LindyLu, Your profile is very similar to ours. We did our first West trip back in 2011. We are a Wisconsin family of 5 with kids 14, 11, and 9. At the time we were mostly Intermediate skiers and trying to find a relatively affordable place to stay that was ski in ski out. As I am sure you do, and like this thread, we new of someone that had been all over in Colorado and everyone has their opinion. Ultimately, we ended up going to Aspen and don't regret it a bit. Yes, it is about 2.5 hours farther than Vail, but we think the extra time pays off in shorter lift lines. We are actually going to be in Aspen the exact same days you looking to book your trip. We drive and make a two day trip out of it going out and usually grind out the drive home in one shot. Aspen is awesome and the lodging we book is absolutely perfect for us. Like you stated, we are a pizza and movie (chill) type of family. Actually we bring a lot of our food with us and grill out a lot while the kids swim. Typically we eat lunch on the mountain. If you would like to learn more shoot me a PM and I would be happy to tell you the specifics.
Thanks so much, Brian, for the input. We are also a Wisco family, and your driving strategy sounds much like ours. I think I *will* do some research on Aspen, based on your response and some others'. If it makes sense to drive a couple of extra hours for the right fit, we'll do it. We also tend to bring our own food on vacations -- much like you do.
I will send you a PM, since it sounds like your family's travel / vacation style is very similar to ours. It's very helpful to have a lead on good options...
Thanks again for the post -- it is much appreciated!
When you research Aspen, note that Snowmass is the mountain that seems to be the best fit for families who are looking for mellow terrain. Sometimes searching on Snowmass will turn up more relevant info than searching on "Aspen" alone. Snowmass is actually the bigger ski area in terms of acreage. The complete area has evolved to include Buttermilk, Snowmass, Aspen, Aspen Highlands. Beginners are not likely to get to Aspen and advanced skiers don't ski at Buttermilk.