Ski holidays are logistically complex and a lot of work, especially if you’re traveling with kids or a large group. Adults often spend hours getting everyone in and out of gear and to and from the slopes—not to mention shopping for and cooking up enough calories to keep the troops content. Now, there’s a way to relax and truly enjoy a Colorado ski vacation: rent a catered ski chalet.
Although the concept has been popular in Europe for nearly a century, the notion of catered chalets is just now catching on in the U.S.—and quickly becoming one of skiing’s hottest new trends. This renaissance is due in large part to Moving Mountains, a Steamboat Springs-based business that has helped bring the idea to the forefront. “Our catered chalets provide guests with a five-star vacation that allows them to relax in luxury while experiencing all the adventure Steamboat has to offer,” says Moving Mountains cofounder and CEO Robin Craigen, who worked for two winters in European ski chalets after completing his business degree in London.
After holding multiple jobs in the travel industry and indulging in his ambition to sail across the Atlantic, Craigen, along with his future wife, Heather, ran a successful yacht chartering business in the British Virgin Islands. Steered by their onboard experiences and the influences of their guests—including three couples from Steamboat who encouraged the Craigens to explore their hometown—the couple created the concept of a Colorado ski chalet and relocated to Steamboat Springs in 1998 to implement it. “Steamboat was the ideal choice because of its family-oriented profile, affordability, and untapped potential,” explains Craigen.
The company has since expanded from a single chalet to more than 80 properties, offering their guests a variety of luxury accommodations and almost every conceivable amenity. Instead of walking into a cold, impersonal condo or hotel room, Moving Mountains guests arrive to a crackling fire, a stocked fridge, and—if desired—pre-delivered ski equipment and lift tickets. In keeping with European tradition, guests can enjoy an all-inclusive experience that includes a personal chef, hand-picked menus, and daily housekeeping, as well as an on-call driver to pick you up at the lifts and drop you at your favorite après-ski bar. “We knew the long history and success of ski chalets in Europe,” says Craigen, “and we translated that into a concept that guests love, although it is still relatively unknown in the U.S. market.”
The Craigens believe their services are unique in the U.S. and are actively exploring growth opportunities beyond Steamboat which they hope will increase an awareness and demand for catered chalets. Past guests include retired NFL Hall-of-Famers, Hollywood and media personalities, and prominent professionals and business executives. “Every year, more guests are discovering the value of this option, not just in the package of services that are offered, but also in the value of the additional time that it saves them,” Craigen says.