Where do you start when talking about Vail? It is unbelievable how easy it is to unwind on a ski holiday when everything is taken care of for you. The ethos of the resort is embodied by the incredible international staff that work there – from lifties to retailers, ski valets to sommeliers – everyone wants to help you have the best time possible. This is part of what makes it like nowhere else on earth. Outlined here is a sample of Vail accommodation, amenities, food, shopping and mountains: and that’s just a taster, the reality is something only to be experienced personally!
Fundamental to all good ski holidays is the quality of skiing accommodation. The location, amenities and cuisine of your chalets and hotels make all the difference to your experience as a whole. That’s why at Vail they go the extra mile for guests, to provide impeccable customer service. The Arrabelle at Vail Square is one of the most renowned properties in Vail. Backing out onto the Eagle Bahn Gondola, you can literally walk from your room to the ski valet and out onto the snow, where you are helped on and off the Gondola. The convenience does not stop there. An iPad will be waiting in the family area of your room, which connects you directly to the concierge and front desk, so you can have your car brought out at the click of a button. Do you fancy in-room service? No problem, just ask the iPad. It’s that simple. Wake up to the extensive and impressive continental breakfast that starts the luxurious day of skiing the right way.
The air of indulgence is mirrored in the amenities that Vail offer in their accommodation and the resort as a whole. One example is the bowling alley which doubles for a fine dining restaurant. “Bōl” is incredible, with waiters and sommeliers providing wines, select beers and bubbly to the bowlers, and hors d'œuvres on platters. Not only is this a celebration of lavishness, but an example of the commitment that the staff at Vail have, to ensure everyone has a fruitful visit. Even the buses are punctual, running every five minutes, to make sure you can fit in as much as possible into your time at Vail – if that’s what you want. This is just what Vail want to communicate. If you want to do nothing and relax, then do nothing! And if you want to be able to do everything, they’ll make sure they do all they can to accommodate your every need.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or a taste for the gourmet, Vail has everything required to make you content. Kids can drag parents towards sweet shops like the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, filled with luscious toffee apples and chocolate truffles, while adults enjoy the après ski bars and exclusive dining locations. A favourite is the Frost bar in the Sebastian Hotel at Vail village, with a stunning beverage menu including an $18 luxurious Hot Chocolate, which is dusted with gold to give it the superior finish. Its not only connoisseurs of chocolate that are welcome here though, Brandy measures up to $250 per ounce can be found to excite the pallet.
Other than the exciting and innovative bars, there are classic restaurants and delicatessens, so take your pick. Exclusive locations such as Sweet Basil and La Tour offer French/American gourmet fusion foods. These restaurants provide calming atmospheres and casual dinning at the same time as delivering outstanding meals. They are a must for the full Vail experience! Not falling short of this reputation either is Rimini, a fashionable chocolate shop and café beneath the Arrabelle which offers truffles in the shape of mountains and luscious hot chocolate.
While browsing the wide range of retailers in the evening, left feeling satisfied from your evening meal, you can be warmed by one of the many open fires and heaters. Even in one of the fountains you can find fire dancing, which is a beautiful sight in the evening. Pared with this is the range of original sculptures that are spread across the pedestrian section, enhancing a walk at dusk. A huge amount of high-end retailers and ski/sports shops, such as the renowned Gorsuch, are easily accessible from the bus, meaning that the shopping experience extends throughout the villages. Even extravagant jewelry shops have huge crystal and fossil structures for purchase, alongside art galleries with select works and exhibitions for viewing and acquisition.
Finally, the most impressive and truly unique element of Vail ski resort, which should be celebrated, is the mountains themselves. Truly immense forces of nature, the seven legendary back bowls excite all experienced skiers just as much as the likes of Corbet’s Couloir at Jackson Hole. Being the largest resort in Colorado, comes with high expectations to live up to and they really do reach them. Vail is so big it even has its own airport, Eagle Vail regional airport, only 40 minutes out. Having the most groomed runs on the planet, makes this a heavenly ski experience for intermediates trying out more difficult runs, while still occupying experts on some of the tougher, choppy and steep “left to be wild” runs.
This is only a snapshot of what makes Vail incomparable to other ski resorts around the USA. There is so much to explore in the huge resort, made up of multiple “Villages" that you will never be stuck for an activity or source of entertainment. Even if you just sit back and take in the pure grandeur and vastness of it all. There are just some things that can be found only in Vail.
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Ellie Parry, Chalets USA team
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