by Rachel Walker
Youve made up your mind, put in your vacation request at work, and all thats left is planning your perfect ColoradoSpring Break ski vacation. Here's how.
You dont care what the thread-count is on the sheets in your hostel, and youve never understood the need for a ski valet (who doesnt carry their own gear?). Chances are youre rolling into the Rockies from some other ski town in another state or on your way home from the off-season in Mexico.
Ski and Ride -If youre flying into Denver, grab your gear, pick up a rental car and head west on I-70 to no-frills hills like Loveland, Arapahoe Basin, Ski Granby, and Cooper. These destinations ski like old friends. Theres no pretense, basic amenities, and lift tickets priced accordingly. Headed to southwestern Colorado? Crested Butte attracts many like you (be prepared to sell your worldly positions and move here), as do Purgatory and Silverton. Located in the San Juan Mountains, the resorts in southwestern Colorado tend to have steeper terrain and fewer crowds.
Stay -Hostels and cheap motels are your friends, and all of the resorts mentioned above are within twenty miles of one or both. Summit County is a feeder for the I-70 resorts and is a sea of condos. Short-term rentals abound, both by owner and through property management.
Eat -Its amazing how many peanut butter and honey sandwiches a person can eat without tiring of the taste.
No need to dirtbag it, but your budget is fixed. You want a clean place to sleep, terrific skiing, and the occasional meal out.
Ski and Ride: Northern Colorados Steamboat is a memorable destination notable for its superlative terrain, friendly staff, and authentic ranch townto say nothing of the hot springs that dot the region. More central are Winter Park and Copper Mountain, which are both popular with day-trippers and destination visitors alike. Surprising deals can be found at Aspen/Snowmass (particularly with the advance purchase of a four- or seven-day pass), and Crested Butte doesnt break the bank.
Stay: Once youve picked your destination, check out the lodging specials through those resorts websites/reservations lines. Often there are terrific deals to be had that combine lift tickets and lodgingand many of the resorts offer free or significantly discounted kids rates.
Eat: The best way to suss out the most delicious food in town? Ask a local. Most folks living and working in ski towns are holding down two jobs and saving cash for a spring heli trip up to Alaska. But they still like to treat themselves once in a while and will have the inside line for delicious food on a workingmans budget.
Whether this is your first, hundredth or only ski trip to Colorado, you want to pull it off in style.
Ski and Ride: Aspen/Snowmass is practically synonymous with luxury, thanks to the natural beauty of the Roaring Fork Valley, the regions extensive skiing history, and the visits by (and second homes of) glamorous celebrities. Telluride offers a retreat in the truest sense, given its location at the end of a box canyon (fly into Montrose and take an hour shuttle or drive about six hours from Denver). Steamboat also has amenities catering to luxury travelers, as does Silverton, thanks to the mountains private helicopter that can be chartered for individual groups seeking untracked lines.
Stay: There are the obvious hotel brands: Four Seasons, the Westin, and such. But to get a true sense of the place, look into the Jerome, Limelight, or the Little Nell. In Steamboat theres the Steamboat Grand. Telluride has a host of luxury properties, including Element 52 and Dunton Hot Springs.
Eat: When money is no object, the food is downright Dionysian. Each of the above locations is home to unique and celebrated restaurants, some with farm-to-table themes, others with a foraging/locavore bent, and still others offering up hearty steaks and salads. Check with the concierge at your hotel for suggestions and help with reservations.