Similar to previous trips, our President Paige Zutavern designed this travel excursion to double as a company retreat and family vacation. This is something we recommend for business owners, especially small business owners, who have limited time to get away from the office but still want to do something special for their staff and spend time with their family. Plus, it was a neat chance for Paige to take Maria (Mavi), her foreign exchange student from Italy, so that she could take in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains during her time in the USA.
Rent-A-Van | Lincoln: (402) 421-3400 | Omaha: (402) 933-2500 | rentavanlincoln.com
Colorado is definitely a popular travel destination for Nebraskans, due to the close proximity and all the alluring outdoor activities that it has to offer. Our drive time to get there added up to about eight hours, and while this is a doable drive compared to other hot travel spots across the country, it’s still quite a lengthy time for seven people to spend in the car together. Luckily, we decided to rent a van from Rent-A-Van! We comfortably fit ourselves, along with all our luggage (including three snowboards!!!) into Rent-A-Van’s seven-passenger full-size van. We were amazed! At first, we were nervous about getting everything to fit, but the four feet of trunk space behind the back seat was plenty of room for all our stuff. Aside from its functional components, the van also had great entertainment accessories. Our group enjoyed watching movies the whole way to Colorado on the plasma-screen TV, which had a good sound system and also the options to use headphones. We also appreciated the roll-up blinds on all the windows so that we could make the vehicle dark and cozy for optimal movie-watching, or sleep…which some of us did too.
Whether you need a minivan for a weekend of golfing, shopping, or skiing; a seven- or eight-passenger van for a business convention; a 12-passenger van for the next debate team competition; or several 15-passenger vans for a church retreat, Rent-A-Van makes choosing the most practical and comfortable mode of transportation easy.
Another thing to point out is that renting a van like this, especially for even bigger groups than ours, means not having to take two or more cars to get to a destination. Only having the gas expense for one vehicle instead of multiple totally offsets the rental cost! Plus, your whole group gets to stay together and enjoy the thrills of a good ole road trip.
Agave | (970) 748-8666 | agaveavon.com
After we arrived at our condo in Avon, our group all agreed that it was time for dinner. While the mountains and snowy landscapes of Colorado are beautiful, especially around Christmas time with all the lights on the trees, we opted to transport ourselves to old world Mexico by entering the valley’s most talked about restaurant: Agave.
Our first impression of the local eatery was how warm and rustic it felt. Colorful tiles, sand-textured walls, and dimmed lights enhanced the cultural ambiance. Our friendly server greeted us at the door and led us to our table. After being seated, we found ourselves looking up into an atrium with different levels and balconies. There was a stage on the main floor and an elevated DJ booth to the side—we could see how this place turns into a bumping nightclub in the evening.
After taking drink orders, our server brought us salsa and freshly baked flour tortillas. We were so impressed by this. Most Mexican restaurants offer complimentary chips and salsa, but Agave will bring you warm, soft, handmade tortillas. We ordered a variety of drinks from their “Margaritas Especial” menu, which listed 11 different options—enough to give you a range, but not too many that you’re overwhelmed. All the drinks we tried were yummy, but we want to give a special shout out to the Truly Top Shelf (a.k.a. the ultimate marg) and the Margarita Tradicional. The Margarita Tradicional includes Sotol Plata tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice, which combine to create a slightly tart fresh taste which highlights the agave flavor.
Agave’s dinner menu combines traditional Mexican flavors and some unique ingredients of their own. Like the Mexican culture, Agave’s menu is varied—covering the spectrum of seafood, meats, and vegetables, and gluten-free in order to satisfy the most discerning and discriminating guests. All of the food is freshly prepared on the premises, much of it in traditional fashion with the occasional help of some modern conveniences.
What really surprised us was how good the seafood items we tried at Agave. They had Paella Diablo on the menu, which is a Mexican version of fresh seafood in a spicy tomato sauce with shrimp, scallops, and octopus. It was very good. Our waiter also noted that the Pescado de Chile con Crema Poblana is a popular item on the menu. The fish was cooked perfectly, and the poblano cream it was served with added a rich, almost earthy flavor.
In addition to the amazing food, Agave throws parties and special events all year long. So if you’re making a trip to Vail Valley, make sure you check out their line-up of live music and themed celebrations.
Agave also has some weekly events, as well as some seasonal ones. Their main weekly event is Tacos n Tunes every Tuesday night (a lot of locals love attending this). Tacos n Tunes features Agave’s famous crispy taco special with some spicy local music. The night is free to enter and the music varies each and every week. Not that they do not have this event in the off season (May–June and September–November).
Copper Mountain Ski Resort | (970) 968-2318 | coppercolorado.com
Our agenda included a lot of skiing and snowboarding, and the first resort we hit up was Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Copper Mountain is made up of three distinct villages, all with chairlifts, restaurants, retail shops, activities, and nightlife. Our group went in at Center Village because it was within walking distance to the chairlifts we wanted to get on: The American Eagle and American Flyer. These lifts provide easy access to all levels of terrain down the mountain. Intermediate and advanced skiers and riders can take to the American Eagle. If you’re a beginner or looking to sharpen your skills, head to the terrain off the American Flyer lift.
We truly came at one of the best times of the year, and we got lucky with the amount of snow there was! This was much appreciated since on our last trip, the lack of snow resulted in a lot of the runs being closed. This time, having a decent snowfall the day before and more coming down on us this day, the mountain was thriving! Another reason why it was good timing is because we went on the weekend after Thanksgiving, which meant everyone had already done all their traveling the week before. So we were blessed with short lines, uncrowded runs, and some beautiful fresh powder. Going this early in the season is a little risky, though, as you’re not guaranteed the same amount of snowfall around then. If there hasn’t been enough snow, some of the runs might not be open.
One thing to note about Copper Mountain Ski Resort is the closeness between the shops and venues and the slopes—everything is right there. It’s a unique layout that takes a lot of the hassle out of the back and forth, and it adds a lot to the village-esque ambiance, too. We were also told the shuttle system at Copper is highly efficient and well run.
If you are looking for a relaxed, fun atmosphere to snowboard or ski in this winter, we highly recommend that you visit Copper Mountain!
Pazzo’s Pizzeria | Vail: (970) 476-9026 | Avon: (970) 949-9900 | www.pazzospizza.com
If you’re traveling with a group to Colorado that is anything is anything like our group, you’re going to want to pay attention to this next place we went. Let us tell you about a delicious pizza place, where pizza isn’t even the best thing on the menu…
Centrally located in the heart of Avon is Pazzo’s Pizzeria, which as Mavi informed us, translates to “crazy pizza!” Pazzo’s Avon can be found behind the boat building, and across from Christie Lodge in The Junction at Beaver Creek shopping center. With a full bar and game room for the kids, this is the perfect restaurant for casual family dining in Avon, CO.
The pizza was definitely crazy good pizza, but we were even more blown away by a few other items off Pazzo’s impressive menu. We have a couple big French onion soup fans in our group, so when our waiter told us that it was the soup of the day, we had no choice but to order some—and thank heavens we did! Not kidding…this was some of the best French onion soup we’ve ever had; everyone agreed. The minestrone soup was also amazing. We had no idea we’d be coming home and writing such raving reviews about soup from a pizza joint, but here we are!
The other menu item that blew us away was the Twilight Zone off of the calzone menu. This experience made us embrace our inner Ben Wyatt from the show Parks and Recreation, and now we are all officially calzone advocates. The Twilight Zone is stuffed with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and a blend of parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and spices. It was baked and served with Pazzo’s homemade marinara sauce. Delicious!
Our meals were complemented nicely with some of the local beer the restaurant has on tap. Shout out to the Colorado Native Lager—highly recommend.
Beaver Creek Sports | (970) 754-6221 | www.beavercreeksports.com
After a long day on the mountain our first day, we were ready to do it all again! This time, we were going to be checking out the slopes at Beaver Creek. We first had to get more rentals for some of the skiers in our group who didn’t join us the first day. We feel very fortunate to have rented from Beaver Creek Sports. It was an easy process. Plus, since they’re Beaver Creek Resort’s preferred ski and snowboard rental shop, they work together with the other preferred rental shops throughout the main ski resorts in Colorado that are owned by the same company as Beaver Creek. This includes Vail Sports Rental, which worked out perfectly because our plan was to ski at Vail on our last day. This meant we could just return our equipment there instead of having to go back to Beaver Creek. We were also thankful that the rental shop was literally right across from the office where we had to pick up our ski passes. That made it really convenient.
Just because you’re renting equipment doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice fit or performance. Whether it’s your first time on the slopes or you just want to try something different, Beaver Creek Sports equip you with current, high-performance skis, boards, and boots, maintained, and tuned to perfection for a fun, safe, and totally awesome day on the slopes. Best yet, by booking an advanced reservation with them, you can skip the in-store registration line, have your equipment ready when you walk in, and get on the mountain faster!
We were really impressed by how helpful and generous everyone was in the rental shop. Our intern/office assistant, Lizzy, had her ski goggles crack, so she was looking around at the gear sold in the rental shop. She didn’t want to buy anything expensive since she only needed them for one day. Well, apparently one of the staff members caught wind of her situation and offered to let Lizzy borrow her own personal goggles for the day! How cool is that? Another one of our team members needed new screws for her snowboard bindings (keep reading for the full story on this), and the Beaver Creek Sports staff was ready to help. After providing new screws and tightening them up for us, we asked how much we owed. Their response was that we didn’t owe them anything, but they’d accept a donation to EpicPromise, a non-profit that takes special responsibility in helping to conserve the natural environments and communities that surround their resorts. We were more than willing to donate. Check out www.epicpromise.com to learn more about this awesome organization and what they are doing to keep our beautiful neighbor to the west, well…beautiful!
Beaver Creek Ski Resort | (970) 754-4636 | www.beavercreek.com
Once we got all our gear and our ski passes, we got on the mountain to see what Beaver Creek Ski Resort was all about. Beaver Creek has 150 trails and 23 lifts, so there are plenty of different runs to explore. A few of the intermediate skiers and snowboards in our group really enjoyed the variety of difficulty levels of mogul trails. If you’re someone who hasn’t tried skiing moguls yet, Beaver Creek is a great place to get the hang of it. There were also some awesome cat runs through the woods for those beginners out there!
One funny (kind of embarrassing) thing to highlight from our time a Beaver Creek was when our editor, Hannah Hundley, had her bindings come undone on the top of the mountain. She had to call ski patrol to have them toboggan her down. The thing to note about this is how quickly the ski patrol responded. She was only waiting for about five minutes and then someone was there to assist her and keep her company until the toboggan arrived. Beaver Creek truly takes care of its guests!
During our time at the resort, we could help but notice how everywhere we went, every detail was taken care of and perfected so we could focus on spending time together in the best way possible. When we wanted to take a break from the mountain, Beaver Creek has a lot of seating around the base to relax. There were a lot of areas with big comfy outdoor couches and glowing fire pits to keep us warm. There are also a lot of restaurants and places to grab a refreshing adult beverage—at the base and on the mountain. Oh, and the best part…warm cookies! By the end of the day, you’ll have worked up an appetite for Beaver Creek’s beloved 3 p.m. tradition: Cookie Time. This is a chance to enjoy complimentary cookies, served fresh out of the oven at the base of the mountain.
The friendly Beaver Creek staff informed us that if you buy your lift tickets online, you’re guaranteed to get the lowest price. Purchase tickets seven days or more in advance for the biggest savings. When you purchase a three or more day Beaver Creek lift ticket, you can use the days of your multi-resort lift ticket however you want at Beaver Creek, Vail, Breckenridge, and Keystone Resorts.
If you’re looking for a luxury vacation, Beaver Creek Ski Resort should up at the top of your list. It’s truly a place where you experience incomparable elegance and pure Rocky Mountain splendor. Aside from exploring all the shops and eateries in the village, we recommend going online before your visit to check out all the dining options on the mountain. This way, you can plan what lifts and trails you want to take when you’re ready for a bite to eat or something drink. You’ll find a few ski-in cabins that serve lunch—one of them even doubles as a frontier artifact museum! There are so many neat things to explore, and so much beauty to take in!
Vail Ski Resort | (970) 754-8245 | www.vail.com
Our last mountain sport excursion was at Vail Ski Resort. Our group was a little worn out from the last two days of skiing and snowboarding, but once we saw the grandeur of Vail mountain, our spirits shot right back up through the roof! Vail’s wide variety of terrain, back bowls, and 5,289 skiable acres are one-of-a-kind and make it one of the largest ski resorts in the world. Paired with pristine conditions we had during our visit, skiing Vail was truly like no mountain we’ve experienced before.
We enjoyed having the gondola option to take us up the mountain—an enclosed, relaxing option to get to the top of the slopes while taking in breathtaking views all around you. Not to mention the nice staff who made us laugh every time we got back in line. We could just tell that they loved being there and helping us have a fun, safe time at Vail.
We started our adventure at Lionshead, which we recommend because the access to the mountain is well served with multiple lifts. Taking the Eagle Bahn Gondola up, we were able to access a lot of green and blue trails on the way down, which was perfect for our group to start the day off. Once we had worked up some adrenaline, we were ready to go up to Vail’s legendary Back Bowls. We decided to go to Game Creek Bowl, the easiest to access of Vail’s seven Back Bowls, providing 200+ acres of terrain for all ability levels. From wide, sweeping green trails, to more advanced gladed terrain, Game Creek Bowl truly has something for everyone. Make sure you stop at the top of Chair 7 to take in views of Vail, Beaver Creek, and Eagle County to the west or the rest of the Back Bowls to the east.
Thanks to the magical combination of averaging more than 300+ days of sunshine and 370+ inches of snow each year, plus majestic, only-in-Vail views of the surrounding Gore and Sawatch mountain ranges, the phrase “Like nothing on Earth” comes to life before your very eyes.
Once the mountain closed and our skiing/snowboarding adventures were done, we enjoyed walking around the village at Lionshead. Originally built in the late 60s, Lionshead was recently renovated in Austrian-inspired style. The square was beautifully lit up with Christmas lights and the ice skating rink looked like a lot of fun. Also, the walk between Lionshead and Vail Village only takes 10-15 minutes, or there is a complimentary shuttle that runs regularly, all day long and well into the evening. Vail Village retains a peaceful, small-town ambiance even with its world-class restaurants, shopping, cafes, and late night hot spots. The heated streets make for an easy walk up Bridge Street to Gondola One.
We were sad to say goodbye to all the beauty and colors of Colorado, but hopping into our luxury van made our trip back a little less bitter. Colorado never disappoints. There is so much life there, with all the things there are to do and see. It was an event-filled weekend in Vail Valley and we are already looking forward to our next visit!