I have only been snow skiing a couple of times; once in Wisconsin as a child and once in high school in North Carolina. I really don’t count those times and want to be known as a skier, but the few times I’ve tried to plan a family ski trip I really get bogged down by the process. So when I decided to become a travel advisor I ran away from any ski trip planning, fast! Then a few weeks ago one of our preferred partners reached out to the company I work with and offered an incentive to visit their property in Vail, Colorado. My husband and I have been to Denver a few times to visit friends, but have never made it to the mountains. Luckily, the timing worked out and we were on our way to Vail!
We flew non-stop to Denver and rented a car. The drive to Vail is only about 2 hours from the airport and once you pass through the city you make your way up into the mountains which is beautiful! The night before we landed it had snowed in Denver and initial mountain area was very foggy. I was so glad my husband was driving because it would have made me a nervous wreck!
We could tell we were getting to higher altitudes because our ears started popping. We passed through several old mining towns that made you feel like you were in a 19th century western movie and saw a herd or big-horned sheep along the side of the road. I believe the highest altitude was around the Eisenhower-Johnson tunnel at over 11,000 feet.
Our first stop was Beaver Creek to check out the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. We ate lunch at the Buffalo Bar and toured the property. By this time I was experiencing a little altitude sickness and our waiter put a few drops of liquid oxygen into my water. I guess it worked but I did feel strange all weekend. I can’t wait to go back and experience it when there is snow on the ground. The Ritz has direct access to the slopes as a ski-in/out property along with an incredible spa and fabulous restaurants. One of which is Spago by Wolfgang Puck. I really wanted to eat there because I have yet to experience one of his restaurants but it was closed for lunch that day. I think the main reason I wanted to eat there was because of the cowhide chairs. During ski season, except for during the holidays, the Ritz has a ski free package where your room charge covers your lift tickets. All in all, the resort is incredible and you can guarantee a luxurious experience during your stay.
We then headed to our hotel, Four Seasons Vail, located in the heart of Vail Village. Our room was a deluxe mountain-view king and it was very spacious. My two favorite features were the stone fireplace that ignited with the touch of a button and the free-standing bathtub in the middle of the bathroom. I also liked the large walk-in dressing room/closet off the foyer.
This property features a luxurious spa, outdoor heated pool and two Jacuzzis along with a fabulous restaurant, Flame, a lounge bar and coffee shop. Since we were visiting between seasons the coffee shop wasn’t open. The hotel is located next to the mountain and only a short walk to the ski slopes. A ski concierge will store your skis for you and have them ready for you at the base of the mountain when it is time to ski. They also have a ski free package during ski season, except during the holidays, which covers your lift tickets and equipment. One feature both hotels offer is a kids program with trained staff on-hand to not just babysit your children but offer group activities as well.
Since we were there between seasons several of the area activities were not available. We did choose to go horseback riding at the 4 Eagle Ranch 20 minutes west of the resort. There were only 2 other couples and a guide on our 2 hour ride. The scenery was magnificent and the air was as fresh as you could get. During most of the tour I felt like I was in the middle of a western movie. Other activities include Jeep tours that take you higher into the mountains, zip-line, ATV tours, whitewater rafting, fly fishing, plus a few others. Vail isn’t just a winter destination because there are plenty of things to do in the summer, especially if you are active.
That night we decided to hang out in town and went to the CineBistro where we watched a movie and ate dinner at the same time. The theater must have been relatively new because it was very modern and had nice oversized leather chairs that rocked. We saw Taken 2 and enjoyed the best sweet potato fries I have ever eaten!
The Vail village is small and quaint and although it was built in 1962 it looks like it has been there for over a century. There are many restaurants, ski shops, and real estate offices.
On our way back to the airport we visited Beaver Creek again to tour the Park Hyatt. It is also a ski-in/out property where the slopes are in the resort’s backyard. It too has a nice spa, restaurant, outdoor pool and jacuzzi’s as well as many outdoor activities on-site.
We thoroughly enjoyed our laid-back weekend in the mountains and I can’t wait to plan a return trip when the snow is on the ground!
Most importantly I am not afraid to plan a ski trip anymore!