Quaint Victorian buildings, opulent hotels and high-end restaurants draw a crowd of jet-setters to Aspen Snowmass each year. As well as a plethora of off-piste activities for adults, Aspen is also known for its family-friendly atmosphere – particularly on Snowmass mountain. If you’re planning a luxury ski holiday with kids in tow, here are a few reasons why this Rocky Mountain resort should be on your radar.
Your lift pass includes access to Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass. Buttermilk is an ideal mountain for beginners, with crowd-free nursery slopes and 34km of gentle terrain to explore. Buttermilk doesn’t have a large base village, so it’s better for families to base themselves in Snowmass.
Snowmass mountain is renowned for its crowd-pleasing range of pistes – it has 91 slopes, all with varying degrees of difficulty. While most are intermediate level, there’s plenty for beginners and experts too. The Hanging Valley Glades and Cirque are perfect for off-piste adventures – the latter is home to the USA’s largest continuous vertical drop at 1,343m.
Group lessons are available for children as young as two and a half, and as old as 17. The Cubs on Skis club is designed for tots who aren’t yet potty trained, while the Snowmass Bears and Buttermilk Pandas are for toddlers who are able to spend most of the day on the mountain. On Snowmass, lessons start from The Hideout, which has specially designed play and lunch rooms for down-time off the mountain.
Most ski schools run full-day lessons, which last from 9.30am to 3pm – so the adult members of your party can enjoy tackling the trickier slopes over at Highlands. Half-day options are available too, so you can maximise your family time.
If you feel your little ones are too young to start skiing, they can still have a great time at the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Centre in Snowmass. It covers a whopping 2,300 square metres with themed play rooms. It’s designed for children aged from eight weeks to four years, with a licensed nurse and experienced staff on hand to care for little ones. It’s also where the mountain’s kids ski lessons begin.
Just 100 yards from the Treehouse, the Limelight Hotel Snowmass is a fresh opening for the 2018-19 season and is the perfect base for a family holiday. As well as ski-in, ski-out access to Snowmass mountain, it also has family-friendly touches such as an on-site ice rink and a climbing wall. The sun-soaked terrace is a lovely place to gather over cocoa and discuss the day’s adventures.
The Ullr night at Elk Camp takes place every Friday night during the season, celebrating the Norse god of snow with a carnival atmosphere and a range of snow-based activities. Families can get their adrenaline going with tubing, riding the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster and snowbiking. Live music sets the backdrop for hot chocolate and s’mores around the bonfire, and when it’s time to warm up, children can head indoors for crafts and games.
Another memory-making experience is the snowcat dinner – an opportunity truck-loving youngsters won’t want to miss. Your chariot is one of the tracked vehicles used for grooming snow, and it takes you to one of two gourmet restaurants: Lynn Britt cabin on Snowmass, or Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro on Highlands.
At Lynn Britt, children aged two and under eat for free, and the kids’ menu includes classics like short rib with mashed potatoes and chocolate cake with cherry ice cream. The cosy Alpine atmosphere at Cloud Nine translates onto the European-inspired menu, with dishes made from luxury ingredients like wagyu beef, pheasant and black truffles.
Children aged 12 and under get free lift passes, giving you more money to spend on enjoying the luxurious experiences available in Aspen. This is automatic for children aged 6 and younger, and those aged 7-12 simply need to book ski hire through Four Mountain Sports to get their free passes.