The exclusive, world-class ski resort of Vail is one of the very best in the USA. It's also the nation's largest and, as a result, this Rocky Mountain destination can offer a superb holiday for couples, friends and families alike. The key to Vail's popularity is, of course, the wonderful skiing and snowboarding on offer. The wide range of pistes means there is a good choice of terrain for all abilities - particularly those at an intermediate and advanced level. The seven magnificent bowls atop Vail Mountain offer beautiful powder for the advanced and wonderful areas for those less experienced. For the intrepid skier you will be interested to find that Vail is also just a short drive from the Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge resorts - affording even more choice. Ski and snowboard tuition is superb for all ages in Vail. Families will particularly love the friendly après ski and excellent tuition and childcare.
An excellent beginner area is located at the top of Vail Mountain at Eagle's Nest. Even absolute beginners will be able to enjoy the beautiful views as they find their feet. The nursery slopes and main lifts can become rather crowded. However, as beginners gain more confidence they will be able to find green pistes to enjoy all across Vail Mountain, from Golden Peak to Lionshead, affording a chance to avoid the crowds. The beautifully groomed, gentle pistes are excellent for learning to snowboard, too, whilst skiers and snowboarders will be very impressed with the Vail-Beaver Creek School.
The front face of Vail Mountain has a huge choice of intermediate terrain to enjoy. The plentiful cruising above Lionshead, in Game Creek Bowl and along Avanti, are peaceful and well groomed. When visibility is good, Vail Mountain's back bowls have some well-groomed blue pistes with beautiful views. More confident intermediates will love skiing and snowboarding on the challenging runs of Blue Sky Basin.
There are few resorts in the world with so many advanced level pistes to choose from. On fresh powder days the back bowls of Vail Mountain offer some thrilling tree skiing and awe inspiring cliff-drops. The adventure runs of Blue Sky Basin are a must, as is the mogul skiing of the double-black diamond runs on the steep front face. Freestyle snowboarders and skiers will love the Golden Peak Super-pipe and terrain-park.
Childcare and tuition facilities are extremely comprehensive in Vail. Supervised play and non-skiing programmes are available for children from 2 months to 6 years old. Open from 8am until 4pm, the Small World Play School offers free pagers to parents. The Night Owl programme provides a supervised dinner and activities for children aged 7 and upwards, allowing parents the chance to enjoy an evening alone as well as a day on the slopes.
With over half of the skiing in Vail above 3000 metres, you will be enjoying stunning vistas across much of the terrain. With so much of the skiing at genuinely high altitudes you may need to be prepared for a day or so of acclimatisation and some breathless moments on the slopes. Thankfully, Vail's excellent lift network makes getting around this huge mountain quite easy. Little hiking should be required.
Every aspect of après ski in Vail is held in high regard. As the lifts begin to close in the late afternoon, people begin to fill the verandas of bars such as The Red Lion to watch the remaining skiers and snowboarders make their final runs down Vail Mountain. Dining out here is both excellent and popular so you may need to book reservations. The choice of cuisine in Vail is tough to match, with Chinese, Mexican and Californian food just a sample of what's on offer. Seafood is also of a high standard here - ask your concierge or Vail locals for the most up-to-date recommendations. Après ski is lively until late and events like the Budweiser Street Beat showcase musicians playing live, outdoor concerts for free. Bars such as 8150, Club Chelsea and Samana offer music and dancing into the night.
193 km (approximately 2 hours 30 minutes transfer). British Airways flies direct to Denver from London Heathrow.