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Yesterday I talked about our experience skiing at Keystone Ski Resort in Colorado. This is a resort that touts themselves as not just “family friendly”, but “family focused”. As gimmicky as that might sound, we found it to absolutely be the case. Kids and families weren’t just something that is to be tolerated at the resort, but they are truly a main focus of the whole experience. Obviously skiing is a big part of a trip to a ski resort during the winter months for most people, but you can’t ski 24 hours a day, so Keystone has some other pretty great activities and restaurants available that I want to highlight in this post.
As I mentioned in the first half of this review, my family was invited to Keystone to experience their family centric resort. We paid for the airfare, car rental, and some incidental expenses while there, but most of the on-resort experiences were all provided by Keystone. I’ll let the review speak for itself, but it is still important for you to know those details.
This was not my first sleigh ride dinner experience, but it was one of the best for those with young kids thanks in part to an early evening option that begins at 4:30PM. You meet near the ice rink in Keystone and then take a bus to where the sleigh ride actually begins a bit out of the main town. You are then given blankets in the sleigh and pulled by 2,000-pound draft horses to a homestead with a rustic cabin.
The scenery and cabin itself are a pretty enjoyable and beautifully peaceful part of the experience, as was hearing stories about the area from the wranglers. It was neat to see some of the land roughly the way it has looked since well before the Keystone Resort was around.
Once at the cabin you will get to pet the horses, enjoy hot chocolate, stew, and biscuits, and music performed by a guitar player. Of course they take requests, and my daughter wasn’t shy at all about requesting songs. She is particularly partial to Johnny Cash…and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
A little while later the main course comes out, and you get to choose from NY Strip Steak, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Salmon, or Vegetable Strudel with red pepper sauce. I loved the biscuits, and the main entree was pretty good, though the biscuits were my absolute favorite.
All of the options include garlic mashed potatoes and fresh steamed vegetables, as well as Dutch apple pie and homemade ice cream. I remember being totally stuffed by the time we got to the dessert portion, but still making some room for the warm pie!
The whole cabin interacts during the dinner, so it sort of feels like you are dining with your large extended family. Be aware that the “outhouse” is, well, out of the main area so you do have to go outside to get to it. It does have real plumbing, though. Like with all the sleigh ride dinners I have done, it isn’t inexpensive, but it really is a whole evening activity as opposed to just a dinner. Adults (13 and above) are $88, children (4-12) are $57, children with hotdog dinner are $40, and kids 3 and under are $10. If all you want is a sleigh ride, you can do that elsewhere for less money, but if you want music, a sleigh ride, and dinner, this can be a really fun option.
I would absolutely do this activity again, though I think it is something we would likely do every few years as opposed to on every ski trip in order to keep costs down and preserve it as a “special” activity.
Der Fondue Chessel:
Another dinner offering at Keystone that is more of an experience than a meal is at Der Fondue Chessel. It is a fondue dinner experience on Keystone’s North Peak Mountain. The atmosphere is pretty spectacular, and getting there by gondola at night is exciting (and a tad cold).
This was actually my first fondue dinner and it was so much more impressive than I expected a fondue dinner to be. I thought we would just have some cheese and strawberries dipped in chocolate or something, but this was an absolute feast. After you start with a big caesar salad, you have your choice of basic meats such as chicken breast and pork loin, but also have the choice to upgrade to things like bison sirloin, Maine lobster tail, sea scallops, free range North American elk, shrimp, and more. You grill the meats at the table and cover them in Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses from Switzerland. It is delicious, easy, and fun. There are also potatoes, veggies, and bread that you can cover with cheesy goodness. Naturally there is a chocolate dessert portion of the evening with dark or milk chocolate fondue to dip your fruit, banana bread, pound cake, marshmallows, and cookies in!
In addition to the food, there is traditional music and costumed servers that make you feel like you are in the Swiss Alps instead of the Colorado Rockies!
You can make reservations for this restaurant via OpenTable (to earn extra points) and view their menu here. Again, this was not an inexpensive meal, but it was both a meal and our evening entertainment for sure. Because of the music and the interactive dining experience, my kid was thoroughly entertained the whole time.
While we did have those two big dining experiences, most of our meals we either made in the condo thanks to the kitchen, or we ate at casual joints on or around the mountain. One thing I loved about the food options was that in addition to skiing staples like hamburgers and beer, I had no problem finding items such as veggie burgers and even shrimp stir fry on the mountain.
Red Hawk Townhomes:
We stayed in the Red Hawk Townhomes that are about a 5-7 minute walk to the base of the mountain. With the red wagons available to help haul gear, it was an easy walk even with a three year old.
Our unit had two bedrooms and two bathrooms, with one of the bedrooms housing bunk beds. There was a medium sized kitchen with a full sized refrigerator, a dining table, and a decent sized living room. It made for a very comfortable place for myself, my daughter, and my parents to all stay together without feeling cramped.
There were games, movies, and kitchen utensils that made the condo feel like home.
The townhome were very comfortable and perfect for our stay. I love using hotel points to defray the cost of lodging on ski trips, but having a unit to ourselves that felt like home and was so close to the lifts was pretty fantastic for this type of family trip. Wherever you stay on your family ski trips, I recommend trying to have a functional kitchen if your stay is any longer than just a couple nights as you can save so much money on food and allow your family to just crash on the couch after a long ski day instead of having to be constantly “on the go” eating out at restaurants.
In fact, if we did anything wrong on our trip to Keystone it was that we stayed so busy with all the fun dinners and activities and didn’t allow ourselves enough downtime. Since our stay was just three nights it was okay, but if we kept that pace up with a young kid for much longer it would have likely seriously back-fired!
We very much hope to return to Keystone for a future family-friendly ski vacation. Have you visited Keystone or another mountain that you felt was a good fit for a family ski trip?