Friday, December 2, 2011

Winter Park Trip Report

We have found that we absolutely love to be able to travel with good friends and all stay together so when we decided that WInter Park was our destination of choice for Thanksgiving vacation I immediately got on (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and to see what kind of houses were an option. Turns out a lot of places in Winter Park are on these site but managed through Winter Park Lodging so the dialogue about houses continued with them.

Amy at Winter Park Lodging Company was absolutely fantastic and incredibly helpful. I had several houses I wanted more info about so she sent me that as well as a couple that I hadn't noticed (or maybe they weren't on VRBO etc.) She was patient as I had lots of questions about very specific details about the houses and was even more patient as I couldn't commit as I was waiting for the other folks in our group to commit. Eventually we settled on a fabulous house at Base Camp.

I figured out a few years ago that a big house is the way to go on a vacation like this since we LOVE to travel with our friends. A house affords you luxuries that you can't get in a hotel such as a big living room to lounge in and a kitchen to cook in. It's a central meeting place to hangout. Not that you can't go into town and hangout but sometimes it's nice to just hang out and eat and drink in a house that all you have to do is crawl to bed in! And as far as finances go to be honest if you have a few families it is certainly cheaper than several hotel rooms would be. Plus you can save loads of money by cooking at home sometimes and stocking your fridge and such with snacks and drinks (of any variety!!!)

The actual house we got....
Base Camp 456

  • 4 bedrooms
    • Downstairs
      • 1 Room with 2 sets of bunks (so 4 beds total)
        • Full bathroom just across the hall from this room
    • Upstairs
      • 1 Master with King sized bed, fireplace, full bath
      • 1 room with Queen sized bed and twin bed with own bathroom
      • 1 room with Queen sized bed
        • Full bath just outside of the bedroom in the hallway
  • Huge living room on middle floor with fireplace & wet bar
    • Half Bathroom downstairs which is easily accessible from living room
  • Huge Kitchen (overlooking the living room half a floor up) with dining room and fireplace
    • Kitchen is fully stocked (and then some!) with pots, pans, dishes etc.
    • Huge fridge, dishwasher
  • Small deck off the kitchen area 
    • Fireplace is double sided so is outside as well (enclosed in glass)
    • Hot tub
    • gas grill
  • Second smaller living area on ground floor with pull-out couch and wet bar
  • Garage
  • Ground Floor - area to store your jackets boots etc.
  • TVs in every bedroom as well in both living room area
  • Technically ski-in ski-out (I say technically because we were there early enough in the season that half the mountain wasn't open so we could ski-out but couldn't ski back in
  • Bus stop that will take you to Village is right outside the door
This house was absolutely perfect for us (3 families so we took the upstairs rooms and the boys got the bunk room downstairs) and we would go back in a heartbeat! We cooked every night and enjoyed the huge living room to relax in and chill out. 

Winter Park Skiing & Snowboarding
We got lucky and they had gotten a bit of snow - it was a bit early in the season so there was a risk that there would be only a run or 2 open had there not been any snow (the can make some snow provided the weather conditions are right.) So there were more runs open on Winter Park than necessarily expected but still not many in the scheme of how many runs are available at Winter Park/Mary Jane. However it was plenty for us! Ken and I had pre-bought 4-pack passes from Christy sports when we were in town for GABF and that was a great deal. When we got there we found that it was early enough in the season that you cold still get those at the mountain for just a bit more than we paid. What is nice about these passes is that you can ski/board any 4 days during the season as opposed to tickets you buy at the regular ticket window where if you buy a 4 day pass it's 4 out of 5 days meaning you can take 1 day off in the midst of your trip but that's it. 

The staff at the mountain are very friendly and helpful. The village itself is nice with several restaurants and shops and of course bars. For comparison sake it isn't as extensive as the village at Whistler but it was still decent. 

Cheeky Monk
By far our favorite restaurant/bar to hit apres ski was the Cheeky Monk. It's a Belgian themed place that also happens to have some fantastic local craft beers. (And as usual I loved that they had no crap beer on tap!!!) Cheryl and I bellied up to the bar one day to enjoy a few drinks and found the bartender to be very friendly and helpful with suggestions of things to try (and not to try) around the city. We went back another day for lunch and enjoyed some amazing mussels (if you go you've gotta get the bacon gorgonzola mussels) and then back another day to hit the bar again. Each time we had fantastic food (the fries are so addicting), awesome drinks (their tap selection is fantastic) and some of the best service we've seen. HIGHLY recommend this place!

Doc's Roadhouse
Another restaurant/bar in the village. Okay food (nothing spectacular about it but it's certainly good), a so-so tap selection and decent service. My complaint was I asked for a local beer and the gal quickly says "Oh you should have a Mary Jane it's brewed specifically for us." Sold! Well after a few sips I find out that it's actually a Coors product. DAMN! Okay so that's local but it's not craft.... I should have been more specific apparently....

Derailer Bar
This one is right at the bottom of the slopes so it's the most convenient one to get to (though to be fair it takes all of 2 minutes to walk to the others from the bottom of the slope!) and it has the most TVs for football watching so that's what brought us in there. Didn't have a meal but had some chops and queso which were less than fantastic but they were food after a day of boarding so they fit the bill. Beer selection was okay but again they had a Coors product trying to masquerade as a real craft beer. GRRRRRRRRR! The service at the bar itself was fantastic. The gal was very friendly (and yes to me not just to Ken!) and that's no small feat when you are stick at work on Thanksgiving!

Winter Park Winery
We heard about this place so we asked the bartender at Cheeky Monk and he said it was pretty good and worth checking out so we did.  It's a quaint little "shop" that has a handful of tables and a bar area for tastings. The gentleman there was the owner who also happens to be a very accomplished mountain biker who is trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. We really enjoyed chatting with him. The wine was decent enough to buy a couple bottles for table wine but certainly not anything I'd be willing to buy a case of.  But if you are in the area it's worth the stop in. The tasting itself is a modest price $5 and it's a nice locally owned and run place (which I always like to try and patronize if I can.)

On the last night after we had finished Thanksgiving dinner we somehow managed to drag ourselves out to Fraser (town nearby) to go tubing. I haven't laughed that hard in I don't know how long. When someone says tubing you may be thinking a small hill to hp on a tube and slide down. Forget that! It's a big hill and I will tell you that you are hauling ass by the time you get to the bottom! Add to that the fact that apparently the idea is to link everyone together and go down as a group. We had 8 of us and 5 of the 8 were fairly decent sized guys... It doesn't take a physics major to understand the whole mass velocity relationship! Joan and I squealed and laughed the whole way down every time I think! This is the perfect activity for a group of people to do together!

Tommy Knocker's Brew Pub
This is not in Winter Park, it's in Idaho Springs which is between the Denver airport and Winter Park so we stopped there for some food and drinks on our way back to the airport. As you can tell from the picture they had quote the extensive sampler. And I have to say ALL of it was very good! We ordered up so me food too. I had the buffalo burger which was VERY tasty and the homemade potato chips as a side which could have been totally addictive if I went there often! All in all this is a great stop on your trek between Winter Park & Denver!

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