AOL PICK from our Editors
Vail has a wide variety of places to lay your head after a busy day. From condo properties to upscale luxury resorts, there’s something whether you’re traveling with two people to 12. Vail is known for upscale luxury—and the hotels reflect this in both the amenities offered and the prices during the winter season. However, there is a light at the end of the pecuniary tunnel: lodging prices in Vail are lower in the summer (rates range from 25-49% less than during the winter) and the rooms are exactly the same. That said, it’s really hard to find anything below $100 per night, even in the summer, but we’ve recommended two options. Check out VRBO
(Vacation Rentals by Owner)—you can often find condos in East Vail that are more reasonably priced while remaining just a short bus ride from Vail Village. Some hotels are dog friendly, so ask when making reservations.
Neighborhood: Lionshead Price Range: Expensive
The newest jewel in Lionshead (it opened in January 2009), The Arrabelle has single-handedly redefined Lionshead with its candy-colored stucco and trompe l’oeil finishes (some people think it looks a bit like Disneyland). While the façade may be a bit…bright, the alpine lodge-inspired interior and rooms are spectacular. The Arrabelle has 62 guest rooms and suites plus 25 private residences decked out with the amenities that you’d expect: flat-screen TVs, Bose radio/clock, bathrobes, etc. The staff is friendly to the point of unnerving sometimes (they remember guests’ last names), but willing to help with any special requests. The Arrabelle’s location just a few feet from the gondola makes it truly convenient for families, along with the well-heeled couples that also frequent the resort. A Rock Resort, The Arrabelle has both Centre V (French cuisine) and Tavern on the Square for dining options. While the Tavern is a good place to grab a beer and watch a game, Centre V is overpriced and not up to par with the rest of the resort. Check out the Great Room’s outdoor terrace for some fantastic views of the slopes, or take a turn on the ice rink located just steps from the Arrabelle’s front doors.
Neighborhood: Vail Village Price Range: Expensive
In 1979, proprietor Johannes Faessler opened the Sonnenalp Resort in the heart of Vail Village, modeled after his family’s ranch house in Bavaria. We love the intimate mountain feel that remains today, reflected in the traditional Austrian uniforms worn by staff to the plush down duvets on every bed. The Sonnenalp is known for some of the best customer service and hospitality in Vail—and it’s well-deserved. The resort has 12 hotel rooms and 115 suites (a major remodel took place in 2006, adding 29 rooms and suites), a full-service spa, a private 18-hole golf course and three restaurants (a full breakfast at Ludwig’s with massive cups of coffee is included in the room price). Check out the Bully Ranch’s mudslides for an après ski treat and the Swiss Chalet for authentic fondue, raclette and traditional alpine cuisine such as züricher geschnetzeltes (veal with mushrooms and a sinfully good cream sauce). Visitors should opt for a suite, particularly if you’re traveling with a family. There are more than 10 types of suites to choose from; a reservations agent can help you figure out which one is right for you.
Neighborhood: Avon/Beaver Creek Price Range: Expensive
Located in the center of Beaver Creek Village, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is a bastion in the world of ski-in/ski-out resorts. The first to introduce the idea of “ski butlers” (a service that takes your boots and skis after skiing and has them warm and dry the next morning), this resort continues to be a favorite for families vacationing at Beaver Creek. As a result, the common areas such as Antler Hall and the outdoor fire pits can be a bit rowdy and loud with kids running around. However, this hoopla usually occurs in the early evening—the resort usually quiets down again after 7PM. With 190 rooms and 15 residences, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is also home to 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill (try the homemade granola on the breakfast buffet) and Allegria Spa. The Aqua Sanitas water sanctuary is the heart of the 30,000-square-foot Allegria Spa, renovated in 2007. Passes to Aqua Sanitas are available without a treatment and worth the cost.
Neighborhood: Avon Price Range: Expensive
Opened in September 2008, the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa is Colorado’s only Silver LEED certified hotel, which is just one of the elements that sets it apart. Located in Avon, the mountain is accessible by the Riverfront Gondola, which departs from the property. With 210 rooms ranging from studios to three-bedroom residences, the Westin Riverfront combines a residential feel with the amenities of a resort, including Spa-Anjali, the Fitness Center and Avondale Restaurant
. While the lobby area doesn’t really invite a long stay (the couches, while stylish, are uncomfortable), there is plenty of room to lounge on the back patio (complete with heat lamps during the winter) to gaze at the alpenglow over the mountain. The Friday Afternoon Club (FAC) during the summer is worth the drive to Avon—live music and drink specials draw denizens from up and down the valley to mix and mingle on the patio. Avondale is another reason to visit: meals are light and flavorful affairs featuring some of chef Thomas Salamunovich’s house-cured meats, locally grown salad greens and gluten-free pastas that vary according to season. The parking structure is large, but labyrinthine. Carpool or drive a hybrid and receive complimentary valet parking.
Neighborhood: Vail Village Price Range: Moderate
Owned and operated by the Lazier family, the Tivoli Lodge was entirely reinvented in 2006, a vision that added European-style architecture to Rocky Mountain design influence for a mountain-chic persona. Truly a family-run operation (the Brown Hound lounge is named for the family lab), the Laziers bring a homey, down-to-earth feel to a town that has a reputation for elitism. The 62-room lodge has the de rigueur amenities (large tubs, high-thread-count sheets, fireplaces in most rooms) plus two outdoor hot tubs with views of Golden Peak. There are seven different types of rooms at the Tivoli. Make sure that you are clear when you’re making a reservation (and if a mountain tower room is available, jump on it: these octagonal rooms have amazing views). There is limited underground parking available (for a fee), but it tends to fill up quickly in the winter, which can be an annoyance.
Neighborhood: Vail Village Price Range: Moderate
Located on the banks of Gore Creek just a few hundred yards from the Covered Bridge, the Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa is known not only for the spacious rooms (which can configure from lodge rooms into two or three bedroom condos), but for the Vail Athletic Club and Terra Bistro, both located on the premises. The rooms are comfortable and have been remodeled within the past few years, but the décor tends to verge on more country than chic. However, the Vail Mountain Lodge is Spa is truly known for its staff, which is friendly without being obsequious, the fitness center (you’ll have complimentary access to the center and to classes such as Pilates and yoga during your stay), and Terra Bistro, the restaurant located onsite. Terra Bistro’s chef, Kevin Nelson, was serving organic and local ingredients before it was trendy, believing that “if you eat good food, you’ll feel good." The menu reflects this with its multitude of symbols (the key is at the top) denoting gluten free, nut free, garlic free, and blends Southwestern, Mediterranean and Asian flavors. For a unique meal, try Terra Bistro’s Thousand Year Breakfast: everything on the menu was available 1,000 years ago (our favorite is the Baaa Naan skillet, with eggs, kale, goat cheese and garlic on naan bread).
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa
Neighborhood: West Vail Price Range: Moderate
The Vail Cascade Resort & Spa is a one of the largest resorts in Vail with 292 guest rooms, 80 condominiums and private residences; Aria Spa and Club; the restaurant Atwater on Gore Creek; the Fireside Bar, and the Village Market and Café (great for grabbing a quick bite). It’s quite popular with families and large groups and meetings. With such a big resort, though, some of the rooms tend to be quite far from the lobby and can be confusing to find—the front desk will give you detailed directions. The Club at Aria includes a basketball court, tennis courts and an extensive workout room. The pool is located on the back of the resort, with views of the mountain and Gore Creek. Located west of Lionshead, the Cascade also has its own chairlift, which makes for convenient access to and from the mountain; the hotel has a shuttle that drops guests off in the Village and Lionshead, an approximately half-hour trip.
Neighborhood: Lionshead Price Range: Moderate
Located in Lionshead, The Antlers at Vail is a unique setup for lodging in Vail. Consisting of 87 condominiums ranging from studios to four-bedroom units, The Antlers is more of a neighborhood than a hotel. While the amenities are standard for a resort town (great hot-tubs, a sauna and fitness room, laundry), each unit has its own kitchen, allowing you to fix more meals yourself, saving on dining out. The staff is friendly and while the décor is more mountain comfy than mountain chic, The Antlers is a great option for couples traveling together or family reunions; it’s also dog-friendly, so you can bring your four-legged family members, too. Keep an eye out for the female moose and her calf that frequent the area near The Antlers.
Neighborhood: West Vail Price Range: Budget
Evergreen Lodge remains one of the best “value” properties in the neighborhood, located directly between the Village and Lionshead. While many lodging properties in Vail have undergone major renovations in the past five years, the Evergreen Lodge has remained much the same. There are rumors that the property will be turned into a Fairmont resort, but details are sketchy. The onsite restaurant, Altitude Billiards & Sports Club, attracts an easy-going crowd looking to catch a game of pool and Altitude Café serves a hearty breakfast buffet during the winter season to fuel up before hitting the slopes. While the rooms are clean and comfortable, don’t expect the same level of service or splendor that you’ll find in some of the more upscale lodging properties.
Neighborhood: West Vail Price Range: Budget
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The Roost is the quintessential “skiers’ flophouse.” During the winter, The Roost has the cheapest rates in town and, while the location is a bit farther from the mountain (on the north side of I-70), it’s clean and conveniently located on the bus route. With some rooms having two double beds and a twin bed, it’s possible to fit you and your four friends in relative comfort. The décor is sparse, but the Roost is the perfect place to bunk down when you’re planning on spending most of your day on the mountain—not in your hotel room. Ask for a room on the backside to lessen the traffic noise from I-70.