A travel journal
to Vail by Jglassb311
Quote: Vail, Colorado, is a snow lover's paradise. This fact is a given. What many people might not know is that Vail boasts fine dining, upscale shopping, and a generous helping of nightlife.
This hotel brings a whole new meaning to the idea of a ski lodge. The home of my family's annual ski trip, I have had the pleasure of staying at the Vail Cascade many times.
The hotel is a mix of old-style ski lodge and new amenities and luxuries. As soon as you walk in, you know that you are going to be taken care of. The staff is welcoming and willing to extend themselves to make your stay better. The ambience of the lobby is mountain chic, with roaring fireplaces, big leather armchairs, and an inviting bar.
The rooms have recently been remodeled, with new carpeting, bedspreads, pillows, and furniture. All of the rooms are spacious and well-appointed. The bathrooms have showers over tubs with a separate vanity area.
A relatively large hotel, the hotel also houses a movie theatre and their own spa, Aria. The spa is such a treat. I have gotten a few different treatments over the years ranging from an après-ski massage to a full body scrub and soak with a Swedish massage after. Yummy. The hotel also offers two hot tubs and a pool (not used in the winter).
The restaurant in the hotel is Chaps, a great chophouse. They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast on the weekends is great there. They extend their usual buffet to include an omlette station and lots of fun extras. Dinner is also great. The French onion soup is superb.
If you are skiing or boarding, the Vail Cascade has their own lift right outside their backdoor, which you can take up and then down at the end of your day! The ski concierge is always waiting to take your boots and get you some hot cocoa. The best part of my day is always taking off my boots, and it helps to not have to worry about your equipment.
Rates at the Vail Cascade start at about $250 a night. Although not inexpensive, it is totally worth the extra money.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 11, 2005
Vail Cascade Resort and Spa
1300 WESTHAVEN DRIVE
Vail, Colorado 81657
While the ambience is nice at Sweet Basil, the food will be the only thing you remember (well, that and the crazy artwork throughout the restaurant).
With a reservation, there is a good chance you will have to wait 10 to 15 minutes. Because the restaurant is a favorite, it is always packed.
When seated, you will be faced with a menu of hard choices. It took me a long time to figure out what to get last time I was there, but I settled on Kung Pao tuna with shrimp potstickers, baby bok choy, shiitakes, and stir-fried noodles ($33).
I started with a mixed organic green salad with Haystack Farms goat cheese crostini, golden raisin, pine nut, and caper relish, and sherry-mustard vinaigrette ($12). It was very good. The tuna was incredible--cooked perfectly, with a raw center. The boys at the table ordered Prime New York Strip with creamed spinach, potato celery-root gratin, crispy onion rings, and bordelaise sauce ($39), which they devoured and claimed was the best ever.
Do not dare skip Sweet Basil's specialty desseret--hot, sticky toffee pudding cake with fresh whipped cream and Myers's rum sauce ($9). It's sinful!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on March 11, 2005
193 Gore Creek Dr
Vail, Colorado 81657
Restaurant | "Blu's "
While the menu doesn't stick with home-cooking favorites like pot roast and fried chicken all the time, they put a homestyle spin on more unusual entrees like seared ahi, seafood scampi, and Thai beef noodles.
The staff is friendly and attentive. The bar menu is extensive and has a nice selection of wine. And the food is good.
Try the Chinese Tootsie Rolls - shrimp, cream cheese, and chives twisted into an egg roll skin for $7.95. Or their famous meatloaf, served with mashed potatoes, onion gravy, and vegetable for $15.25. They serve breakfast, as well. Try the Pork Green Chile Fries before you head off to the slopes - homefries smothered in their award-winning pork green chili, baked with cheddar and jack cheeses, and topped with two eggs, any style, for $7.95.
Blu's can also be romantic on those cold Vail nights with your honey. Ask for a seat by the window. It affords a nice view of the crisp, snowy night.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on March 15, 2005
193 East Gore Creek Drive
Vail, Colorado 81657
Vail is not a cheap place to hang. Although slightly less so than its bigger brother Aspen, Vail still keeps up. It's hard to find cheap eats anywhere in Vail while trying to avoid the fast food genre. Prices are notoriously high on the slopes. For things like hamburgers and tuna sandwiches, you will pay upwards of 8 bucks!
But overspending can be curbed, even in a notorious glitzy skiing town like Vail. Many hotels offer a free continental breakfast. Go for the glory! Stock up on muffins and coffee for free. Why not?
If you are staying in a condo instead of a hotel, why not buy the stuff to make your lunch. If you are planning a day skiing, boarding, or sledding, pack a bag full of sandwiches (minus the mayo), apples, granola bars, and bottles of water or juice. You can bring a backpack with you and just have your lunch on the mountain without spending a near fortune for soggy french fries.
Dinner is always a good time to splurge, especially in a place like Vail, which offers so many fine choices. Blu's and Bully Ranch are both family friendly and won't bite you in the wallet too hard. If you are looking for romance and something a little finer than home-style cooking, try Sweet Basil. It truly is the best restaurant in Vail. Beware: This restaurant is NOT cheap.
Ask your hotel concierge about Dine About Vail. This is a program that runs in the winter. Many of the restaurants participate and offer three-course meals for $15 or five-course meals for $30 dollars. It's a great way to try some of the best Vail has to offer without spending all your cash.
The sheer size of this hill is daunting. You will never in your life (well, unless you go over to Europe) come upon something this size anywhere else. Vail has SO many adventures to offer its snow lovers.
There are three sides: the front side, the back bowls, and Blue Sky Basin (BSB). BSB is a favorite of seasoned Vail-goers. It only opens when there is enough snow, usually in mid-December, and is always crowded on the weekends. With a plethora of easy, intermediate, and advanced runs, it is always fun to make your way there and stay for the day.
The front side of the mountain offers a great variety of intermediate and easy runs mixed with a few black diamonds here and there. When I visit Vail, I spend most of my day exploring the runs the front has to offer. Simba is a personal favorite, along with Born Free. From the front side you can ski all the way down to Vail Village or Lionshead for a lunch break or to end your day. A gondola and lifts run from the bottom at each of these villages.
The backside has not seen too much of me. While I have attempted a few of the runs, they tend to be more advanced while I tend to be more intermediate. If you want some challenges and bumps, head over there.
Lift tickets run around $77 a day but can often be discounted through your hotel or group rates.
Visit http://vail.snow.com for a downloadable trail map and all kinds of other useful info on Vail.
Santa Cruz, California