Kid heaven in Keystone, Colorado

Castle at Kidtopia in Keystone CO

DAY 7 — The kids take turns sitting on the ice throne, sliding through an tunnel and clamoring to the top of the fort that’s made out of ice –some 75 tons—that will sit at the top of Keystone Resort’s Gondola past the end of ski season.

Welcome to “Kidtopia”–a brand new festival designed for families at Keystone which is designated family-central of Vail’s resorts. ( “It’s been a homerun,” says Keystone Director Bobby Murphy, himself the parents of two young kids having a blast at the snow fort incidentally located adjacent to Keystone’s tubing hill.

“This is such a friendly place,” said firefighter Scott Vinas, whose three year old daughter Tenley was busy getting her face painted.

“Most parents come off the hill and are tired and head for the condo. This gives you a reason to come back out because it’s fun—for the parents too.”

“Most places don’t have much après ski for kids,” says Matt Svuba, up for Kidtopia with his five year old son Cole from Denver. “This is the first ski area I’ve seen that’s done it well.”

Every parent knows that snow sports are expensive—an all day lesson for a child is $140—but Keystone makes it easier on the wallet with everything from the free activities during Kidtopia (everything from face painting to balloon animals to hot chocolate by the fire pit in River Run Village to Ripperoo’s Village Parade  to disco tubing).

“This is the second time we’ve come for Kidtopia and it’s amazing,” said Lisa Garcia , up from Denver with her five year old daughter Katerina, whose face was painted with purple butterflies. “It’s a nice break from skiing.”

Keystone is a more intimate place than the other Vail Resorts, which makes it a good place for families—just 380 instructors as compared to 1200 at sister resort Vail.   It has smaller classes—and just 300 children a week as compared to more than a thousand at other resorts.

We are staying in a condo at River Run which is where the gondola is located and seems kid-central. “They even let you borrow wagons to bring the stuff from the car,” said Nancy Garcia. “They make it easier.”

We’re celebrating two birthdays—my son Matt’s and my daughter Mel’s . Mel attends college in Colorado and has brought friends to celebrate; we’re joined by family from Denver And Connecticut with kid ranging from five  to 19 who will spread out going Cat Skiing, taking a first-time snow board lesson, skiing and practicing tricks in Keystone’s  terrain parks that are considered some of the best in the country.  I like that this area has something for everyone—even me.

One night we enjoyed a fondue dinner at the top of the Gondola in front of the fireplace which started with cheese fondue, moved to all kinds of meat and ended with chocolate fondue that was flamed table side. (Kids eat free!) We loved the accordion and guitar players who went around doing “The Chicken Dance”

Last night, we left all of the younger kids and went for an adult dinner at Ski Tip Lodge, a few minutes from the condo that started as an 1880s stagecoach stop and opened in 1947 as Colorado’s first ski lodge. Today it is a beautiful gourmet restaurant where we started with roasted apple and beet puree, Boston bib and prosciutto salad followed by Dijon and sage rubbed Colorado lamb chops and awesome chocolate cake for desert.

What a nice end to ski day!

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