On June 26th last year, Julie and I were in Washington DC for a friend’s Birthday and coincidentally, the historic day when SCOTUS ruled that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. We were already married in Illinois in 2014, but it was amazing to celebrate that marriage was finally for all.
Ask most married couples and they’ll agree matrimony is the best thing in the world. Because beyond combining closets and checkbooks, you gain a partner for life—and you also combine hobbies.
As far as hobbies go, my commitment to skiing is almost as equal as my commitment to Julie.
Thankfully, Julie also spent some formative years skiing, but after enduring seven knee surgeries and a 15-year hiatus from the sport, by the time she partnered up with me, she was more into apres ski and outfits than actual skiing.
I tell everyone that skiing with Julie is like skiing with a sweet seven-year old. My strategy to make sure she likes skiing is to buy her a cute coat, stay at a fancy ski in/ski out hotel, and stop for hot cocoa (or wine) often.
Before Julie, I would stay with friends and do Vail like a local. But marrying Julie was the best thing to happen to me, especially now that she’s given me a reason to upgrade my travel expectations at least once a season.
Admittedly I haven’t done a full assessment of the nicey nice hotels in Vail, but The Arrabelle located at the base of the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead, is fancier than any fancy pants I own. Valet parking, full concierge, in-room snacks and complimentary tours are all included in your room rate. Top that off with the best location in Vail and an amazing spa that’s perfect for some off-mountain spoiling, and you won’t want to stay anywhere else.
Game Creek Club:
There are a few remote, snowcat-only-access restaurants in the Vail Valley and Game Creek is one of the best. Featuring a new chef this season and a few prix fixe menus that range from $85 to $150 per person (before drinks), Game Creek is perfect for a special occasion— or a Tuesday night if you are ballers staying at The Arrabelle like us:) The décor is a bit dated and ski-lodge-like, but once you get past the bad carpet, you won’t be disappointed. Keep in mind, you want to get on the the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead 30 minutes before your dinner reservation and then board a snowcat, so don’t wear dumb mountain footwear or forget to leave time for the commute.
Expert Tip: Make reservations at 5:30 to catch a great view of sunset as well as a special prix fixe dinner that is $20 cheaper before 6pm.
One of the longest-standing restaurants in Lionshead is the simple, yet classy seafood-focused restaurant, Montauk. With a fresh fish offering that changes daily, you can choose between one of six ways to prepare your fish. “Seared Rare” is great for Ahi Tuna and many of the white fish options are great as part of the “BBQ Udon Noodles” or “Simply Grilled” preparation. Make sure not to miss the oysters for an appetizer or the diverse wine list.
Campo de Fiori:
One of my go-to spots in Vail Village is the authentic Italian restaurant, Campo de Fiori. There’s something about skiing all day that always makes pasta and red wine a good idea, but plan ahead as this place books up early. I’d suggest booking on OpenTable at least a month ahead or sweet talking your concierge to see what they can do.
Located on the mountain at Mid-Vail is a little known stop for lunch that just may change your life called The Tenth, named after The Tenth Mountain Division infantry. As you enter, turn right into the coat/boot area where you can take off your ski boots and put on complimentary slippers as well as leave your helmets/packs/coats. Make reservations well in advance for the dining room, or just ski in and opt for a table in the bar, which also offers full table service, charging stations, and a menu that is well above the buffalo chili you’ll find everywhere else.
ORD to EGE Direct:
I’ve mentioned this before, but both American and United offer direct flights into Eagle Vail airport usually as a reward ticket for 37,500 miles roundtrip or around $600. The extra dollars you might spend are worth it, because you skip the two-to-three-hour drive from Denver, the airport is blissfully small, and you can take the CME over renting a car.