Vail, the largest ski resort in the U.S., is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a series of special events, concerts, ski races and other exciting activities. There has never been a better time to visit Vail one of the most iconic, top-rated ski destinations in the world. A haven for skiers of all levels, Vail offers something for everyone, including non-skiers who simply want to enjoy the alpine experience, luxurious accommodations, great restaurants, spas and boutiques.
Featuring 5,289 acres of skiable terrain consisting of seven legendary Back Bowls spanning seven miles (with wide open skiing and amazing views), Vail offers 193 conventional trails (including one run that is more than four miles long) and a newly opened 22-foot half pipe. As Vail Mountain averages 348 inches of snowfall and 300 days of sunshine per year, its conditions are considered among the best of in the world for skiing.
Vail contains an endless selection of trails from which to choose, regardless of a skier's ability level. Even better, one common lift ticket enables a skier access to Vail as well as Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead, which offers vacationers a European style village-to-village experience. Vail’s Ski and Snowboard school is world-renowned and caters to all ages and levels of ability. Group lessons are offered as well as private instructors, who are available for both half and full days for up to six people.
Perhaps the most exciting addition to the resort is its brand new high speed gondola lift “One” which offers heated cabins, free Wi-Fi and a speedy and comfortable seven and a half minute long trek up the steep mountain. The state-of-the art gondola, manufactured by Leitner-Poma of America, is the first and fastest of its kind in North America, increasing uphill capacity by 40%. Each cabin comfortably holds ten passengers and travels from the base of Vail Village to Mid-Vail. The gondola also provides a comfortable mode of transportation for anyone wanting to dine on top of the mountain or just enjoy the spectacular views.
One of the most luxurious ways to visit Vail is to stay in a residence that is part of a hotel property. JustLuxe recently visited Vail and its sister resort, Beaver Creek, and found the following to be excellent lodging options, particularly for families:
The Arrabelle at Vail Square
The Arrabelle at Vail Square (a RockResort) was architecturally inspired by the grand hotels of Europe’s historic alpine villages with its multi-terraced facade. This world-class hotel, which is located in the heart of Lionshead, features 32 lavishly decorated, comfortable guest rooms with canopied beds, fireplaces and private balconies. The Arrabelle also has 25 private residences that range from one to five bedrooms and 1,600 to 4,700 square feet in size. Each residence is outfitted with a gourmet kitchen complete with granite countertops and Viking appliances, fireplaces, steam showers and jetted soaking tubs.
The hotel’s 10,000-square-foot RockResorts Spa is arguably the best in the Vail Valley while its rooftop pool affords beautiful views of the mountains. We were wowed by the Arrabelleʼs expansive and luxurious accommodations and were impressed by the ski valet who will warm up your skis and have them waiting lift-side at your command. Nightly room rates range from $399 to $1,599; two-bedroom residences range from $599 to $3,200; four-bedroom residences range from $899 to $6,900; five-bedroom residences range from $1,200 to $6,500.
The Lodge at Vail
The original hotel in Vail, the Lodge at Vail, offers cozy hotel rooms, though its greatest advantage is its central location and proximity to the base of Vail Mountain, a short walk from the new gondola. The Lodge at Vail also offers spacious three-bedroom condominiums adjacent to the property that feature wood-burning fireplaces and are located two minutes by foot from the Vista Bahn Chairlift. Condo guests have access to all hotel services, including use of its in-room dining and housekeeping service, spa, pool, fitness facility, valet parking and concierge. Nightly rates for a Lodge room range from $299 to $1,200; three-bedroom condos range from $799 to $4,500.
The Osprey at Beaver Creek (a RockResort)
The recently renovated Osprey is an intimate, elegant, modern luxury boutique hotel that is also the closest hotel to a chairlift in North America. The Osprey offers 47 oversized guest rooms and suites (many of which have steam showers) and a two-bedroom penthouse that sleeps six and is equipped with a full gourmet kitchen. Nightly rates for a Lodge room range from $199 to $1,200; two-bedroom suite ranges from $699 to $4,000.
The Pines Lodge at Beaver Creek
The Pines Lodge is a boutique 60-room lodge with a slope side location that offers breathtaking mountain views and ski-in/ski-out access. The Pines Lodge also offers townhouses and condominiums that feature one to four bedrooms gourmet kitchens, spacious living areas, washers/dryers, fireplaces and balconies. Nightly rates for one-bedroom suites range from $499 to $2,400; Three-bedroom residences range from $799 to $3,900.
Ritz-Carlton Club at Lionshead
Located at the base of the mountain, the Ritz-Carlton Club features Bavarian-style architecture. The property offers luxurious residences with two, three and four bedrooms, modern, open kitchens with granite countertops, formal dining areas, fireplaces, balconies, steam showers, soaking tubs and laundry rooms. There’s even a grocery stocking service that fills your refrigerator with all of your favorite foods before your arrival. Each unit was professionally decorated in a unique style. Guests receive personalized attention from the property’s concierge as well as twice daily maid service. Nightly rates for two-bedroom residences range from $499 to 3,200; four-bedroom residences range from $799 to $6,000. Note: Several units are available for purchase, ranging in size from two bedrooms to five bedrooms, with prices from $2.3 million to $8.9 million.
Snow Cloud (Bachelor Gulch)
Situated long the slopes of Bachelor Gulch and only a few steps away from the Bachelor Gulch Express Lift, Snow Cloud condominiums are ski-in and ski-out units with full access to the adjacent Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch as well as all of its amenities. Snow Cloud condos are outfitted with gourmet kitchens, spacious and luxurious living areas with wood beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces. Nightly rates for a four-bedroom condo range from $1,500 to $5,000. (Photo courtesy of Snow Cloud)
There’s nothing better than indulging in a relaxing spa treatment after a hard day on the slopes. JustLuxe visited several spas during our visit to Vail. Here are the ones that impressed us the most:
RockResorts Spa at The Arrabelle at Vail Square
Arguably the most luxurious spa in Vail, this stunning facility offers eleven treatment rooms, his and her wet rooms equipped with oversized steam rooms, saunas, whirlpools and beautifully furnished relaxation rooms. There’s also a fitness center with state-of-the-art exercise equipment and weight stations. We were impressed by the spa’s attention to detail, including the slices of cucumbers atop the iced washcloths in the wet rooms and the delicious grapefruit sorbet served to guests upon the end of a treatment.
RockResorts Spa at The Lodge at Vail
This spa is conveniently located in the heart of Vail Village and a short walk from the base of Vail Mountain. The 7,500 square foot spa features eleven treatment rooms, beautiful his and her wet areas featuring several steam rooms of varying temperatures, saunas and whirlpools. It also offers a 3,500 square foot fitness center and a movement studio for yoga, stretch and Pilates classes.
Vail has a wide variety of restaurants from which to choose, but we narrowed down the selection to include only our favorites:
Ric Stoval, Vail Resorts
Vail’s newest on-mountain restaurant is a ski-in ski-out fine dining experience complete with table service. At the 10th, skiers are able to take off and store their ski boots and borrow a loaner pair of comfortable slippers to wear while they dine. The restaurant features spectacular views of the majestic Gore Range as well as the Look Ma and Challenge Trails. The 10th offers modern alpine cuisine and is open for lunch and dinner as well as for apr?s ski. Non-skiers can reach the restaurant via the new “One” heated, high-speed gondola. Lunch is offered daily, though dinner is only offered Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended. (Photo credit: Ric Stovall, Vail Resorts)
Located in the Lodge at Vail, in the heart of Vail Village, Elway’s is a fairly new restaurant in town and arguably the best steakhouse west of Denver. Its menu features hand-cut prime steaks, fish, crustaceans as well as a delicious dessert menu, an innovative cocktail menu and an extensive wine list. Reservations are recommended.
Known for its stunning views, Game Creek, which is a private club open only to members for lunch, offers a restaurant open to the public for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday. The beautiful restaurant features American style cuisine made with regional and seasonal ingredients. Located on Vail Mountain, the restaurant is only accessible by the club’s “Club Cat” Snowcat. Reservations are required.
This namesake restaurant was opened by celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa in collaboration with Nobuko Kang and is located in a stunning modern setting in the Solaris Building of Vail Village. The restaurant offers a sushi menu in addition to wide array of other Japanese specialties ranging from Broiled Black Cod with Miso to Australian Wagyu Beef Tataki. We suggest making reservations.
This restaurant, which opened in Vail Village in 1977, remains one of the most popular restaurants in town. Its eclectic menu features contemporary cuisine made with organic ingredients and sustainable food sources. Reservations are suggested.
The newest restaurant in Vail, Mountain Standard was opened by the owners of Sweet Basil, one of Vail’s veteran restaurants, in January. Set in a contemporary tavern setting with a state-of-the-art open kitchen, Mountain Standard specializes in dishes made over a wood burning grill and rotisserie. The restaurant also offers an extensive wine list and a wide selection of locally produced beer on tap. The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner as well as for apr?s ski. Reservations are recommended.
There are many interesting boutiques, ski shops and art galleries in Vail, but our favorite by far is Gorsuch. One of the original retailers in Vail Village, Gorsuch features home furnishings as well as the latest in fashions, for men, women and children, for both on and off the slopes, from such international designers as Brunello Cucinelli, Etro, Montcler, Frauenschuh, Roberto Cavalli and Bogner, among others. The company was founded by Renie and David Gorsuch who met as members of the 1960 US Olympic Ski Team. The company, which also includes a mail-order and online business, remains family-owned and operated.
Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts
There’s no better time to visit Vail than during its 50th anniversary during which a whole host of events are planned.
A fascinating documentary about the history of Vail and its founding will be shown at 5:30 pm on January 31, February 7, February 21, March 7, March 21, April 4 and April 11 at the Lionshead Welcome Center. The film, by Vail-based filmmaker Roger Cotton Brown, was made in honor of Vail’s 50th Anniversary Celebration and features interviews with the resort’s founders and other notables. Tickets are free of charge on a first-come, first served basis on the day of each show and can be picked up at the Lionshead Welcome Center beginning at 9:00 am.
The Winter Mountain Games from February 8 to 10 will feature performances by professional and amateur athletes as well as music, art and other activities.
The Burton U.S. Open, the world-renowned snowboarding competition will take place in Vail from February 25 to March 2, marking the first time the event has not been held on the East Coast since its founding thirty years ago. The event will draw more than 100 of the world’s best riders for four days of progressive Halfpipe and Slopestyle competitions.
Ski Heritage Week will take place from April 8 to 14, and feature the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame annual induction ceremony.
The annual ʻSpring Back to Vail” annual party from April 8 to 14 will close out the ski and snowboard season with concerts, parties, pondskimming and more. (Photo credit: Jack Affleck, Vail Resorts)