In the Rocky Mountains, about two hours west of Denver, trails wind beneath a canopy of aspens and ponderosa pines, leading to the doorstep of Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. Echoes of 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 a big draw at this recently renovated lodge, which was recognized in 2011 as one of Travel + Leisure's top 500 hotels in the world. In the winter, you can go skiing, sledding, or tubing downhill or navigate nearby cross-country skiing trails on relatively level ground. Afterward you can warm up at the resort's Aria Spa & Club, 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 alongside 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 snowmobiling trails and sledding areas set 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, snowshoeing, 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.