It's a little known fact that on average 300 days of the year are sunny in Colorado; perfect for on-mountain barbecues. When I'm not going for a decadent lunch at The 10th I'll keep it simple and throw some steaks and veges into a backpack. My friends and I can often be found at one of the on-mountain BBQs at Belle's Camp or Henry's Hut, managed and maintained by the resort for free guest use, "grilling out" and working on our goggle tans.
Where are some good trails to ski or snowboard in or near Vail?
I always get the biggest grins out of my visitors when I take them down Big Rock Park, in Blue Sky Basin. It's a long, cruisy, groomed, gladed run that gives you the feeling of tree skiing but in a less intimidating way - not to mention that you get the most epic view across the famous Back Bowls (so famous they even have their own trademark). On a powder day, I jump to Riva Ridge in Sun Down Bowl for untouched-hit-your-face powder.
Where can you warm up after a day on the slopes?
The signature hot chocolate at the Frost Bar in The Sebastian hotel is by far the most decadent in Vail - less like a drink, and more like an event. They pour dark hot chocolate over a melting handmade gold-dusted ball of Valrhona milk chocolate, unleashing Bailey's marshmallows and chocolate crunch pearls.
What's the coolest bar in town?
I love Matsuhisa, of the famous Nobu group, for a sophisticated cocktail and stunning mountain views (try the oh-so-fresh Matsutini and thank me later!). Vendetta's is a great spot for casual apres ski; cold beers, wood-fire pizza and rubbing shoulders with the local off duty ski patrol and their dogs. For live music and some good Bavarian grub head to Pepi's; one of the original Vail eateries.
What can you do in Vail if you're not a snow bunny?
That's what makes Vail a true world-class resort; the off-mountain attractions are just as epic as the skiing. By day I recommend snow-shoeing, a snow mobile tour or ski biking for the more adventurous, and snow tubing and ice skating are perfect family activities. By night hit the super sophisticated 10-lane bowling alley Bol - complete with licensed bar, DJ beats and an upscale menu - or chill-out with a good film, bottle of wine and dinner at the Cinebistro, and try not to nod off in the leather reclining seats. If none of that takes your fancy you could probably spend two weeks alone strolling between two villages of exquisite boutique shopping and art galleries.
A great place to get a massage?
The Sacred Stone Massage, or a customised facial, at the RockResorts Spa is a not-to-be-missed unwind. Located at the ultra-luxe Arrabelle hotel, the 10,000 square foot spa adorned in beautiful Italian glass decor was voted #19 in the world in 2012 Conde Nast Reader's Poll, and uses only indigenous and eco-friendly products. Be sure to get there early before your treatment to soak in their beautiful grotto.
May Lilley heads up Australian Destination Marketing for Vail Resorts.