For all of my Colorado-born life, skiing has meant several things: Getting up early, throwing the skis in the car, fighting the Interstate 70 traffic and then schlepping same skis from the car to the slopes. Skiing, in general, meant a lot of work.
Of course, it was always worth it — powdery white snow, towering peaks and crystal blue skies. Skiing in Colorado is something quite special.
But it was usually just a one-day event, up to the slopes for some fun, and then back to work the next day.
It’s the same story for many Coloradans. Vacation for us often means beach-side holidays in Florida, cruises to the Bahamas or a trip to see Aunt Sue. We leave the ski vacations to those from out of town.
But if I may speak to my people for a bit (the rest of you may eavesdrop), we are truly missing out. Here’s why: Skiing and actually staying on the slopes is an entirely different experience.
Take, for example, a stay at the Lodge at Vail. This AAA Four Diamond property enjoys an envious location right at the base of Vail Mountain, one of North America’s largest ski resorts. (The lift is just outside the back door.)
In fact, The Lodge at Vail was instrumental in Vail Mountain’s development. When the ski resort opened in December 1962, the U.S. Forest Service stipulated that there be at least one lodge with a minimum of 30 rooms. It seemed a lot for a tiny ski mountain with just two chair lifts, one gondola and eight ski instructors. Ticket prices were only $5 back then.
The Lodge at Vail became that cornerstone property, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, The Lodge at Vail boasts 165 luxurious rooms and suites. This intimate boutique hotel has a distinctly alpine feel, with warm mahogany and marble accents throughout.
The accommodating guest rooms, with their plush duvet-covered beds, thick carpets and elegantly-appointed bathrooms, are a treat all themselves. Each of the property’s 46 suites offers one, two or three bedrooms, along with wood-burning fireplaces and walk-out balconies.
Imagine my delight at coming home to such a room after an active day on the slopes. There was no traffic to deal with or long drives to make. My sweetheart and I simply checked our skis with the ski valet near the lift, and made the 5-minute walk from the slope to our room. (So this is how the other half lives!)
After decompressing in our room, we headed straight for the hot tubs at the base of the mountain. The view alone is worth the trip, but that warm water does wondrous things for tired muscles. We watched from our relaxing mountainside pool as the sun slowly slipped from the peaks and the skiers disappeared from the mountain. Ah, the good life.
Another fantastic way to relax is with a massage at The RockResorts Spa. The facility is beautifully appointed, with soothing decor and comfortable seating areas. I was so relaxed after my 50-minute Swedish massage, that I could barely get off the table. That’s my measurement of a successful spa visit!
All that activity and relaxing can make one hungry. Fortunately, The Lodge at Vail has two distinct restaurants for guests to choose from.
Cucina Rustica is an Italian eatery with a menu featuring Colorado home-grown produce. The restaurant provides a huge buffet breakfast each morning, which is just the right way to start the day.
The Wildflower takes it up several notches, and was rated the number one restaurant in Vail by ZAGAT Survey. Chef Rahm Fama is known for his eclectic American cuisine, and uses seasonal herbs, spices and vegetables from the restaurant’s own
Vail Village and nearby Lionshead also offer a dizzying array of exceptional restaurants. We enjoyed fondue at the Swiss Chalet Restaurant at the Sonnenalp Resort, which features traditional European fare in a classic Swiss setting. And we headed to The Tavern on the Square at The Arrabelle at Vail Square when we wanted to kick back and enjoy some tasty comfort food.
Walking through Vail Village during ski season is an experience all its own. Filled with the sounds of European and South American languages and the sight of full-length furs and huge diamond rings, it feels, at times, like a whole different country.
But one look at the beautiful view of the Rockies and the welcoming smiles of the folks at Vail, and it’s easy to feel right at home again.
For many Coloradans, Vail has a reputation for being expensive, and it can be. But there are also many deals to be found.
The best hotel rates can be found right after the Christmas holidays and during the summer. The Lodge at Vail also runs promotions, such as buy two nights and get one free throughout the year. Other promotions provide free or discounted pricing on Tuesdays, when demand is lower.
After a stay at The Lodge in Vail, it’s easy to understand why so many people travel from around the world to visit Colorado. For those of us who live here, we’re just the lucky ones who get to call it home.
If You Go
The Lodge at Vail
174 E. Gore Creek Drive
Vail, Colorado 81657
877-528-7625 or 970-476-5011
Vail Valley Partnership
Vail Mountain Resort