Exciting stuff happening in Vail, Colorado, this winter! First, the stellar ski resort is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary. Indeed, the mountain officially opened in December 1962, and Vail Resorts will mark the special occasion all season long. Fifty years ago, Vail had just one gondola, two chairlifts and eight trails. Today the world-class resort has 193 trails and 5,289 total skiable acres.
A couple of cool events to open the season: “First Tracks” on November 15 recognizes the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, so champions like Lindsey Vonn, Bode Mille, Julia Mancuso and Ted Ligety will be on hand. Then for opening day, November 16, Vail Mountain unveils its new, state-of-the-art gondola, complete with heated seats and wi-fi.
A Vail 50th anniversary film premiere happens on December 14, with a look back at its founding and evolution by Vail’s original filmmaker. The film premiere takes place at Vail Marriott Resort & Spa.
Vail officially turns 50 on December 15 with a free outdoor party at Mountain Plaza in Vail Village (with a massive display of fireworks and epic birthday sweet treat), but there’s a whole week to mark it with the annual Snow Daze December 10 to 16, and a fabulous line-up of live concerts, including Wilco, The Shins and Michael Franti.
In addition to the 50th anniversary parties and the brand-new gondola (70 percent of which was constructed in Colorado), you’ll find a cool new feature to EpicMix, which is a photo-capturing and photo-sharing technology built right into your lift ticket and accessed via smart-phone app. (It’s available not only at Vail, but Vail Resorts’ other mountains: Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Northstar and Heavenly.) With the third year’s incarnation of Epic Mix Racing, skiers will automatically have their race times compared to ski racing great Lindsey Vonn, with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded based on achievement. (Don’t worry: all of us non-Olympians and kids are handicapped, for most appropriate comparisons.)
I’d keep an eye out for all sorts of special hotel and restaurant deals in Vail this season, again to mark the resort’s 50th anniversary. For example, The Sebastian is offering a clever Vintage Vail package (“Party like it’s 1962!”) which includes four nights deluxe accommodations, $50 to spend at its cool (pun!) bar Frost, $5 lift tickets, two 50-minute treatments at Bloom Spa, plus a Sebastian iPod loaded with hits from 1962.
The Four Seasons Vail (one of my Vail faves, for sure) has a upscale “1962″ package: for $1962/night, guests sleep in a luxurious executive suite and get a 50-minute massage at the resort’s award-winning spa, $50 credit daily at Flame Restaurant and two 1960s classic cocktails at Fireside Lounge. With the Golden Ticket package you get a complimentary upgrade (if available between November 7 and December 15), plus a $50 credit at Flame Restaurant and two Fireside Lounge cocktails, such as the classic Flying Grasshopper (vodka, crème de cacao, crème de menthe, cream).
In other Four Seasons Vail news, the hotel now has some super-fun in-room amenities for kids: a mini cotton-candy maker and mini popcorn popper. Be sure to tell the reservations staff the ages of your kids when you book so they’ll have some sweet treats or fun snacks waiting for them in their rooms! (If your child is celebrating a birthday or other special occasion, he or she might be able to flavor their own lemonade or dig into a dirt birthday cake!) Teens aren’t left out of the fun: On the weekends a “teen apres” in the young adults’ center features cookies and beverages in the afternoons. The resort also lends out GoPro helmet cameras for teens for their ski day, and when they return, resort staff burns the footage onto a DVD for the kids to take home — all complimentary!
Guests planning a winter stay at The Arrabelle (another one of my favorite luxe properties) can look forward to enjoying the latest in-room technology. Intelity’s ICE (Interactive Customer Experience™) Mobile technology will now be available for guests of The Arrabelle to use on their Android or Apple smartphones and tablets. With ICE Mobile, guests can download a free app to their smartphone or tablet and instantly gain access to all of the hotel’s services, including housekeeping requests, wake-up calls and ordering in-room dining. Hotel staff will be able to track all requests electronically and respond much more quickly. (Side note from me: Don’t miss the incredible RockResorts Spa at The Arrabelle — divine!)
When you’re in Vail, check out the new renovated lobby at Vail Mountain Lodge. Formerly the lobby and front desk area featured heavy wood and dark colors, but now the color palette is lighter with soft greens, gray-browns and silver. Plus, the existing space was reworked to provide more creative spaces for small gatherings; better yet the wi-fi and cell phone coverage was upgraded (a plus for any business or leisure traveler)! The new lobby look allows for a more seamless connection between the hotel and its on-site Vail Vitality Center, a spa and wellness facility.
In restaurant news, the folks from Sweet Basil are opening up a brand-new restaurant in Vail Village called Mountain Standard. It’ll be in the same building as Sweet Basil, featuring a wood burning grill and rotisserie with simple and rustic fare, such as chickens, fresh creative salads and apple-wood grilled steak. Mountain Standard is scheduled to open in December. Inspirato’s Vail Destination Concierge Vicki Shook told me about a new restaurant that opened this summer: Tavern on the Gore. It’s in the old Sapphire space, in Vail Village on Gore Creek, but now it’s a sports bar with tavern food. However, seafood lovers will be pleased that the popular raw bar from Sapphire remains.
This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with Mountain Reservations as one of its Mountain Ambassadors. This site offers loads of great deals on condominium properties — in Vail and at other ski resorts in the United States, Canada, Argentina and Chile.