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When I stepped inside the Dancing Bear Aspen, I thought I’d made a big mistake: Velvet curtains and pillars of ruby red blown glass decorated the entryway to the elegant new nine-residence development, and chandeliers shimmered above couples sipping wine in the adjacent French restaurant. Yet, here I was, ushering in a two-year-old Tasmanian devil. What was I thinking, planning a family getaway here?
Ten years ago, I would’ve been right to worry. Luxury properties haven’t always welcomed kids (after all, juvenile inhibition is about as glamorous as Chuck E. Cheese’s). But, more recently, vacation residences have been catering to both couples and families—which makes kids the hottest new demographic in luxury travel and real estate.
My toddler got the royal treatment. Inside our three-bedroom residence, we found a pile of age-appropriate books, building blocks, and a small circus tent. In the Dancing Bear basement, we discovered a 16-seat movie theater, a massive game room with an Xbox for teens, and a separate play space for preschoolers. But the building is no glorified rec center; the walls are adorned with modern artwork, and four floors up from kiddie land, a rooftop garden with outdoor hot tubs offered my husband and I some bona fide grown-up time.
Dancing Bear isn’t alone in its family-focused attitude. Homeowners at Marabou Ranch, a high-end subdivision near Steamboat Springs, also enjoy access to a theater and game room, as well as horseback riding geared toward kids. Four Seasons Resort Vail (which includes residences and fractional ownership units) recently debuted its kid-centric services: Child-size robes hang in the closets, custom-made chocolates spell out the junior guests’ names on their beds, and pup tents placed in the units provide kids with their own little clubhouses. And if none of that does the trick, the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt offers baby-sitting on demand. “Children are really the ones that are driving parents’ vacation and real estate decisions,” says Eric Burgund of Vail’s Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. “Our buyers and sellers want to spend more time with their families, so they’re choosing properties where the kids will be happy.”