Let me start off by saying that Vail was on my bucket list for YEARS and it did not disappoint one bit. One of the most incredible snow trips ever. What a beautiful place, what a wonderful time we had! Definitely recommendable.
We flew into Denver International Airport (from LAX) direct 2h flight, super easy and quick. There was an option to fly into Vail, but that meant a Denver layover for 3-5hours, plus a second tiny 30min flight. And the air tickets went up from $150 to $650 each! Not only price wise, but driving up from Denver to Vail is only 2h, so the layover and second flight was longer than driving. With a baby, you definitely want to focus on making the trip as short as possible! So we did.
Now, for the drive up we decided to rent a car for the duration of our trip and be able to drive back and forth on our own, and have the freedom to explore there too, instead of booking a car service. I just made sure that our hotel had complimentary parking, and it did, that can also get pricey!
For the "mom tips" here's how I timed the trip so it was easier on Sofia:
- Left for the airport at 7am, I let her walk and get tired in the airport before boarding
- Flight took off at 10:40am (her first nap) so as soon as we took off, she had boob and fell sleep
- She did not sleep for the entire 2h of course, but when she woke up we were 45 min away so she had a snack, we changed her and it was time to land
- When we landed I let her walk too while we were waiting for the bags, we grabbed a snack and she explored, got to the car rental and walked some more while we waited for the car
- When we got to the car it was around 2:30pm (LA time) and it was time for her 2nd nap: so she slept as soon as we started driving to Vail. And again, not for 2 whole hour drive but when she woke we were on the tail end.
Okay back to the trip: We decided to stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Vail. Best decision ever. Gorgeous hotel, the grounds are spectacular and the rooms are exactly what you hope for from a hotel in the mountains: fireplace in the room, cozy wooden / warm colors, snowy & mountain views for days, a huge bathtub, just perfect.
Not only that, but the hotel is heaven for skiers. They have a ski concierge service that takes every annoying part of skiing away: they take your ski gear to a locker by the slopes so you don't have to carry it (even if the walk to the gondola is super quick), they also have a rental shop at the resort, so you don't have to worry about renting elsewhere and you can rent the night prior and leave everything set for early morning. And when you are done skiing, at the bottom of the slopes you have your warm boots awaiting with a ton of warm drink options and snacks! If you are new to the area, they also map out the trails for you so you know where to go and what to do.
The Four Seasons Vail also has a great SPA, which is my ideal apres-ski activity. Even if you don't book a service, you can use their SPA facilities which includes a steam room, sauna, plunge pools... I did get a deep tissue massage and it was one of the best ones I have gotten in a while (ask for Will he did a wonderful job!). They also have an outdoor heated pool and Jacuzzi.
Another reason why I think this hotel is the perfect spot for parents and kids is because, not only you get the pampering, comfort and luxury but it's also very baby and kid friendly. They provide with a crib, high chair and booster seats, as well as have a kids club open from 9-5pm complementary, with no limited hours, for kids 5 to 12. Of course, Sofia is not old enough to use it, but I took a peek and it is beautiful and can make a vacation much better for everyone: kids are happy playing with other kids and doing activities focused just for them, and adults can enjoy the SPA and/or the slopes.
But what to do if your kid is not old enough for the kids club like Sofia and you want to enjoy the SPA or ski? Well, us personally took turns. We don't mind it and it also allows us to work more. But I researched a bit of options while I was there for you:
1. The Four Seasons can't book a nanny service for you due to liability, but, the concierge did recommend a company they have referred guests to, and have never had a problem with. It's Care 4 Kids. Their team of professional nannies come to your room. Easy and comfortable. It's $28/h (1kid) with a 4h minimum. There are other similar companies out there, and the concierge did mention them to, but he highlighted this one as again, they never had one problem. So I will limit the recommendation to this one here as well.
2. Vail Mountain has a nursery, Golden Peak Small World, a daycare for when parents go skiing, if babies are too little to ski. Open from 8am to 4pm. They accept babies tarting at 2 months. Of course, this is another setting, your baby is not alone with the nanny, but it's also a bit cheaper. It's $165/day (no hour option), worth it if you do want to leave your kid there all day. And you must book 2 days in advanced, and while I was doing research to write this with pricing, I saw that they are fully booked for the month of February, so note you'd have to book long in advanced. You can check all policies and info here. PS: I did not have a chance to peek in to see how it looked so I can't provide you with that info.
3. If you want other general options on how-to go skiing with a baby, anywhere in the world. Check my past blog post here.
Now let's talk ski. I have been skiing all my life. Grew up skiing in the Alps since I was 5 and I am very picky when it comes to mountains and snow. And I absolutely loved Vail. The mountain is big, I personally LOVED the back end of the mountain "The legendary Black Bowl" full of black diamond slopes so much fun and not crowded, I think it's s big people spread out more. But note: It's an expensive mountain. The day pass is $199, and the half day which starts at noon is $170. Skiing is an expensive sport, but Vail is on high end. Worth it, but expensive.
Vail town was also adorable, it reminded me of the towns in the French Alps! Loved all the shops and streets, just taking strolls was fun. And Sofia loved the snow, she kept saying "wow" haha.
On our way back to the airport we did the same timing. Got on the car during Sofia's first nap, and the plane took off right when the second nap began. Now that she walks, I just make sure she gets ton of walking and running at the airport before boarding, so she is tired and doesn't feel the need to walk on the plane. As well as before any long car ride.
You can also check my snow packing list for a baby here and see all my essentials and a check list so you don't forget a thing!