Thinking about a family ski vacation, but not sure where to go? Out of all the ski resorts I've visited, Winter Park Resort, about 70 miles from the Denver airport, is by far the best for families. This past weekend, my brother and my daughter celebrated their birthdays in style at this number one-rated Colorado ski resort.
At first, I was a little hesitant when my brother suggested that my crew join his in the Rocky Mountains in January. Family ski vacations -- especially with a crowd of eight -- seem to be rife with problems. The best thing about Winter Park? The resort had solutions in place before I even had to ask. This place knows families and what they need. For example:
Problem #1: You've got four kids of different ages with you, and they all want to do different things. At Winter Park, kids of all ages were entertained, boredom was eliminated. My nephew loved the Snowcat tour of the mountain, while my older daughter zoomed all over the 50 ski trails. Everyone loved the pancake breakfast and tubing hill.
Problem #2: One kid freaks out about something. In this case, it was my younger daughter, who was terrified of skiing after a bad fall in the Poconos last year. After much convincing, she agreed to take a lesson with the gentlest, kindest ski instructor ever -- and now she's addicted to skiing. I had to drag her onto the plane home: ski pants, snow boots and all.
Problem #3: Kids go in every direction, and someone disappears on you. Yes, losing a kid is especially easy to do when every kid on the mountain is wearing a helmet and goggles. But Winter Park has ski hosts in yellow jackets all over the mountain who help kids find their parents and vice versa. While I didn't lose one of mine this time, I did observe a little girl get reunited by a very compassionate and on the ball ski host. OK, I'll admit it -- I personally got kind of lost on the trails (and I'm 44), but another yellow-jacketed guy calmed me down and showed me the best (read: easiest) trail to the base. I'm telling you, I want these people to follow me around all the time.
Problem #4: Skiing is so darn expensive. I have to tell you: Winter Park really isn't! We stayed in a slopeside, two-bedroom condo, and it didn't break the bank. We could cook in our full kitchen, and we soaked in the hot tub right outside our room. The rental fees and lift tickets were a lot less than other resorts -- and for an equally great experience.