My husband and I used to snowboard a lot. Oddly enough, we hit the slopes in California more than we did after we moved to Colorado…because here we had kids. Taking kids skiing can be expensive, so when we were invited to try out the Epic SchoolKids Program at Beaver Creek Resort, I jumped at the chance. I love this program, because it allows kids — ALL kids living in Colorado from kindergarten through 5th grade — the opportunity to ski free at four premium resorts here in Colorado. The pass includes four days of skiing or snowboarding at each resort (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone) — so sixteen days of free lift tickets, including one free ski or ride lesson and equipment rental. There’s no purchase necessary to enroll in the program (I just learned it’s the only program in Colorado that can actually say that!) It’s an amazing chance for kids to ski the mountains our state is known for.
We got to Beaver Creek Resort Thursday morning, around 8:15 in the morning, ready to check in. And here’s what we parents know about a day on the slopes — the class check in and rental first thing in the morning can make or ruin your entire day. Waiting in long lines…stopping at three different desks to be measured and pick up skis, boots, and poles…carrying all that equipment for multiple children while also trying to make sure said children don’t get lost and then trying to get them to sit still so you can put everything on them — it often ends in tears. So many tears. Mostly mine.
Our experience at Beaver Creek was nothing like that. I can honestly say it’s the smoothest kids’ check in and rental experience I’ve ever had. There was no line — we walked up to the desk, filled out our paperwork, and the staff took the kids back personally to help them get their gear. That was it. OK, that wasn’t entirely it, because I kept hovering, saying things like, “Um…do you need me to come with them? Also, they should go to the bathroom. Should I carry their skis?” and generally being annoying. But the staff did an excellent job of getting the kids outfitted and to their classes (with, yes, a bathroom stop!), while getting them excited about their day.
The kids set off for their classes, where I learned another unique feature of Beaver Creek’s ski school. The majority of the day, the kids’ classes aren’t held at the bottom of the hill. The kids take an enclosed gondola up the slope a ways, and practice up there at an area called The Ranch where they have the same experience of skiing on the mountain (and the same views and feeling of awe!) that adults do.
With the kids safely skiing, I did a little exploring and snowboarding myself. And again, one of the things I appreciated was the customer service. I got off the lift several times and asked the attendant at the top things like, “I like to snowboard blue squares…but closer to green circles than black diamonds. What do you recommend?” and they gave me several suggestions for good runs down the mountain.
And I lunched at the Spruce Saddle Lodge, at the top of the Centennial Express Lift, which has everything from sushi to pizza to sandwiches and kids’ meals (though my kids’ lunches were included with their lesson).
I did a few more runs and checked on the kids.
Just the perfect way to end the day!
The Epic SchoolKids Pass is already available for the 2017-2018 year. It’s really simple to register for a pass — if your child will be in kindergarten through 5th grade next fall, bring them to a Colorado Ski & Golf, Colorado Ski & Sport or Boulder Ski Deals store along with a report card, student ID and passport or birth certificate, and fill out an application for a pass. You can find answers to most of your other questions here.
If you’re visiting Beaver Creek Resort, also be sure to check out the Candy Cabin, at the top of the Strawberry Park Express Lift — you can find locally made chocolates and retro candy for a great treat on the way home. Also every Thursday night through the end of March the resort hosts Thursday Night Lights, which begins with a run down the mountain at dusk with glow sticks and ends with a fireworks show.
And in case you’re wondering, we ended the day very tired…and very happy!
disclosure: This post was sponsored by Vail Resorts. All opinions are my own and are honest and true.