By Cindy Hirschfeld
The resort—one of the largest ski areas in the world—has long attracted discerning, cosmopolitan clientele who will settle for nothing short of spectacular when it comes to a mountain vacation.
Unparalleled diversity of terrain and impeccable grooming translates to a first-class experience on the mountain.
Off the slopes, Vail is home to art galleries, high-style boutiques, nationally acclaimed restaurants, and some of ski country’s best-rated luxury hotels.
Combine that with the soul-stirring scenery of the central Rockies, and you’ve got a resort that wholly lives up to its accolades.
Three-time James Beard Award nominee and Iron Chef/Top Chef competitor Kelly Liken pairs locally sourced dishes with carefully crafted cocktails at her eponymous restaurant.
Feel like staying in?
Book Chef Liken for a private cooking class and dinner in the comfort of your own home away from home.
With so much choice sushi and sashimi at the ready, it’s difficult to decide on an order at Matsuhisa, an inviting eatery from sushi master Nobu Matsuhisa (yes—that Nobu).
Avoid the dilemma by opting for the over-the-top omakase tasting experience.
Wine This Way
Larkspur continually earns honors for its changing menu of new American cuisine.
Indulge—with a partner—in the 41-ounce Creekstone Farms Black Angus rib eye, paired with a sommelier-matched wine from the restaurant’s 5,000-bottle selection.
In addition to group and private lessons, Vail offers several specialty programs.
Among them: Focused Learning sessions that employ sports psychology and advanced movement analysis; the The Burton Mountain Experience for advanced snowboarders who want to demo the latest gear; and clinics to prep you for heli-skiing.
With 31 lifts fanning skiers across 5,289 acres of terrain, it’s not hard to carve out your own niche.
But savvy planning pays off. During busy times, the Highline, Pride, Born Free, and Earl’s express lifts see the least traffic.
Game Creek Bowl is often uncrowded in the afternoon.
And getting on lower-mountain lifts like Gondola One, the Eagle Bahn Gondola, and the Riva Bahn Express Lift is usually quick business from midmorning on, once the early rush is over.
Ski Your Aspect Off
Searching for the best snow?
Take into account aspect (the direction a slope faces), sun, wind, and elevation.
Most of Vail’s winter storms come from the west. Afterward, east-facing slopes often have the deepest powder.
For steep slopes and soft bumps, find your bliss on runs like Milt’s, Campbell’s, Cow’s Face, and Genghis Khan.
North-facing slopes like Northwoods, Riva Ridge, and Avanti hold softer snow after a few days of sun.
The sizable rooms and rental residences at the alpine-inspired Arrabelle at Vail Square are among Vail’s most well-appointed options, but the hotel’s most exclusive offering is its Game Creek Chalet, a three-bedroom retreat high up on Vail Mountain.
Overnights include snowcat transportation.
Three at Four
Live like a local, even if you’re only staying a weekend, at one of the three lavish Four Seasons residences. No. 1021 has a killer media room and an enormous rooftop deck overlooking the super-pipe.
May I Help You?
Attentive staffers at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Vail, anticipate your every need, whether you’re settling into your luxuriously outfitted residence, taking in the dramatic view of Vail Mountain from the lounge, or soaking in the waterfall-equipped hot tub.
Après-ski starts midmountain at The 10th with a bacon-infused-bourbon bloody Mary and a pair of plush slippers (each guest receives a pair upon arrival).
Care to linger?
You can ride the gondola down—and even purchase a pair of clogs and a blanket—should you not want to squeeze back into your ski boots.
Vail’s galleries and boutiques are not to be missed.
Stop in at Dennis Basso for couture fur, Luca Bruno for unique Italian fashion, and Tommy Bowers Ski or Gorsuch for the latest in skiwear from brands like Moncler, Authier, and Bogner.