The Secret to a Keystone Family Vacation for Solo Travelers

 In Travel without kids, USA

You don’t always have to take your kids on a Keystone family vacation; sometimes you just need to join your friends and their kids to have a great time. Nancy headed to Keystone, Colo. this month to find out what kind of fun was up on the mountain for a mom to enjoy sans kids. She discovered a lot more than she could have hoped at Keystone Resort. 

With more than a little trepidation, I packed hat, gloves and snow pants and headed for the airport. Bound for Keystone, Colorado, I was meeting friends for a short getaway Keystone family vacation. Although they had their families with them, I was going to be childfree… at a family resort.  We would meet up at the end of the day, but otherwise they would be with their families and I would be alone at Keystone Resort. Would I feel left out? Was I going to be lonesome for my own two children, who were unable to join me?  Most important: would I have fun?

Keystone Family Vacation

When I arrived at Lone Eagle condominiums and found the apartment that would be “home” for the next four days, I got my first inkling of what it would be like vacationing sans kids. I was staying in a large, one-bedroom condo with two bathrooms, a Jacuzzi, a huge shower and an abundance of towels. Not to mention a granite kitchen. I could and did spread out with abandon.

The next morning I discovered another advantage to being alone on a Keystone family vacation. I actually slept till 9 AM, undisturbed. My first Keystone Resort activity–a snowshoe eco-hike–wasn’t scheduled to start until 10:30, and my room was silent, dark and peaceful.  In no rush, I snuggled in with the myriad pillows and blankets at my disposal for an extra snooze.

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Keystone Family Vacation

Snowshoeing at Keystone Resort 

I did worry that I wouldn’t be physically fit enough to do the snowshoe hike.  “Don’t worry,” I was told at the Nordic Center. “If we only catered to fit people we would be out of business.”  With that encouragement I met three companions for a two-hour snowshoe hike along the Snake River.

Our guide was a font of knowledge regarding local nature, animals, mountains, and the area’s mining times.  We moved at a leisurely pace, stopping often to track an animal or to learn the difference between a Pine, Spruce and Fir.  We were taught to climb slowly and steadily instead of trying to keep too fast a pace and then needing to stop–a life lesson as well as a snowshoe tip.

To me, the pace was perfect—as was the unlimited soup buffet at the Nordic Center after our hike.  And  Jana Hlavaty, one of the women who manned the center, regaled us with stories of having participated in the 1976 Olympics and how then-President Ford had to grant her early citizenship so she could compete for the U.S.

The time passed so quickly at the Nordic Center that I had to rush to my next activity: a mountaintop snowcat ride through the back mountains of Keystone Resort. We were treated to breathtaking views of the Continental Divide, Ten Mile Range and the Gore Range. The most exciting part for me was getting to see  the ski areas that were inaccessible by lift or gondola. To reach these almost-virgin peaks one had to either hike in or go cat skiing (complete with lunch served in a yurt).  My status as a perpetually beginning skier guaranteed that this tour was the only way I would ever get to see these phenomenal views.  I don’t know that the children on my tour appreciated the spectacular views, but I surely did.

Keystone Family Vacation

The Spa at Keystone Lodge

The day’s adventures in the snow had been great fun, but nothing beat that evening’s adult activity: The Spa at Keystone Lodge. This is the true beauty of a Keystone family vacation for one. Designed to be a “sanctuary of serenity,”  the spa boasted over 10,000 square feet of amenities, including a relaxation room (where I was treated to blood orange sorbet after my  massage), outdoor heated pool, indoor/outdoor hot tubs, steam room, dry sauna, and fitness studio.

My massage therapist paid special attention to my thighs, which were sore from the snowshoeing. After 80 minutes my legs felt like rubber bands, and I was so relaxed as to almost be in a stupor. I couldn’t wait to grab one of the ever-present free Keystone Resort shuttles back to my quiet, peaceful room to collapse into bed.

I would happily have spent the rest of my trip at the Keystone spa, but the next morning the mountain beckoned. Since I hadn’t skied in many years, I signed up for a full-day lesson with one of my friends. Thanks to a separate kids’ ski school, we didn’t have to be embarrassed at being shown up by precocious six-year-olds. I didn’t have to feel strange being the only adult without children.

Our instructor, Jim, was completely non-threatening. In fact, we felt so at ease following his instructions on the training hill that before we knew it we were on the gondola to the upper part of the mountain.  By lunchtime, I realized that I was actually enjoying an activity that had heretofore terrified me.   “Aren’t we lucky to be out here, enjoying all this beauty?”  Jim asked, about halfway through the lesson. We most certainly were. I skied until the lesson ended at 3 PM–a first for me. I had always bailed at lunchtime.

Keystone Resort Colorado

Dining at Keystone Resort Colorado

For dinner we went even higher up the mountain at Keystone Resort, taking two gondolas to reach Der Fondue Chessel. This fondue restaurant was definitely a family place, with wandering musicians who peppered their performances with frequent renditions of the chicken dance. Yes, it was a bit noisy. But the fire was hot, the food was delicious, and the wine kept coming. Who cared that we were with kids? Actually, I was finding them fun to be around.

In fact, I enjoyed hanging with the families so much that I cancelled my ski lesson for the next day. I signed up for snow tubing to get a true sense of a Keystone family vacation at Keystone Resort. We took the gondola up the hill. Our crew piled into individual rubber tubes. We proceeded to slid down the tubing hill at what I was convinced was breakneck speed. The bumps in the snow reverberated through my whole body. Once I reached the bottom of the hill I jumped out of my tube and took a conveyor lift back up to the top to do it again. And again. And again.

Barreling down the hill, I felt free and exhilarated. I didn’t feel left out, and I wasn’t lonely. In fact, I was having the time of my life.

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Keystone Resort ColoradoNancy lives in New York City and is passionate about work life integration and the advancement of women. She has also written books, articles and newsletters on a variety of health and wellness topics. In addition, her two fabulous and unique children have inspired countless personal essays. 

Snowboarder via Shutterstock.com

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