48 Hours in Vail
How fit bodies should spend their time in one of America’s favorite mountain towns
Vail is consistently ranked as one of the country's best ski resorts, and for good reason. The mountain town boasts picturesque, aspen-fringed runs, 354 inches of snow a year, and a skiable acreage that’s more than seven times larger than your average East Coast ski resort. Plus, Vail is an unlikely hub of first-rate restaurants, offering everything from top-notch lamb to wagyu beef and craft beer. Take the charming and walkable village vibe into account and you've got this year's ski break sorted.
Where to Stay
Comfortable and intimate, The Sebastian is a 100-room hotel with a fire warming the lobby and a heated pool and hot tub steaming outside. The contemporary design nods to the altitudinal setting (without screaming 1970s alpine lodge), while the restaurant and two bars channel a sophisticated après-ski scene. Located in the heart of Vail Village, it’s not ski-in ski-out, but a slopeside ski concierge keeps you from schlepping your gear to and fro.
Next door, the Four Seasons Vail features a fire place in every room and gorgeous poolside mountain views. The ski concierge will take your ski boots off for you at the bottom of the mountain and keep them toasty warm until you're ready to hit the slopes the next day.
If there’s one thing you need on a ski trip, it’s a go-to breakfast spot for a hearty meal. Try a burrito filled with eggs, tomato, onions, and cheese at Loaded Joe’s, situated just a three-minute walk from Vail’s Gondola One.
Once sated, savvy skiers should head straight to the top of the mountain to ski some of the 3,000 acres in Vail’s famous back bowls. Even if your group ranges from sheepish to sharp, this side of the mountain can be a fair middle ground. Most of the runs are blacks, but they’re generally not too steep—and groomed blue runs like Poppyfields and Sleepytime Road can get you down the mountain sans stress. A must-hit near the top is Blue Sky Basin. Natural glade runs get some of the best snow in Vail.
Après-ski at one of the Tyrolean bars in Vail Village. Locals love The Red Lion for its live music and wide range of Colorado microbrews on tap.
Between the exercise and the altitude, one beer in and you’ll be starving. Book an early table at Flame at the Four Seasons for a protein-rich steak dinner. From flat iron to filet mignon, each cut can be rubbed with one of six spice medleys and paired with sides like kimchi Brussels sprouts or fennel and wild mushrooms.
Head to The Little Diner for a leisurely, Southern-inspired breakfast. The restaurant’s Memphis-born chef serves omelettes, biscuits, and grits starting at 7 a.m.
Recover from the slopes with a visit to the spa at the Arrabelle in Vail Square, where you’ll have 10,000 square feet to spread out. The sports enthusiast treatment is great for regenerating tired muscles. After you’re dry brushed and wrapped to reduce tension, you’ll get a deep, limb-loosening sports massage.
Or, if time off the mountain isn’t in the books, visit mid-mountain lodge, The 10th, on your way down. Trade your ski boots for slippers and cozy up next to the fire for a brief repose before making your way to bottom.
Whether you spent the day skiing or sauna-ing, the omakase menu at Matsuhisa toes the line between filling and indulgent, with eight courses of the chef's choosing (think: otoro sashimi or miso-marinated black cod). It's only a four-minute walk from there back to the The Sebastian or the Four Seasons. The snowy stroll is a fitting farewell to this amazing alpine town.