As a far as North American ski resorts are concerned, Vail has long been the underachieving Rocky Mountain sibling to Telluride and Aspen’s ultra-pricey luxe. But thanks to a recent face lift that transformed its dated base village into a Bavarian hideaway, Vail is beginning to attract the attention of world-class hoteliers, restaurateurs, and artists. “Vail’s Renaissance” officially kicked off with the arrival of its latest luxury hotel, The Sebastian, in Vail Village. Along with it came a boom of fantastic restaurant, spa, and nightlife openings. International travelers and ski fanatics have followed, and, as if to clearly trumpet Vail’s arrival as the “it” place to stay and ski, the Obamas paid the quaint town a visit just a couple weeks ago. Here’s a look at their weekend ski itinerary.
Their Hotel: The Sebastian Breakdown: Apparently, while Barack stayed back in DC, Michele took Malia and Sasha to the new Vail Village crown jewel (on their own, personal dime—mind you!), The Sebastian—which has been open for just over a month. The property, located at the former site of the Vail Plaza Hotel, underwent a major overhaul after the Timbers Resort took it over in 2009, and it’s been the subject of the much buzzed-about “Vail Renaissance” that began in 2008. Stand-Outs: I’m betting that Michele and her brood stayed in the Residences at the Sebastian—multi-room condos outfitted in a stylish alpine motif, with incredible views of the snow-covered mountain and quaint village. Usually an owners-only stay, they are equipped with gourmet kitchens, huge bedrooms with their own private bathrooms, and a gorgeous fireplace. I could also wax poetic about sitting outside in steaming hot tubs—four of them—in a near blizzard as a cocktail waitress serves up margaritas. Or maybe the fantastic mixology bar, Frost, that hawks original creations like the Snuggler (DeKuyper Peppermint Schnapps and hot chocolate, topped with whipped cream and Dekuyper Crème de Menthe). There’s also Block 16, a Napa-style farm-to-table restaurant, or the simple provisions at Market, The Sebastian’s restaurant. Not to be left out is Bloom Spa, with an array of unconventional apres ski treatments. Especially outstanding: BaseCamp, their private mountain club outfitted with ski valets to keep you from lugging your gear around town. Location: Just off the Vail Village pedestrian thoroughfare, near the Four Seasons. Best For: Families, young couples, and anyone who can really appreciate luxury on a mountainside.
Next: Uncommon Concierge Picks
Uncommon Concierge Picks You could ski and snowboard all day, or you could go out for a different kind of adventure. Here are some interesting things to see, explore, and do around town, curated by The Sebastian’s concierge team. 1). Dog Sledding with Mountain Mushers: Ride with a mass of dogs through unspoiled vistas of Colorado. The up-close interaction with the dogs on your team, along with a high-speed (30 MPH) chase through winding hills, make for a memorable experience. 2). Adventure Ridge at Eagle’s Nest: The Obama kids would have had a ball tubing, ski biking, trampolining, and snowshoeing at this fun spot at the top of the mountain. 3). Ice Skating at Solaris in Vail Village: Under a crazy art installation in the town’s square lies a brand new ice rink, open from 1-8pm. 4). Sleigh Ride Dinners: Minutes from Vail, enjoy Sleigh Ride Dinners at 4 Eagle Ranch. Under starlit skies, an open horse-drawn sleigh picks you up at your front door and takes you back to the way Colorado used to be.
Next: Dining and Nightlife
Dining and Nightlife On Property: 1). Frost Bar: Eighty different types of scotch, 52 different types of tequila, and signature cocktails (Bacon Bloody Mary, anyone?) will entice guests to linger. 2). Block 16: Largely focused on the produce and proteins sourced locally, Block 16 feature seasonally relevant dishes with a Mediterranean influence. Try the “Mar & Montańa” (Mountain & Ocean): Maine lobster and braised veal cheeks with salsify purée and a merlot reduction. Concierge Picks: 3).Bol 4). La Tour 5). Kelly Liken: Note—Michele O had the ribs.