9 Best Ski Resorts in California, Colorado, Utah and More

For luxury and a host of see-and-be-seen, there’s nothing better in my mind than spawning on and off the slopes in Vail, Colorado.

In front of the Four Seasons Vail Colorado Dan Koday

In front of the Four Seasons Vail in Colorado.

Dan Koday

Vail Resort has been considered a legendary ski and snowboard destination for over half a century, and when I first went there in 2014, I thought it was easy to see why.

With nearly 200 runs covering 5,317 acres of varied terrain, it’s the fourth largest ski resort in the United States. There are all seven Back Bowls, perfectly groomed slopes and an apr├Ęs-ski scene that is unparalleled, in my opinion. To me, these attractions mean the resort is nothing short of a skier’s paradise.

I think it can be an incredibly expensive destination. For example, overnight public parking in Vail is $60 a night, and one-day lift tickets are usually over $200, so I always tell my friends visiting Vail for the first time to save at advance.

Off the mountain, I can usually spend an entire day on the heated cobblestone streets of Vail Village, which is a walkable, car-free ski village with architecture inspired by the European Alps. When I’ve been there it’s always full of energy, full of cafes, shops and restaurants.

When I need some rest and relaxation, I like the Hythe Hotel for its ski-in privileges as well as its anti-altitude oxygen spa and bar, which can be helpful in combating altitude sickness since Vail sits at 8,000 feet elevation. I also like the elegant design of the hotel with black stone walls, carved wood decor and a fireplace in the lobby.

I’ve also stayed at the Four Seasons Vail, which has large rooms with fireplaces and lounging areas. This resort enjoys a prime location in a beautiful part of Vail Village, directly across from a skating rink. It’s a bit further on foot from the gondola than some other hotels, but the resort also has a separate ski concierge building right next to the gondola. There you can store your skis, which I think is handy to avoid dragging them from the hotel, and you can also get your skis waxed.

When I’m hungry in Vail, I head to Margie’s Haas Restaurant for European Alps-inspired cuisine like fondue. Another favorite of mine is the breakfast buffet at Ludwig’s at Hotel Sonnenalp, which has tasty options like smoked salmon and eggs Benedict. The Stuberl at Ludwig’s for dinner is another great option, in my opinion, for fine dining with an extensive wine list. Last time I went here I had a delicious Arctic char.

Also located at Hotel Sonnenalp is The Swiss Chalet, another restaurant which I think is ideal for a cozy mountain meal, which serves raclette, fondues and a schnitzel which I thought was amazing.

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