Spring skiing in Vail, Colorado
Megan Pinckney | 4/27/2017, 2:19 p.m.
I know what you’re thinking: “April is a little late in the season to be thinking about skiing.” But the truth is if you don’t mind waiting, spring may actually be the best time of year to throw on your skis and head to the slopes. Rates are a little more affordable, you have a better chance at snagging a room at one of the popular hotels, the mountain isn’t as crowded, and—best of all—the weather is much more pleasant.
Where to stay
This decision is difficult because there are two really great options. I’ve stayed in both and every single time I go back, choosing one over the other is always difficult. The first is The Ritz Carlton-Bachelor Gulch. In my personal opinion, it is one of the best Ritz Carlton properties around, mostly because it so effortlessly gives you that warm fuzzy feeling on the inside. The hotel is atop a mountain, creating amazing views of the surrounding mountains at every corner of the hotel. The entire property is designed to look and feel like one large cabin that you’ve rented with hundreds of your closest friends. That feeling is peaked any time you’re near the common area, anchored by one large fireplace and a full bar. It is lively and inclusive at all hours of the day. The only negative about this hotel is its distance. It stands off on its own, without anything really surrounding it (there is, however, a ski lift and mountain perfect for skiing in the property’s backyard). To remedy that isolation, the hotel offers a free shuttle service, leaving every 30 minutes or so to Beaver Creek Mountain and Vail Village.
The second option is the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. Nestled in the heart of the Beaver Creek village, this hotel’s biggest draw is its convenience. It is located within walking distance of dozens of restaurants, shops and activities, such as the ice skating rink that’s open to the public. This hotel, too, has a very lively lobby scene, where people tend to crash immediately once the slopes close. Around 4 p.m. every day the hotel staff sets up their renowned s’mores station, which is supposed to be just for hotel guests but instead attracts everyone on the mountain. During that time, live music plays while people simply après-ski. It’s a great scene and an even better feeling.
Where to ski Vail has several mountain skiing options, but my favorite by far is Beaver Creek mountain. I love that a little village sits at the foot of the mountain because it means that there is always something to do, even when you aren’t skiing. But for those times that you are skiing and are in need of a midafternoon break, there are restaurants and lodges on the actual mountain available for you to just ski into. Try Spruce Saddle if you’re in need of a quick lunch or just want to warm up, and SaddleRidge for a fancier lunch. After your last run, come down for a cookie. Beaver Creek chefs in white hats and red ski pants walk around the base of the mountain with a platter full of cookies, offering them to
anyone and everyone.
Where to rent gear
Unless you live near a ski mountain or ski dozens of times a year, there is just no reason to own your own pair of skis. Traveling with them would be so annoying and because the sport is constantly improving, the equipment also improves. It wouldn’t take long for your skis to become outdated. My suggestion is just rent that stuff when you get there. If you plan on skiing Beaver Creek Mountain, grab your gear (skis, ski boots, helmets and poles) from Base Mountain Sports, located behind the Park Hyatt. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable, and they offer kids’ gear. They make the process super simple and as quick as they possibly can. And if you’re staying in the village, they will get your gear over to you. If not, you can simply store your stuff with them overnight.
Where to eat
For dinner on the mountain, you have to make a reservation for Beano’s Cabin. It is extremely pricy because they only offer a fixe menu, but it’s truly an experience. The only way to get to the cabin is by their snowmobile up a scenic route. Once you arrive, you are given a warm pair of slippers and offered a spot by the fire while they prepare your table. The meal is expensive, but the quality and preparation are superb. I recommend getting an early reservation if you’re coming from the East Coast, because the dinner tends to last for at least two hours. A smaller portion children’s fixe menu is also available.
My favorite place for dinner in Vail Village is Sweet Basil because it’s one of those “see and be seen” places. There’s always so much energy throughout the restaurant. Sitting at the bar for dinner here is never a bad thing. However, if you want a table, be prepared to wait an hour, or just make a reservation at least two weeks in advance.
Megan Pinckney (@shadesofpinck) is a retired beauty queen turned lifestyle blogger who loves exploring the world and writing about it.