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From first-tracks in the Back Bowls to romantic Thanksgiving escapes, the early-season in the Vail Valley is one of Colorado's best-kept secrets.

Image: Jack Affleck

The last six weeks of 2016? It's the secret season in Vail, when the late fall days of October give way to the first big blasts of winter, with the first winter storms (we hope!) hammering the upper slopes of the mountain and filling the empty Back Bowls with powder. It’s a time that locals hold dear, when the best terrain is opening up, the Christmas crush of tourists hasn’t arrived yet, and there are plenty of deals to be had for savvy vacationers.

To help you jump-start your plans, consider these three great lodging deals: a sneaky midweek break for powder hounds; a romantic Thanksgiving getaway, and a family escape. But a word to the wise: rooms sell out, prices change and deals expire. If you’ve been thinking about an early-winter sojourn to the Vail Valley book now. Because if you wait, you may be left out in the cold.

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At the Four Seasons, powder-seekers can wake up, look out the window to check on the snow and walk to the lifts.

For Powder Hounds

Storm chasers rejoice! If you’re blessed with a flexible schedule, keep an eye on the sky. Vail’s Back Bowls usually come into form mid-to late December right after a big storm has blasted the mountain. Stay at the Four Seasons, where you can score 25% off any booking when you make your reservation at least three days in advance. While the deal runs from November 17 through April 23, 2017, the catch is that it’s unlikely that you’ll find any vacancies three days out during the height of ski season. Beat the crowds, and score unforgettable December first tracks down Forever.

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The quiet and cozy environs of the Weston Riverfront makes an ideal family Thanksgiving getaway.

For a Romantic Thanksgiving (with Fido)

Thanksgiving is often about excess: too much football, too much food, too many relatives and too many dishes to do when it’s all over. Escape the madness and indulge in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa with a Thanksgiving family getaway (you can even bring Fido to this dog-friendly resort). The package includes Turkey Day dinner for two at Maya (and a doggie bag!), complimentary valet parking and no dishes whatsoever, the cost for the two-night minimum packages in their cozy king suites start at $279/night. 

 

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Mom will love the spa treatments at the Vail Mountain Lodge's Vitality Center.

For Family Fun

Need a family getaway that won't break the bank? Load up the minivan and head to  Vail Mountain Lodge. Running from November 23 to 27 (4 nights of accommodations), the lodge's early season package ($1,610) includes complimentary breakfast, two 100-minute Lu’Lur Ritual treatments (Mom will love the warm rose and yogurt foot bath, turmeric, rice powder and sandalwood exfoliation, paired with a massage) and a $100 dining certificate to the lodge's superb restaurant, Terra Bistro. While Mom's getting away from it all, Dad will earn hero-status taking the kids out for a night of adventure at the Vail Vitality Center's indoor climbing gym.

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