Four-Star Vail Retreat in Rocky Mountains
In the Rocky Mountains, about two hours west of Denver, hiking and skiing trails wind beneath a canopy of aspens and ponderosa pines, leading to the doorstep of Vail Cascade. The landscape's rugged beauty can be found throughout the resort. Natural light illuminates exposed wood beams inside the lounges and restaurants, and decks with fire pits boast sweeping views of the surrounding mountains.
Year-round outdoor activities are big draws at this recently renovated lodge, which was recognized in 2011 as 1 of Travel + Leisure's top 500 hotels in the world. In the fall, you can go Gold Medal fly-fishing on Gore Creek and hiking and biking. During ski season, which typically starts in late November, Vail Ski Resort—the country's largest resort with 5,289 acres of open terrain—offers downhill trails, glades, and back bowls for all levels. Afterward, you can retreat to the resort's Aria Spa, which features aromatherapy steam rooms and a heated outdoor saltwater pool.
The resort’s upscale restaurant, Atwater on Gore Creek, serves Colorado lamb meatballs, rainbow trout with ginger kale, and other creative American dishes along with local craft beers. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you'll find a full breakfast buffet with made-to-order omelets and vegetarian selections.
Vail, Colorado: Mountain Playground in the Heart of the Rockies
Set amid towering pines and snowcapped peaks, Vail stands at the center of Colorado's mountain recreation scene. About 5 miles east of the hotel, White River National Forest is crisscrossed with trails and gorgeous vistas in the shadows of the Rockies. The 2.3-million-acre woodland encompasses an array of wildlife habitats and recreational ventures, allowing you to take in fresh mountain breezes while hiking, mountain biking, or playing freeze tag with boulders.
After a day of alpine adventures, visit the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum for a glimpse into the evolution of bib overalls. On Tuesdays, Vail Village historical walking tours branch out from the museum into the charming, European-style village.