Overwhelmed in Vail – Trip Report 2/26 – 2/28
I wrote an I Love Breckenridge trip report that can be found under the Breckenridge forum. I spent a night in Denver, a few nights in Breckenridge then ended with 2 nights, 3 days in Vail. Full disclosure – I traveled to Vail solo due to “ditching” someone in Breckenridge, actually a funny story now looking back. So my mood heading to Vail was a mixed bag, on top of it found out as I was leaving Breckenridge that a family friend had died in a car accident.
So needless to say, my nerves were a little shot as I left “my” Breckenridge, a place that I absolutely adore and love to head in the snow in a little Mazda for Vail. I left Breck around noon and took it really slow on the Vail Pass due to the snow. I still arrived about an hour later; I guess even though I have passed Vail about 20 times in previous trips, I was surprised how close Vail and Breck are to each other.
I drove into the Lionshead Area, went to a parking garage right off the highway that has 2 free hours parking. I walked to the library and a little around the Lionshead Village; it was VERY cold so I called the Cascades at Vail to see if my room was ready and they told me it was and to come anytime for a free early check-in.
Cascades at Vail
I can’t say enough great things about the customer service at this resort. I wanted to stay slope side and in the Village or at least Lionshead but after researching for months and finding rooms starting at $500, I decided on Cascades. Cascades is located to the West of Lionshead Village. I found a VERY low price on expedia but when I tried to book it, it said “sold out”. I called reservations and they matched the price $159 a night and once again I mentioned it was my birthday week so when I checked in they upgraded me to a mountain room i.e.; room overlooking the creek, chair lift and mountain area. The room was nice, a little outdated but the bed super comfortable, bathroom big and shower nice and hot. I had no complaints about my room. The staff were awesome especially the Concierges, especially a guy from I think North Carolina or George, he definitely gave me great advice my entire stay.
I loved the new hot tubs and fire pits outside, definitely clean area and perfect for relaxing after a day on the slopes. Even though Cascades is a bit out of the village, it is NOT FAR and there is a great complimentary shuttle that runs I think all the time or at least until midnight so not staying right in the Village had little impact.
The best thing about the Cascades resort is that there is a chair lift right on the property! So in the morning after I got my skis I went to the ticket office and up I went on the lift. Also, the resort has a full awarding winning spa, gym, marketplace to get quick sandwiches, soup, coffee, nice awarding winning restaurant that I didn’t try but I heard was excellent and a nice pub area that has a huge fireplace. One of the nights I was there they had a complimentary beer tasting.
I definitely would recommend Cascades Vail to anyone looking to visit Vail especially anyone like me that didn’t want to break the bank in Vail!
Charter Sports Rentals
BEST EXPERIENCE RENTING EVER. Okay so I ski a lot at home but decided not to bring my skis out, in Breck, I rented at Breck Sports and was not that impressed but loved Charter Sports in Vail. I signed up online to rent a pair of performance i.e.; lower end rentals and was so happy when I went to rent they gave me a demo pair for the performance price $38 + tax. I ended up only skiing one day and they were very nice and refunded me the second day. Really great customer service, would highly suggest renting equipment there and there are a bunch of locations all over Vail so if something happens you can visit the other shops closer to the main mountain etc…
Catwalks – Bowls – Beautiful but Overwhelming
Well I had two goals in Vail, one to ski the back bowls and second to meet Shaun White. I did both so was happy.
Vail is HUGE. I didn’t “get” how big the mountain was until I was on it. I started out at Cascades riding the lift up then had to ski a bunch of catwalks to several chairs then ski a little then up again, finally I swear it took almost 2 hours I reached the back bowls, first up Sun Up then China then Mongolia etc…the bowls are ABSOLUTELY beautiful. I lucked out and had an amazing sunny bluebird sky day, it was cold, very cold but honestly I was almost in tears crying on how beautiful it was that the cold didn’t bother me at all.
The bowls are for intermediate + skiers only. I was surprised that there were a few novices on them and they could handle them. I thought the terrain wasn’t that bad, I did the blue Poppy fields then did some blacks etc…it really was a special day, loved being back there. Unfortunately, I was so tired I never made it to Blue Sky Basin.
The Main Mountain is incredible, again VERY overwhelming and at one point I had to ask one of the “information” guys who works at Vail to help direct me how to get back to the Village. The staff at Vail is top notch, every other turn I saw someone who worked there waiting to be asked a question or skiing to make sure everyone is safe.
I fell! I pride myself that I don’t fall a lot and boy did I hit an ice patch, yup ice uncovered on the trail Simba on my way back to the Cascades resort and down I went. Boy was I sore. I think the lower mountain was more packed with ice or hard powder than obviously the top. If you go, just get up to the bowls or upper mountain, that is where you want to ski, the lower mountain while nice is very ordinary.
Vail.com and Vail’s Facebook
You want to visit Vail.com and Vail’s Facebook page prior to going to Vail. At Vail.com you can buy your lift tickets and get a discount if you purchase a week prior to arriving. Both sites are great information sources and helped me with planning my trip.
Where I ate!
Well I had zero appetite the entire time in Colorado but decided to push myself to eat, which is so funny because I LOVE food. The first night, I took the complimentary shuttle to Lionshead and ate at Moe’s Original BBQ, a “dive” bar as they say. I liked Moe’s, hey for $9, yes $9 for a smoked chicken sandwich, 2 sides and a soft drink, how can you go wrong? Especially in Vail! I got macaroni & cheese and sweet potato casserole for my sides. The place was “hopping” with a great live band and tons of guys from Argentina, they were hysterical dancing around. This place is a great place to go to escape the “snotty people”
The second day I got up very early, made the chair lift and skied the entire day. After the bowls, I took a break at Two Elk Lodge at the top of the mountain and have to say VERY GOOD. The lodge is beautiful, all wood and huge. There are bathroom (very clean) and complimentary water stations when you come in. There is a variety of food including sandwiches, salad bar, and pizza, definitely expensive but during skiing the price did not matter. I got a chicken and bean burrito, VERY GOOD; they made it in front of me, no fat on the chicken, delicious salsa and all the fixings. I think it was $14. I drank water and grabbed a bag of chips. The cashier was a sweet girl and gave everyone in her line a few Hershey kisses. Nice touch. I would definitely say a good place to have lunch, beautiful views.
The second night, I had the “shakes” from burning so many calories and not eating enough so about 8pm on a recommendation from the Cascades Resort Concierge, I went to Vail Village and ate at Campo de Fiori. Really liked Campo de Fiori, it is an Italian Restaurant, VERY nice in the inside, loved the atmosphere and décor. I sat at the tiny bar (6-7 stools) and the bartender was excellent even though I just got a diet coke! I loved watching him make all the funky drinks. Very, very, very nice wine list including a bubbly for $1,000! I started off with a Buffalo Mozzarella Cheese, tomato and arugula salad, then got a bowl of angel hair pasta with grilled eggplant, garlic and marina sauce and finished with a cappuccino. The bread and olive oil was excellent. My bill came to $46 which was high but honestly it is Vail and the food was outstanding. I would definitely recommend this place.
The last day I skipped breakfast and lunch because I was watching the Burton US Snowboarding Championships. Hours watching Louie Vito and Shaun White were awesome. Stood with Louie’s super nice family and got a high five from Shaun White. Worth being freezing Cascades Resort was nice enough to let me leave my car at the resort while I watched the championships so I didn’t want to push it plus I needed to get to Denver so I quickly stopped into Rimini Coffee Bar in Lionshead for a Latte and Cookie. DELICIOUS, best Mocha Latte that I have ever had and the cookie was tasty!
Well even though I really enjoyed the place I stayed, the amazing skiing and the food and the locals and workers I met, I was NOT IMPRESSED by 99% of the visitors. I am very well-traveled, spent time in Aspen, all over Europe etc…and never have I wanted to tell so many people off as I did while in Vail. It did put a damper on my vacation. I found so many guests to be rude, cutting in front of me in line, not holding doors open for me, not saying hello back while on the shuttles. I am a friendly person, in public relations and at day 2 thought that is it, not talking to anyone except the workers. Sad thing is, I probably have more money than half the snotty people ha ha.
I am not sure if my mood was already bad because of the bad news I received or that I was alone in Vail but I definitely did not have a connection to Vail like I did with Aspen and Breck. Vail is so big, not a quaint little ski town and definitely has European flare. It reminded me of driving around in Switzerland and seeing the ski towns on the side of the highway. Vail is definitely worth going to for the skiing and if you are someone who likes higher end things, go for it. For me, I am not sure I would return any time soon. Feel like I have been there, seen it, not for me.