HALF MOON BAY, Calif., March 21, 2013 — It doesn’t matter what the calendar says. It may be spring, but there’s still plenty of snow for skiing and snowboarding in Vail and Beaver Creek. If you’re still yearning for skiing and boarding opportunities, an après-ski scene, off-mountain romance, or a wealth of family activities, there’s still a chance to get some quality snow time in the next few weeks.
The largest ski resort in the United States, Vail has 5,289 skiable acres for you to shred. Three base areas (Lionshead, Vail Village, and Golden Peak) give you access all over the mountain. The resort’s front side has plenty of groomers and wide, long runs. It’s also home to Kid’s Adventure Zones, three terrain parks, Game Creek Bowl, the EpicMix race course, and a handful of mountain dining restaurants. The back bowls have a wealth of wide-open skiing and amazing views.
If you need help planning your strategy, take advantage of complimentary mountain ski/board tours offered by Community Guest Service volunteers. Tours of the mountain are available for any guest whose ability is intermediate or above. General mountain tours, Blue Sky Basin tours, and 50+ Ski With Us tours (for guests 50 years and older) are available.
Looking to improve your skills or start the kids on the slopes? Sign up for Vail’s Ski & Snowboard School, which offers group and private lessons. If the kids are too cool for school, but still want to have fun in the snow, head to Adventure Ridge, where there are ski bikes, lanes open for tubing, a kids’ snowmobile track, a bungee/trampoline, and snowshoe adventures.
Just a few minutes down the road from Vail, Beaver Creek may have fewer skiable acres (1,832) than Vail, but there’s plenty of room for quality turns. The resort’s 149 trails weigh heavily toward intermediate (at 43 percent, with beginner at 19 percent, advanced at 21 percent, expert at 12 percent and extreme at 5 percent), although there’s still room for everyone on the manicured slopes of Bachelor Gulch, the open intermediate trails of Larkspur and Rose Bowl, and the steep bumps of Grouse Mountain.
Get a look at the terrain with complimentary Mountain Welcome Tours for intermediate and advanced skiers or ditch the dudes and go on one of the complimentary Women’s Tours, which include a tasty hot chocolate break.
Boost yourself to the next level with a group or private class at Beaver Creek’s ski and snowboard school, or sign the kids up for lessons and have fun on your own. Wind down the day on the tubing hill, ice-skating rink and the daily 3 p.m. cookie time, when chefs serve freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of lodging options to pick from in both places, from condo-style to luxury hotels. While there I stayed at two different places:
Located at the gateway to Vail Village, the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail has a dedicated ski concierge at the Vista Bahn chair lift that fits skis and boots, takes care of your equipment, organizes ski lessons, and helps you with other winter outdoor activities (such as snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, or sleigh rides). The hotel’s 121 guest rooms include 24 suites, most with mountain and pool views.
All rooms have gas-burning fireplaces, which are perfect during snowy days while you’re waiting for the ideal powder skiing conditions. In addition, rooms include plasma/LCD-screen TVs, DVD player, connection for an MP3 player, Wi-Fi (the free version was fine for my emails and web browsing; the pay version may be necessary for higher speed requirements, like movies), large soaking tub, down duvets and pillows, plush robes, coffee/tea maker, and twice daily housekeeping. Rates start at $225 per night, and vary depending on date of arrival, number of nights and availability.
In Beaver Creek, the ski-in/ski-out Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa is right at the base of the mountain, where you can catch one of several lifts within view of the hotel. On-site ski equipment rentals ensure you have what you need for your vacation, and the ski valet stores your gear, dries your boots, and parks your skis outside for you in the morning — right where you need them.
The hotel’s 190 guest rooms include 14 executive king rooms and seven suites. The rooms mix Colorado mountain lodge style with luxurious additions, like pillow-top mattresses, soft linens, down duvets, granite and marble bathrooms, iHome docking stations, LCD TVs, comfortable robes, and complimentary Wi-Fi. Rates start at $149 per night, and vary depending on date of arrival, number of nights and availability.
Get a sweet deal at either property with late-season savings. At the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail, the Family Ski Package includes three-day lift tickets for up to two adults and two children (12 years or younger), three-day ski or board performance rentals for the same number of people, and complimentary meals for children five and younger (excluding any snacks from your room’s private bar). Or get a third night free for every consecutive two-paid nights. At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa, the Ski Free, Stay Free package allow customers to get a fourth night free after three consecutive paid nights, plus two four-day lift tickets.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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