friendly destination. It is all about the kids and making sure they are having a good time. Every day there are different FREE activities available through Keystone’s Kidtopia Program. FREE activities include snow forts at the top of the mountain, face painting, parades, fireworks, cookies and scavenger hunts. I’m mean, take a look at this snow fort. What kid wouldn’t think this was the bomb?
They also have other special activities like tubing, ice skating, snow shoeing, spa services, and signature dining at Der Fondue Chessel, Keystone Ranch, Alpenglow Stube, The Ski Tip Lodge, or Sleigh Ride.
We were able to have a special evening on the Sleigh Ride, as we toured the original homestead in the Soda Creek Valley. We traveled through the valley in a snow sleigh behind BEAUTIFUL and HUGE Belgian horses. It was an incredible to think of how the original homesteaders saw the valley and the beauty under the mountains and stars. We decided that night that Dad and kids would make it as homesteaders…mom would have preferred to live in town.
Skiing can be expensive. Period. That’s why it’s important to look at the whole picture before deciding where to go for a family vacation.
Besides the FREE kid-friendly attractions, the full-service condos, and the easy driving distance from Kansas City, Keystone is also offering Kids Ski FREE for the 2013 – 2014 season. To qualify, you must stay at least two nights in Keystone Resort Lodging and any kids in your party 12 years of age or under will receive FREE lift tickets. This makes it even more affordable for taking an extended weekend out to the mountains.
I could go on and on about our experience. It was truly one of the best vacations we’ve ever taken. But these words from my kids summed it up best…
“This was the best vacation ever, Mom. It was even better than going to Disney World. When can we go back?”
Yep, mission accomplished. My kids love skiing.
Disclosure: This was a media trip and many of the expenses were paid for by the folks at Keystone Ski Resort. However, it was not a free trip and there were expenses that were incurred by my family. With all of that being said, these opinions, pictures, and thoughts are my own. And because we had such a good time and our family loved skiing so much, we plan on going back again in December 2014. Want more information – check out my full full disclosure statement.