Thursday, August 29, 2013

Kid's Stuff To Do in Vail

We kids have a pretty big influence on the vacations of our parents. First, we make it harder for them to go out late at night to party like they did before we came along. Second, we shift the day time activities to things that are kid-friendly, so no more zip lining or wall climbing (not that my parents really did that stuff before).

But many hotels are starting to realize that offering child care services on site will attract younger families where the parents are still physically active (or just want a break from being around us 24/7).

Westin Kids Club
The Westin Riverfront has what looks to be an amazing Kids Club experience. We've seen a few Kids Clubs in Thailand that were pretty good, but they have nothing on this Westin Riverfront edition.

First, the room itself is pretty large and decorated like an elementary school classroom on a sugar high. They had a ton of different toys, activities, crafts, shows, games, etc.

Second, the staff there are two dedicated Kids Club professionals who genuinely love children. While other Kids Clubs I've seen at other hotels were fine (Sheraton Krabi, Conrad Koh Samui), they were staffed with just 1 person who seemed like they got assigned Kids Club that day instead of cleaning buffet tables or setting up pool chairs.

Unfortunately, the Westin Riverfront had to abide by some Colorado rule that restricted access only to kids above the age of 5 years old. As you may know, I'm much younger than that, so while I didn't get to participate, I did get to sneak in 30 minutes of playtime with my grandmother one morning when they weren't so busy.

But in case any of you readers are above the age of 5, here are the rules and offerings.

- Saturday-Thursday:  9AM-5PM
- Friday-Saturday: 9AM-5PM and 6PM-9PM
- 24 Hour Reservations Required

Prices (per child)
- $95 for All Day (4-8 hours)
- $55 for 3 Hour Sessions
- $24 per Hour
- $10 for Picnic Style Lunch

After looking through the pamphlet, the Kids Club is more like an active educational day care than just a passive play area. Sessions include a healthy snack and indoor/outdoor activities (learning about animals, water, gardening, arts & crafts, etc). Looks like something I'll enjoy when we come back in a few years.

But even though I couldn't come in, they did give me a nice little Westin Kids Club backpack filled with baby toiletries (shampoo, lotion and baby powder). Thanks, Westin!

Family Mountain Hike
Now, because my parents are cheap love being around me so much, I spent most of my time with them. Instead of pawning me off to some strangers, we found other ways to enjoy our family time in a beautiful Colorado setting, such as hiking along the Vail Mountains.

So after lunch on Wednesday, my parents, grandmother and I drove 10 minutes along I-70 East to the Lionshead (western) section of Vail Village. Lucky for us, parking during the summers is free for everyone which was a nice touch.

When we arrived at Lionshead around 1PM, we walked through the quaint little village area and eventually found the Gondola Lift Ticket window where we bought all day gondola passes (10AM-4PM).

Tickets cost $26/adult, but kids under 4 years old were free. Our plan was only to use it 2x (going up, hiking a bit, and going back down), so $26/person seemed a bit much, but when in Vail...

From Lionshead (bottom red circle on the photo), the gondola took us up to the Eagle's Nest area halfway up one of the mountains (upper red circle). From there we were going to hike across (laterally) east to the other gondola that would put us back in Vail Village (the eastern section). Of course, you smart readers will ask, "How will you get your car which parked back in Lionshead?" Well, there's a free bus shuttle that goes back and forth from Vail Village to Lionshead. Now back to the story...

If you've never been on a gondola before, like my mother, you might get a bit freaked. As you can see from the photo, she was very afraid of heights. Now, my father is actually also afraid of heights, but not all the time (airplanes, gondolas) because as he puts it, "looking out the window makes it not seem real," which, even at less than 2 years old, I realize is B/S.

[Note: I'm 100% sure my mother would not want me posting this great photo of her, but thankfully she doesn't read my blog.]

So once we were at Eagle's Nest, we saw Adventure Ridge, an activity park that has a bunch of activities catered for kids of all ages, including an "adult jungle gym," a bungee/trampoline contraption, a small pony and a nature center filled with stuffed wild animals, frisbee golf, mini golf, etc).

While I was big enough to ride the pony, up until that moment, I had only seen them in books, so I wasn't ready to actually engage with a live one. So we passed on the pony ride in case that the experience scarred me for life the way my adult father is still morbidly afraid of clowns. Good call, Dad.

After spending about 30 minutes in the Nature Center, we started making our way on the hiking trail called Fireweed which went laterally across the mountain to the other gondola. Of course, there were several hiking trails that took you down the mountain, but those would take hours and my mother had her 5:30PM yoga class back at the hotel.

The hiking trail was very well worn (the first 25% was actually just a dirt road), so it's definitely not reminding anyone of Robert Frost poems. But it was my first hike ever, so cut a 2 year old some slack.

I'd like to be able to tell you all that I walked on my own for the the entire 1 mile hike, but as you can see, the photos prove otherwise.

We reached the gondola and went down the mountain to Vail Village. Checking the time, it was only 3PM so we did everything (including a short 30 minute stay up at Adventure Ridge) in about 2 hours.

Overall, I had a great afternoon being carried by hiking with my parents. I saw some dandelions and some cool rocks, which always makes for a great kid's day. But definitely put on some sunscreen before you venture out and bring some bottles of water. That Colorado sun can be pretty sneaky hot.

1 comment:

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