Four Seasons Vail – Very good, but not slopeside

Overview:  A solid option for skiing at one of America’s top ski venues
Strengths: Service, rooms, F&B, generous with upgrades
Drawbacks: The property is not slopeside, and even their slopeside ski lounge isn’t slopeside
Notable: My room was generously upgraded – but perhaps the upgrade was too much of an upgrade?

Background and Overview

Business meetings in Denver brought several of my partners and me out to Colorado earlier this year.  Since we are all avid skiers, we decided to add time for a boondoggle important meetings in Vail beforehand.  (We got a lot accomplished and it is good to get business partners together in a non-business setting a few times a year.  We even got a trade done from the Gondola!)

All of my prior visits to Vail were hosted by other companies, and coincidentally, they all held their events at the solidly mediocre Vail Cascade.  This time, I wanted to stay in Vail Village and figured the Four Seasons would be the best way to start.  We booked our stay via a Four Seasons Preferred Partner agent.

Overall, I’d rate our stay as “very good.”  The service was very much what you would expect from a Four Seasons, the rooms were in excellent condition and the F&B was above average.  If the property were truly slopeside, it would warrant an “excellent” rating.  Regrettably, the property does require a bit of a journey from the lobby to the lifts (via shuttle, then on foot) to the point of being just short of an inconvenience.

Arrival

We arrived in a rental car and were warmly greeted by a number valets and doormen.  They quickly took all of our baggage and gear, looked after the car and escorted us to reception.

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Four Seasons Vail Reception Area
Four Seasons Vail Reception Area

We arrived before noon, and our rooms were not ready.  After completing the check-in formalities, the desk clerk suggested we could use the spa facilities to gear up for skiing and showed us the way to the spa and helped with our equipment bags.

After changing, the spa staff told us to leave our bags with them, and they’d coordinate delivery to of our bags directly our rooms.  (Indeed, when we arrived in our rooms, the bags were all waiting for us.)  This level of service – so simple on the surface (spa clerk calls a bellman to get our bags, bellman coordinates with front desk when rooms are assigned) – flummoxes so many hotels.  Service delivery at this level is what I expect from a luxury hotel.  This property delivered this very high level of service consistently.

Skiing

While normally we would begin a report with the room, because you’d principally come here for skiing (at least in the winter), let’s cover skiing first.

Because the hotel is not slopeside, they have a two-stage ski concierge service.  They take all of your measurements at the main hotel, then you can either walk (10-15 minutes) or take a shuttle van (then walk perhaps four minutes) over to their base lounge, which unto itself is a short walk to the lifts.

When we arrived at the base lounge, our rental skis were waiting for us.  I brought my own boots, but the measurements taken at the main hotel were translated perfectly.  Their equipment was very good for rentals.

We were told by the ski concierge at the main hotel that the base lounge could sell us lift tickets.   At the base lounge, however, they told us that wasn’t the case, and we’d need to walk over to a separate ticket office to buy tickets.  It was perhaps a 100 yard walk from the FS base lodge to the ticket office.

Thankfully, we got to the ticket office when there was a lull, and we had only a short wait.  By the time we left, the lines grew to probably a fifteen minute wait.

It would have been ideal if the hotel could have handled the lift tickets for us, too.

Wow.  I usually don’t get upset about prices, but the lift tickets at Vail were off the charts.  A two day adult walk-up was about $300!  A full day private lesson (which I didn’t sign up for) was $995!  I rarely say this, but I remember when lift tickets hit $20 a day (back east)…and thinking these prices were crazy.

The skiing at Vail was incredible – modestly better than Ski Windham back east! 😉  We skied Sunday and Monday of a non-holiday weekend, so the slopes were relatively empty.  We spent a fair bit of time on the Back Bowls and over on Blue Sky Basin.  Blue Sky Basin is one of my favorite ski spots in the world.

After skiing, the we walked back down to the base lounge, where they held our skis, boots and other larger items overnight.  We walked a few minutes over to the shuttle stop, and then rode back to the hotel.

The Rooms

When we arrived back at the front desk on our first evening, they had the keys to our rooms ready.  Each of us was generously upgraded from entry-level rooms to either one-bedroom suites, or in my case, a mountain-view three-bedroom residence!

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There was a lobby area in the Residences section.  It was not staffed during my visit.

Four Seasons Vail Residences - Lobby
Four Seasons Vail Residences – Lobby

The lifts to the Residences were on the far side of the hotel and the agent checking me in escorted me to them.  When they aren’t immediately in sight of the front desk, I appreciate being escorted to the lifts.

At over 2,500 square feet, the room I was upgraded to was the largest hotel room I’d ever been assigned.  Considering this was peak season at the property, this was a very generous upgrade from a lead-in room.  If anything, for single occupancy, it might have been too much of an upgrade?  For a family traveling together, these accommodations would be ideal.  Frankly, my business colleagues and I could have all simply stayed in the room and had more than sufficient personal privacy.

Within a few minutes of arrival, a bellman knocked at the door with my bags.

Entry to the room brought you to a wide foyer.  A utility room, with washer and dryer, was off to one side.

FS Vail 3 Bedroom Residence Foyer
FS Vail 3 Bedroom Residence Foyer
View upon entry!
View upon entry!

Walking further, a well-appointed kitchen was to the right.

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Beyond the kitchen was a large living room and a dining room.  The living room had a gas fireplace.

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The quality of the furnishings was very high and the room was in very good condition.  The room offered views of the mountain.

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Each of the bedrooms had a private bathroom.

Master Bedroom:

Master Bedroom
FS Vail – Master Bedroom

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A welcome touch!
A welcome touch!

Bedroom #2:

FS Vail - Bedroom #2
FS Vail – Bedroom #2

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Bedroom #3:

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FS Vail – Bedroom #3

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Food and Beverage

We had drinks each night in the lobby bar and lounge.  The service was highly polished and quite attentive.  (Far better than the Park Hyatt Aviara!)  The food was quite good and we enjoyed a variety of beers on offer.

FS Vail - Lobby Bar and Lounge
FS Vail – Lobby Bar and Lounge

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We went off-property for dinner each evening.  None of the meals was remarkable, but all fine.

Breakfast was included as part of our FSPP bookings.  One morning, I had breakfast delivered while I tended to some calls from the office.  My breakfast was delivered in less than 30 minutes and was of very good quality.

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The other morning, I visited the main restaurant and had the buffet.  While outside of Asia, hotel buffets seem to be limited as to their quality (perhaps except the Four Seasons Hualalai/Kona), the buffet offering here was about as good as one could hope for in North America.  Service in the restaurant was reasonably attentive.

Spa

On short notice, I was able to book an apres-ski massage.  The spa facilities were very nice and the massage was solid.  The masseuse was from Cape Town and she enjoyed hearing that I was just there for New Years.

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FS Vail - Spa Sitting Area
FS Vail – Spa Sitting Area
FS Vail - Spa
FS Vail – Spa

There is an outdoor heated pool – but we did not make it out there this time.

Near the Spa there is a Kids’ Activity Room.  Frankly, some of the things looked enjoyable for adults, too!

FS Vail - Activity Room
FS Vail – Activity Room

Departure

Checking out from the hotel was seamless.  We didn’t need a late check out, so we didn’t have to fuss over that with the hotel.  The bills were all accurate and the FSPP credits were applied properly.  I really appreciate not having to ask for the booking package to actually be applied!

* * * * *

While I wish this property were truly slope-side (instead of slope-shuttle-side), there isn’t much else you could flag as a drawback of the property.  Every aspect of our stay was handled exceptionally well – what you’d expect from a Four Seasons property.

We are debating the venue for next year’s boondoggle important internal meetings – it is hard to top Blue Sky Basin – or this property!!

Details
Four Seasons Vail
One Vail Road, Vail, CO 81657
+1 970 477 8600
@FSVail
http://www.fourseasons.com/vail/

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