Ever since it opened in 1962, Vail Mountain has been the center of American alpine ski racing—and the epitome of the ski lifestyle. For two weeks beginning Feb. 2, Vail and sister resort Beaver Creek become the locus of the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, a spirited competition with 700 athletes from 70 countries. While Beaver Creek is the primary race venue (free to spectators), Vail hosts the ceremonies, nightly festival events and outdoor concerts (Michael Franti & Spearhead, soprano Anna Netrebko), and a winter beer camp. Time to pack your parkas!
At the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum (free), learn about the history of snowboarding, the development of Vail, and how World War II’s 10th Mountain Division helped influence the Colorado ski industry. Bowling goes so upscale at Bol it’s almost elegant. Think boutique hotel meets cocktail lounge, with a 100-bottle wine list, banquettes, and reservations (lane rental, $65 per hour). Ride Vail Village’s new Gondola One with heated, cushioned seats and Wi-Fi. The cushy cabins deliver guests 10,250 feet up Vail Mountain to Décimo for a limited series of dance events on Feb. 13, March 6, and April 2.
Game Creek Club is an adventure in dining that starts with a gondola ride and a Snowcat shuttle just to get to the midmountain restaurant. Let the team there amaze with a prix fixe tasting menu ($80 to $130) that can include elk, monkfish, or the Iberico ham with goat cheese mousse. Sweet Basil (entrees $27 to $48) makes the most of local fish and lamb, all signatures of award-winning chef Paul Anders. The 10th mountain Whiskey & Spirit Co. offers tastings of its premium spirits in half-ounce
or 2-ounce sizes, or flights ($4 to $20).
The remodeled Lodge at Vail ($878 to $3,808) in the village offers 165 refreshed guestrooms, ballroom, pool, lobby, bar, and restaurants—including the new Elway’s. Vail’s first hotel also has 46 luxe residences, a fitness center, and spa. Like a European grand resort in the middle of Vail Square, The Arrabelle ($568 to $6,905) offers 60 tidy guest rooms and 25 one- to five-bedroom luxury condos. And most relaxing of all during the championships: The runs will be crowd-free while everyone is watching the races.
American Airlines has nonstop flights from LAX to Vail’s Eagle County Airport. Frontier and United fly nonstop from John Wayne and San Diego airports to Denver; Southwest also flies O.C. to Denver.