#VailBen Dispatch 11: My Favorite Hotels In Vail

Aug. 7, 2014

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My bedroom at The Sebastian
 

The hardest part about visiting Vail, Colorado might be deciding where to stay. With a wide variety of lodgings—from traditional hotel rooms to multi-floor slopeside residences—Vail has a bed for every style and budget. I should know; over the last 10 weeks I have stayed in 12 different Vail properties while experiencing America’s Best Summer Job. And picking a single favorite hotel from the list has been much harder than I anticipated. That’s because each of the hotels in Vail offers something unique. So instead of trying to rank them all I have decided to bestow each one with a high school yearbook-style superlative. Because when you’ve seen as many hotel rooms as I have, it’s the small things that make the biggest impressions.

 

Antlers at Vail
Best White Noise Machine

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The Antlers at Vail and the Gore Creek.

One of the original condo properties of Lionshead, The Antlers is a Vail staple. The friendly staff (including GM Rob Levine, who has been with the Antlers for 35 years!) helps create a warm and comfortable environment for both long-time residents—who have put their individual stamp on the Antler’s 87 condos—and seasonal visitors. The Antlers is always involved with local events, so don’t be surprised if you run into athletes from the GoPro Mountain Games or a musician from Bravo! during your stay. Situated right on top of the Gore Creek, I left my windows open each night and flooded my unit with the calming sounds of the flowing water until it lulled me to sleep.

 

The Sebastian
Best Turn Down Cookie

The lobby of The Sebastian

The lobby of The Sebastian

Tucked discreetly into the western corner of Vail Village, the Mexican-owned, Timbers Resorts-operated hotel is all about service. From the moment the bellman picked me up, the staff of the Sebastian went out of their way to make sure my stay was both comfortable and memorable. And I wasn’t the only one. Other guests, who had been strangers to me before my stay, would chat me up in one of the four hot tubs; outside The Sebastian’s intimate restaurant, Leonora; or in the tequila and scotch-packed bar, Frost, to tell me that the personable service keeps them returning year after year. And that personality even shows up in their turn-down service. Every night hotel pastry chef Laura Kretzing creates a one-of-a-kind treat and leaves it inside the hotel’s colorful yet contemporary guest rooms and residences.

 

Four Seasons Resort and Residences
Best House Mercedes SUV

My bathroom at the Four Seasons.

My bathroom at the Four Seasons.

Everything at Vail’s outpost of the luxury hotel chain is big. The lobby, the restaurant, the pool, the spa, and, especially, the residences. I spent the first 20 minutes of my stay just trying to figure out which room to sit in! (There were five if you don’t count the two bathrooms. And don’t get me started on how big those bathrooms were!) But the independence of a residences isn’t just a perk in the bedroom. The staff of the Four Seasons made me feel as independent as I wished, going as far as to lend me one of their house Mercedes SUVs so there might be no limit to my Vail adventures.

 

Vail Mountain Lodge and Spa
Best Hotel Gym

The climbing wall at the Vail Vitality Center in the Mountain Lodge and Spa.

The climbing wall at the Vail Vitality Center in the Mountain Lodge and Spa.

Hotel gyms are often an after thought; a windowless room with a few free weights and a dated treadmill. But not at the Mountain Lodge and Spa. Above, modest but comfortable rooms overlook the meadowy banks of the Gore Creek in Vail Village while down below lies the Vail Vitality Center, one of the best health and fitness facilities in the entire Vail Valley. It made my stay at the Mountain Lodge as much about rest and relaxation as it was about getting in the best shape of my life. And it doesn’t end with the workout (or their excellent spa). Upstairs sits one of Vail’s most well-respected dining establishments, Terra Bistro, whose health conscious menu is 90% organic and a dream come true for anyone with a gluten allergy.

 

Lion Square Lodge
Best Pull-Out Arm Chair Beds

View from my deck at Lion Square Lodge.

View from my deck at Lion Square Lodge.

This Lionshead property, just steps away from the Eagle Bahn Gondola, is run as Wyndham Vacation Rentals and recently underwent a massive renovation. A collection of both hotel rooms and condo units, Lions Head Lodge is all about maximum functionality. I loved the strong wifi, the a killer entertainment system, and the roomy deck complete with grill and mountain view. And Lions Square Lodge has enough room for the whole family—and then some. My unit in the North Tower featured a sleeper sofa and two arm chairs that converted into additional single beds. Best of all, these sleeping options don’t cramp the living space.

 

The Ritz-Carlton Residences
Best Use of Faux Fur

My living room at The Ritz-Carlton.

My living room at The Ritz-Carlton.

As a resident of the exclusive Lionshead residence explained to me, The Ritz is for that discerning Vail guest who likes their privacy. And they’re right: unless you’re staying at the condo property (or visiting someone who is) you won’t even be granted access. But if you are lucky enough to stay there you’ll discover an outgoing community of owners who make good use of their oak bar, heated pool, and Lindsey Vonn-appointed fitness facility. And like the properties bold yellow exterior, the rooms at The Ritz also do away with ski town cliche in favor of bright and contemporary interiors that would feel as home in Tribeca as they do next to the slopes. For me, it was a real treat to end a long day of mountain biking curled up on the couch wrapped in a white fur blanket.

 

Arrabelle at Vail Square
Best Secret Hot Tub

The Arrabelle's "secret" hot tub.

The Arrabelle’s “secret” hot tub.

The sprawling Arrabelle at the heart of Lionshead can be everything to all people. European-styled hotel rooms make you feel like a princess while luxury condos offer one-of-kind mountain views without sacrificing amenities. At the center of it all, The Arrabelle can offer that customized Vail vacation like few others. Do you like your roof pool with people watching or do you prefer the privacy of a secluded “secret” hot tub? Not feeling pizza? Go for lobster. Or bacon-wrapped pork belly. Mingle at the crossroads of Vail’s culture and sport or let the top-notch staff sneak you onto the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Make it all about kids with ice cream delivery, Saturday arts and crafts, and roving magicians. Or hide from them all together in the award-winning Rock Resorts Spa.

 

Game Creek Chalet
Most Secluded Chef’s Kitchen

Exterior of the chalet.

Exterior of the chalet.

If getting away from it all literally means isolating yourself from the rest of the world, you could do no better than this private rental at the top of Game Creek Bowl. The Vail Resorts-owned chalet neighboring the private Game Creek Club offers the amenities of a five-star hotel room—maid service, chef’s kitchen, hot tub, entertainment system, private masseurs—but at an altitude 2,000 vertical feet above the town of Vail. Up there it’s all about the views from the deck, the wildlife at your door, and the memories made with the 10 family or friends you can pack into this three-floor getaway. In fact, after staying there on my own, I deemed it one of America’s most exclusive hotel rooms.

 

Solaris Residences
Best Double Freezer

A wedding outside of Solaris.

A wedding outside of Solaris.

My current theory behind the name of this game-changing addition to Vail Village is that if you shot the condo residence into space, it could subside on its own for at least, say, two years. That because not only has Solaris become its own planetary body in the solar system that is Vail, it has become its blazing hot sun. (And you can still play soccer on this solar surface!) Access some of Vail’s most popular new additions—Matsuhisa, Cinebistro, Bol, Yeti’s Grind—without even leaving the property. That’s if you even leave your condo. The refreshingly contemporary residences at Solaris are so appointed you’ll find few reasons to leave. (As the international clientele is wanton to do.) You could go and ski but the view is so good why not just sit on the deck and eat ice cream that you store in one of your two freezers.

 

Vail Spa Condominiums
Best On-Site Tennis Court

Playing tennis with my dad at Vail Spa.

Playing tennis with my dad at Vail Spa.

The unique facade of this Lionshead condo property accurately reflects the individuality of its units. Wall-to-wall windows throughout provide excellent views of the mountains and great spaces for entertaining guests. However, most of the visitors to Vail Spa prefer to relax on their own. Two pools—one indoor and one out—let you enjoy the water regardless of the temperature. I had the pleasure of entertaining my father at Vail Spa and took full advantage of their on-site tennis court that comes complete with complimentary rackets and balls.

 

Eagle Point Resort
Best Ceiling Fan

My welcome to Eagle Point Resort.

My welcome to Eagle Point Resort.

Tucked away behind Donovan Park in West Vail sits this quaint little timeshare. Affordable one bedrooms provide basic amenities but it’s the central common areas that really help Eagle Point shine. Kids make new friends at the pool while parents mix and mingle at the communal grill and fire pit. Friendly staff keeps everyone entertained with guest receptions, an entertainment library, and helpful concierge services. At Eagle Point, it was the simple things that counted—like the fact that they are the only hotel I stayed in with ceiling fans!

 

Lodge at Vail
Best History

The renovated pool at Lodge at Vail.

The renovated pool at Lodge at Vail.

The gondola may not leave straight from the Lodge anymore, but Vail’s first hotel is still just as connected to the mountain. Just walking around the property you begin to get a sense of Vail’s history and evolution. Pictures of the mountain’s early days—when just the Lodge and a few other buildings made up the Vail skyline—line the historic hallways and many of the rooms still feature authentic wood-burning fireplaces. But the Lodge isn’t all about the past. This year the hotel, which is located just steps from Gondola One, embarked on a full-scale renovation and I had the fortune of getting a sneak peak at its new look. I was pleasantly surprised to discover Lodge at Vail has retained its elegant old-world grandeur while providing contemporary yet casual digs that help bring it into the 21st century.

 

Vail America's Best Summer Job BenBenjamin Solomon is the winner of America’s Best Summer Job, a 10-week, all-expenses paid summer job exploring what summer in the Vail Valley has to offer. A freelance writer based in New York, Benjamin has contributed to publications such as Vanity Fair, New York, Travel + Leisure and is the former editor of Next Magazine. Follow his journey on Blog.Vail.com as well as on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #VailBen.

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