Pristine powder meets luxurious accommodations in this popular resort town
Vail covers 5,500 acres in Colorado, making it the largest single-mountain ski resort in the country. The rich and famous take to its slopes, as do plenty of locals. You can vacation in style at this wonderful winter playground.
Stay at the Four Seasons Resort
Travel + Leisure magazine named the Four Seasons Resort one of the world's best hotels in 2012 with good reason. It features 125 guest rooms arranged around a 75-foot-long saltwater pool that serves as the resort's focal point. Suites and private residences are available, including the luxurious Mount Valhalla residence, featuring 2,500-square feet on the eighth floor. The residence has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and an expansive living space with contemporary-Western decor. A family can truly settle in here, with the full gourmet kitchen, dining table for eight and laundry room. Large flat-screen HDTVs hang throughout the space, which also has a gas-burning fireplace and a furnished terrace with views of Vail Village. Plan your stay at www.fourseasons.com/vail.
Dine at Kelly Liken
Chef Kelly Liken presents a seasonal menu featuring fresh, local produce and ingredients at her namesake restaurant. The offerings change regularly, but recent menu items include Rocky Mountain Elk Carpaccio with bulgur taboulleh salad and whole grain mustard aioli as a first course; roasted Carrot and fennel soup with crisp phyllo-wrapped Robiola cheese, spiced pepitas and candied fennel for a second; and potato crusted trout filets with shallot-studded local green beans, cherry tomatoes and lemon beurre blanc as a main dish. Don't miss her caramelized Brussels sprout leaves as a side. Check out www.kellyliken.com to peruse the menu or make a reservation.
Beginners: Ski the front side
Vail itself offers 5,289 acres of the most diverse and expansive terrain in the world. The front side of the resort offers the most groomed areas, with wide and long runs such as Riva Ridge, Born Free and Simba proving more popular. You also will find the Kid's Adventure Zones on the front side. Visit www.vail.com for more information.
Experts: Hit the back side
The North Rim and Prima Cornice feature some of the steepest skiing at Vail. The China Bowl and Dragon's Teeth also present a challenge, providing you with fresh powder late in the morning because of its grade. And don't forget Love's Leap in Blue Sky Basin, with its drop-off varying with the snow and wind conditions. Go to www.coloradoskiauthority.com for details.
Relax at the Spa at Four Seasons
Recover from your time on the slopes with a treatment at the hotel spa. The High-Altitude Adjustment massage, in particular, helps your body establish equilibrium at the higher altitude, relieving symptoms such as headaches and respiration discomfort. Or the Alpine Rejuvenation body treatment features an earthen mask of crushed corn, clay and oats, followed by gentle exfoliation and a refreshing rain-shower rinse. A massage with warm river stones and oil infused with balsam fir, juniper and pine completes the treatment. For more information, visit www.fourseasons.com/vail/spa.
December through March is the best times to visit Vail for skiing, and the crowds and cost reflect the pristine powder. Book in plenty of time to get your preferred accommodations.