Skiing in the Colorado Rockies

Vail Valley, Colorado

Growing up in the extremely flat state of Delaware, skiing was not something my family did regularly. As a kid, my parents took me to Pennsylvania a few times to learn to ski; but once my brother Ben and I got the hang of it, they started opting for warmer vacation destinations. My family has always been much more water-sport inclined. My Dad’s logic is: 1) the water is much more forgiving when you fall and 2) unlike skiing/snowboarding you don’t have to pay to go in the ocean. Solid points, I’d say.

So when Julian invited me to go skiing with his family in Colorado, I was a bit apprehensive. After all, I hadn’t skied since I was 14 and East Coast mountains are not exactly the Rockies. But once I saw photos of where we’d be staying, I was sold. Soon I was conjuring images of sipping hot cocoa by a fire, soaring down the mountain in my new gear, and relaxing at the spa after a long day on the slopes.

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch

If you haven’t heard of Bachelor Gulch before, don’t worry, neither had I before my trip. Bachelor Gulch is an enclave in Vail Valley and is so named for its original settlers, the five Swedish bachelors who called this deep V-shaped valley, or gulch, home. From the Ritz, the resort town of Beaver Creek is just down the road and Vail is less than a 20 minute drive.  

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is as stunning in real life as it is in pictures. Far from the hustle and bustle of the city, it’s the perfect place for a winter retreat. As soon as I walked through its doors twinkling with Christmas lights, I felt right at home. While some Ritzs can be a bit pretentious, this Ritz exudes understated luxury with its rustic decor evoking the great mountain lodges of the American West.

Photo credit: The Ritz

Highlights of Our Stay

We loved every moment of our stay but a few highlights stood out…

-Après-skiing at Bachelors Lounge, an open-air cigar bar kept warm with a roaring fire and electric heaters. After a long day of skiing, we’d head there for a glass of champagne or wine (or both…) and hors-d’oeuvres. We also spent many nights here, including NYE, sipping on cocktails and hanging out with friends.

Photo credit: The Ritz

-Listening to live music after skiing. The performer played a great selection of classic hits and always drew a fun crowd.

-Relaxing at the spa. After skiing, there was nothing better than heading to the spa to unwind. The grotto jacuzzi was the perfect thing for our tired muscles. We also took advantage of the steam rooms, saunas, hot and cold plunge pools, and the relaxation room.

Photo credit: The Ritz Carlton

-Breathing in the fresh mountain air. After being at home in Delaware for the holidays and Mexico City before that, I really enjoyed the change of scenery and reveled in the crisp air and the sight of snow and pine trees.

Taking in the views in my cashmere lounge set from Jewel Toned’s Dear Drew line. Treat yourself to a set and receive 30% off your purchase with the code Sarah30.

-Snowshoeing to Zach’s Cabin (more on that later!)


Unfortunately, the skiing conditions were not ideal. In fact, it was the least snow Colorado had seen in years! It was a shame Colorado was not quite the winter wonderland I had envisioned but that’s Mother Nature for you and it’s no use getting upset about. In a way, the less than ideal conditions were a blessing for me because I’m a huge baby about the cold. Most days, we were skiing in the high 30s and low 40s. Balmy temperatures for winter in Colorado!

Skiing in Beaver Creek. As you can see, the mountains behind me are completely devoid of snow!

Skiing in Bachelor Gulch is super comfortable because you can ski in and out of the hotel. You literally just put your gear on, grab your boots and skis (which are stored with the ski valet) and off you go! Also, an on-site mountain guide tells you everything you need to know about the day’s conditions and gives you recommendations based on your skill level before you hit the slopes. Beaver Creek Mountain is great for beginners and also has plenty of fun runs for intermediate skiers. One day, we made the trek to Vail which has more terrain and advanced runs. Vail also boasts superior views as you can see from the pics below.

Since my skiing skills were rather rusty, I decided to hire an instructor my first day. For beginners or anyone who hasn’t skied in a while, I’d highly recommend doing a group or private lesson. It’s not cheap but I considered it an investment in my future as a skier. In the end, it was so worthwhile. A good instructor will help you master your form, give you personalized tips, prevent you from doing anything potentially dangerous, and best of all, give you a big confidence boost!

Me with my favorite ski instructor Jim. Turns out he attended the University of Virginia too, Wahoowa!


The Vail Valley Food Scene 

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Vail Valley has an impressive food scene. There are so many amazing restaurants serving up the best of local cuisine. I’d return just for the food! My favorite restaurants were…

Mirabelle– A super cozy Belgian spot perfect for food and wine enthusiasts. I tried elk here for the first time and it did not disappoint. Don’t skip the souffle, both the chocolate and Grand Marnier are to die for.

Zach’s Cabin– Perched on the mountainside high above Bachelor Gulch you can only get here by skiing, snowshoeing, or by taking a sleigh ride on the Snow Cat. During the day, it’s only open to members but at night it’s open to the public. We loved the rustic cabin decor, roaring fire, and hearty, delicious meals.

Juniper– A bustling eatery considered one of the best dining spots in the valley. We dined as a big group here and everyone was happy.

Julian’s tasty pork chop


Another major highlight of our trip was snowshoeing up Bachelor Gulch Mountain for lunch at Zach’s Cabin. It was definitely a workout but the thought of a good meal was a real motivating force. We went on New Years Day and it was the best start to 2018! The views were incredible and after so much indulging it felt good to know we burned 1000 calories going up and down the mountain.

Our snowshoe group
While snowshoeing, you really get the chance to appreciate the natural beauty all around you
The one thing that kept me going… the thought of lunch at the famous Zach’s Cabin
After climbing up the mountain, going down was a piece of cake!


We had such a packed schedule everyday that I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time in Vail. Guess I’ll just have to go back! Vail is made up of three lively areas: Vail Village, Lionshead, and Golden Peak. Vail Village and Lionshead were inspired by Swiss alpine villages and they’re filled with twinkling lights, endless shops, restaurants, and après hot spots. The shops in Vail Village are a mix of high end designers, ski shops, boutiques, and even a few Colorado classics. Do not miss Designer Furs and leather-wear specialist Kemo Sabe.

The ice skating rink in Lionshead
Vail Village at night
Stop into Kemo Sabe for a taste of real Colorado grit

Magical Colorado

If you had asked me before this trip whether I prefer a tropical beach or a winter wonderland, I would’ve picked beach without hesitation. But after our week in Colorado I may be a convert. Our winter escapade made me remember how magical the snow-covered mountains are and how there’s nothing quite like snuggling up by the fire with your loved ones. While I’ll always be a beach girl at heart, there’s something that awakens the spirit in the mountains… the fresh Colorado air, lush pine forests, and glow of a roaring fire are memories I won’t soon forget.

What’s your idea of the perfect vacation? Do you prefer a tropical beach or a winter wonderland? Comment below!


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20 Comments on "Skiing in the Colorado Rockies"

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Agness of a Tuk Tuk

This place seems like an ultimate skiing destination, Sarah. I really wasn’t aware of the beauty of Colorado. How many days would you recommend staying there?


I have never been to a place where it snows. Its on top of my list hope i make it to Winter wonderland one day. I want to learn to Ski too 🙂

Josephine Sandig

Oh wauw this looks beautiful! I would love to go skiing again.. Maybe someday I’ll go there 🙂


Wow, Colorado looks like an incredible place to ski!! And I would definitely take advantage of the spa at the Ritz Carlton, looks so relaxing by the pool!

Lieselot De Brauwer

Those views!! And looks perfect to soak in the pool after a good day skiing 🙂


Ashamedly, I’ve never been skiing – partly due to fear, partly I’ve never looked into it but after this post i am in LOVE. From lounging in cashmere to the beautiful Bacherlor’s lounge, it looks like a trip of a lifetime and one I’d definitely add to the bucketlist. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post!


Well, my perfect holidays is none of the two. Neither winter wonderland, although I love skiing, nor a beach holiday, although I love sunshine. I prefer more a holiday where you can discover a region, visiting places.


That hotel looks spectacular! And that food looks absolutely delicious. I’ve never been skiing before but I must admit, this post is tempting me!


I love the idea of the Apres ski- your photos make that look so cozy and lush! I’ve never mastered the skill of skiing, but I could be tempted to try again just for the apres ski alone now.

Aneesha Rai

The Ritz Carlton looks fancy as hell! Was it reasonable ? I’ve never been skiing; but everything is so breathtaking! That pork chop looks delectable!


Wow, this looks like an incredible trip! The food, the lodging, and the weather sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing all the great spots

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