We’re just back from Vail where we stayed at the Sonnenalp Resort, a Bavarian-style chalet that brings a warm Alpine vibe to Colorado.
We stayed in a “Blue Spruce Suite” (No. 443), with a gas-log fireplace and balcony with a view of Vail Village. All of the resort’s rooms have a view of either Gore Creek or of town.
The top suite in the resort is the Castle Peak Suite (No. 526), a two-bedroom, 1,550-square-foot space with a large living and dining area, walk-in closets, step-out balcony and a wet bar. For large families or groups, either the two-bedroom Vail Mountain Suites, which can accommodate four people, or the Mill Creek Suites, which can accommodate three people, are the best bets. The hotel also has connecting rooms for families in Nos. 212, 213, 310, 311, 338 and 339.
Once settled into our room, our first order of business was to check out the Sonnenalp Spa’s new HydraFacial treatment. This hydradermabrasion procedure mixes cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and pores. Before the treatment we took a peek inside the fitness center, which offers a wide array of exercise classes, as well as the wet lounges and the indoor and outdoor tranquility pool. We ended up at the “relaxation cave” where we enjoyed a magazine in front of a roaring fire. There’s an oxygen bar for those feeling the altitude, and those 12 and up can get massages and facials with parental consent. Definitely recommend the 50-minute signature massage—it’s the spa’s most popular treatment, but be sure to book at least a week in advance (two weeks in high season, just to be on the safe side). Advisors can book at [email protected] or 970-479-5404, or for special requests reach out to Spa Director John Breslin ([email protected]).
All pampered at the spa, we got the chance to take a cooking class with Executive Chef Steve Topple, where we learned to filet a Colorado sea bass, pan-sear it and finish it off by baking it in a crab crust. Topple also took us to the resort’s three onsite gardens, which grow fresh herbs and vegetables for the resort’s five restaurants, where he picked some fresh chives for our dish. Topple can arrange cooking demonstrations for VIP guests, and for small groups he can even run Iron Chef-style cooking competitions where teams compete to create dishes themed around a secret ingredient.
Topple is known for his seafood dishes, and through a partnership with the Seattle Fish Company the Sonnenalp has a 24-hour net-to-table arrangement to deliver fresh seafood, especially at Ludwig’s, the resort’s seafood restaurant. While dining at Ludwig’s, we fell in love with the Stuberl room—it’s made from wood brought over from the original Sonnenalp in Bavaria, and it’s filled with handcrafted Alpine touches. Contact Event Sales Manager Sarah Brent ([email protected]; 970-479-5420), and be sure to allow a two- to three-day lead time for reservations in the summer and a one- to two-month lead time in the winter.
Even though it wasn’t ski season, we still got a chance to check out the resort’s premier après offering at the Swiss Chalet, which has great fondues (we had the goat cheese—delicious!) and the Raclette Matterhorn, a table-side grill-your-own meal with Swiss Raclette cheese, beef tenderloin, bacon, chipolata sausages, smoked Polish sausages and summer vegetables. Note: This is a big hit with the kids. The Swiss Chalet also has an extensive wine and spirits list for that perfect après-ski drink. For something lighter, the King’s Club offers tapas and cocktails, and it has live music in the evenings. The Bully Ranch, where we finished up the evening, is known for its hamburgers, and its bar scene is the best place to share a drink with locals—we loved the Bully’s signature mudslides.
|Castle Peak Suite is the resort’s top suite.|
For breakfast we suggest Ludwig’s, a glass terrace with a retractable glass ceiling. Tip: We were told it can be booked for weddings. For wedding parties the Sonnenalp can arrange lodging, rehearsal dinners, wedding brunches, ceremonies and receptions. The resort is directly across the street from the Vail Interfaith Chapel, and it offers in-house catering as well as relationships with local vendors to help the couple plan their special day. The bride and groom even receive a complimentary night’s stay as the resort’s wedding gift.
Dress in the resort’s restaurants and public areas is “mountain casual,” although for dinner at Ludwig’s men may wish to wear a coat and slacks and women may wish to wear an evening gown.
Since the Sonnenalp is right in the heart of Vail Village, we had ample opportunity to walk to the galleries, luxe apparel boutiques and ski shops within five minutes of the resort. For chic clothes, visit Luca Bruno at 40 East Meadow Drive, Vail, CO 81657 (970-476-1667). For fine mountain jewelry, try The Golden Bear at 183 Gore Creek Drive, Ste 3A, Vail, CO 81657 (970-476-4082).
Further down the road, we hear that golfers can hone their technique with private and group instruction from PGA professionals at the Sonnenalp Golf Course. This 7,100-yard championship links style course, 13 miles west of Vail Village, has been named in Golf Digest’s “Top 100 Resort Courses.” Book in advance through the pro shop or, for groups of 12 or more, contact Director of Sales and Marketing Patricia McNamara ([email protected]; 970-479-5434). After a day on the course, patrons can relax at Balata, the course’s restaurant that offers pub and dining room fare.
Who to Know
McNamara is best for general questions. Head Concierge Victor Rossi ([email protected]; 970-479-5429) can book customized VIP experiences for guests, including guided hikes and biking in the summer as well as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and on-mountain lunches in the winter. Hotel staff can also accommodate special arrangements for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and meetings—the staff has even hosted rain forest, underwater and outer space-themed meetings and events.
Owners Johannes and Rosana Faessler ([email protected]; 970-476-5656) are on-site most days and can speak with agents. Hotel Manager Stefan Schmid ([email protected]; 970-479-5468) is also on-site daily.
Guests can fly in to Denver International Airport, approximately two hours away from the resort, or Eagle County Regional Airport, which is 30 minutes away. EGE also has the Vail Valley Jet Center where guests can land private planes and helicopters.