BY COURTNEY DRAKE-McDONOUGH
A Look at What’s New at Colorado Resorts.
A-Basin has been a local’s favorite for as long as we can remember, beloved as much for its proximity to Denver as for its atmosphere of sheer fun. The trails are good, the locals are entertaining, and now there’s even a kids’ program that will entice familites to try it out.
As this unique ski area prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary, there will be a lot going on that will be posted on the website. In the meantime, much is being made about a phenomenal expansion that will elevate the guest experience to new heights, including lifts, added terrain and great renovations. Stay tuned!
Kids can ski for free at A-Basin, because this is the one resort that believes all kids should try out skiing or snowboarding before their elders commit a lot of money to the sport. The program gives kids ages 6-12 two free days on the mountain … no blackout dates, no purchase necessary. And by the way, kids 5 and under ski free every day of the season!
The popular Araphoe Sports retail shop is now double the size, with new vendors offering state-of-the-art everything. Check out Colorado-based Icelantic Skis, who will create a custom ski just for guests!
The town is as known for its skiing and charming vibe as it is for the world-renowned Aspen Institute and Aspen Music Festival and School, embracing renewal of the mind, body and spirit through music, art and education.
Take dinner to new heights with Full Moon Dinners at the Cliffhouse restaurant located on top of Buttermilk Mountain. Enjoy dinner including grilled trout, roast duck and house-made chili. Or, enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner mid-mountain at the newly remodeled Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant at sister resort, Snowmass. Sample cocktails from Colorado distillers, food and DJ at après ski parties at Lynn Britt Cabin.
Save money on the slopes with 4-day or 7-day Classic Passes for highly discounted rates through the winter. Return in the summer and use the pass to ride up and down the mountain, enjoying green hillsides of wildflowers.
In March, Aspen hosts the 2017 Audi FIS Ski World Cup Finals, returning to the U.S. after 20 years. The races will feature the best men’s and ladies’ alpine skiing athletes in the world competing in downhill, super-G, giant slalom, slalom and nation’s team events.
Three o’clock is cookie time with 495,000 freshly baked cookies being served yearly. As if that wasn’t reason enough to visit, the variety of terrain appeals to beginners on up to World Cup Racers who frequent the resort.
Become a member of the White Carpet Club for a few days, a week, or more and enjoy spacious lockers, food and beverage service, cozy seating and an on-site concierge. Have a gourmet breakfast and sunrise tour of the slopes with White Glove First Tracks.
Hop in an open-air sleigh for Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners. Cozy lodge slippers, views of the village below and a three-course buffet dinner await. Or, combine snowshoeing with wine tasting during the Winter Wine Excursions. Learn about Beaver Creek’s history, winding down at the Osprey Fireside Grill for mountain-modern culinary and wine pairings. The Beaver Creek Winter Culinary Weekend in January includes cooking demonstrations, wine and spirit events, and pairing dinners with world-renowned guest chefs.
Enjoy holiday traditions including the Tree Lighting Ceremony, ice skating and fireworks show, Family FunFest Carnival and New Year’s Eve Bash. A stop at Beaver Creek Candy Cabin is a must at 9,840 feet, serving treats by a local, fifth-generation chocolatier.
With five peaks and 2,908 acres, “Breck” is also a lively mountain town with more than 200 restaurants, bars and shops, plus a thriving art scene.
Feast your eyes on dramatic views of Summit Country while you feast at Pioneer Crossing, opening in December, set atop the Independence SuperChair on Peak 7. The new restaurant highlights Breckenridge’s mining history while catering to skiers with fresh-made options including a Mediterranean station. Breckenridge Distillery is also opening a restaurant this winter, offering an intimate and modern farm-to-table experience.
There’s room for everyone at the Breckenridge Theater, thanks to a 3,000-square-foot expansion, in time for its 42nd season. The overhaul is the final piece in the town’s major Arts District expansion.
The annual Snow Sculpture Festival in the new year goes way beyond simple snowmen! See enormous works of art sculpted from 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of Colorado snow. Artists from around the world work against time and the sun’s rays to achieve stunning finished pieces without the use of power tools or internal support structures.
With an average of 280 inches of snowfall during the ski season, Copper has naturally divided terrain with gentle runs on the west, getting progressively steeper to the east. Off-mountain, The Village offers restaurants, bars, family activities and lodging.
Get to know Colorado craft whiskeys and beers at On the Rockies, Copper’s new entertainment hotspot. Located steps away from the American Eagle chairlift in the resort’s Center Village, the restaurant also serves lunch, dinner and a late-night menu.
Save some room for brisket chili, pork ribs or smoked chicken at The Eagle BBQ. The patio is as close to the snow as possible, making it an easy après ski spot.
While you’re recharging with hearty fare, Copper is recharging guests’ cars at the new Electric Car Charging Station. Just schedule an appointment time through a smartphone app, then use the charging station free of charge.
Said to have the largest night skiing operation in Colorado, Keystone also has the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor skating rink in North America on five acres.
Kidtopia programming offers families a variety of free, daily activities including crafts, scavenger hunts and the world’s largest snow fort. Mid-December, attend the new Kidtopia Mountaintop Spectacular, a Kidtopia showcase with nightly fireworks displays, a torchlight ski parade, snow tubing, live music and more. The fun happens again in March at the Kidtopia Experience, starting Spring Break a little early.
Keystone’s Kids Ski Free 5th Birthday Celebration will party all season with special events honoring the program that lets kids ages 5-12 ski free when families stay in Keystone two or more nights.
Learn to ski or snowboard and bond at the same time with Family Private Lessons taught by instructors specializing in working with families of different levels of ability. Or skip the skis and boards with on-mountain Family Adventures like tubing, snowcat tours, gondola rides and dinner at 11,640 feet at Der Fondue Chessel. Mountain House, Keystone’s Base Camp for families, lets you cozy up with smaller crowds, free parking, food and a family ski and ride zone.
Even beginner and intermediate skiers can enjoy the highest peaks, terrain and views usually reserved for expert skiers on Telluride’s trails. Make your way between the towns of Mountain Village and Telluride via gondola, the first and only free public transportation system of its kind in the U.S.
Improved flight options make getting to Telluride easier. Starting mid-December, Great Lakes Airlines will fly direct into Telluride Regional Airport from Denver International Airport all year-round. There also will be increased access from Dallas, New York City, Phoenix, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco.
Enjoy the ride up and down the mountain a little more in the bright red, 20th Anniversary Telluride Gondola Cabin where lucky riders might win spur-of-the-moment contests. When the lifts stop for the day, the fun continues with Off-Hill Programming like the Kids Zone’s inflatable slide and kid-size mechanical bull or holiday events including ice skating, sleigh rides and a holiday-themed movie marathon.
Take in some of the best views of Telluride at the new Altezza at the Peaks restaurant, aptly named for the Italian word meaning “height,” serving Italian-inspired dishes and Colorado-inspired specialties like striped bass.
Seventy-five years young, Winter Park Resort is considered Colorado’s longest continually operated ski resort with 3,081 acres of skiable trails. Twenty-five lifts can get 40,000 riders uphill/hour.
Enjoy a scenic and relaxing two-hour ride from Denver with the Winter Park Express ski train which made a triumphant return for the 2016/17 ski season. That means skiers can hit the slopes stress-free and enjoy immaculately groomed trails thanks to four new state-of-the-art snowcats. Also new is the Email Kid’s Club, alerting kids to trails, contests, games and other kid-centric activities at the resort.
During the holidays, join in Winter Park’s special events including the Christmas Eve Torchlight Parade with 100 skiers and snowboarders traversing down the mountain carrying torches as fireworks launch.
In February, Winter Park hosts the Wells Fargo Cup with the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Some of the country’s best Paralympic athletes compete in three days of inspiring competition, fun and fundraising. WinterParkResort.com
With elevations ranging from 8,120-11,570 feet, the resort in the center of the state is accessible by road or via Eagle Airport. Inside the resort, it’s easy to get around by foot and the free shuttle bus transportation system.
Hit the slopes faster with the new Sun Up Express Chair Lift #9 that seats four. It’s the primary lift serving intermediate and advanced terrain and sending skiers and snowboarders into Vail’s back bowls.
Off the mountain, Vail Snow Daze in December celebrates the start of winter with live music, après ski parties and gear demos. During Vail Holidaze, get in the spirit with the annual tree lighting ceremony and lantern walk.
In February and March, it’s the Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships with Olympic-level slopestyle and halfpipe snowboarding competitions by day and headliner acts by night. Stay in-the-know while in Vail by visiting the Mountain Information Center, your resource for reservations and recommendations on the best-kept secrets in town.
See? Looking west to the mountains is a great tip for knowing exactly where to go for fun at Colorado’s resorts.