We spent Christmas Ever through New Year's Eve at Winter Park Resort in Colorado. We chose Winter Park because the ski-able terrain resort looked immense (it is) and it had no blackout days with our Ikon Base Pass.
The whole West was suffering some from lack of snow so I didn't get to ski all the things, especially the side-country areas in Vasquez. So it was a lot of groomers which was fun and good to work the legs into shape. I put in 23K vertical feet one day.
They do a great job grooming the mountain. And because of that every lift has a Green and Blue run and most also have Diamond and Double Diamonds, so from one lift your whole group can ski what they like and then regroup at the bottom. I definitely recommend Winter Park for families and groups where everyone is not the same skill level.
Dawn took a full-day lesson one day and she really loved the instructor and the lesson. The class was focused on improving your parallel skiing. She feels like she got a lot out of it. I can also say, her skiing improved as well. (Solid skills are the foundation of a lifelong love of skiing!) The instructor was soo friendly. I ran into the class on the mountain and he took our picture. He didn't need to do that, it was very nice of him.
Winter Park is a fully digital lift experience, which let's you walk up, scan your Ikon Pass trough your parka and use the lift. No need to stop by the ticket booth lines or barcode scanners. In addition, on-mountain you can pay with your Ikon Pass and get discounts on food and other purchases (t-shirts, stickers, gloves, etc.) the Ikon Pass was a great experience at Winter Park.
You meet Home James Shuttle at the airport and they drop you off at your Hotel. Shuttles are High Roof passenger vans, very comfy. Easy Peasy! On your way back to the airport, the shuttles can get off schedule. I would plan to take the shuttle that is the one before the one you think you need to take. Give yourself extra time. You may think you'll have 1.5 hours when you get to the airport, but you'll end up with 50 minutes and no time to eat or whatever else you need to do. Just pad your schedule, their website will let you cut it too close.
We stayed at the Viking Lodge. Its a very affordable lodge which at the time of our visit was also being remolded. This place is very cute and the people are super nice. I am sure once the remodel done prices will go up. Beds were comfy mail-order type memory foam mattresses. I had never slept on one of these, and was worried, but it was comfy. They offer pod-coffee in the lobby where you can also sit on coaches by the gas fireplace and read a book by the Christmas tree. It was a place to relax.
The hotel also has outdoor lockers to hold your skis. They will hold up-to 2 pairs. It was nice to have and right on your way in. I've stayed at other places where you had to go down into the basement to locker your skis which was less preferred.
Overall, I would definitely recommend the Viking to travelers who don't like to spend their whole budget on hotel rooms and when the remodel is done, I think the charm will grow exponentially!
If you are arriving to Winter Park after 8pm on any day, depending on your dietary needs, you may have limited or NO options to get food. We arrived on Christmas Eve and NOTHING was open. McDonald's was closed. We ate some bars we brought with us and some chips from the vending machine at the Best Western. We could have grabbed some food at the airport before we got on the Shuttle. I wish Home James or the Viking had mentioned this.
This place needs to be remodeled. I guess its the cheap place to eat on the mountain. I thought it was dirty and not up to the standards of the rest of the resort and the food was not interesting or good. I wish we had not gone in.
They were playing a Jazz Station from Denver on the PA outside the DJ was straight outta the Beatnik playbook. Very funny and great music!
Sunspot Mountain Top Lodge & Provisioner
I had the chicken noodle soup, solid soup soo good when its 10F outside. It was PACKED.
We had a drink one afternoon at the bar. They cannot make a Manhattan. Order a beer or something on their cocktail list.
OMG the Chicken Confit Pot Pie is soo good. Seriously. Just go and eat it. The Green Chili is also good. But order the pot pie again the next day too. ;-) It was PACKED.
Food good, the sausage appetizer is 3/4s of a pig I think. So plan accordingly. We sat the bar and the service was horrible, waiting for drinks, waiting to order food. It was not busy and the bartender was chatting up everyone else working instead of waiting on customers. (Bad service is a thing in Winter Park... there were lots of help wanted signs in town.)
Mary Jane Ale House
Solid Beer. Not more to say other than again... crappy service. Sitting at the bar and no they will not ask if you want anything... ever. You have to interrupt the straightening of coasters.
Vertical has hands down the best pork chop I have ever eaten. Go there. Eat things. Be Happy. The baked Avacado was also soo good. I'm going to have to try that at home.
We again sat the the bar and it was busy but I thought this bartender did a good job keeping up. the food though was soooo good!
In Town Dining
We prebooked (weeks ahead) a reservation for 7pm for Christmas dinner. We were given a crappy table under the stairs. Staff could NOT deal with the traffic at all. What I wanted to order (the special for tonight) was unavailable. Fine, I guess... mind you its 7pm not 10pm. So, I had to then wait 20 minutes for the waiter to come back and take our order. They do have an extensive wine list if you can afford it. I've had 1975 Mouton its not worth $800.
The food we finally did get was good but not great. My thought on Deno's is order a steak. If you don't eat steak don't go to Deno's. It seems to be what they do, it was my fault for thinking I could eat something else. (I don't usually eat steak.)
Really good. Great Service. Staff super friendly. Best place we ate in Winter Park.
Solid Mexican. I had the Pollo Mole which was great. I'm picky about my mole. The bartender was super friendly and funny.
If you're really nice they'll give you a shot from the hoof!
We went on Sunday. Last Day of the Regular Season Sunday. The staff was SLAMMED although the place had just turned over 1/2 the tables (1/2 empty). Sitting at the bar did not yield faster service. I don't blame the staff on this one, clearly they lacked the people to deal with the size of this venue. The bartender was also busing tables.. The staff was nice though and I could tell they were also frustrated. Beer... very good. Food... good quality bar food. Solid. Nothing you've never had, but a solid brew-pub.
I had the lasagna, REALLY good. Also order a salad though, its not huge. It is the right serving you should eat. You just might also want a salad.
Dawn had a salad that looked nothing like the photo and it was extremely boring and meh. I think all their photos are from stock photos and not of their actual food. Read the descriptions carefully.
Great coffee comfy seating. All you need. They share space with a high-end outdoor retail shop so you can look at that too.
Green Spaces Co-Working
We need to put in a day of work so we hit up the Green Spaces co-working. The place is super functional, the guy working the desk was very nice. Everyone was wearing their Everest expedition down jackets because it was cold. The exposed concrete in the couch alcoves and the exposed metals beams were the same temperature as outside (it was 6F or maybe 12F that day). I think the place is new, I'm sure they'll fix that.
Otherwise, we were very happy with the network and the coffee. Dawn had phone meetings the phone booths were great. They had these suction cup desks on the window so you could also stand up if you wanted. I liked the space, it just needs a couple tweaks.
The Foundry (Movies and Bowling)
We just walked through here and it was adorable inside. Newly renovated the place is done very well and it was very busy\popular. I wish we had time to bowl, it looked fun!