Colorado: a Simply Stunning State

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

Spring skiing and enjoying the wilderness are the perfect ways to enjoy your time in Colorado. Kiwi Insider John Nielsen recently took a trip to Colorado to go on a ski vacation. He details his experience in Colorado below! Remember to stay in Colorado’s best hotels on your next trip to explore this state’s national parks and mountains. All of the photos are courtesy of Nick Nielsen.

Colordado National ParkThere can be few greater feelings then standing at the top of a snow capped mountain, with the sun blazing from a clear blue sky, and view’s of skiers setting off. The fresh cool air, powder snow, colorful outfits, snow capped trees and energy from holiday markers, makes skiing such a wonderful sport – especially when you on top of the world in some of Colorado best mountains!

I have been fortunate enough to ski in major parts of Switzerland, New Zealand, South Korea and Australia, and have always dreamt of visiting the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. My wish came true recently.

Denver is the capital city of the magnificent state that is a paradise for nature lovers, be it the skier or the hiker. The national parks of Colorado are quite sensational. If you are an experienced or a less experienced skier then head east to Vail located in Summit County, which offers a great blend of ski fields for the whole family. Vail Mountain has a maximum elevation of 12,250 feet and low of 8,120 feet with 193 marked trails, so plenty to choose from!

The lovely town is ideal to retreat to once you have finished a day on the slopes and offers shoppers paradise along with excellent hotels. Another major advantage is its location. Vail is only 25 minutes drive from two other brilliant ski resorts of Breckenridge and Keystone. The resort is owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which means that your lift pass can be used in these resorts and that they offer regular bus services to Keystone and Breckenridge. Keystone is the smaller of the two, and again serves up superb family skiing facilities, where as Breckenridge is a much bigger town with a more traditional large resort feel. The mountains of Breckenridge are known as the “3 peaks”.

Deer in Colorado National ParkThe restaurant scene in and around the three resorts is first class. Keystone is home to two of the best, the Ski Tip Lodge, a Swiss Chalet, that serves up a treat, have dinner in the main dining room and then retreat to the open fireplace lounge and feast on dessert. A second and most impressive option is the Keystone Ranch, located on the Keystone PGA Golf course. The main dining room has a traditional wooden feel and the adjacent lounge is magnificent.

Service in both places was a delight, matching the overall ambiance. The venues all have good wine lists, but it’s the (aptly named) “The Cellar” in Breckenridge that is amongst the most in-demand tables in the region. The wine list and food is magic–a diners dream–the Mediterranean food style gives a relaxed feel where the wines can steel the show.

The three towns each have a number of more traditional grill or pub style dining options and are excellent value for money. Friendly service, good home cooked food and often a live band guarantees a nice evening out without the price tag!

Vail is the biggest of the three towns and has gained a first class reputation over the years, not just for the skiing, but also for its excellent hotels with accompanying services. After a day on the slopes, soak up in the outdoor hot-tub or enjoy a spa treatment and let your mind dream about the next day’s activities.

The national parks of Colorado are not only home to some of the best ski resorts but are also home to the most fantastic wild life. The 415 square mile Rocky Mountain national park, located just over two hours’ drive north-west from Denver via the town of Boulder, is home of the University of Colorado and is a great place for a stop-over.

As you drive through the park, the sight of wildlife meeting some of America’s most spectacular landscapes is a truly remarkable picture. The wildlife includes Elk, Bighorn, Moose and Coyotes, to name just a few. The park contains 359 miles of trails, 150 lakes, and 450 miles of streams. The highest point of the park is Longs Peak at 14,259 feet. The sights leave me with a truly deep admiration for people who seek to protect this magnificent environment and that we must all support and take care of. It is these treasures that make Colorado such a great state to visit.

Overall Colorado offers a very healthy lifestyle, no wonder with the excellent produce, clean fresh air that people here have a big smile on their face, one that I look forward returning to see.

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