Last month Nate and I took the boys to Vail, Colorado. We planned to go the week after Thanksgiving, but due to a scheduling mistake we ended up flying in the Saturday before Thanksgiving and flying home on Thanksgiving day. Yes, I’m familiar with calendars. I just don’t look at them as often as I should.
With the exception of one trip to Mountain View Arkansas, New Orleans, and a few trips to the beach, all of our family vacations have been to Disney World. We live a day’s drive away from Orlando and we’ve taken advantage of that drive so much that when our kids ask to go on vacation they say “let’s go to Disney.” It occurred to me the last couple of times I heard the boys chant “Disney! Disney!” that I want the boys to get a look at the world beyond the Southeast. Nate and I normally go on vacation without the kids in November and take the kids on family vacations in the Spring and Summer. This year I decided to switch it up so that the boys could see snow for the first time.
Nate and I researched various ski destinations and decided Vail looked like the most picturesque, convenient, and family friendly location to take the kids. The week we arrived in Vail was the first week of ski season for the year, and lucky for us there was plenty of snow on the ground.
We stayed at The Sebastian in Vail Village. The Sebastian made our stay. With a central location in the heart of Vail Village and the nicest hotel staff I’ve ever met, The Sebastian far surpassed our expectations. Since we were staying so early in the ski season our room was a fraction of the price it would have been during the peak of ski season.
Every night after playing in the snow all day and enjoying dinner at one of the many restaurants Vail has to offer we would hang out in the hotel lobby for an after dinner drink or two. The lobby at the Sebastian is cozy and inviting with a beautiful double fireplace with overstuffed couches and chairs on each side to hang out in. Adjacent to the lobby is a beautiful library with a game table and huge selection of books. The boys liked hanging out in the library because of the game table. At one point a little boy British made friends with challenged Nate to a game of chess and beat him. It was hilarious! (And it was even funnier later when I looked at British’s iPod Touch and noticed he videoed it.)
Each night hotel staff left a sweet snack in our room along with plenty of sodas and bottles of water. The room was beautiful and the perfect size for our family of four. It might seem weird that I’m gushing about the hotel right now instead of the snow or the beauty of the mountains.
Let me explain.
I’m a hotel weirdo. Seriously. Whether or not I like the hotel can effect the entire trip for me. If I hate the hotel then I end up spending the entire trip dreading going back to the hotel. I’ve been known to leave trips early because I don’t like the hotel. One time during a five night trip on the fifth night I couldn’t stand the hotel I was staying at for one more minute, so I walked two streets over in my pajamas and got a room at another hotel. When I say I like a hotel as much as I like The Sebastian take note, and stay at that hotel.
At this point I think I should mention that Nathan and I have never been skiing. When we left for the trip we weren’t even positive we would try skiing or snowboarding. We were super worried that trying to learn how to ski or snowboard alongside our four-year-old and six-year-old would be a mistake.
Turns out it wasn’t a mistake at all. Learning to snowboard with our kids was so much fun. It was awesome to learn something for the first time alongside our little ones. Out of the four of us Nate and Bruce, my four-year-old took to snowboarding like they’ve been doing it forever. Our instructor said that younger children pick up snowboarding easier than older children.
Snowboarding is HARD. Towards the middle of the three hour lesson my legs started cramping and I took off my board which lead my older son British to take off his board. We ended up bellying up to the bar on the mountaintop. I had a beer and British had hot chocolate. Then we stripped down to our base layers and laid out in the sun while Nate and Bruce finished up their lesson.
It was so weird being hot in such cold weather. Never in a million years did I think I would ever be stripping down to base layers so I could lay out in the sun in 28 degree temperatures. (Keep reading after the pictures below.)
We stayed in Vail Village for five nights and it became clear towards the end of the trip that we weren’t going to have time to do “all the things” during that amount of time. Among the highlights of our trip were eating at Alpenrose and Lancelot, taking a sleigh ride and making smores around the campfire after a yummy dinner at 4 Eagle Ranch, and hanging out in Vail Village. There’s excellent shopping in Vail Village, but to my dismay there wasn’t a bookstore. Someone really needs to open a bookstore there! I found the cutest store called Charm School that had beautiful clothing from European designers (such as Save The Queen) that are hard to find in my neck of the woods.
Bruce kept asking for eggs and pancakes for lunch. Every single meal that wasn’t breakfast Bruce would request a breakfast item. On our last day in Vail we finally found a restaurant that serves breakfast 24 hours a day. It’s called The Little Diner. It’s a tiny horseshoe diner, and the food is delicious. I think it was the boys’ favorite meal of the trip.
We loved going to parks and letting the boys play in the snow. When we got to Vail we bought sleds and the boys loved riding the little plastic discs down the hill over and over again. I asked British was his favorite part of the trip was and he said, “Snowball fight with Mommy”!
The boys were convinced we were in a different country at one point and it took me forever to convince them that this winter paradise was in fact, part of the United States. When I look back on that moment when the boys stared in awe at their surroundings, it reinforces my desire to get them out of their comfort zone and to introduce them to new experiences. Who knows? Maybe next year we’ll take the boys to Europe. 2013 was the year we opened our minds to taking major vacations with the kids in tow, and now the world is our oyster!
See below for more pictures from our trip.