(Who has registered and logged into)
Domain: none (but your lift ticket is valid in Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone)
Date: 20-27th March 2005 (not all the time was spent at Vail)
Our holiday: This was a birthday present to myself, and only booked in mid February
Website : http://vail.snow.com
Basics : United and BA fly direct to Denver, but due to my late booking, the best option for me was to fly via Minneapolis on NorthWest. From Denver Airport it is a 2 hour drive by car, or about 2.5 hours by Colorado Mountain Express (Transfer coach) It is possible to fly to Eagle airport which is about 30 minutes away.
Lift system : Most of the lifts are high speed quads, thereâ€™s one gondola, and a couple of button lifts.
The terrain : Vail is big by US sizes. There are three main bases in Vail â€“ Golden Peak, Vail Village, and Lionshead. From these you can easily access the front side of the mountain, consisting of a variety of piste and bump terrain, and plenty of trees. Behind the front side are the 7 bowls. Only one of these, Game Creek, has marked runs. Beyond these bowls is Blue Sky Basin, which has two intermediate runs, and the rest are advanced/expert, and are mainly through trees.
The snow : Before I arrived there had been a steady fall of light snow for over a week. During my stay, around 60cms fell, and there were fresh tracks to be had every day.
Off-piste : As mentioned above, most of the bowls are â€śoff-pisteâ€ť. Because of the different faces on the bowls, it was possible to get good snow all day, even if the sun was shining. A couple of times I was in â€śSun Downâ€ť bowl which was crusty, while â€śSun Upâ€ť was in perfect shape. There is a cat track around the bowls so that intermediates can make there way to Blue Sky Basin.
The resort : Most days I finished up in Garfinkels or the Lionâ€™s Den at Lionshead, but after skiing with Martin Bell, he got me to buy him a drink or two in the George, an English pub (The bargirl seemed to like the Irish accent, as we managed to get a round of Jagers on the house). I wouldnâ€™t recommend going to Vail to spot Gaudi or Fosterâ€™s influence on the architecture, but neither is it La Daille.
Food : There are several eateries on the mountains. Most provide standard US ski fare. But when you get to the top of Blue Sky Basin, there is a hut with barbecues outside for anyone to use. These are great if you happen to have a couple of ranch owners with you who brought organic T-bone steaksâ€¦
Off the mountain, if you have a car, Iâ€™d recommend going to Chilli Willieâ€™s in Minturn, which, as well as excellent Mexican food, does some very potent Kiwi margaritas. My main haunt in the evenings was the Sand Bar, which had live music every night, a great atmosphere, and a pretty good pint of Guinness.
Accommodation : I stayed in the Holiday Inn, West Vail. This was conveniently located across the car park from the Sand Bar. The hotel had hot-tub, sauna, outdoor pool, and three restaurants, along with a transfer bus to the various bases, which ran every half hour at peak times, and hourly the rest of the day.
Costs: Lift tickets are $77 per day, but become cheaper the more days you stay. Flights were booked late and cost around ÂŁ550. Accommodation should have been around $200 per night.
Conclusion: A great resort. Big enough to have a lot of fun
Do my fingers smell fishy?