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Try ski-biking, kid-size snowmobiles and more at Vail

Vail, Colorado


Vail Mountain is 11 kilometres wide; add the enormous back bowls and, combined, you'll find 2,141 hectares of skiable terrain. The view is eye-popping. Also awesome: The top of almost every lift offers beginner, intermediate and advanced runs, which is handy when your family has a mix of ski levels - everyone can meet up at the bottom.

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A whopping 193 marked runs fan out over this 3,527-metre-high mountain. There are six kids' "adventure zones" with specially built fun runs, and for older kids there are three terrain parks, a race arena and a big new half-pipe that's five metres high and 152 metres long. Advanced skiers head for Vail's renowned Blue Sky Basin and the back bowls, reached via a new high-speed lift that halves the ride time to six minutes.


Ski-school instructors are experts at getting your child to the next level and happily debrief parents about their child's day on the mountain. Classes are small, and often include a fun mix of international kids and languages.

Vail's lift pass now tracks your day's progress - it's the high-tech version of marking up the trail map with a Sharpie. The Epic Mix program means skiers can instantly find each other on the mountain, check how much and how high they've skied, and immediately post (boast) it to Facebook and Twitter. In March, younger kids can log on to a protected EpicMix website to see what online badges they've earned on their alpine adventures.


There's something sweet at the bottom when the lifts close: Vail is famous for its free, 3 p.m. cookie break when the lifts close. Later, head back up the mountain to Adventure Ridge (top of the Eagle Bahn gondola) for ski-biking, kid-size snowmobiles, bungee trampoline and a wicked snow tube run that has a new, covered lift; the pleasant magic-carpet climb means tubing in a snowstorm isn't as crazy as it sounds (trust me).

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If you didn't bring the nanny, sign the kids up for $50, three-hour Après-Kids programs at The Lodge at Vail or The Arrabelle. Then head to Vendetta's for Italian (it's where the ski instructors all go). Or try the slopeside deck at Los Amigos - where your après margarita tastes even better watching skiers tumble down black-diamond Pepi's Face. Is a full body massage is in order? Head to the Rock Resorts Spa for its signature $295 Vin Chaud Indulgence.


$102 adult, $67 child (less if purchased in advance).


The Lodge at Vail for its grand history and impeccable luxury service right near the mountain's main ski lift. From $599. A "Ski Free Stay Free" package throws in a free night and a free day of skiing when two are purchased.

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There's so much mountain to ski you'll never get bored. Plus, Vail's international vibe makes it far more interesting than most American resorts.;;

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