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Fall hideaways: Colorado ski resorts for the non-skier

I live in Colorado and I don't ski, snowboard or otherwise partake in the numerous ski resort activities involving ice, snow, goggles, weird hats and heavy snow-suits (that the so-called fashionable people call ski apparel). But, I do go to the ski resorts at what I consider the best time, the Fall. It is after the summer crowds and before the winter madness begins; it is the perfect time for a getaway to hideaway- or not. The Aspens are turning, the Elk are bugling and the purple mountains majesty are there as always, only with less snow on them. Here are some great finds for a staycation in Colorado ski country.

1. The Little Nell in Aspen is a sophisticated country inn that exudes charm and class. Each room is unique and all have fireplaces. Everything is high-end, from the toiletries to the down comforters on the bed. There is not a bad view in the place and the hotel restaurant, Montagna, has"farmhouse cooking" with such items as crispy pork belly and watermelon salad and a great three course prix fixe dinner and all with a view of Aspen Mountain. There are two bars serving the rooms, condos and suites. In the Fall you can get a double room for $330-$415. Those prices double in season. Many movie stars stay here as the amenities are outstanding and the location is great. You can hide-out in the hotel or do what the stars do-shop Aspen. 675 E. Durant Ave. www.littlenell.com

2. The Steamboat Grand (2300 Mt. Werner Circle) in Steamboat Springs is a large upscale property with rooms, suites and penthouses with the usual high-end amenities. There are three restaurants, two lounges, free shuttle, and two hot tubs said to be the largest in Colorado. Steamboat Springs is known for its natural hot mineral springs which are said to have healing qualities. The town has turned these natural wonders into a thriving business, some with bathhouses. More on these at; www.steamboatsprings.org .

Everyone gets a daily "stop" card - Road trip tip

On a road trip, you just can't stop everywhere that looks interesting or fun. And of course, what would appeal to an 8-year-old girl might lead to the eye-rolling of a 14-year-old boy. An easy solution: every family member gets a "stop" card daily.

No questions asked, no arguments -- if a family member pulls out their "stop" card, the whole family stops. You can put a cap on cost ahead of time, and no complaining allowed as each gets a turn.

It's fair, fun and very interesting to see the type of stopping points chosen.

[Photo: Flickr | Rich Anderson]

Trade souvenirs when traveling - International travel tip

That White Sox hat you're wearing above your "I hiked the Grand Canyon" t-shirt may be a hot commodity in some countries. Many items we take for granted are both unique and highly sought-after in many foreign nations.

If you find something at a vendor's stall you like, offer that vendor something of yours in exchange for that good. Maybe he'd like your hat, or that extra shirt in your bag. While you're not allowed to bring a cache of items into a foreign country to sell, trading items you would normally have in your luggage is perfectly acceptable. No extra luggage room is needed -- and you don't need extra cash on hand, since you're swapping goods.

It's not icky to give someone the hat off your head! Trading souvenirs is fun; you get to interact with the locals; and you go home with souvenirs and a great story on how you acquired them.

[Photo: Flickr | Courtneysue75]

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