The Place to Stay at
Vail - The Lodge at Vail
Arapahoe Basin l
Aspen Snowmass l
Beaver Creek l
Crested Butte l
Monarch Mountain l
Silverton Cat Skiing l
Winter Park l
Vail has immense wow
factor. This icon of western ski town and resort consistently makes all
the ski magazines’ top picks as one of the best ski destinations in
North America. If you are waiting for your engraved invitation to
ski Vail, consider the Epic Pass as your opportunity.
Staying in Vail’s original 1962 Tyrolean Village is the way to go - by
Vail, the mountain, is mega. That’s what I thought on my first visit
two decades ago, when “we” (Vail and I) were both in our twenties,
the Village and I share a birth year. Vail feels no smaller or less
impressive after each subsequent visit. If anything – it keeps
getting bigger and better after 50, with
5,289-acres it takes at least a week to explore the Front and Back
Here are some tips on your Vail Colorado trip. First, fly into Vail/Eagle
Airport, and skip the long, often icy 2-hour uphill drive from
Denver. Flying into Vail’s local airport (30-minutes away), you
won’t need a rental car, snow tires, or an ice-scraper – just a lift
to your lodge.
Next, pick a premier slopeside resort. The Lodge at Vail is the most prime location right at the base of the lifts in
the heart of the Village. Lodge at Vail was Vail’s first lodging property
when the ski area debuted in 1962, and still among the best -
serving as the cornerstone
of the European design village that has emerged over the past five
decades. Today, The Lodge is owned by Vail Resorts, part of the prestigious
Poetically, Vail Village received
50th facelift, including new
skier services and a spiffy new
gondola "The One". The Lodge at Vail
received love too, with room and Avanyu
Spa renovations and dining at Elway's steakhouse, but the chalet style centerpiece lodge
and lobby remains, dictating the old world
European theme that anchored Vail's base village from the start.
Lodge at Vail's lobby has a real wood burning fireplace, a
beautiful staircase with
leather furnishings you'd expect in an
exclusive alpine chalet
in Austria or Switzerland. The Lodge
at Vail is posh, the service is perfected from prompt valet to a ski check
right at the slopes Guestrooms sport fluffy down duvets and lovely
amenities. You may
want to request a suite with a fireplace and a walk-out balcony that
overlooks the ski slopes, the outdoor heated spa, or the charming
village. Lodge at Vail'sultimate
2,800-square foot penthouse is quite lovely too.
Within the hotel are two award-winning restaurants, Elway's named
for Denver Bronco John Elway where you will find a great bar and
delicious beef, or Cucina Italian. Your also steps
from Vail's plethora of shops - Gorsuch, Pepi's and The Golden bear
are faves, and après ski at Red Lion, The George, and great dining
at Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard, and Bol.
If you need rental equipment, Vail Sports is right next to the Lodge
on your way to the lifts, or if you’d like equipment personally
delivered to your suite for a professional fitting, contact
and they will set you up with gear to goggles.
As for skiing, Vail is immense, with 3,450’ vertical serviced
by 33 efficient lifts. Vail has seven distinct areas - each of which
is larger than most ski resorts, and seven back bowls that stretch
six miles across, plus four terrain parks.
The Vail "One" Lift - a 10 passenger gondola with heated seats
and wifi, is located right outside The Lodge at Vail, whisking
you each morning to mid-Vail. Jump on the Mountaintop Express for a
couple of wake-up runs on Cappuccino and Expresso. For more mellow
terrain, head skiers’ right to the new high speed Sourdough chair.
Or if you like to mash moguls, make your way to eastern-most Blue Ox.
After you’ve explored the Front Side’s dozens of dreamy runs and
awesome scenery from Northwoods to Avanti, the sun is high and its
time to drop over the backside. Surely you have heard of Vail’s Back
Bowls – any skier worth his edges knows these legendary bowls set
the bar to which all other terrain is measured.
backside is a bonanza of wide-open, above tree line “ski anywhere
you like” landscape. Don’t let your ski knees knock in fear, they
groom a few swaths of cord down the center of each of the six bowls
– from Sun Down to Sun Up, China to Mongolia (names as far reaching
as this remote six mile expanse of ski territory).
Sky Basin and Pete’s Bowl, yet another mountain face of adventure
skiing, offer more secluded terrain with spectacular Rocky peaks in
all directions. Here you escape reality to explore gorgeous groomed
sprinkled with shimmering aspens, and brilliant blue sky above just
like the name promises.
at 11,570’ (Vail’s peak summit)
is a truly grand
lunch spot, an alpine architectural marvel above 11,000’ (noteworthy
that Vail built it twice, tree-huggers burned the first
lodge in a 1998 tirade). A great sit down lunch options is the
10th Mountain Lodge, ski the legendary Riva
Ridge – the trail created by Peter Seibert and Earl Eaton - 10th
Mountain Division members and founders of Vail, to this beautiful
lodge at mid Vail with wonderful table -service food and stunning Rocky Mountain views.
Because Vail is so famous, and not far from
Denver – it does get busy on weekends. But since it’s so
big, and the lift system is so efficient, you can find your
own pocket with a little planning ( or use the Epic Mix app that
indicates your vertical and live lift wait times). Vail’s lift status signs at each peak
any lines, go where the lights are green and the
snow is pristine.
Skiing down the Front Side skiers’ left is Lions’ Head Village, a
totally separate on-slope village where you will find a posh new
RockResort and Ritz
The enclosed comfy
12-passenger Eagle Bahn gondola launches you from Lions Head to more great cruisers
like Simba and Born Free and the mid-mountain Eagle’s Nest Lodge, where Adventure Ridge
amusement after the sun sets with snowshoeing, ski bikes, a mountain
snowmobiling, even trampoline bouncing.
Back in Vail Village for après ski,
Wednesday evenings Vail hosts free outdoor “Street Beat”
For a truly memorable evening on the mountain, reserve dinner with
the Concierge at the gorgeous Game Creek Club – a snowcat will take
you from the gondola summit to dinner at this elegant, high
elevation private club.
When Vail opened on December 15, 1962, with one gondola and two
chair lifts, $10 scored you a lift ticket, breakfast, dinner and a
night at The Lodge at Vail - the only place to stay. Prices, along
with Vail’s lift and trail network, have escalated dramatically
(Vail's one day ticket is $150).
Lodge at Vail still holds the bar high for topnotch hospitality in
charming chalet suites, in the heart of the Bavarian Vail Village.
All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke
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