Where to Ski And Snowboard -

The slopes

  • Extent 4 out of 5
  • Fast lifts 5 out of 5
  • Snow 5 out of 5
  • Queues 2 out of 5
  • Terrain p'ks 5 out of 5
  • Expert 4 out of 5
  • Intermediate 5 out of 5
  • Beginner 3 out of 5
  • Boarder 3 out of 5
  • X-country 3 out of 5
  • Restaurants 2 out of 5
  • Schools 4 out of 5
  • Families 4 out of 5

The resort

  • Resort charm 3 out of 5
  • Convenience 3 out of 5
  • Scenery 3 out of 5
  • Eating out 5 out of 5
  • Apres ski 3 out of 5
  • Off-slope 3 out of 5

Piste maps

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Key facts covers:

Key facts

Resort2500 m
Slopes2475-3525 m
Lifts31
Pistes5289 acres
Price index215

Vail

USA

Vail

The upside

  • One of the biggest areas in the US – especially great for confident intermediates
  • The Back Bowls are big areas of treeless terrain – unusual in the US
  • Fabulous area of ungroomed, wooded slopes at Blue Sky Basin
  • Largely traffic-free resort centres, very pleasant in parts – but …

The downside

  • Resort is a vast sprawl
  • Slopes can be crowded by American standards, with serious lift queues
  • Inadequate mountain restaurants
  • Blue Sky Basin and Back Bowls may not be open in early season; warm weather can close much of Bowls
  • Expensive, with lots of luxury lodgings but few budget options

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News – 2016/17

The slow Sun Up triple chair in the back bowls will be replaced by a high-speed quad. That means that all major chairlifts on Vail mountain will now be high-speed. The new Sun Up chair will increase capacity by 65% to 2,400 people an hour and cut the ride time in half to make it four minutes.

News – 2015/16

The Avanti fast quad above Lionshead was replaced by a six-pack, which increased capacity by 30%.

Summary

We always enjoy skiing Vail; it’s a big mountain with a decent vertical, and Blue Sky Basin’s ‘adventure’ skiing is a key attraction. But it is far from being our favourite American mountain. In an American resort you expect the runs to be pretty much crowd-free – and in any resort you expect 20-minute lift queues to be a thing of the past. In these respects, Vail disappoints.
When the budget runs to a swanky billet in Vail Village or the Lionshead area, we’re happy enough with the resort, too; it is a pleasant place to wander around. But we’re not enthusiastic about Vail Village’s pseudo-Tirolean style, and the rest of the huge resort lacks character. In the end, Vail can’t compete with more distinctively American resorts based on old mining towns.

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