The Sitzmark Lodge: Vertical Arts Remodel in the Heart of Vail
It’s a small boutique hotel nestled in the perfect corner of Vail Village…within walking distance to the slopes but far enough removed so the noise and bustle from Bridge Street are mere background music to the enchantments of Vail. Alpine influences create the Tudor-like façade of this lodge, offering rare vistas, of the imposing front of Vail Mountain or the meandering Gore Creek cutting through the heart of The Village. No matter the season, the views are magical and are the hallmark of the lodge’s prime location.
A renovation was completed last fall of the lobby and public areas with enhancements for guests that include an updated breakfast bar, a cozy lounge near the limestone fireplace and a grand front desk that directs guests to the rooms. And it is these 35 Guest Rooms that have captured all the attention over the last 12 months. A major remodel of the facilities was started last fall by Vertical Arts, an architectural and interior design firm with offices in Steamboat and Vail. The renovated guest accommodations will be ready before the opening of the ski season at Vail Mountain as well as the Thanksgiving holiday.
The designers at Vertical Arts started the remodeling process by painting the wall behind the beds in a beautiful russet color, a perfect complement to the room’s new décor. Ceilings, moldings and countertops are being updated as well, including gorgeous granite slabs to enhance the already charming spaces.
New furnishings with elegant enhancements were selected by the design team, headed by Linda Nielsen, in order to provide updated amenities, and offer that sought-after home-away- from- home ambiance. Nielsen along with the
hotel’s proprietor, Bob Fritch and his youngest daughter, Jeanne, now the general manager, worked together to select furnishings that weren’t your typical hotel, sterile pieces. Instead, the furnishings were custom made to offer guests a warm, relaxing experience in the heart of Vail.
Over the years the Fritch’s have overseen the hotel’s transition from its inception in 1969, as one of the first hotels in Vail. An elevator, pool, hot tub and restaurant are just part of their continued commitment to providing guests with up-to-date appointments as well as a rewarding guest experience. This commitment has earned them a Platinum Rating by Vail’s Quality Lodging Assurance Program and has positioned the Sitzmark as a world-class lodge.
Guest rooms at the Sitzmark range from standard accommodations to Deluxe Fireplace rooms and Junior Suites. Comfort and style abound in the remodel and offer guests a full range of updated appointments and amenities.
The 2011-12 ski season has opened! I got my opening day pin from EpicMix when I joined long-time guest Bernie King, his son Dave and son-in-law Mike Dorey for a few runs on Friday. We have had some decent snow but they have been holding off on opening too much terrain too early. I got a few runs in on Bear Tree and Born Free with Born Free being the run of choice. It was fun to just be on the slopes again. More lifts are expected to open this weekend. If you are an Epic Pass holder and haven’t checked out EpicMix you need to sign up. It tracks your vertical feet, lift rides, and awards pins for various feats. Here’s how it works – Your ski pass has an RF chip in it. Over the past couple of years, Vail Resorts has installed RF readers at the base of each lift. As you pass under the reader, it logs your ride. All of the data is cumulated onto a very well laid out website that lets you see your accomplishments for the day. It also totals for the season and lifetime. Vail Resorts has installed the RF readers at Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge, Heavenly and Northstar so you can track your days at each resort separately or together.
What else is great is they have tied it in to the whole social media world. You can “share” your day with all of your friends on Facebook (though, I would caution using this if your boss is a “friend” – you’ll get caught on those “sick days”!) They have also come up with an elaborate reward system where they give pins for various accomplishments during the season – skiing on special days, covering so many vertical feet, etc. This year, Vail Resorts has introduced photo sharing on the website. They have replace the Sharpshooter crew you used to see at the tops of lifts that would always pester you for a photo that you could buy at the end of the day for an exorbitant amount of money. Now there is a new crew in bright green outfits wandering the entire mountain that pester you for a photo, but it is free! You can get your picture taken and link it to your EpicMix site.
EpicMix is a great addition to Vail Resorts’ offering. It makes it a lasting experience that you can share with your friends and family. Once you get started on it, you will find it addicting! I earned 4 pins on opening day and skied 5,183 feet.
The Sitzmark family would like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving this weekend. The Fritch clan will be gathering in Vail for the holiday. Bob and Helen will be joined by all three daughters with spouses – Nancy from Boulder, Leslie and Mike from Idaho, and Jeanne and Ella from Golden/Vail. Nephew Bruce Fritch from Charlotte and two grandsons, Ryan and Chris Chapman will also be flying in. We are very grateful to have the family together this holiday and wish the best for you and yours throughout the holiday season. I’d like to share our Pumpkin Pie recipe from the Fritch Family Cookbook in celebration of the holiday. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin
2 TBL. dark molasses
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 oz. sherry or 1 oz. bourbon (if used, pour into milk and decrease milk)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBL. flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 TBL. butter, melted
9” unbaked pie shell
For fresh pumpkin split pumpkin and scoop out seeds. Place halves on a baking sheet upside down in 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until soft. Scoop out meat into blender. Puree until smooth.
Combine all ingredients. Pour custard into pie after crust has heated on oven shelf. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake 10 minutes at 450º, then 45 minutes at 350º or until knife inserted comes out clean.Recipe from Eugenia Short, Inverness, IL.
Granted this season has not provided the epic snow conditions we have all come to expect from our Vail experience. Mother Nature has been rather stingy with all of the ski areas this year. But instead of pouting, I have been exploring the vast number of winter adventures that are generally usurped by skiing. I’d like to share a few with you:
Cross-country Ski and Snowshoe
The Vail Nordic Center is located in the Vail Golf Course Clubhouse two miles east of Vail Village. The golf course provides a beautiful setting for a day away from the crowds and some peace among the aspen along the edge of the mountain. The Nordic Center grooms 17km of skate and classic terrain. There are also off-shoot trails for snowshoeing. Rental and lesson packages are available and the Center is open 9-5 daily.
The Beaver Creek Nordic Center is one of the best kept secrets in the valley. Located at the top of the Strawberry Park ski lift, the Nordic trail system is one of the most expansive and scenic in the country. It features 32 km of groomed and rustic cross country and snowshoe trails. Rentals are available at the base of the Strawberry Park lift and tickets are $28 for adults, $17 for seniors and children. McCoy Park is open 8:45am-4:00pm daily.
If you are more adventurous or have a dog (like I do) and are looking for a more “backcountry” experience, there are several trails in the valley that are ideal for snowshoeing or cross-country. You may have to work a little harder on the un-groomed and sloped trails, but the experience of truly getting away from the crowds is worth it. The Eagle-Vail golf course also offers some excellent cross-country skiing and it is free! Located 10 minutes west of Vail, the Eagle-Vail golf course does some grooming, but not to the extent of Vail. It also still offers flat terrain ideal for cross-country.
Three of my favorite snowshoe trails are 10-15 minutes west of Vail off I-70. The first is around Meadow Mountain at the Minturn exit. Meadow Mountain is an old ski area and there is evidence of old cabins and corrals from the ranching days. The trail gradually climbs through an open meadow on an old forest service road leading to a wonderful aspen and evergreen forest. Access to the trails is from the forest service station parking lot just off exit 171 of I-70.
Two other favorite snowshoe trails are out of Edwards – East Lake Creek and Squaw Creek Trails. East Lake Creek Trail begins off of West Lake Creek Road a mile west of Edwards. The first two miles is a moderate climb on a forest service access road. The trail continues for another 10 miles and ends at Upper Camp Lake but you can make as much of a day of it as you would like as it is an out and back trail.
The Squaw Creek Trail begins off Squaw Creek Road a few miles past the entrance to Cordillera. A bit steep to start, it becomes more gradual through the aspen and pine forest.
At the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola, Adventure Ridge offers outdoor activities and spectacular views for the non-skiing crowd. The views of the Sawatch and Gore Ranges are worth the trip alone. Ice skating, tubing, kid’s snowmobiling, a bungee trampoline, and my favorite, ski biking. Ski biking is only offered after the lifts close as you descend the same slopes you did on skis. Ski bikes are shaped like bicycles but have skis instead of wheels. You are outfitted with a very powerful headlamp and two mini-skis on your feet. You sit on the bike as you would a cruiser bike, your guide will instruct you of the finer points of steering, and you are off! It is a real kick coming down in the dark on groomed runs after the crowds have left.
The gondola is free to foot traffic after 2 pm. It’s great fun after a day of skiing to ride up the gondola, play around at the top for a while and have dinner at the Bistro Fourteen.
Hanging Lake and Glenwood Springs
A great winter hike is up to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon. The drive alone through Glenwood Canyon is spectacular. The hike starts about half-way through from the Grizzly Creek Rest Area. This short and very steep trail is overly crowded in the summer but is virtually empty in the winter. It is only 1.2 miles up to the lake, but you gain 1065 feet. Quite a steep ascent. The lake has a basin of travertine and is fed by Bridal Veil Falls providing a spectacular setting. In the winter, icicles and crystals from around the lake and falls creating an ethereal scene.
After the vigorous hike, I recommend making a day of it and continuing on through the canyon to Glenwood Springs and the famous hot springs. Relaxing in the mineral pools is sure to cure what ails you. Glenwood is a cute town and worth taking the time to wander the main street, visit the small shops or grab something to eat. Glenwood is about an hour west of Vail on I-70.
Dobson Ice Arena offers indoor skating and rentals. The area also has several outdoor skating rinks in Vail Village, Lionshead, Beaver Creek and Avon. Rentals are available in all locations.
Silverthorne is another great day trip east of Vail. The Outlet stores are a big draw with three villages of stores. A new shuttle offers access to the outlets for only $20 round-trip. The Outlets certainly offer a full day shopping experience but there are a few other things that also look interesting in Silverthorne:
I have not yet experienced this exhibit, but the pictures look spectacular. They are definitely on my list for this winter.
The area offers many types of ice fishing to enjoy. Some of the best fly fishing with easy access is the Blue River in Silverthorne. As you cross the bridge in the Blue Village of the Outlet Stores you can look down on the avid fisherman and point out all the trout they are missing. Lake Dillon and nearby Green Mountain Reservoir also offer lake and ice fishing.
Enjoy the Arts and Education
Located in Beaver Creek presents a diverse calendar of events throughout the winter. From film festivals to Jazz, Contemporary music and comedians all flow through this spectacular venue.
Learn the history of the sport we love. The Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum boasts a rich collection of historical artifacts from Colorado’s ski and snowboard heritage. There are great exhibits showing the development of the industry in Colorado and the best part is, it’s free! Located on the third level of the Vail Transportation building and open daily from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop, one of the best places to buy that unique gift for the ski/snowboard enthusiast.
Atop Vail Mountain at Eagles Nest the Nature and Discovery Center offers daily guided snowshoe hikes at 3pm. You are accompanied by a Naturalist and learn about the ecology and wildlife in the area. Snowshoes are provided. The Center is open 11am-7pm Tuesday-Saturday and 11am-4:30pm Sunday & Monday.
The Public Library offers a variety of children’s programs and story hours that are sure to keep you kids entertained. Located between Vail Village and Lionshead, the library is open 10am-8pmMonday-Thursday and 11am-6pm weekends.
What is better after a day on the slopes than to treat yourself to a spa day? Several spas in the area offer full or half-day services to relieve those aching muscles. Here are a few in the area:
Vail Mountain Lodge & Spa
State of the art fitness, a soul-cleansing solarium, and a wide menu of treatments that give rise to genuine holistic therapy.
Sonnenalp Resort & Spa
For some, it is an indulgence, for others, a necessity. For everyone, an exquisite resource to work out and refresh mind and body.
Full-service spa/salon and fitness club located in the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. Massage, skin care, body treatments, hair styling & color and manicures/pedicures. Featuring natural products.
Aria Spa & Club
Vail’s most extensive facility is unprecedented for its professional approach to fitness and personal wellness.
Snowmobiling and Snowcat Tours
There are several outfitters in the area that offer access to thousands of acres high in the mountains for snowmobile adventures. Most outfitters offer guided tours or snowmobile rentals if you want to venture out on your own.
Snowcat tours are a great way to experience the winter backcountry in the comfort of a heated snowcat. Nova Guides offers a two hour tour that brings you up to some of the most scenic overlooks otherwise only accessible by snowmobile or foot. The majestic views are breathtaking.
Ski Cooper also offers Snowcat Skiing and sightseeing tours. Located half an hour south of Vail at the top of Tennessee Pass on the way to Leadville, Ski Cooper is one of those rustic ski mountains with a lot to offer. Snowcat skiing takes place up Chicago Ridge as high as 12,600 feet with 2,460 acres of terrain.
Located 25 minutes west of Vail, 4 Eagle Ranch provides guests with a true western experience at their high-mountain ranch. Winter activities include snowmobiling, horseback riding, dog sledding and sleigh ride dinners. I have yet to experience dog sledding, but have been told it is incredible to see and feel these animals in action.
There is so much the Vail Valley has to offer it is hard to squeeze it all in. Vail also have a full calendar of events scheduled with festivals and music. Check out the events calendar for the upcoming schedule. We are truly fortunate to have all of this and world-class skiing to boot. I hope you venture out this year and discover something new. Enjoy your stay!
If you want to experience one of the most beautiful century rides in Colorado, I would recommend the Colorado-Eagle River Ride (CERR) sponsored by the SOS Outreach. Now in its 11th year, the CERR is the major fund raiser for SOS which is a youth-based program that engages at-risk and underprivileged youth in winter and outdoor sports-based education programs. So, not only do you get to experience a challenging ride through stunning scenery that is extremely well supported, you also help to support a worthwhile cause.
It is considered a moderate century ride with shorter distances also supported. But, the reason I would recommend the century or metric century route is to be able to experience the beauty and remoteness along the Colorado River Road with an organization supporting you along the way. I have encapsulated my experience below along with a map and elevation profile with hopes you will join me and 800 of my closest friends in doing the ride this year on July 28, 2012.
The ride starts in Avon at the Beaver Creek parking lot and rides west along Highway 6 to Wolcott. At Wolcott, you turn up Highway 131 for the most challenging climb of the day. It is a 9 mile, 1,400’ climb to the top of the gap made easier by the cool of the morning air. The first rest stop is at the top of the climb and then it is a screaming descent with sweeping turns down into State Bridge. You are on Highway 131 for about 21 miles. It has a decent shoulder and, being out so early, the traffic is manageable. At McCoy you turn off of 131 onto the Colorado River Road. This is the road that held me off from ding this ride for so long. I had always heard there was 18 miles of dirt road on the route and didn’t think that was manageable on a road bike. It is a shame because the dirt is very hard-packed and the road is just rolling hills so you can maintain a good pace even on skinny road tires.
This is the heart of the ride and the whole reason to do the route as a supported ride. You are on the back roads of Colorado riding along the river and going through towns with populations in the double-digits. The ride is extremely well organized with rest stops that are plentiful and well-stocked. They have more than just the typical water, Gatorade, pretzels, and PBJ but also energy chews and Clif Shots.
The Colorado River Road is about 38 miles and comes out at Dotsero just before Glenwood Canyon on Highway 6. This is the lunch stop for the ride and the metric century mark. The highlight of this stop is the Ice Cream Lady who hands out free ice cream to all of the riders! Some may choose to end their ride here as the organizers have arranged for buses to take you and your bike back to Beaver Creek. For the full century ride you take Highway 6 for a gentle climb back to the finish line. Not a bad road. There has been a lot of recent work to expand the shoulder and, if you are lucky, there is generally a prevailing tail-wind from the west to carry you home.
The post-ride party is hosted by the Dusty Boot up in Beaver Creek Village. A bit disjointed as you have to take a bus up to the village from the finishing line, but the food is worth the trip and you are rewarded with a free local beer.
Don’t make the mistake I made for years by passing on this amazing ride. The scenery along the Colorado River is captivating and best-experienced from the seat of a bicycle. The remoteness is the draw and to have the chance to experience it with a support crew makes it an opportunity not to be missed.
Bowman’s Shortcut – Commando Run – China Bowl – Grand Traverse
The Grand Traverse is, hands down, the best single-track on Vail Mountain. The 5 mile trail is a non-technical, soft single-track that winds its way through pine forest on upper Vail Mountain. What puts this trail above all others are the fantastic views of Holy Cross and the “cool” factor of dipping into three of the legendary Back Bowls – Sun Up, Sun Down and Game Creek. Best done from east to west, the trick is to find a great way to get to the top of the mountain for the start of the trail. You could, of course, grunt your way to the top using the roads and trails on Vail Mountain or you could step up the “coolness” factor by tying in a local legend called the Commando Run.
The Commando Run is a trail that runs from the top of Vail Pass, up Shrine Pass, over Two Elk Pass to the top of Benchmark and the East Vail Chutes just east of China Bowl. The trail continues down Mill Creek Road, past the bottom of Chair 10 and out at Vail Village. Also done as a backcountry ski trail in the winter, it was originally training ground for the 10th Mountain Division. The Commando Trail does have some strenuous climbs, but the views of the Gore Range and Holy Cross make it worth it. Tie the first half of the Commando Run to China Bowl with a finish using the Grand Traverse and you have one spectacular ride.
Start by shuttling a car, bumming a ride or just plain riding to the Vail Pass Rest Area. Head up the dirt Shrine Pass Road for two miles, then descend another two before turning on Lime Creek Road just past the Holy Cross view point. A few hundred yards up you will see the Bowman’s Shortcut trail off to the right. This is the start of the Commando Run. The trail is in good shape though there are some wickedly steep switchbacks. Climb 4 miles up to the “Top of the World” where you will find incredible 360 degree views of the Gore Range and Mount of Holy Cross.
Descend again and a short climb up to Two Elk Pass. Here you make a decision. Turn right for a quick, scary 2 mile 1,800 foot descent back to Old Vail Pass; turn left and head down into China Bowl; or straight ahead will climb up towards Benchmark and the top of China Bowl. My intent was to get to the top of China Bowl, but I must have missed it and ended up descending down through Mongolia Bowl and to the bottom of the Orient Express Lift. Again, a choice – continue down on the Two Elk trail and end up on the south side of Minturn or climb out of China Bowl using Sleepytime Road and end up on the top of Vail Mountain. The Minturn route would entail a 10 mile road ride back to Vail so I chose the 3.5 mile climb out to PHQ and the start of the Grand Traverse.
The Grand Traverse drops you at the top of Eagle’s Nest providing plenty of options down to Vail Village. My favorite is the new “Big Mamba” flow trail – a wide downhill trail with banked turns and fun rollers. They have not completed the trail all the way to the bottom but some good options are Hank’s Hideaway, Lion Down, or a rip-roaring ride down Gitalong Road back to Vail Village. Total distance was 23.11 miles with 3,000 feet of elevation gain and one epic ride.
The Sitzmark Lodge at Vail Earns Fodor’s Choice 2012 Distinction From Fodor’s Travel
Vail, CO –January 31, 2013 – Fodor’s, the leading name in travel guides for over 75 years, today announced that The Sitzmark Lodge has been recognized as a 2012 Fodor’s Choice selection. This distinction designates the Sitzmark as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value in the 2012 year.
The editors and experts of Fodor’s have been selecting only the top fifteen percent of their listed properties and activities as Fodor’s Choice award recipients since 1988. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveler’s time, only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation.
For more than 75 years Fodor’s has presented travelers with the very top recommendations from hidden-away restaurants to can’t-miss museums, to make sure they’re making the most of their travels. The 2012 Fodor’s Choice recipients are the best of the best, providing a remarkable experience in their price range or category.
As a 2012 Fodor’s Choice property the Sitzmark will receive special recognition in the next Fodor’s guidebook to the Vail Valley and on www.Fodors.com
“We are honored and thrilled to be recognized by Fodor’s for this distinction” says Jeanne Fritch, General Manager. “It is an affirmation of our core belief in guest service to be recognized by such a highly regarded travel guide. As a small, family-owned hotel we value our relationships with our guests always striving to make them feel comfortable and at home. We look forward to welcoming the followers of Fodor’s Travel Guides to our hotel with the hopes of making their visit something truly remarkable.”
About the Sitzmark Lodge:
The Sitzmark Lodge is located in the heart of Vail Village on the banks of Gore Creek and Vail’s famous European style pedestrian shopping/dining district. Family owned and operated since 1974, we offer outstanding accommodations in a warm, friendly atmosphere at a reasonable price. Relax by our outdoor pool and whirlpool overlooking the pedestrian village. Enjoy free parking, wireless, and newly renovated rooms rated Platinum by Vail’s Lodging Quality Assurance program. Visit www.sitzmarklodge.com.
About Fodor’s Travel
Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House, Inc., is one of the world’s leading providers of travel information. Covering over 7,500 worldwide destinations, Fodor’s guidebooks and website, Fodors.com, have provided the most up-to-date, accurate information for travelers since 1936. Written by a vast team of global correspondents, Fodor’s provides travelers with engagingly written, locally reported, and absolutely indispensable travel guidance. Visit www.Fodors.com to see what they have to say about The Sitzmark Lodge.
Skinning up Vail and Beaver Creek mountains gives you access to first tracks on some of the most famous ski runs in the world. Jenn shares her stories of hiking up the mountains to experience the grand views, pristine snow, and unbridled thrill of flying down your own private slope.
Between the snow storms last week and this week, we are gearing up for a great season. It seems as though everyone has been doing their part in the snow dance as Vail and Beaver Creek opened with extensively more terrain than in previous years. Thanks to the large amount of pre-season snowfall I was able to skin up our local mountains more than once to enjoy beautiful views, serenity in nature, and incredible skiing conditions.
With a plethora of new technology, it is possible to strap on a pair of alpine touring (AT) bindings to your powder skis so that you no longer have to carry those heavy boards but can glide on them while hiking. Alpine touring bindings unlock so that you can hike on them like a telemarking binding but lock back in for the downhill ride. You also need a pair of skins — removable strips of velvet-like material that stick to the bottom of your skis for ascending. They are called skins because they resemble sealskin and are designed to let the ski slide forward on snow but not backward. These are removed for the descent.
My season on Vail Mountain started earlier than most thanks to my Salomon AT set-up. I took advantage of our first snow storm and hiked Riva Ridge starting at the base of Gondola One and ending at the top of chair 4. I traveled for two hours, covering the distance that Gondola One and Chair 4 would cover in about 16 minutes (with no lines). My persistence, though, was rewarded with untouched, glistening snowfields awaiting fresh turns. And my return trip — less than 15 minutes.
The following day I found myself hiking up Beaver Creek with my best friend and our trusted snow guide Jackson, a 1 ½ year Malamute weighing in at 130 lbs! Though we did not make the trek all the way to the top of Beaver Creek, we settled for a rest at Spruce Saddle before ripping down two of my favorite runs Gold Rush and Fool’s Gold and then enjoying a warm drink at the Coyote Café just below the new “chondola” — Beaver Creek‘s unique combination lift replacing the Centennial Express that includes a series of six-passenger chairs alternating with 10-person gondola cabins.
The conditions were so great, before I knew it I was heading out for a third day and then I realized, the addiction had started. Winter, even though it is not December 21st yet, is finally here. My ski boots, skis, skins, and socks (these are very important) never leave my line of sight and I am on my skis almost every day, even if the lifts have already closed. I am also fortunate enough that my home is accessible from the top of Game Creek and thus can ski home. The legendary Minturn Mile is an off-piste ski run accessed from the top of Game Creek, leaves the Vail ski area through a back-country gate and drops you off at the Minturn Saloon. That’s my ride home! More to come about the Minturn Mile in a future blog!
As the snow begins to taper this Wednesday morning, I check the weather for next week and am excited to hear that another storm will be rolling through after the weekend and I am all smiles. It’s going to be a fantastic season in the valley!
The world is watching Beaver Creek and Vail as we host the World Alpine Ski Championships for an unprecedented 3rd time. Across the way in Beaver Creek, the Birds of Prey and Raptor Courses have been set into two of the most challenging courses that the World Cup skiers will have the privilege of racing. Thousands of fans, from here and all across the globe, are cheering their countries’ athletes on in a display of national pride that is rarely seen in other sports.
Here in Vail the streets are buzzing with workers, sponsors, vendors, and bands gearing up for a spectacular series of night-life events, ski après, and live music. In the background, giant screen TVs scatter the Village so that from almost any point during your journey from your hotel or bus stop to the gondola you can see the action taking place in Beaver Creek.
Almost every night, for the next two weeks, a live band will be featured at the Solaris Plaza. Some of the head liners
include O.A.R, The Barenaked Ladies, Cee Lo Green, Phillip Philips, and Matisyahu. Afterwards, Semana, the official night club of the 2015 games will be hosting a number of DJ’s to keep the excitement rolling. During the day, you can visit Solantro’s, which is one the newest restaurants welcomed to the valley, and enjoy their 2015 ski après party. You will, also, find that almost every restaurant or bar is supporting the grandeur of this event.
And, what may be the best part about this event is that I have never seen Vail Mountain more quiet during this time of year compared to previous years. If you’re one who would rather ski than watch the races, this is a perfect time to visit Vail. Enjoy the slopes of Vail as your own private resort while others head over to Beaver Creek. Afterwards you can join the party, attend the free concerts and spend an exciting night out on the town.
So, whether you want to participate in history and be a part of the epic 2015 World Ski Championships or create your own epic day on the mountain, you are sure to find a great time in Vail. It is only day 2 of the two week celebration, and I encourage you to come up and check out the event for yourself!
Visit the 2015 Event Calendar for a complete list of events taking place.
There is a new trend in the biking world aimed at those avid cyclists who refuse to give up the bike even when there is a foot of snow on the ground. Actually, I would say it also satisfies those who love winter and want more ways to enjoy it. Fat bikes have made it to the Vail Valley and several shops are offering rentals and sales. Designed and geared like a mountain bike but sporting tires that are 4.5 to 5” wide it resembles a cross between a bike and a monster truck. The fat tires provide three features that make the ride so unique and exciting – floatation, suspension and traction. Much like an SUV, the wide tires allow you to go where ordinary bikes cannot and help smooth out a bumpy trail providing extra cushion for the rider. Though seemingly big and clunky, I found the bike to be quite agile and once those big wheels got to turning, I rolled over anything in my way.
I fall into both categories of the target audience – I am an avid cyclist and winter enthusiast who loves being outside. I had to try this. There are several options in the valley for rentals (a few mentioned below) and several options for trails. For the first time out, I thought let’s try an established trail with gentle elevation and see how it goes. You want to stick to a packed trail because, though the tires do keep you afloat there is a point where you will sink in a straight powder field. Turns out, some of the Nordic areas are ok with bikes on their snowshoe trails and the fat tires don’t damage the trail for other users. The Eagle-Vail golf course provides miles of groomed, gentle trails. I chose a trail along the old railroad tracks that run along the Eagle River. Once you get more adventurous, there are hundreds of miles of mountain bike trails in the area and up into the ski areas, though I would only do those after the lifts close. Be aware, however, some of the mountain bike trails are closed in the winter due to wildlife migration.
I didn’t break any speed records on my first day out, only averaging six miles an hour, but that wasn’t the point. It was great fun testing the bike on different terrain. I can see where it would do well beyond winter in sand or loose rock. Though at one point I had to get off the trail and on the road where the snow had started melting. Those fat tires sure do kick up a lot of water when they get going! I was soaked after a few minutes and sought out a new trail to get back in the snow.
Another tip for just starting out with winter cycling is to use plain, flat pedals. This allows you to wear warm, waterproof footwear such as snowshoe boots, and prevents problems with your cleats clogging with snow if you use a clipless system. As you progress, invest in good winter cycling shoes because you will want the clipless system for climbing more advanced trails.
Maybe you are not an avid cyclist like I am, but if you are taking a day off of skiing and looking for something to do this is a blast. Prices range from $35-60/day and High Gear will even bring the bikes to a trailhead for you.