4 Days in Vail Colorado with a Toddler - How to Prepare for Baby's First Ski Trip and 5 Winter Family Activities
Do you have a hobby you love to do together with your spouse? Kevin and I started dating 11 years ago and one of the first trips we went on together was to Steamboat Colorado where he taught me to snowboard. Yes, yes, it sounds so romantic but it took the patience of a saint to teach a girl with zero coordination how to get down a big mountain while strapped to a board. Fast forward 11 years, we have explored many ski resorts in Colorado, California and Utah. After turning 3, It was finally time to take Kai on her first ski trip! It’s a moment we’ve been waiting for for so long! I wanted a easy flight from Houston (because it will be her first time flying too) and a family friendly resort. We decided on Vail for it’s quaint town, it’s amazing ski school and the on and off mountain activities that are super family friendly! If you’ve been curious about how to prepare for a child’s first time skiing, today’s post is for you! We will cover what to pack, my thoughts on ski school, where to stay, and family friendly winter activities in Vail Colorado.
How To Prepare - What to Pack:
When I asked you guys to submit your questions for this round up blog post, many of you were curious about what to pack . Here is my list of MUST HAVEs for a toddler skiing for the first time:
Base layer - nothing cotton should touch their skin. Invest in a good base layer to keep warm and wick moisture fast
Waterproof pants and jacket - be on the lookout for waterproof rating and cinched inner pant legs to keep the snow out. Bib style pants work better to keep snow out of the backside
Wool socks - Merino wool socks are the best to keep those toes toasty
Ski gloves - Mitten work the best for children and a good pair of insulated ski gloves can make your day when making snow man, eating fits full of snow or just playing around town
Waterproof boots - Again, your regular rubber boots won’t do if the snow pile is feet high! Insulated, waterproof boots are key. Ours are from Kamik and easy to get on and off.
The Vail resorts ski school offers a comprehensive list of items to bring to their lessons and ways to prepare your child the day before. I found this tremendously helpful!
How to Get There
Direct flights from Houston to Denver make the trip a breeze. We looked at many rental companies and for the conditions we were battling, we need a 4 wheel drive vehicle, sporty enough to handle the Colorado winding roads. I also DID NOT want to take a carseat with us. The challenge was to find a reputable car rental company that offered quality car seats and a reliable fleet. If you have rented at the airport before, you would know that the process can be a headache with a long pick up line, confusing over the exact car and the extra equipment is just that, extra. When we found Silvercar by Audi, it just clicked. Silvercar rents 4 Audi models out of major US destination airports with zero wait and all the premium features are included! They even had a fantastic Peg Perego convertible carseat waiting for us when we got there! Ski- rack, Sirius XS, in car WiFi all came with the comparable rate. We reserved our Audi Q5 with the Silvercar by Audi app and the experience couldn’t be more seamless. We literally arrived at the lot, were created by a concierge, scanned the car and off we went! The Q5 was the perfect mountain car for a family. It handled our giant snowboard bag, 3 big luggages with room to spare. If you are traveling with a family, I would highly recommend Silvercar by Audi! Not having to lug around a carseat with us was worth it!
Ski School for Toddlers
Kevin and I researched this topic near and far and in the end, every ski resort is different when it comes the the age and rules they will accept a child. Some ski schools start at 4 or 5, some have baby day care in addition. Being potty trained was a common requirement for most of the resorts we looked into. Vail Resorts has a great starting age at 3. Their beginner toddler class groups children together in similar age ranges and abilities. We talked to many locals who all agreed that a group lesson as a child’s first exposure was ideal since it taught them how to ski as a team. Kids would see other children in the same learning environment and want to progress together. We booked Kai’s rentals, lesson and lift ticket all in one and it as simple and super fast. The instructors did a great job of playing a number of games with the children and taking many breaks in between. I was so proud watching Kai put on her little skis and maneuver around the well appointed ski school area. She learned how to ski with pizza and french fries and had such a great time. Afterwards, we went back to Hotel Talisa and she showed us al the new skills she picked up by skiing down a little hill all by herself. We couldn’t be more happy with the decision. I would highly recommend a full day lesson for anyone learning to ski, especially children on the slopes for the first time!
Where to Stay
There are many options when it comes to lodging at Vail. We wanted something close to the lifts, with amenities for making our trip easy and enjoyable, onsite dining options and a pool/hot tub. Hotel Talisa satisfied all those requirements and more! Hotel Talisa, recently recognized by the readers of Condé Nast Traveleras as one of the best in the United States in the magazine’s Annual Readers’ Survey, impressed us immediately with the grand decor, mega spacious rooms and luxurious finishes. I dare the say the bathroom with tub and shower combo deserves to win it’s own award for best in the industry. Hotel Talisa is the only luxury ski in and ski out hotel in all of Vail’s Villages. It’s on site rentals, ski valet and ticket office made skiing with a toddler a breeze. The hotel backs up to the forrest with Gore Creek running right through. Kai thought she had winter wonderland right in her backyard and it couldn’t be more true! We frolicked around the creek while enjoying the many fire pits. We swam in the infinity pool and 2 hot tubs with the stunning mountain scene in the backdrop. Hotel Talisa is truly the best combination of luxury and nature. As for special activities, the daily champaign sabering and toast is a beyond exciting was to kick off apre-ski. Kai loved the complimentary hot chocolate and cookie bar after her hard day of skiing.
We ordered room service on the first day and my salmon Benedict is out of this world. Our final meal at the hotel was at the Gessner. The beautiful location showed true flavors of the rockies. Many of the ingredients are locally sourced and ethically produced. The Black Truffle Tagliatelle Pasta with Mushrooms in Cream Sauce in one of the best dishes I have ever tasted in my entire life. Kevin got the Chef’s Choice: Elk Loin with Red Cabbage side of Sweet Potato Gratin and Port Wine Demi and it was just tender and heavenly. I would eat every meal at the Gessner and die a happy woman! Overall, the service, amenities, activities, and dining offered at Hotel Talisa blew us away! The best part, the hill behind the hotel, right by the ski lift and complimentary iceskating rink is perfect for sledding and ski practice for the little one. We literally did not have to leave the property to enjoy all Colorado’s winter had to offer.
5 Things to do with Your Toddler in Vail Colorado’s Winter
Hotel Talisa offered free sleds and the hill behind the property is ideal for a kiddo’s first experience on the snow. The Eagle Vail Golf course was mentioned several times as well during out research for sledding hills in Vail. Frankly, Kai, being 3 an all, didn’t need a big mountain to sled down. You could find many walking paths or hills along the paths in Vail that would work!
Adventure Ridge at Vail Resorts
Weeks before we left, we were pumping Kai up by showing her the Adventure Ridge at Vail. She is a HUGE roller coaster fan and Adventure Ridge has an amazing mountain coaster. If your child is over 38 inches, he/she can ride with an adult! The tallest tubing hill in all of Vail Resort’s collections is also at the top of Adventure Ridge. Kai is not tall enough to ride BUT it makes for a ton of fun for adults and kids alike. Make sure to check weather for conditions as the coaster could close due to snow fall.
Vail Villages are super charming, modeled after Swiss ski towns. In the center, there is a beautiful iceskating rink. We ate the the Blue Moose Pizza next to the rink and Kai loved watching the ice skaters! There is also a small children’s park with tree houses and slides steps up from the rink. Of course, if you are staying at Hotel Talisa, you can just step out the back for free iceskating too!
One of the most scenic views are just a short Gondola ride away. Each day, the ride is free after 3:30 PM in the winter! It takes you up to adventure ridge and Kai loved watching the skiers come down the mountain on the ride up!
A short drive into Dillon Colorado in Summit County you will find man made ice castles to explore. The many slides, tunnels and cave features captivates a child’s imagination. Bundle up since the entire structures are made of ice, it’s certainly cold! The Ice Castles made for amazing photo opps for the whole family.
I hope you find pieces of this blog post helpful in planning your child’s first ski trip. I know we will be back to Vail again with the whole family soon! Happy traveling!