In the first years after Vail opened as a ski resort in 1962, if you were looking for a place to stay the night, your choice was uncomplicated: the Lodge at Vail, the Christiania, or Gasthof Gramshammer. Accommodations were generally pretty spartan, because the avid skiers flocking here didn’t really care. They came to schuss their brains out, not to sip Champagne and blow bubbles in a jetted, marble-clad tub surrounded by scented candles.
Nearly 50 years later, these charming landmark hotels are still a huge part of the Vail experience. But as the Vail Valley has boomed as a winter sports destination—including adding a huge new resort in the 1980s at Beaver Creek—the number and variety of accommodations here have exploded along with it. And as fun-seekers increasingly spend more time in the mountains, the simple room for the night has morphed into a multibedroom home away from home, often at resorts or residence clubs with fabulous frills like marble bathrooms, lavish spas, and on-site gourmet restaurants.
So while you can still get a great room near the heart of the action, luxury’s very lap can be yours at any number of top-of-the-line, one-of-a kind suites or condos, including many new properties even longtime locals may not yet have glimpsed inside. Consider this your sneak peek at a few of the most unique, splurge-worthy rentable residences from among the astonishing variety available in Vail, Beaver Creek, and environs. Whether you’re just fantasizing or actually making plans, be sure to pop the Champagne!
PARK HYATT BEAVER CREEK RESORT
Guests at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa have both the Haymeadow Express Gondola and the Centennial Express right in their snowy front yard, making this resort Beaver Creek’s premier ski-in, ski-out destination. The French doors of this two-bedroom Rial Oxford Suite open onto sweeping mountain views from the 500-square-foot deck that stretches from the living and dining rooms to the master bedroom. You’ll almost feel as though the slopes here were groomed just for your amusement.
Inside, a wood-paneled fireplace in the wonderfully spacious master suite is designed for couple coziness and warding off those mountain chills. This suite has two and a half baths finished in elegant marble, as well as a Pullman kitchen—although you may never need to whip up any of your own dishes with the Park Hyatt’s 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill just downstairs, specializing in gourmet cuisine that features local and organic specialties.
Around the fire pit in winter, a delightful après-ski smorgasbord takes the s’mores tradition to an extravagant level with the chef’s handmade marshmallows -- and it’s all gratis. Because let’s face it: even the king (or queen) of the mountain loves a great deal.
136 East Thomas Place, Beaver Creek; 970-949-1234; Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
FOUR SEASONS RESORT VAIL
All in the Family
The roominess and upscale comfort of this two-story, four-bedroom residence at the Four Seasons Resort Vail make it ideal for family gatherings. Stylish traditional furnishings in mellow, mountain-inspired tones of brown, rust, and gold invite everyone to get cozy around the stone fireplace, and the coffered ceilings add a gracious note. The dining room table accommodates up to ten, and the large kitchen with its top-of-the-line Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances can ably serve a crowd.
Both living room and dining room open to an expansive deck with splendid views over the pool below to Vail Village and the mountain beyond. Parents of older children will appreciate a master bedroom suite that has its own private space on the main floor, while the upstairs boasts three more bedrooms and three baths, plus a handy laundry room with full-size washer and dryer. And each bathroom gives feet the treat of heated floors—just the touch the early-morning skier needs before heading out to the slopes.
Anytime you choose to temporarily extend your “family,” après-ski at the Four Seasons takes place daily in the grand lounge, where everyone is invited to stretch out on convivial sofas and recount the day’s adventures.
One Vail Road, Vail; 970-477-8600; Four Seasons Vail
Design of the Times
The freshest face on the block, Solaris occupies the center of the shiny new complex that replaces the venerable, decades-old Crossroads. A citified sophistication is the visual keynote in these seventy-nine residences, where sleekly styled, no-fuss furnishings and an open floor plan convey the hip aesthetic of a Manhattan loft.
This four-bedroom residence plus den stars a stunning kitchen with rich cherry cabinetry, a Wolf range, a Sub-Zero refrigerator/freezer, and a climate controlled wine cooler. When they don’t feel like cooking, guests can order delivery from Matsuhisa, the glossy, glass-and-steel Japanese restaurant that opened last summer just downstairs from the Solaris lobby.
Diversions aplenty await just outside the Solaris residences on an attractive plaza similar to a mini town square, complete with an ice-skating rink, art galleries, and shops. The trendiest of bowling facilities features ten lanes bathed in colored light, with giant TV screens overhead and a restaurant stocked with imaginative bites and beverages. And just steps away at CinéBistro filmgoers relax in stylish comfort in one of the intimate screening rooms, perhaps enjoying a gourmet meal as they watch.
141 E. Meadow Drive, Vail; 970-306-0356; Solaris
ARRABELLE AT VAIL SQUARE
The Alpine Life
The charmingly arched and timbered ceilings of the living room and dining room in this three-bedroom suite at the Arrabelle in Vail Square evoke the Old World ambience of a ski chalet in one of Europe’s fabled mountain villages. Just steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Born Free Express, the resort offers Lionshead’s most desirable slopeside jumping-off point to all of Vail Mountain.
Not only that, but this suite’s generous terrace gives you a front-row seat on the gondola’s ski run, a comfortable perch from which to critique the form of fellow skiers and feel like you’re part of the action—even when you’re taking a breather.
A handsome wood table in the adjacent dining room seats ten with views of the Gore Range, and the fully equipped gourmet kitchen has granite countertops and a six-burner Viking range, two ovens, and a huge Viking refrigerator. High-speed wireless Internet access is complimentary, and each bedroom includes a flat-panel TV. But you’ll likely be pursuing more sporting vigor in a rooftop lap pool—or soothing those muscles in one of several adjacent hot tubs that offer spectacular views of Vail Mountain.
675 Lionshead Place, Vail; 888-688-8055; Arrabelle at Vail Square
RITZ-CARLTON BACHELOR GULCH
If only the gaggle of Swedish bachelors who lived in this valley and lent their name to Bachelor Gulch could see how the Ritz-Carlton reinterprets their humble log cabins. This two-story penthouse shares the woodsy ambience and hand-hewn, chinked logs of the original settlers’ homes but adds some extraordinary extravagance to the mix. It’s unlikely the bachelors filled their rooms with original art and antiques from Europe, China, and America, as is the case throughout this four-bedroom, four-bath getaway. But those bygone pioneers would certainly feel right at home with the collection of vintage skis, snowshoes, and sled adorning the living room walls.
Downstairs and just outside this sumptuous suite, guests can catch a direct lift to the vast, interconnected slopes of Arrowhead, Bachelor Gulch, and Beaver Creek. After a day of skiing, cocktails on the private terrace are a must as alpenglow washes the surrounding peaks.
The open kitchen has a granite island and professional appliances, while providing everything from a waffle maker to an espresso machine and several sets of fine hand-painted china. Opulence continues in a dining room that can seat fourteen in custom hand-carved chairs, with a richly colored Oriental rug and coffered wood ceiling adding to its special warmth.
0130 Daybreak Ridge, Avon; 970-748-6200; Ritz- Carlton Bachelor Gulch
WESTIN RIVERFRONT RESORT & SPA, AVON
Village to Village
Situated just above the Eagle River, many of the residences here afford marvelous views of the surrounding peaks from their spacious decks. This three-bedroom is one of the best mountain overlooks, with walls of windows and light-filled spaces. The kitchen has all the necessary conveniences for whipping up après apps or feeding a famished brood.
Outside, the huge swimming pool and group-size hot tubs look out on the river and Beaver Creek Mountain. The same fabulous views are shared by the resort’s Maya restaurant and its generous deck, where après-skiers like to relax with a beverage around the flickering fire pit. While it may be tempting, don’t stay out too late: you’ve got an early-morning date with that on-site gondola and three villages’ worth of slopes left to conquer.
126 Riverfront Lane, Avon; 970-790-6000; Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa