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Trip Report Keystone Village Family Ski Trip Report: So-So location

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Our family had a lovely first-time ski vacation. Mainly this was due to the fact that our children learned to ski and Keystone has great geography and terrain. Next time, however, we will probably look for a different location for our ski trip.

The statement that I read elsewhere on Fodors: "Breckenridge is a town; Keystone is a resort" is probably a true comparison, though I'm no expert on ski locale. Regarding Keystone, it is about 4 miles long and easy to navigate the stretch of basically 2-3 village areas where the hubs of activity are gathered. There is certainly something to do for everyone: skiing day or night, snowboarding (lots of snowboarders here), all winter sports activities, a 5-acre skating rink (hockey too), and little villages full of bustling and quaint activities, even Lego for the kids.

The food is so-so, even at the high end places. Though we made reservations via Open Table before coming, we didn't need them, as the walk-in restaurants were just as good as far as cuisine and service, and far more convenient. The fondue restaurant was closed the night we'd reserved it because of cold weather. Even grab-and-go food is extremely expensive, as at most ski resorts, but a $6 fountain drink was seemed downright unreasonable. The best place we ate was a Mexican restaurant that seemed to cater to the locals, located across the street from the village and near the convention center.

Keystone is easy to navigate with gondola service, extremely easy to navigate slopes and shuttles to take you between them. The same company runs everything so no matter where you are, someone is glad to help you, whether you need to change out a ski boot (at a different rental shop) or call a shuttle to pick you up (from exactly where you are). Parking is easy (some lots are paid lots) or you can take a shuttle if you prefer that route. Though we found everything we needed right in Keystone proper, we heard that you can purchase tickets that are valid in nearby Breckenridge and Keystone, or Keystone and Copper. There is certainly enough to do right here for several days at least.

Though the Decatur building, the condominium where we stayed in Keystone Village, was extremely dated, it was generously, amazingly roomy. Laundry service was not in the unit but was in the building (coin op). There are ski lockers downstairs for each unit. The rooms were clean but we were disappointed to find that housekeeping did not come daily unless you paid a steep add-on fee. The staff was friendly and told us to call for anything, but when we called because our room key stopped working and were locked out of the building in 1 degree weather, they did not come for 30 minutes. We called again and were told they were too busy, so we finally took the shuttle to the check-in building to get a new key. Also the Decatur building did not have enough hot water. We came in one evening about 6:30 and wanted to take showers before bed but there was NO hot water in our unit. There was no hot water all night until the next morning.

Regarding the ski activity, we found it to be quite congested. Our children took private lessons the first two half days, and we took the lessons with them because we wanted to all stay together. There was no shortage of instructors or help/service at the mountain, and both of the instructors we used were extremely helpful. This was time well spent, of course, for the kids, but more than that, the parents got to visualize what a waste it would have been to put them in the oft-recommended "ski school." The ski school had classes of youngsters who were so crowded together in herds that they were lined up in a full circle around the magic carpet, waiting most of the day instead of skiing. The bunny slopes were so congested it was dangerous. The private lesson afforded us the opportunity to move out of these crowds on slightly different areas. The third day we went atop River Run and saw the snow castle (slides and ice castle for the kids, very cool) and do some larger learning runs with the kids. Hubby got to do some larger runs that day as well. Our last day we put the youngest kids back in a private lesson while the oldest and parents went "real" skiing. By the half day mark all children could go on the big slopes, but the youngest just didn't want to. The big kids (ages 8 and 7) went with dad and I stayed with the 5 year old on the discovery slopes. This was fine except, again, for the congestion. My husband said even the big slopes were terribly packed and it was hard to ski around people. Over on the bunny slope my youngest daughter got completely wiped out by a 9 year old boy who then walked off with HER ski without even glancing back (they collided so hard all skis were off). Keystone is clearly a place where people come to learn, as there are few people who really know what they are doing and most are just figuring things out. This has its advantages because people are generally tolerant of learners but it can also be dangerous when there are too many newbies in one place at a time.

Though we had a nice vacation in Keystone, it was not the resort or the property itself that made the vacation memorable. It wasn't terrible, but we will probably try something else and look for different accommodations next time.

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