Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Charu Suri5
My First Impressions of Vail, Colorado: An Alpine Floral Explosion
I felt as though I needed a Swiss stamp in my passport. Summer in Vail meant flowers blooming and spilling with colorful force from their box windows and painted carts. Runners in shorts and tees whizzed by, and bicyclists sped past unhurried tourists taking in everything.
Vail in the summer reminded me of my visit to Geneva and Mount Arosa — the only two places I remember from my visit to Switzerland when I was only nine years old. I could see the the mountains covered in Aspen trees, Birch and Pine; I loved walking through the main street in Vail Village with its charming cobblestone streets and breathing — almost gulping — the fresh air. This was such a far cry from New York City, it was like comparing apples to hedgehogs.
One of the first aspects I noticed about the town is how friendly the people were. I feel as though the general "I have no time for you" syndrome becomes much less when you move away from the metropolis (New York in particular), but there are few places where people have taken genuine delight in talking to you. And then there are the pets. Almost every other person I saw owned a dog, and a Golden Retriever at that. Vail has several pet stores, grooming salons and hotels that pamper the four-legged guest. The only other place I've been to that is as pet friendly is Carmel, California.
The first aspect of the Village I loved was the floral explosion. Strong, vivid colors. These are pots of blooms Renoir would have loved. A photographer can perch his tripod anywhere and be at home. A naturalist could study every tree in Vail Village and still not exhaust the possibilities.
Yoga is a popular sport here, and often in the summertime, there is free community yoga. There is likely no better location to unwind, to let your tension and cares go to the cliched and proverbial wind. Vail may consistently be ranked as one of the country's best ski resorts, but summer time, as Gershwin put it, "is when the livin' is easy."
You'll be taken with the blooms at the get go. This is no "paint by number" town. From scarlet to purple, colors are everywhere, and it's up to you to find out how to savor them. It's easy to be overwhelmed by the sensory spectacle of Vail, so pace yourself. The pictures above are from the entrance to the Sonnenalp Resort, and it's easy to get caught up in the details of the place.
My Junior Suite at Sonnenalp Resort in Vail: warm colors, a cozy fireplace and a distinctly chalet-style feel. As a vegetarian, I'm always wary when there are antlers in the room but was informed that the animal "died of natural causes." The hotel has "breakfast included" plans, so be sure to inquire. I loved the meticulous turndown service and freshly-baked cookies and bottle of fresh spring water that was brought in each evening.
A room with a view (the Swiss-style hotel rooms outside my balcony). The idyllic setting, European-style look and feel, and impeccable service are some of the factors that may have influenced Travel + Leisure Magazine to give the hotel the "World's Best" Award in 2010.
Vail has several cobblestone streets that give the town a distinct European flair. It's both a walking town and a biking town (you'll basically trip over mountain bike rental stores). Tourists and residents can find so much to take in: the flowers, scenery, colors, pets, stores and shops are all eye candy. The Village was hugely popularized by President Gerald Ford whose family vacationed here from the 1970's.
Naturalists will love Vail: from the flowers to sprawling pines to the unmistakeable aspen trees, every nook and cranny is covered with flora and greenery. The residents obviously take great pride in their gardens.