The great state of Colorado is a skier’s dream with epic conditions, varied terrain, and a long list of ski resort options for all abilities and interests. Selecting the right ski resort for a winter family vacation takes a bit of legwork to ensure it will meet the needs of every person in the family (see How to Find the Best Family-Friendly Ski Resort for my list of critical things to consider).
I visited Keystone, Colorado this month and although it’s still pre-season, I can see why so many families opt for this resort over others. We’ve skied at over 15 different resorts as a family in California, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Switzerland, and France; now, I’m adding Keystone to my bucket list. Here’s what captured my attention:
River Run Village
I’m showing my cards here. While I love to ski, I’m all about the full experience, not just the quality of the ski terrain. Ski resort development has gone haywire over the past decade and I appreciate resorts where you are looking at nature, not at freeways and an endless sea of condos. Hello Keystone!
In addition, you have a sense of place in Keystone. It has a distinct low-key Colorado vibe versus the feel of a European ski village.
When you have to fly get to a ski resort, easy access is key. Keystone is a 2-hour drive from Denver International Airport (90 miles) via Interstate 70 — a well-maintained highway throughout all weather conditions.
Vail/Eagle Airport is 65 miles from Keystone via Interstate 70 and has direct flights from many major US cities.
Note: Interstate 70 is the gateway to many Colorado ski resorts and can be backed up on Friday and Sunday afternoons. If possible, avoid driving during these times.
Renting car can be expensive over winter months as the least expensive option is not the safest option. The Colorado Mountain Express, a door-to-door shuttle from the Denver Airport, is a convenient alternative to renting a car.
I gave it a go this trip and found it stress-free! Shuttles run frequently during ski season, the drivers are friendly, and most importantly, everyone gets to relax. Hooray, this is a way for the vacation to actually start at the airport.
Once you get to Keystone, there’s a free resort shuttle to get you around town.
Family-Friendly, Affordable Accommodations
Keystone Resort has a wide array of upscale-yet-affordable accommodations, particularly when compared to other ski areas with similar quality amenities and services.
We stayed in the River Run Village Condominiums. The mountain-style condo units are well-appointed, comfortable, and feature excellent kitchen facilities. The village an array of boutiques and restaurants; in addition, there’s a Children’s Center, play area, and they are about to open an ice skating rink.
Standard hotels and inns are available in Keystone too — click here for a list of options.
Nothing leads to cranky parents faster than schlepping, losing, and ultimately re-buying ski equipment when you have to park cars in a land far, far away from the ski area. River Run condos are a short walk from the slopes. For accommodations that aren’t a stroll away, the shuttle runs resort-wide.
Children’s Ski School
I can’t comment on the quality of the children’s ski school, but they offer comprehensive programming for ages 3 and up. One nice feature is that kids who aren’t potty trained yet still have a place to go. Kids from 2 months and up can enroll in daycare in the Children’s Center.
Mom, Dad and Kids Do Cool Stuff
Franky, some ski resorts are so focused on kids that the experience is not rewarding for parents. One stand-out activity in Keystone is snow cat skiing in the bowls around the resort. These guided tours include a catered lunch. There’s also a snow cat shuttle available for $5 per use to expert terrain.
For less adventurous parents, the spa at the Keystone Lodge is excellent. I gave one of their massages a try; thumbs up — this was not one of those half-hearted rub here and there hotel massages, but the real deal by a seasoned masseuse.
For kids, there’s a mountaintop snow fort with a long list of creative kids’ activities called Kidtopia.
Keystone is part of the Vail Resorts portfolio which means the resort is well-funded and operates at a very high standard. Skiing is a dangerous sport — meticulously run resorts are a must with kids. It’s a matter of safety and there’s zero room for flexibility here.
This also means that families skiing at Keystone access cutting edge ski products like EpicMix, where individual skier stats are tracked and uploaded on a dashboard. Login to your computer or mobile phone after a day of skiing to review what everyone accomplished. Amazing!
Photo Credit: Amie O’Shaughnessy
Vail Resorts paid for Ciao Bambino’s transportation, accommodations, and a spa treatment. They did not ask us to express any particular opinion. All of our assessments and opinions are our own.
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