WHERE TO EAT Top Chef finalist Kelly Liken’s eponymous restaurant (970-479-0175; kellyliken.com) is located a stone’s throw from the Four Seasons (it’s literally across the street). Order the elk carpaccio and potato-crusted trout fillets and ask Liken’s husband, wine director Rick Colomitz, about the selection of local wines. For something more casual, head to Bol (970-476-5300; bolvail.com), the just-opened bowling alley, which also has stellar food (try the pork buns or lobster pizza), in the heart of Vail Village. A bit further afield, chef Armando Navarro turns out New American fare at Thomas Salamunovich’s Larkspur (970-7548050; larkspurvail.com). Everyone comes for the Larkburger, but the pork belly with apple-sylvetta purée and a soy-honey glaze has achieved a cult following among locals.
A modest ski town, with access to 5,289 acres of powder-covered mountains, gets a deluxe makeover. By Geraldine Campbell
VAIL HAS long been the less hyped, Euro-leaning alternative to its glam sister city, Aspen. But recent developments—most notably a multibillion-dollar renewal plan— have turned this world-class ski town into an all-weather, all-traveler destination. The area’s newest addition is the Four Seasons Resort Vail, which opens this month with 121 rooms, all of which have deep soaking tubs (imported from Bali), working fireplaces and hot-water bottles tucked underneath luxury linens. Located between Vail Village and Lionshead, the property doesn’t have ski-in-ski-out access, but I’m charmed by the Swiss-born general manager’s explanation that one needs 840 steps to get the blood circulating for optimal skiing (the number of strides between the resort and Vail Mountain’s Vista Bahn lift, if he’s to be believed). Plus, it’s not like anyone has to lug their gear to and from the mountain: Each room has its own slope-side locker at the Ski Concierge. The main lobby of the hotel is home to a Gorsuch boot-fitting area, which electronically sends all your information (from boot size to ski or snowboard length) to the ski shop—which then
transfers the equipment (along with a couple of pairs of boot warmers) to your private locker. Grab a bite at the Fireside Lounge, which serves warming cocktails and microbrews on tap, plus après-ski snacks. For something heartier, the third-floor restaurant, Flame, is helmed by Vegas expat Jason Harrison, the Bellagio’s former executive chef. Primarily a steakhouse, the restaurant serves hearty mountain fare, like rack of venison and bison tartare. Recover from a day on the slopes poolside—the outdoor swimming
pool is heated to a balmy minimum 80 degrees. And in case you’re worried about rubbing elbows with preteens in the hot tub, there are separate Jacuzzis for adults and kids. A treatment at the 13-room Alpine spa is also a must. (Splurge on one of the specialty suites with private patios and whirlpool tubs.) Before you skip town, pick up a fur from Dennis Basso (who has a boutique in the hotel). Because fur is making a comeback—and everyone needs a cropped fox jacket. Four Seasons Resort Vail, 970-477-8600; fourseasons.com/vail
WHERE TO SPA The Vitality Center at the Vail Mountain Lodge (970-476-7721; vailmountainlodge.com) is more of a mindful health program than a traditional spa. Experts can help reverse aging, balance hormones and find a diet that works (really). For something a bit fluffier, head to the Bachelor Gulch Spa at The Ritz-Carlton (970343-1106; ritzcarlton.com), which has a grotto-like wet room and whose Platinum facial uses local skin-care line Isun. At the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa’s Allegria Spa (970748-7500; beavercreek.hyatt.com), athletes should ask for Donovan: His sports massage will put even the most tired skiers back in action.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JACK AFFLECK (SKIER)
VAIL’S NEW VIBE
11/17/10 2:20:52 PM