Visitor reviews for Vail Ski Resort
March 18, 2018
heavy winter from United States
One reviewer states the following: "Europe is sick on its day, but the powder is not as light as the Rockies, and is much more avalanche prone if you go off-piste." --- This is a disservice to the community here and gravely understates the risk to off-piste skiers in the Vail area. Colorado and it's continental snowpack is one of the most dangerous in the world for avalanche risk. The Alps are much safer, as the snowpack stabilizes much faster after storms versus the long-term and deep instabilities found in the USA's Central Rcckies. Do not take out-of-bounds or off-piste skiing lightly at Vail or anywhere else in Colorado. To suggest that somehow the snowpack in Vail is "safe" is akin to saying that a revolver with only one bullet in the six chamber gun is is "safe" when playing Russian Roulette. For those that would ski Vail's off-piste (outside the controlled ski area boundary), you will need a beacon, shovel, probe and the ability to use these tools. The best source of snowpack and avalanche information for backcountry and off-piste travellers in the Vail area and the rest of Colorado is the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Google it and check out the local and regional forecasts prior to leaving the resort boundaries.
Overall: 4.4. Based on 8 votes and 16 reviews. Vote
(1) At least one overnight stop, (2) requires a whole day, (3) requires more than half a day – you may have time for a few turns (4) arrive by lunchtime and ski all afternoon, (5) there is a main airport within an hour of Vail.
Public Transport: 4.2
(1) There are no buses or taxis to Vail, (3) there are slow or infrequent buses / trains available, (5) getting to the resort is easy with frequent bus / train connections.
(1) An ugly resort in a bland setting, (3) average mountain views and resort, (5) a spectacular setting and a beautiful / historic resort town.
(1) No places to stay in/near Vail, (3) a few places to stay in the resort, (5) a wide variety of accommodation suitable to suit all budgets.
Cheap Rooms: 3.2
(1) No budget accommodation available, (3) just one or two hostels so book ahead, (5) several cheap hostels and pensions available.
Luxury Hotels: 4.9
(1) No luxury accommodation available, (3) just one or two luxury hotels so book ahead, (5) several up-market hotels in Vail.
Ski in/Ski out: 4.4
(1) The ski area is located far from any accommodation, (3) a free ski bus takes you to the ski area in a short trip, (5) Ski-in ski-out accommodation is available.
(1) There are no child care facilities at Vail, (5) the resort has excellent child-care facilities including at least one reasonably priced creche.
(1) Occasionally gets enough snow for skiing, (2) is often closed due to a lack of snow, (3) occasionally suffers from a lack of snow, (4) rarely suffers from a lack of snow, (5) Vail is snowsure even in the poorest seasons.
(1) Vail relies entirely on natural snow, (3) there are just a few snow cannons, (5) there are snowmaking facilities on all pistes.
Snow Grooming: 4.7
(1) There are no snow groomers at Vail, (3) occasionally some pistes are left ungroomed and in a poor state, (5) all the runs at Vail are groomed daily.
(1) there is nowhere to ski when it is windy or visibility is bad and lifts often shut, (3) there are some trees for poor visibility but main lifts sometimes close, (5) Vail is mostly in forest where you can ski in flat-light and windy days, lifts rarely close.
Nearby options: 3.8
(1) If snow conditions are poor at Vail, it will be poor everywhere nearby, (3) there are good alternatives within an hours drive, (5) other locations on the same lift pass provide a rich variety of snowsure ski conditions.
Regional rating: 4.8
(1) Vail usually has poor snow conditions compared to other resorts in region, (3) has average conditions for the region, (5) usually has the best snow conditions in the region.
Lift Staff: 4.0
(1) The staff at Vail are rude or unhelpful, (5) lift staff at Vail are pleasant, cheerful and eager to help.
(1) the resort is always busy and there are usually long lift queues, (3) it is quiet apart from occasional weekends and school holidays, (5) it is uncrowded and lift queues are very rare.
Ski Schools: 4.8
(1) No ski schools available, (2) one or two ski schools but local language only, (3) a few ski schools but book early for multi-lingual instructors, (4) plenty of ski schools and multi-lingual instructors available, (5) excellent ski schools with friendly multi-lingual ski instructors.
Hire and Repairs: 5.0
(1) Nothing can be sourced, not even ski-wax or ptex. (3) there are some ski shops but rentals need to be booked in advance, (5) good quality ski equipment can be purchased or hired and overnight repairs are possible.
Variety of pistes: 4.8
(1) The ski runs are featureless and unvaried, (3) the ski runs are varied but not extensive enough for a week, (5) Vail has diverse and interesting pistes including forests and high alpine terrain.
(1) Beginners can only watch others ski and snowboard, (3) a few gentle slopes but beginners will get bored in less than a week, (3) Vast areas of gentle terrain.
(1) No intermediate terrain at Vail, (3) intermediate skiers will get bored after a few days, (5) vast areas of cruising runs.
(1) Nothing for advanced skiers and snowboarders, (3) enough steep terrain for a few days with some good offpiste, (5) Enough steep terrain and offpiste areas to entertain advanced skiers for at least a week.
Snow Park: 4.7
(1) Not even a kicker at Vail, (3) average sized park quite well looked after, (5) huge park area and expertly crafted pipes, jumps and boardercross trails.
(1) No off-piste worth mentioning, (2) off piste is out-of-bounds, (3) some varied offpiste that stays fresh for one or two days, (5) a vast array of off-piste routes that can stay untracked for several days.
(1) There is nowhere to go for cross-country skiing around Vail, (3) there are some cross country trails available, (5) the area features many spectacular and well maintained cross-country trails.
(1) No designated luge or toboggan runs, (3) there are toboggan runs that open quite often, (5) Vail has long and well maintained luge / toboggan facilities suitable for all ages.
Mountain Dining: 4.4
(1) Nowhere to buy food by the pistes, (3) some places to eat up on the mountain but they are often busy and expensive, (5) there is a variety of excellent mountain eateries right next to the slopes to suit all budgets.
(1) Bring your own food, there isn't even a shop. (5) A wide variety of places to eat and drink in the resort, from fast food to fancy restaurants.
(1) Nothing to do, not even a bar, (3) there are a few bars in the resort but nothing special, (5) clubs and bars stay open until very late and have a friendly atmosphere.
Other Sports: 5.0
(1) No sports facilities at all apart from ski lifts, (3) resort has just a small public swimming pool, (5) resort has all kinds of sports facilities, including a full-size swimming pool.
(1) Besides the snow and walking there is nothing to do here, (3) the non-skier will find things to do for few days but may become bored after a week, (5) the resort area is a fascinating place to visit, regardless of winter sports.
Winter Walks: 5.0
(1) Very limited walking and no snowshoe trails, (3) a couple of designated scenic walking/snowshoe trails, (5) extensive and diverse winter walking trails for all abilities.
Ski Pass Value: 3.2
(1) A 1 week ski pass is overpriced compared to the number of lifts available, (3) the ski pass is averagely priced and covers a reasonable number of lifts, (5) ski passes are excellent value for money and cover a lot of lifts spanning a big area.
Value (National): 3.6
(1) Overall, Vail is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country and not worth the money, (3) overall represents average value for money, (5) overall offers the best value resort in the country.
Value (Global): 3.6
(1) Overall, Vail is one of the most expensive ski resorts in the world, (3) overall it offers pretty average value for money compared to resorts from other countries, (5) internationally the resort offers excellent value for money.
November 21, 2015
Mitch from Eagle from United States
I'm a local that gets about 30 ski days per year. Vail is a huge mountain with a great variety of slopes. Every level of skier can find countless slopes to match their abilities. Just trying to hit every lift once in one day is a classic challenge (you need a good game plan and a little luck). With regard to the more difficult terrain: Vail has a huge volume of more difficult to locate tree skiing between and outside of the easy to find slopes. Find really steep stuff front side east of gondola One, trees near chair 10, trees west of chair 11, skier's right of chair 37, skier's left of chair 21 (Rasputin area), out of bounds skier's right of chair 39, out of bounds area called West Vail and out of bounds area called East Vail. Go equipped for the out of bounds, people die there every year. For those that say Vail is for green and blue skiers, they are only revealing their lack of knowledge. Great town, great food, damn good and reliable snow (Utah snow a bit lighter and there is more of it), and an incredible mountain. It does take awhile to find all the cool nooks and crannies.
February 26, 2013
SnowSki from New Zealand
Anyone who says this mountain does not have anything for experts just doesn't know the mountain. It is a large cascading mountain range, as apposed to one mountain, making it difficult for first timers, and even less imaginative 2nd or 3rd timers to find the best lines. But this means these lines can remain untracked most of the day on powder days, unlike what one of the other reviewers said you will not get "only one powder run." Yes, the very most obvious runs will get tracked first but being an immense ski field, if you know what you are doing, you can ski powder all day.
While it is true mountains such as Alta, Jackson Hole, and some European areas have more easily accessible steeps, Europe does not have the same snow quality, and the Utah fields do not have the same diversity and size. I actually found Jackson Hole to be more crowded and the powder there much more quickly tracked, we were forced to hike there with a few hours as just about every person who is there is looking for steep powder lines, and aggressively. At least 50% of Vail patrons are families, maybe more, making it very easy to slip off into the advanced areas and be amongst the powder with a very laxed vibe compared to "powder hound" resorts such as Jackson.
The only resort I have found that I believe is superior all round to Vail in Northern America is BC's Revelstoke, and I have had 'em all good from Canada right through the Cascades and the Rockies. Europe is sick on its day, but the powder is not as light as the Rockies, and is much more avalanche prone if you go off-piste.
October 24, 2012
heavy winter from United States
Vail wasn't built by Texans. Not the ski area or the village.
Vail is good for a lot of people. Try to avoid skiing there on weekends as it can get crowded, especially on a powder day. Nearby Beaver Creek provides a nice alternative for destination guests on Saturdays and Sundays. True experts won't be happy in Vail, but family groups with diverse ages and abilities, and those who like to cruise will.
If you are an expert and find yourself there with a family or larger group, there's decent backcountry skiing adjacent to the resort, including the euro-style Minturn Mile off the west side of the mountain down to the town of Minturn and cold beers at The Saloon (check the local bus schedule for a ride back to town or have someone pick you up).
And if you're a true hardcore, day tours into the committed, steep and rowdy Gore Range across from the mountain await. Avalanche gear, technical route finding ability and solid partners are essential in this regard. There's good access, including parking, from several hiking trailheads in the East Vail part of town.
On a final note, I'm glad a reviewer from Italy liked Vail, but the interconnected ski areas in Europe (St. Anton, AT; St. Moritz, CH and Alagna, IT actually offer a lot more terrain than Vail, with much more variety including easier access to off-piste expert skiing than Vail. Vail is great, but Europe is better.
[note from editor: names of other reviewers are not included in submissions]
March 17, 2012
Sandy from United Kingdom
Vail is an excellent resort for beginners, intermediates and families. There is nothing particularly steep here and all double diamonds consist of large mogul fields with little variation. The rumour is to find a local to explore the good stuff but you miss the difficult terrain that's easy to access in European and other American resorts. Families and groups dominate the terrain parks looking for a cheap thrill, showing no to little etiquette that is required and powder days last for a few hours so be up early in the morning for your first (and probably only) fresh track. The snow is incredibly light and dry but think I'd choose BC or Utah. Disneyland Vail is open for business.
May 28, 2011
Jamie Jones from United States
If you're from the East coast and have that particular image in your minds eye of an intermediate Disneyland type Western theme driven vacation, then Vail is the place for you. It is large, it was built by Texans for Texans, and as we know they love their stuff huge. You'll appreciate the McSkiing, and the imitation Bavarian village that was so carefully thought out by a Texass architec whom saw a picture of a Bavarian village in a travel magazine in the late 60's. You'll revel at the freeway that so ubiquitously dominates the bottom of the Vail valley with its roaring modern day traffic that never lets you forget there are 6.5 billion people on this planet scurring to make a living. And of course you'll learn a new language, that being the invasion language of Spanglish. Hope you have a good vacation in Flail, I mean Vail.
March 31, 2011
laura palmucci from Italy
I have just come back from a Spring break with two of my kids (one in college in New York city) and we really loved it.
Vail is absolutely unbelievable. There is no other place I have visited in the Alps which can come close to it. In 5 days it is impossible to try all the runs, even if skiing all day. Only some of the runs are groomed, unlike most places in Europe, which makes lot of fun on bumps and fresh snow and less crazy people skiing too fast for their abilities. Some runs are really challenging and amusing, like The Glades in Blue Sky Basin or Steep and Deep and Lover's Leap: great with fresh powder snow! We even tried some extreme terrain; the only slope we didn't dare take was Prima cornice, a double diamond which looked really tough (and with a memorial gravestone at the beginning....).
The organization is flawless and everybody is kind and friendly. Indeed a place to go back to.
The price of the skipass is very high; if one decided to stay one week or more it would be convenient to buy a season pass which on the contrary is much cheaper than in Italy. Also renting skis and boots is not expensive at all and they give you first quality equipment.
November 11, 2010
RB from United States
Vail has unparalleled terrain. The front side is bigger by half than most Western destination resorts, but the back bowls and Blue Sky Basin really set Vail apart. Vail gets a lot of skiers, but the mountain is so huge that they disperse pretty well. On-mountain restaurants are attractive and well situated.
The town, although often criticised for being purpose built and unauthentic, is functional and easy to get around. Restaurant choices are diverse, particularly if you have a car and can venture away from town.
The snow is OK, but not outstanding. Central Colorado simply doesn't get as much snow as areas further north and west like Snowbird, Jackson Hole, and Big Sky.
The one drawback to Vail is the expense - particularly for lodging.
November 06, 2008
Ruth from United Kingdom
I am heading back to Vail for the 3rd time in as many years for an early season week - It is a fantastic place with virtually empty slopes in early Dec!
July 02, 2006
Stephen from South Africa
Having lived in Vail for three years I can honestly say that it is indeed the most versatile ski resort known to man. No matter what ability you are, there is something for everyone. For those of you with the more adventurous side, Vail has sick backcountry. A mandatory cliff jump is what it takes to get you into some of the best lines of Mushroom bowl (don't forget your gear as you might just have to use it - I did a couple of times). Some might say that there are limited expert+ runs. I say this is not true as only the locals know where the GOOD stashes are. Meet a local and get the best of what Vail has to offer.
The ever growing town of Vail is of Bavarian style. Good food is found everywhere but sometimes with a nice little price attached to it. The night life is second to none stretching from Lionshead all the way through town to Vail Village. Good times are had by all and a free intown bus service makes sure you get home safely after a rough night out until about 2am.
Vail rocks, and as everyone has mentioned already, it is undoubtedly the biggest resort around.