It’s been a couple of years since my family visited Keystone Resort in Colorado, but it remains a highlight of our skiing memories. This is a place that doesn’t just cater to families – it understands them. From the caring and patient ski school instructors who kept an eye on my son’s asthma and called me midday with reports, to the greeters handing out granola bars at the base of the gondola, to the dudes who send kids flying down the tubing hill with cries of “awwwllll right!!!” everyone who works at Keystone is intent on helping families have fun.
So it makes me genuinely happy that Keystone is back as a Back to Ski Black Diamond sponsor for the second year in a row. It’s a privilege to work with a resort that I naturally would recommend anyway. Also fun? I get an early peek at what’s new for their 2014-15 season and I get to share it with you.
First things first – kids ski free
This actually isn’t new but it’s something that bears repeating: Any family that stays for two nights or more in a Keystone Resort property is entitled to free lift tickets for all children 12 and under who are staying with them. No blackout dates, nothing complicated. I helped Keystone announce this program during Back to Ski Week two years ago and since that time they’ve given away 60,000 free kids’ lift tickets.
Power to the skiing families!
Even more fun in the snow
Last year Keystone introduced a family ski trail called the Schoolyard aimed at providing a place where families could have fun together, with elements for the kids to enjoy and the pleasant knowledge for parents that no hot-shots will come along at top speeds (it’s a slow zone). This winter the Keystone mascot Ripperoo will be hanging out here for photo ops with the resort’s professional photographers and the resort’s real-life rescue dogs and patrol teams will show up regularly.
Riperoo’s Forest, the family adventure zone that’s adjacent to the Schoolyard will feature a new ski-through “mine” for kids to explore as well. And if your children like fun snow-related elements, they are definitely going to want to check out the new indoor/outdoor slide that’s being installed in the ski and ride school building – who needs a door to get from inside to snow when you’ve got a slide to take you?
A new family dining option
Bighorn Bistro in the Keystone Lodge will be hosting a family brunch on Sundays with a separate buffet, dining area, and activities for kids who are welcome to show up in their pajamas should they choose (no word on what the grownups should wear). Lest you think the adults will be left out of the fun, they can enjoy bottomless mimosas in the main dining room.
There are other fun restaurants and meal experiences at Keystone as well. My family especially enjoyed the Sleigh Ride Dinner, which takes guests to an old homestead for an evening of cowboy songs and ranch-style food. And of course, the condos at Keystone have full kitchens, so if you want you can do your own cooking during your stay. There’s a small grocery store in the resort’s River Run Village.
Kidtopia is back and better than ever
My family visited Keystone soon after they had started their Kidtopia program and came away with the face paint to prove it. The boys loved the chance to play in a giant snow fort and lead a Saint Patrick’s Day parade with Ripperoo. It was a nice feature of our stay that there was plenty of après-ski fun for them.
Kidtopia has grown over the years, and the programming for the 2014-15 season looks to be really fun. There’s an on-mountain scavenger hunt, a weekly talent show, a nighttime adventure walk with a naturalist who will also share local lore about Bigfoot, ice cream socials, movies, and exploration of the winter constellations with the Keystone Science School.
And lest you think that’s all, there will also be a giant snowball launch. I’m pretty sure my boys would be most excited about this, at least until they learned they weren’t allowed to hoist the snowballs at each other. But seriously, a snowball catapult may be the coolest idea ever, especially since it will also include targets and prizes for kids who send their snowballs the farthest.
As an added bonus most of these activities come with no extra charge.
Although it may seem a little early to be thinking about skiing, Keystone will be opening on Halloween (Kidtopia programs start in the middle of December). So while you’re thinking about your kids’ costumes, you might also want to think about booking a little early winter Rocky Mountain vacation. Or better yet – check out the Back to Ski Facebook page where you can enter to win one of four packs of super Keystone gear and also be entered to win the Keystone Ultimate Family Adventure, which includes a weeklong stay at the resort with your family.
Want more information about family stays at Keystone Resort?