As an outdoor enthusiast but, admittedly, a novice skier, taking my family west to experience the magic of the Colorado mountains felt truly adventurous. Adding to the excitement was the thrill of tackling some of the most scenic mountains in the Centennial State and realizing we were set to experience epic family memories together. We packed our suitcases to the brim with snow gear and headed to Keystone Lodge and Resort, which prides itself on being the place where families rule. The ski resort encompasses three incredible peaks and five bowls above the tree line, and is the industry leader in the Kids Ski Free program and the Keystone ski school is legendary.
Keystone Resort was purpose-built from scratch in 1970, and its highlight is the managed slopes, equipped to handle skiers from beginner to expert with a huge variety of trails. Having three different levels of skiers in our family adds a unique dimension to the dynamics of a family ski trip. But at Keystone, there are no worries. And if you’re pressed for time, let our family travel advisors make all the arrangements, from lift tickets to equipment rental.
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After meeting our ski instructor extraordinaire, Kyle Perry, we rode up the hill to hit the green Schoolmarm Trail … which turned out to be my kids’ favorite run. Kyle patiently coached the least experienced skier (ahem, myself) before hitting the more advanced trails with the kids, showing them unique ways to move and turn. Tunnels and hidden trails on the run are a thrill for kids experiencing the magic of Keystone for the first time. I was amazed at the agility of the smallest skiers weaving down the slopes encouraged by ski-school experts.
TIP: Private lessons can be reserved for up to six members of similar ability with instructors who specialize in working with a whole family group. Group lessons are also an option. If you’re looking for a mix of ski and snowboard lessons, those can be arranged as well.
At noon, we headed over to Outback Peak, where we ate lunch at the The Outpost on North Peak overlooking summit-to-summit views. Breckenridge Resort lies to the south and you can also see other mountains that the locals call “fourteeners,” peaks that reach 14,000 feet.
For families, the resort’s unrivaled Kids Ski Free program means that a family can enjoy time together without breaking the bank because children ski for free. It’s also worth noting that Kidtopia, Keystone’s free family friendly programming, is offered every day of the winter season. Activities range from night tubing and live music to snow forts and special sweet treats.
Our sleigh ride dinner at Keystone was more than a meal; it was an experience. A bus picked us up at the resort and dropped us off at a trailhead through a mountain valley leading to a ranch. Two gentle Clydesdales pulling a wagon transported us to the old cowboy farmstead where dinner was scheduled — a log home on the property that is part of Keystone’s original settlement.
Once there, we were greeted with live guitar music, hot chocolate, warm biscuits and chili. Steak, chicken and salmon dinners were served in an intimate setting of about 20 people. We enjoyed a little red wine with our meal and topped it off with apple pie and ice cream before bundling up to head back on the wagon.
The highlight of that meal was understanding the history of Keystone firsthand and how a little homestead progressed into a major ski and golf resort. It was great way for our kids to visualize the development of this picturesque, once-quiet valley.
Keystone Lodge & Spa is as kid-friendly as it gets. The lodge is designed to accommodate families; we enjoyed the open floor plan and comfortable rooms, with a deck overlooking the pool area and mountains. The property is fresh from a complete renovation, including a full makeover of the guestrooms as well as substantial enhancements to common areas, all with a modern rustic design aesthetic. In addition, there’s a new fitness center, a grab-and-go dining venue and new outdoor communal spaces. The revamped main lobby has an open floor plan that fans out into rooms, restaurants and the pool area downstairs, overlooking a small village containing everything you could need for a ski stay (including a skating pond).
The lodge offers 152 cozy guestrooms and loft suites with balconies overlooking the resort village or pool. Comfortable beds and surprisingly quiet rooms, considering the number of young families who stay here, allow everyone to sleep well after a day on the slopes. Ski amenities include free shuttles that drop you and your gear off only steps away from the glass-door gondolas at the base of the mountain. As a mom used to hauling kids’ gear, I greatly appreciated this service.
We fueled up for the day with breakfast at the lodge’s Edgewater Café. For dinnertime, Bighorn Steakhouse offers cuisine far beyond typical hotel restaurant fare. I don’t have fussy eaters, but I do have kids with allergies, and the staff paid excellent attention to those details. We savored bison, asparagus and truffle fries that were so delicious we ordered a second helping.
Got oxygen? I almost bought the souvenir T-shirt to that effect, but it’s true. Flying into the Mile-High City was not bad at all; traveling from 5,000 feet up to 10,000 feet is a different story. After a day on the slopes, we all woke up with dull headaches and consumed a small lake of water. Be sure to pack ibuprofen and hydrate ahead of time. We were fine within a short period and grateful for one more added perk at Keystone Lodge: the oxygen bar.
Editor’s Note: Keystone Resort and Lodge provided a media package in order for us to review the property for families. As always, all opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Amy Annis except where noted.
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