ESCAPE THE HEAT THIS SUMMER WITH A MOUNTAIN GETAWAY TO PLAY IN MEADOWS OF WILDFLOWERS OR SHOP IN THE VILLAGE.
Vail Mountain is the perfect summer escape. PHOTO BY JACK AFFLECK/COURTESY OF VAIL RESORTS
WHEN 10TH MOUNTAIN DIVISION VETERAN Pete Seibert along with rancher Earl Eaton founded Vail in 1962, they had a vision for creating a world-class ski destination, with powder-filled bowls stretching to the horizon. That vision has been realized, but what of summer? This Bavarian-inspired village is also an ideal escape when the mercury starts climbing on the Front Range.
Here you can wander Vail’s cobblestones, window shop at upscale boutiques and art galleries, or rent an e-bike and cruise the bike paths. Vail’s two gondolas whisk hikers and mountain bikers to the summit, and in July, the wildflowers in China Bowl can be waist-deep. Elements of Epic Discovery, Vail’s mountaintop summer experience, are still on schedule, including the 550-foot snow tubing hill and the mountain coaster, 3,400 vertical feet of wind-in-your-face downhill adrenaline. For a slower pace, sip vino with friends on a sunny patio or linger over chef-inspired farm-to-fork cuisine. And the summer calendar, thankfully, is filling up with events again.
Around every corner of The Sebastian-Vail, you’ll find surreal and abstract original art from Mexican artists like Manuel Felguérez, Leonora Carrington and Victor Chaca. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SEBASTIAN-VAIL
The architecture of The Sebastian-Vail (thesebastianvail.com) is approachable mountain chic: Meticulously crafted woodwork and stone are softened by rich textures, creating a comfortable sanctuary. Pause in the library to play a game of chess or borrow a book—in English or Spanish— from the floor-to-ceiling shelves.
The ultimate splurge is the hotel’s Grand Galerie Penthouse, a five-bedroom, 5,300-square-foot luxury space featuring sophisticated contemporary decor, with works from creatives like Ralph Pucci, Sergio Hernández and Arturo Berned. The penthouse is adorned with a curated collection of original artwork, and the gourmet kitchen was tailored by Italian design team Gullo Firenze. A cathedral skylight allows natural sunlight to brighten the interior. Rounding out this exclusive perch, a furnished lanai affords 360-degree panoramas of the Gore Range.
Slope Room. PHOTO COURTESY OF GRAVITY HAUS
For a quick bite, try Gorsuch Ski Cafe (gorsuchskicafe.com) near the gondola for muffins, croissants and lattes, and a chance to browse the latest accouterments from Gorsuch. For a more leisurely brunch and housemade beignets, sit on the patio at Vintage (vintage-vail.com), a French brasserie near The Sebastian. For dinner, slip into a blue suede booth at Slope Room (sloperoom.com) inside the new Gravity Haus hotel. Details like oversized handcarved ice cubes and a hot stone delivered to your table to sear the wagyu beef elevate the culinary experience. At Mountain Standard (mtnstandard.com), the pork shank, served over a Gruyere potato puree, is a triumph. Chef Maria Busata corns the shank in-house and then slowbraises it over the kitchen’s live open fire. Almresi (almresi-vail.com) offers German cuisine like schnitzel and rösti served by waitresses in dirndls. The furnishings, from the climbing ropes to the cowbells, add an authentic European ambiance.
Almresi. TABLE PHOTO COURTESY OF ALMRESI
For a stiff drink, head for the coppertopped bar at 10th Mountain Whiskey (10thwhiskey.com). Known for its bourbon and rye aged in charred oak barrels at the distillery in Gypsum, 10th Mountain also makes its own seasonal infusions with simple syrup and ingredients like fresh ginger. Root + Flower (rootandflowervail.com) has over 50 wines by the glass and a lineup of boozeforward libations. Housemade shrubs with ingredients like turmeric, pineapple and clove add complexity. Pair drinks with tapas-style plates or a charcuterie board.
Paragon Guides (paragonguides.com) leads hikes with llamas, some with a picnic lunch, others with wine and cheese. A trek with a gentle long-lashed 400-pound ungulate is an experience you’ll not soon forget. For the adventure of a lifetime, sign on for a guided 45- mile odyssey from Vail to Aspen with multiple overnight stops at mountain huts. The llamas will serve as your personal porters, carrying up to 80 pounds of gear and food. (But, no, they don’t carry people.) Another way to elevate your next hike: Book a private tour with an interpretive guide from Walking Mountains (walkingmountains.org). A favorite itinerary is Piney Lake, which starts at a high alpine lake and finishes with a waterfall.
If browsing the racks is your idea of an escape, Vail will not disappoint. Shop for Swiss Ammann cowhide boots and Parajumpers raccoon-fur-trimmed parkas at Valbruna (valbrunavail.com). At Tommy Bowers (@tommybowersski), you’ll find boiled wool jackets from Frauenschuh, a timeless luxury brand founded in1950 in Kitzbühel, Austria. Personal stylists at Perch (perchvail.com) can help you find the perfect outfit from brands like Zimmermann and Veronica Beard.
Wildsyde. PHOTO COURTESY OF WILDSYDE EBIKES
Spin Vail’s bike paths in devilish style with a vintage-inspired eCruiser electric bike from local brand Wildsyde (wildsyde.com, available for rent at Pepi Sports in Vail Village). The bikes emulate a classic motorcycle look with swept-back cruiser-style handlebars and an electric battery disguised as a center-mounted gas tank.
The Bravo! Vail Music Festival (bravovail.org) returns this summer with a lineup of 50 concerts. Showcasing four world-class orchestras as well as chamber groups, the festival runs June 24 to Aug. 4. Get tickets to sit in the open-air Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater pavilion or bring a picnic and spread out on the lawn. Also back on tap is the Vail Jazz Festival (vailjazz.org), bringing the best talent in the jazz world to the Colorado Rockies. The eight-week festival runs from July 8 to Sept. 6.
After a day of exploring, revive sore muscles with a NormaTec compression therapy at The Sebastian’s Recovery Suite. You’ll sit in a leather recliner with thigh-high booties that pump up with air, systematically squeezing your legs from your toes on up. Used by pro athletes, the therapy increases circulation and lymphatic movement to enhance recovery. Simultaneously, a waist belt applies thermal and vibration therapy to loosen up those stiff lower-back muscles.