The family ski vacation. Just the thought conjures up images of riding in a gondola overlooking pristine snow-covered ski-runs under a bluebird sky. Then, gathering the kids around a cozy fire in a ski lodge, cupping a steaming mug of hot cocoa.
Family ski vacations can be the most memorable family trip ever. But, it does take a lot of work to accomplish that picture-perfect ski trip when you bring the kids.
Here are some tips to follow and services to take advantage of for a (mostly) stress-free family ski vacation.
Services Available and Tips For Booking The Perfect Family Ski Vacation
My family lives in the winter wonderland of Summit County, Colorado. Breckenridge, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Copper Mountain ski resorts are all within a fifteen-mile radius. We love to ski and have been skiing with Eli since he learned to walk. Because we have the opportunity to ski whenever we want, we like to head to warm weather when we travel. In fact, although we moved here for the skiing, we’ve stayed for so many years because we love the amazing summers here.
That being said, after years of skiing as a family, I know exactly what works and what doesn’t for a family ski vacation. Although we don’t travel to a ski vacation destination, our winters here are a family ski vacation (minus the added distractions of work, school, and all the other day to day activities of normal life).
The following tips and services are specific to Summit County, Colorado. But, the tips can be followed in any ski resort town in North America. The services mentioned are also generally offered in most ski resort towns.
Because skiing isn’t the only thing you’ll do on your Colorado family ski vacation, read 7 Kid-Friendly Things to do in Keystone Colorado (Besides Skiing)
Book Your Lodging Within Walking Distance Of The Ski Lift
Staying in a hotel or condo within walking distance of the lift will make your family ski vacation so much easier! Yes, it will cost more. Most likely a lot more. But, it will be well worth it, especially if you have young kids. Having the option to walk back to your condo and let the kids take a break from skiing, have lunch, or possibly even take a nap can really save the day. And, there is a bigger chance that you will get back out on the slopes after your break if are able to walk back to the lift. If you have to take a bus or drive back to your condo when your kids need to re-charge, you could be done for the day.
It is also nice to be within walking distance of the restaurants and activities offered at the base of the ski resort. After a long day of skiing, the last thing you want to do is get into your car or get on a bus to go find a restaurant for dinner.
Keystone provides hundreds of wagons for guests to use to transport their skis. They are perfect for transporting tired kids also.
Another reason to stay within walking distance of the lift is the ski traffic can get crazy. Waiting in traffic on the way to the lift is not such a good way to start your day. On busy days the free parking lots fill up fast and on busy weekends even the pay lots can fill up.
Book Ski School and Child Care Options In Advance
There are so many different ski school and childcare options. Figure out what works best for your family and then make reservations in advance.
Ski School Options
All ski resorts in Summit County, Colorado have options for every type of family.
Have your kids never skied but you’ve been skiing for years? If so put your kids in beginner lessons for the first few days. That way you can get some good child-free ski days in and then have a few days skiing as a family.
Is it the first time skiing for everyone in your family? If this is the case, you can book a private instructor for the whole family and all learn to ski together.
Whatever lesson you decide on for your family you will want to book in advance to guarantee a spot.
Child Care Options
You don’t have to wait until your kids are old enough to ski to go on a family ski vacation. Parents can take turns skiing and hanging out with the little one. OR, you can look into daycare options at the ski resort. Keystone, Breckenridge, and Copper Mountain all have great childcare options available for children three months through six years old right at the base of the ski resorts.
Copper Mountain’s program offers full and half-day childcare options. Check out Copper Mountain’s website for more information.
Breckenridge and Keystone Resorts only offer full-day childcare. For more information look at Keystone’s and Breckenridge’s website. I’ve had friends who have used Keystone’s childcare while they skied and they both had a great experience.
If this is a service you want to use, you will want to book in advance because the childcare options fill up quickly. Not only that, all three resorts offer a 10% discount if you book more than 48 hours in advance.
3 Services That Will Simplify Your Summit County, Colorado Family Ski Vacation
These three incredible services can save your family vast amounts of time on your family ski trip.
Not only do these services save you time but they also can save you the hassle of renting a car.
Ski Rental Delivery
Before the airlines started hiking up the baggage fees, lots of people who went on a ski vacation every year owned their skis. In the winter at Denver International Airport you would see countless passengers lugging around bags filled with skis and snowboards.
Not so much anymore. Renting skis is a little more expensive than the bag fees both ways but you get the most up-to-date gear. Not only that, you don’t have to lug those huge ski bags through the airport along with all of your other luggage.
Taking the whole family into a ski shop the day you arrive to get fitted for rental gear is not ideal. Everyone is tired and grouchy. This is where a ski rental delivery company comes in.
You can arrange for your whole family’s ski rentals to be delivered right to your hotel or condo.
The rental company will bring the exact size boots and skis you signed up for. And a few other options to make sure you have a good fit. You can use the skis for your entire family ski vacation. Then, the same rental company will come back to your condo before check-out and pick up your gear.
Grocery Pick-up or Delivery
During the ski season, the population of Summit County doubles. I absolutely dread even the thought of going grocery shopping. It takes FOREVER to shop when the grocery store is crowded. Then, pushing a full grocery cart through the snow in the parking lot to your car is quite an undertaking.
Grocery pick-up is my new favorite thing. You can grocery shop online and then schedule a time to pick your groceries up. There are specific parking spots reserved just for grocery pick-up. You go to your assigned spot and call the number on the sign. An employee will bring your groceries out to you and load them into your car.
This is such a convenient and time-saving service to use when you are on your family ski vacation. You can order from home the day before you leave for vacation and have your grocery shopping out of the way before you travel. Everyone in the family can have some input on items they want without having the whole family in the grocery store throwing what they want into the cart. If you have a condo with a kitchen you can even plan a few meals and add everything you will need to your shopping list.
The best thing is the fees are waived for your first three pick-ups and after that, it’s only about five dollars.
*Helpful tip – if you don’t have a Kroger grocery store where you live, sign up for the City Market Value Card online before you shop to save money on most items. The only grocery stores in the town of Breckenridge and Dillon (near Keystone) are City Markets.
If you don’t have a car (or even if you do have a car but don’t want to attempt the crowded grocery store parking lot) you can still use this service and have your groceries delivered. The cost is very minimal and there is usually a promotion to get your first delivery free.
To start shopping and find an available time for pickup, go to City Market’s website.
Baby and Toddler Equipment Rentals
There is so much to pack for a family ski vacation! Winter coats, ski pants, gloves, and boots for the whole family take up so much room. If you are traveling with a baby or toddler, it can be overwhelming to try to pack everything you need. Here is where companies that offer baby and toddler equipment rentals can save the day.
You can order anything you would need or want for your baby or toddler and have it delivered right to your hotel or condo. These companies really have everything. Cribs, pack-and-plays, exersaucers, high chairs, stools, infant bouncers and swings, toys, booster seats, baby monitors, bottle warmers, and even humidifiers.
When you have all of the comforts of home for your baby and toddler everyone is happy.
There are several companies in Summit County that offer this service but Mountain Tot has outstanding reviews.
Bonus Tip – Take It Easy The First Day To Avoid Altitude Sickness
If you are visiting from a low elevation and aren’t used to the altitude, taking it easy the first day of your vacation is crucial. Altitude sickness is real and it affects kids just as much as it affects adults.
I know vacation time is precious and it’s hard to arrive at a ski resort and take the first day off from skiing. But, if you head up to the top of any of the ski resorts in Summit County the elevation is over 12,000 feet. There is a good chance you could get altitude sickness, especially if you are visiting from sea level. Nothing can ruin your day faster than someone in your family getting sick.
The best way to avoid altitude sickness is to drink plenty of water and take it easy for a day. You need to give your body time to acclimatize to the altitude.
A family ski vacation requires a great deal of preparation and planning compared to an all-inclusive beach vacation. Booking lodging in the perfect location and taking advantage of the incredible services offered will make your trip so much easier and stress-free.
Following these tips when you book your family ski vacation can save you time. More time gives you a better chance to enjoy the stress-free ski vacation you have always imagined.