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DansDeals Forum => Trip Reports => Topic started by: Joel on August 24, 2020, 11:17:13 PM

Title: A Week in Colorado
Post by: Joel on August 24, 2020, 11:17:13 PM
When we started planning for our summer vacation (DW has 2 specific weeks off in the summer) back in December, we booked a Europe vacation. But Covid came along and changed our summer plans. Being positive about US states at that point we rebooked for Hawaii and hoped for the best. Even as Covid started getting around more,  Hawaii gov had us assured he will reopen Aug 1st, with a Covid pre-test requirement. (https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/2020/06/24/governor-expected-announce-testing-plan-travelers-part-effort-reopen-tourism/) Late July the Gov canceled the reopening plan, so we were left scrambling for a new itinerary.
After hearing so many ppl headed to Colorado, we decided we will book our trip and again hope for the best. Turns out, it was the smartest decision we made.

After Looking into hotels, we decided to stay in Vail for its close proximity to minyan and activities for the first 5 days, then relocate to Denver for the remainder of the trip so we can enjoy Colorado Springs.

Grand Hyatt Vail has a residence area with the amenities of the hotel, plus a few additional perks such as free parking,  private pool, and fitness area. We chose to go with that instead of the regular hotel as it has a complete kitchen and beautiful eating area. The kitchen was a big deal for us as we were going to prepare and eat all our meals in the room, as well as the Shabbos meals.

Paying cash is not my first choice, however base room in the residence area is 40K and I was getting a better return cashing out via chase pay yourself back and using cash to book . In addition, I was going to be receiving the  Hyatt promo of x3  (https://www.dansdeals.com/points-travel/hotel-deals/earn-triple-points-hyatt-hotels-plus-elites-earn-2500-points-first-stay/) as a WOH elite (explorist) card member gets 20 Points per $1.

Here is the breakdown: 4 points per dollar for using the World of Hyatt card, 5 base points per night plus the x3 promotion which brings it to 15, and additional point for being Explorist, which totals 20.

We finalized on the Platinum Liftside, after speaking to customer service and learning that Liftside is the newest and closest to hotel. We took a 2 bedroom and paid $392 a night plus tax and fees.

 Food prep was a big deal as we needed meals for a full week. Every day when cooking supper, we added 2 portions, divided it nicely into container, sealed the container with saran wrap and froze it. We had bought 2 polar bear bags and used it to fly with all our food. We also went to Izzyís and bought some ribs and brisket had it vacuum packed as well as bought some milchig stuff.

I booked United flights one way using 25K AC. The return wasnít available on Aeroplan or United Savor award so I used Amex Platinum Biz and booked through the AmEx portal with the 35% return. It came out to 54K, plus I got back 2400 each as itís a revenue ticket.
I specifically choose flights that have lie flat J seats, as many flights from NYC to Denver only have reclined seats, and worked my schedule accordingly. Our flight was 4:00 pm so we arrived to Newark at 2:30. The airport was mostly empty besides for some fellow Jewish brothers ;D

None of the lounges I have access to were open, so I bought 2 United passes on DDF for $10 each. The lounge was clean, nice, and mostly empty. They had some packaged snacks, and drinks. I was able to wrap up some work by the comfortable workstations. All in all it was worth it to buy the passes.


The flight was pretty good. It was practically empty, so boarding was fast. The seat was a bit narrow for business but very comfortable. Service was amazing. We got a sealed box with a bunch of snacks right after takeoff and another small packet shortly before landing. While we did have to wear masks the entire flight, it wasnít an issue for us.

Upon landing I went to pick up my rental from Silvercar, using the 2-day free promo (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=50168.msg2305440#msg2305440) Again, everything went smoothly.

We then made a short stop in Walmart to pick up some essentials such as water, that we did not shlep along.

We checked in at the hotel front desk, who directed us to our condo. Nice big rooms, hot tub in bathroom, spacious kitchen and living room and a nice sized wraparound balcony with mountain views.



We started the day with a hike up to St Marie Glacier (https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/st-mary-s-glacier)
The hike is free however parking is $5. It was a pretty difficult hike which was made easier with our hiking sticks. The view up top is worth it. A big, beautiful lake with mountains and a glacier. If you have the time you can continue the hike all the way up to the glacier where we saw people skiing. Nature at its finest!


We then headed to Lake Dillan  (https://www.townofdillon.com/marina/boat-rentals)
where we had reservations for a 2-hour 20ft pontoon rental. The staff at the rental were super nice and friendly and did a good job explaining all the safety features. It was a lot of fun. We stopped the boat mid-lake and enjoyed our lunch with breathtaking views. One part of the mountain was smoky with an orange haze due to all the fires around. The lake was mild in the beginning but turned choppy later, so we returned the boat 20 minutes early. Cost $170 after tax


We then returned to the hotel and spent the rest of the evening exploring the resort grounds and enjoying all the outdoor terraces, with their beautiful mountain views. When we wanted to head back, we took a shuttle back to our condo. The complimentary shuttle operates 12 hours a day and takes people back and forth from the residence area to the hotel. We didnít use it much as our section was pretty close to the hotel, but for when we needed it, it was an amazing amenity.



After breakfast we rented bikes from the on-ground bike rental Venture Sports  (https://avonventuresports.com/vail-bike-shop/)
They are approximately $30 per person for half day, helmets included. We took a biking trail along the beautiful Gore Creak which stretches from the hotel property until the village. We bought some souvenirs in the village and continued biking. They were great bikes and we had a great time. When we returned the bikes, we told them we had some issues with the gears on one of the bikes, as they werenít shifting properly, and he gave us a full refund for that bike.


For the afternoon we had an ATV tour scheduled, see my post below.

I had an ATV tour booked for today at 2:00 with Nova Guides. I waited outside at the designated time of pickup and they never showed. Half hour later I call them they said "oh sorry we have a wedding, we don't have any tours going out today. I can give you a refund"  To say I am mad is an understatement I planned my entire day around this reservation, and I even have a confirmation email from them! I get it, a party is more profitable, but at least have the decency to cancel.

As our ATV tour was out the window, we sat outside and enjoyed the nature. The beautiful creek that runs along the property had some nice sized rocks we sat on and chilled.


As our ATV tour was cancelled on Thursday, we rebooked with a different company Above & Beyond 4x4 Guides (http://www.aboveandbeyondguides.com/) for Friday morning. They were very friendly, provided helmets, goggles, bandanna masks, water, and snacks. We drove through the mountains and got to see some amazing views. The tour took about 2 and half hours. We got great value for our money and were quite happy our tour was cancelled the day before as we really enjoyed this one. Cost $290 after tax


After that we headed to Spa Anjali  (https://www.spaanjali.com/) for an Erev Shabbos massage. The atmosphere and ambience were amazing. We couldnít do a coupleís massage due to Covid, so we each did a massage in a separate room. After the massage we felt totally rejuvenated. Booked on Groupon  (https://www.groupon.com/deals/spa-struck-3)after a promo for $158 plus tax and gratuity another $60

Arriving back in Vail, we decided to try the Gondola. (https://www.vail.com/the-mountain/summer/summer-gondola.aspx)It was $44 per person for a full day pass. Since we got there at 3:30, we didnít really have much time as the last ride down is 4:30. The views up top are nice  but were hazy due to the fires in the area. Unless you are biking down or will use the Gondola ride a few times, (as we saw a couple of bikers do) IMO itís not worth the price.



Shabbos was beautiful as we had many scenic places to sit and relax on the resort grounds. We ended up having exactly 10 men for minyan, so I didnít have to walk to Chabad (25 minute walk).


Sunday morning, we checked out and headed out to Rocky Mountains. The views along the drive are amazing. Somewhere along the way we spotted a moose, who managed to get the traffic to stop and stare for a few minutes. It was nice to see wildlife in their natural habitat, instead of behind cages.


After Rocky Mountains, we went to Eastside Kosher Deli and bought some snacks and drinks. I bought a roll of sushi and it was delicious.
We checked into the Hyatt House airport hotel, where I got upgraded to a mountain view room as I am an Explorist. Unfortunately, due to the fires and smoke we couldnít see much mountain.


We started the day off early, with a 10:30  Cave of the Winds Discovery Tour. (https://caveofthewinds.com/cave-tours/)
We got to see some interesting cave formations and learnt a little about the history of the cave. We had a great tour guide who took a picture of us on my cell phone at the spot where they take pictures of you, so we shouldnít have to pay for their picture. We walked through one dark tunnel but most of the tour was lighted, so we got to enjoy the interesting sights one sees in caves. Cost $23 per adult


After the cave tour, we headed to Pikes Peak. (https://www.pikes-peak.com/attractions/pikes-peak-americas-mountain/)The sights you see on that drive are incomparable. Its beautiful. It was quite scary at spots, DW refused to look down, but if you donít look you miss a lot. It is a 2-lane drive, so it wasnít as difficult as other drives. Officially you are supposed to take a shuttle from the 16-mile marker until the summit, however they let us through. The views up top are breathtaking. There was a lot of construction going on, yet most of the views were unblocked. Cost $15 per adult


After descending the magnificent Pikes Peak, we headed to the  Garden of Gods. (https://www.pikes-peak.com/about-garden-of-the-gods/)It was extremely hot, so we just drove the park and took in the views from our car. The rocks are magnificent.


We returned the car and had a contactless return. All we had to do was leave the keys in car and drive the car up to the marked spot.
We headed back to our hotel to make an early night as our flight is at 8am. We had an awesome time in CO!

Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: Luvtotravel on August 25, 2020, 02:49:22 AM
beautiful! very helpful and clear TR, tx!
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: Mikes@Micro on August 25, 2020, 07:25:35 AM
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: sam28 on August 25, 2020, 10:14:28 AM
Wow amazing so far keep it coming .
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: PBaruch on August 25, 2020, 02:36:37 PM
Very nice. Glad you had a good time.
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: justaregularguy on August 27, 2020, 12:47:06 AM
I for sure saw you at east side deli that week!  :P I was the guy who arranged the mincha minyan in the parking lot.. :)
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: Joel on August 27, 2020, 07:25:56 AM
I for sure saw you at east side deli that week!  :P I was the guy who arranged the mincha minyan in the parking lot.. :)
Lol it wasn't me I didn't daven mincha in the parking lot 😅
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: mdv on September 02, 2020, 08:04:17 PM
Which united flights between ewr and den have lie flat ? Seems like all those flights are 737s which to the best of my knowledge only have recliner seats
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: Joel on September 02, 2020, 08:31:00 PM
Which united flights between ewr and den have lie flat ? Seems like all those flights are 737s which to the best of my knowledge only have recliner seats
Depends each day differently u have to check for the 757 or 777
for example UA 1241 tomorrow 8:20am is a 757 lie flat
Title: Re: A Week in Colorado
Post by: HappyJulie on September 05, 2020, 02:58:55 PM
Your report and especially the pictures are incredible!