Vail

Overview

Vail resort stretches for almost 5 miles along the I-70 highway and includes 4 departure points and hence parts to its Village; Golden Peak, Vista Bahn/Vail Village , Lionshead, and Cascade Village. The centre of the resort is constructed in a Tyrolean design. It is fabled that Pete Seibert, Vail's founder, modeled the village on St Anton in Austria back in the 1950's after a visit there.

Those hotels located next to the lifts and in the resort centre (essentially Vail Village and Lionshead) can be amazingly expensive but cheaper accommodation can be found a little further out in places such as East Vail, being around a 10 minute bus journey away. The buses are frequent though and very regular too. 

The ski area is huge with tree lined terrain on the front of the mountain and very open and wide bowls on the backside. If it's a big North American resort you are looking for then Vail will fit the bill - the resort has enough skiing for a season let alone a 10/14 day break. The variety is also huge too with one of the world's most efficient lift systems transporting skiers up the mountain. As skiers may expect from North American ski resorts, the piste maintenance in Vail is truly superb even when conditions deteriorate towards the climax of the season.

Although Vail is a large ski resort, novices should not rule it out at all. The nursery facilities at resort height and also up top on the mountain are of a very good standard and Snowfinders guests have all reported back positively on this. From here there are a good selection of green and blue runs to progress towards. a special mention should go to the beginner slopes around Eagle's Nest .

Intermediates are just spoilt for choice here in Vail. Some of the runs can be a little over graded so some of the single black diamond runs will be well within reach of aspiring intermediates. Runs can be long and well pitched ensuring that the average joe skier will have a decent amount of time skiing without the need to repeatedly catch lifts. For those intermediates that like a little off-piste then head over to Blue Sky Basin for a fantastic introduction into the world of un-pisted powder. Here, the blue runs off of Pete's chair are great for a warm up and you can then progress to the top of Belle's Camp for some steeper pitches. 

Advanced skiers will want to hit the back bowls as soon as they arrive in Vail. Here you will experience 7 bowls and a further 2 on Blue Sky Basin. Pitches vary from shallow to extreme with a number of double black diamond runs varying from powder to moguls. Sun Up and Sun down bowls have a high proportion of black diamond trails with a good descent. The front facing runs offer a more wooden terrain but equally there are some great on-piste excitements here too, especially in the Northeast bowl accessed by the chairlifts Highline or Sourdough. 

For jibbers there are three terrain parks with obstacles ranging in degrees of difficulty from beginner to expert, the latter of which will be very impressed with the extreme Golden peak Terrain Park. The other two, Pride Park and Bwana are suitable for all standard of riders. 


Positive

  • Huge ski area
  • The back bowls
  • Snow reliability and powder
  • Intermediates paradise
  • Good nightlife
  • Superb ski schools
  • Ideal for families
  • Great off slope diversions - good for non-skiers

Negative

  • Uninspiring mountain restaurants 
  • Can be expensive
  • Can be busy at peak times

Offslope/apres ski

Non-skiers will love Vail, and many visit here without every strapping two planks of wood to their feet. For people watching it's just immense and you are virtually guaranteed to see a celebrity or two on the mountain or in the town. The shopping possibilities are endless with lots of designer boutiques but if you fancy a bargain then  Silverthorne retail park with it's designer discounted outlets is just a short bus ride away. Walking trails, snowshoeing, tubing, and other winter activities are all possible too. The free bus service that links the four village points runs to timetable that takes any hassle out of getting around this large resort. 

For apres-ski then Vail is one of the best in the U.S. The Red Lion in Vail Village is cheap and very very cheerful with a friendly and noisy vibe. The bar is a little spit and sawdust with live bands playing and sporting events being shown on the large screen TVs. Snowfinders Nick ate here recently and was stunned by the size of the portions - one meal could feed a family of four! Los Amigos bar has a great apres-ski scene from around 3.30 and again is both fun and informal. Garfinkles, The Tap, George's, and The Club all get very busy and are places to have on your hit list too. 


Our View

Huge ski area suitable for all standards with a fantastic array of off-piste possibilities. Intermediates and experts will get the most out of Vail. The apres ski is lively by American standards and options are plentiful for a varied night out. 


At a glance

Chalets:
4
Hotel & Apartments:
16
Pistes:
5289 acres
Resort height:
2500m
Top station:
3352m

Suitability

Experts:
4 stars
Intermediates:
5 stars
Beginners:
3 stars
Non-Skiers:
4 stars
Scenery:
4 stars
Resort charm:
3 stars
Nightlife:
4 stars