As we've pointed out, there's certainly no shortage of things to do on New Year's Eve in the Vail Valley. But if you've had your fill of ski downs and mountaintop fireworks shows and you want to ring in the new year somewhere special (yet closer to home, and more refined than Times Square), consider booking a room at Hotel Boulderado, and buying a pair of tickets to the historic landmark's 110th New Year's Eve Grand Gala. After all, this is where Boulder's elite have gathered to dance and smooch and sing Auld Lang Syne at midnight every New Year's Eve since 1909, the year the U.S. inaugurated William Howard Taft as its 27th president, and the City of Boulder inaugurated its first luxury hotel with a party rivaling the elegance of the lobby's mahogany grand staircase and illuminated stained glass ceiling.
The 110th iteration of the gala--black tie optional, but encouraged--begins with cocktail hour and passed hors d'oeuvres (e.g., petite beef Wellington with horseradish cream sauce), with silky music by acoustic bassist Mark Diamond and his hard-grooving band, followed by a sumptuous buffet (oysters on the half shell, cocktail crab claws, whole pork steamship roast, molasses and chili-rubbed beef tenderloin, prepared by the hotel's Zagat-rated farm-to-table restaurant and 15 different cakes from Boulder's best bakery), culminating at midnight when a deluge of balloons and confetti drop onto the dance floor from the balcony.
"The menu for the gala, it's big and luxurious, over the top," says executive chef John Payne, who returned to his native Colorado after stints in some of the Pacific Northwest's most lauded kitchens, including The Herb Farm, which Travel + Leisure named one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. "We're going to have a huge presentation of cakes ... and beautiful ice carvings, taking you back to the regal idea of what the Boulderado should be on New Year's Eve. You can have a nice and exciting time without being in Times Square. It's gonna be a ton of fun."