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—Photo courtesy of Keystone Resort

Do You Have the Golden Ticket?

To celebrate its 100,000th free kids lift ticket, Keystone Resort's heralded chocolatier Chef Ned Archibald has become the ski area's very own Willy Wonka with one sweet promotion. 

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Artisan-made chocolate is a reward all its own, but next week, Keystone is giving away chocolate bars that promise an even bigger prize: $500.

From January 24-30, guests who book a two-night stay receive a chocolate bar at check-in. These small-batch treats are made by Chef Ned Archibald, the resort’s confectioner, and 10 of them include a golden ticket worth $500 at Keystone Resort. How sweet would that be?

“Creating the 10 solid chocolate ‘golden ticket’ bars is a magical experience for me,” says Archibald. “It takes me back to when I was a kid myself and dreamed of finding a ticket that would give me the opportunity to do something only a few other kids in the world would be able to do. This event gives me the ability to bring that thrill and excitement to ten lucky families.” Like Keystone’s very own Willy Wonka, Archibald is even offering glimpses into his “factory.” On Tuesday and Friday, he’ll lead behind-the-scenes tours of his chocolate production facility—samples included. The tours are free, but guests must register ahead of time.

Since 2012, Keystone has been giving kids free lift tickets when their parents book at least two nights of lodging. Now that the resort is about to hand out its 100,000th freebie, it’s celebrating with sweet giveaways, including chocolate bars worth $50 in resort credit (to be distributed to guests at random throughout the week; follow @KeystoneMtn on Twitter for the inside scoop on golden ticket locations). Plus, next week’s Kids Ski Free participants get to use the Golden Ticket Family Express line at the River Run Gondola, and kids’ dinners at the Alpenglow Stube and Der Fondue Chessel are 50 percent off.

Even without the chocolate promotion, Keystone is as kid-friendly as a ski resort can get, building the world’s largest snow fort atop Dercum Mountain, shooting off weekly fireworks displays (including one on Saturday, January 30) and offering “Kidtopia” parades that tykes can join in on. But it’s also got a secret weapon with its chocolatier, Ned Archibald.

Archibald kicked off the Kids Ski Free program by making chocolate lift tickets. And every Christmas, he creates a lavish, 5,000-pound chocolate village for the Keystone Lodge lobby. Houses, trees, the toy train, and even the gondola cabins are all made of sculpted chocolate, and the “waterfall” tumbling down the mountainside is cocoa-based, too.

So it makes sense that chocolate should play—ahem!—a keystone role in the resort’s Kids Ski Free celebration. “I get to live out my lifelong dream of playing the part of Willy Wonka,” says Archibald. “I’m thrilled to offer kids and families a sneak peek into the world of chocolate-making here at Keystone, where everything you see is edible.”

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