It has been ten years since the Epperly family has taken a true cold-weather vacation. On our last trip, which was to Jackson Hole, we went dog sledding (which was nicer in theory than in execution – think about the view you get at the back of the pack when you’re riding on the sled), went on a ridiculously long snowmobile tour (hint: for your first time on a snowmobile, don’t sign up for the 12 hour option), and forgot to wear gloves or jackets to the top of the mountain when taking advantage of the complimentary ski lift passes we were given. When it comes to the snow, we’re just awkward and ill-prepared, mainly because we never get to experience snow.
Just ask any middle Georgia resident: how many “snow days” have you had that closed local schools and businesses where you actually saw snow? Maybe 1% of those days there were flurries. Nothing ever sticks. When I was a kid and a snow day was declared, I went to sleep just knowing there’d be a blanket of white magically dusted across the ground overnight, only to find gray clouds and a lack of flurries the next morning.
When I lived in Athens, we were fortunate to receive just enough snow to go sledding on cookie sheets and inflatable air mattresses. I broke two toes my first time “sledding.” Like I said, awkward and ill prepared.
So, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as I boarded the plane for Denver today, especially when the forecast predicted a high of 11 degrees upon our arrival into Vail. And yes, the Weather Channel meant Fahrenheit. I checked. It is a long day of travel: an hour and a half drive to Atlanta, nearly three hour flight to Denver, nearly three hour shuttle transfer to Vail. We could be in some place warmer after that travel time, right?!
But thank goodness we aren’t. This part of Colorado received their first big snow – reportedly 9+ inches – last night, so the drive between Denver and Vail is breathtaking, especially as the snow pours outside the window for the majority of the ride.
I’ve never seen my mother so overjoyed. As the snow flurries grow stronger, she keeps looking out the window saying, “Whoa. Whoa! WHOA! LOOK!” and taking pictures from her iPad. Good thing this is her birthday celebration!
We arrive to Vail right as night approaches: Christmas lights illuminate the town, snow flurries sprinkle around us. Now I see what we’ve been missing all of these years.
The Four Seasons is beyond amazing – the property, which I’ve written about in the past, is just breathtaking, and we are fortunate enough to hear my favorite words upon checkin: “We’re happy to inform you that you’ve been upgraded!”
Upgraded is an understatement. I’m on this trip as a guest, not as an agent, booked under the Four Season’s incredible buy one night, get one free sale (unfortunately, this ended for the season this week, but it’s something to keep in mind and get me to check on for your upcoming FS stays!). For four nights in a standard guest room, with the Virtuoso amenities I provide for all my clients – complimentary breakfast for two guests daily, an upgrade if available, $100 spa credit – my family of three’s stay came out to under $800 total. WHAT?! For a Four Seasons, you guys. You can afford to travel in luxury. You just need an agent with great connections to find you something amazing and add extra value, like the Virtuoso amenities mentioned above. And that’s the end of my sales pitch.
My incredible reps here upgraded our room to a One Bedroom Suite with a village view and we are beside ourselves with excitement. The 1 BR Suite is immaculate – photos don’t even do it justice.
I know that the Four Seasons didn’t personally arrange the snow that landed perfectly on our balcony, but it sure is a nice touch.
We arrive just in time to walk around in the quiet village. Visiting before high season is like the calm before the storm, although you do take a gamble on whether or not you’ll get postcard-perfect winter conditions. We lucked up. Vail Village is gorgeous, even in the dark:
For dinner, we try out the concierge’s recommendation of Campo de Fiori, which is incredible authentic Italian food. And Italian food is never complete without tiramisu for dessert…at least, that’s my personal motto.
Before we came to Colorado, people told us, “Oh, it’s a different kind of cold than we have in the South. You won’t feel it at all!” This was, in the 11 degree weather, surprisingly true. However, when we finish dinner and enter into -8 degree weather, we realize it is a horrible lie. I could not feel my nose and lips after one minute in the brisk air.
This week, we have tons of activities lined up: snowmobiling (a shorter tour), hot air ballooning (cold air ballooning might be a more appropriate term), and hopefully, if it’s open in time, snow tubing. All of these activities take little to no athletic skill on my part. We’re debating on taking ski lessons, which should be a fantastic blow to the ego watching tons of children under 10 years old breeze past me on the bunny slopes. It’s just like riding a bike, right? Please reference my time in Bora Bora to understand why nothing in my life is just like riding a bike.
If worse comes to worse and I cannot manage to learn how to ski or snowboard, I am an excellent hot cocoa drinker. Seriously. I have perfected that skill with grace and ease. That will be my activity of choice for the next four days.