No matter how much we try, my family is always on the verge of chaos. Our daughter Molly is in a constant state of either pogo-sticking off a cliff or trying to stick a wet knife into a power socket. I’m painfully aware that most of the time I look half-panicked. And my dear husband pulls his eyebrow hairs out by the root when he’s stressed. Let’s just say his eyebrows are “patchy.” You’d think we had triplets or something. But, no. We just have one wild, willful—ahem—some would say, “spirited,” three year old.
I was ecstatic for our trip to Colorado’s Four Seasons Resort Vail: our first time visiting the Euro-stylish ski village and one of the world’s top ski destinations. I knew a trip to the mountains would be serene and I looked forward to intermingling with the calmer, more refined folk Four Seasons hotels tend to attract.
Deep down, I was hoping that maybe some of the behavior of the guests would rub off on us. Perhaps we’d return home, and quietly stir our tea while engaging in legitimate conversations. Perhaps Molly would stop picking her nose in restaurants. It seemed like at Four Seasons, the sky was the limit. As a bonus, we were bringing my husband’s father, Fred, along with us. Visiting from his small town in Fort Qu’Appelle (Saskatchewan, Canada), Fred doesn’t believe in extravagances, and we wanted to blow his mind with the always-impeccable five-star service.
Naturally, we arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late. Although we had the foresight to check-in online, we missed the opportunity (by one minute) to check our bags. An LAX employee handed us trash bags and informed us that if we wanted to make our flight, we’d have to ditch our suitcase and throw everything in the bags to carry on.
And just like that, my dream of refinement dissipated. We arrived at Four Seasons in Vail with our clothes in trash bags and Molly crying because we told her she couldn’t eat snow for dinner. The cheerful staff raised not an eyebrow, but my planned alter ego (the sophisticated, air-kissing hotel guest), had already offed herself.
When we got to our suite, Molly immediately put some items in the “washing machine” (the safe) and “turned it on” (locked it). But this inconvenience was lost on us as we gasped at the luxury before us: a fire flickering in the fireplace, epic balcony views of the Rockies dusted in white powder and the kicker… a bottle of ice-cold champagne with a card that read, “Welcome, Gosselin Family.”
And for Molly? In the middle of the master bedroom was a tent made just for pint-sized guests. On the table: two decadent chocolate chip cookies with her name written across the plate in chocolate. Suddenly, Molly became interested in this Vail place.
A good friend gave me some practical advice for traveling to ski resorts with children: don’t cram too much into one day. So on our first day, after wandering through magical Vail Village, we took Molly ice-skating for her first time. She absolutely loved it.
We then went back to the resort and stopped by the resort’s (seasonal) Kids For All Seasons* kids’ club. She played with Play-Doh and enjoyed a few rounds of Connect Four with her grandpa. It capped off the day perfectly. Activities like skating and skiing can be a lot for the little ones, especially since they’re not used to the altitude, so having this area where she could play quietly and unwind was exactly what she needed.
The next day was a big one: her first ski lesson. We dropped Molly off at ski school (her group was the three to six year olds) and I was able to watch her ski from an adjacent restaurant, while my husband and father-in-law also took to the slopes—all of which was organized by the resort’s ski concierge. Meanwhile, to ensure we didn’t miss a moment of Molly’s first ski experience, the ski school hires EpicMix to capture each moment. Everyone had a blast, especially Molly. When we got back to our suite, she ran to her tent and didn’t come out for a good couple of hours. We ordered up a bottle of wine. We all came out winners.
I was lucky enough to have a chat with Executive Chef Jason Harrison from the resort’s Flame restaurant. Chef Jason told me all about how he’s been working on adding some fun to the existing menu with a unique twist on approachable food—including Rocky Mountain elk corndogs, bison potstickers, as well as lots of family-style plates, with many of the sharing-sized steaks carved tableside.
That night, I was inspired to eat. A lot. So I rounded up the usual suspects and headed down to Flame. We started with flights of the crispest champagne I’ve ever tasted and took chef up on his offer to plan our meal for us. Father-in-law Fred was hesitant. This had never happened to him before and the thought of not being able to control his order bothered him. However, once the sommelier brought over the second glass of wine, and Fred had his first bite of a lobster taco, he realized that this was, indeed, the finest idea he’d ever had.
While Molly’s picky palette was accommodated with fresh pasta and a side of fruit, the rest of us dined on lamb chops with pumpkin and beet risotto, ahi tuna tartare, wild mushroom-and-bacon ragout, fresh-cut, duck fat fries, Boursin creamed spinach and the showstopper: a 32-ounce, dry Waygu aged Ribeye, hauled straight from the in-house, 1,800-degree char broiler—cooked to perfection and carved tableside.
Each course came with a new flight of wine, with the flavor, region and paring described for us by the sommelier. For dessert, we all shared a dark chocolate to-die-for soufflé and maple bacon doughnuts with palisade cherry and bourbon jam.
Did I mention we had more wine?
It’s the little things. The fireplace. The hot cocoa that tasted like a melted Cadbury chocolate bar. And although the resort is a luxurious one, the entire staff is inherently down-to-earth. The resort manages to be sophisticated and laidback at the same time. Each day, the complimentary shuttle would take us into the village, piloted by a driver who may hold the title for friendliest person on the planet. In fact, the whole team was genuinely there to make sure our experience was a wonderful one.
When we told the front desk the staff they would have to break in to their own safe because our toddler had locked it, they laughed and told us not to worry. Each question was met with a smile. Each recommendation was a great one. The heated, outdoor pool was fabulous. The mini robe and slippers for Molly were adorable. And in the end, I realized that you don’t need to be refined to be accepted at Four Seasons. They treat everyone like celebrities—even guests who arrive with trash bags and feisty toddlers.
Read our “Concierge Recommendations” for Vail in Four Seasons Magazine.
*Kids For All Seasons (KFAS) is a Four Seasons complimentary recreational and educational program for children of resort guests. Most KFAS clubs are designed for youth four to 12 years old, and open daily from 9 to 5. (Younger children can often join KFAS with a nanny or parent, or resorts can arrange for babysitting.) But details vary from property to property, so check the resort’s website for more information.
Kids can go all day or just for an hour or two. Activities inside and out include games, sports, music, treasure hunts, swimming, arts and crafts, cultural education, environmental preservation work and yoga. Not your average camp, the VIP offerings are pretty extraordinary—for example, at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, children get to experience Hawaiian cultural traditions, such as making fragrant leis by hand with flowers gathered from the resort’s extensive gardens, ukulele lessons and learning about the legend of how Maui got its name; plus fishing along the shore and examining the sea cucumbers, urchin, hermit crabs and coral that live in the nearby tide pools.
Explore all of the Special Offers at Four Seasons Resorts across the globe.
After receiving her undergraduate degree in English from Cal State University Long Beach in California, Laura Gosselin completed her MFA at Southampton College of Long Island University. She has since served as a reporter for a local newspaper in New York, an editor for a national magazine in Vancouver, Canada, as well as senior copywriter for a marketing firm. She currently lives in southern California with her husband and daughter where she works as a producer for various Four Seasons' online platforms including Have Family Will Travel and Taste by Four Seasons.
View all posts from Laura
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