Our tour with Destination Hotels & Resorts Mountain Collection began at the Vail Cascade, located in Cascade Village overlooking the pristine Gore Creek in Vail, Colorado. The hotel offers 292 guest rooms and 80 condominiums, with ski-in/ski-out access and an onsite chairlift to the slopes. Located within the resort, the Aria Athletic Club & Spa provides a relaxing retreat after a day exploring the mountains. Signature treatments such as the high altitude massage are designed to help the body adjust to the higher elevation, and the spa’s steam room, whirlpool hot tub and roaring open fireplace are great for unwinding.
“As the largest and most comprehensive conference resort in Vail, the Vail Cascade offers a unique environment for meetings,” says John O’Donovan, director of sales for the Vail Cascade. “Our flexible indoor and outdoor space coupled with the spa, fitness center and our Rocky Mountain outdoor playground provide a unique setting to help achieve successful outcomes.”
The hotel’s award-winning Atwater on Gore Creek restaurant offers innovative Colorado cuisine and an eclectic list of craft beers. Our group enjoyed a five course food and beer pairing experience which combined delicacies such as pumpkin tortellini, roasted cauliflower, walnuts and sherry cream alongside locally brewed Dry Dock Apricot Ale. Craft beers are big in Colorado, and executive chef Chris Bates has mastered the art of finding the perfect beer to compliment the bold artisanal flavors of his menu.
After getting kitted out at Charter Sports located within the resort, it was out to Lionshead for our first day on the slopes. Rising up over the mountainside in a state-of-the-art, WiFi equipped, heated gondola, we caught our first full view of the Rocky Mountain landscape in all its panoramic glory. The crisp air, dazzling sunlight reflecting off rolling plains of snow, towering peaks and undisturbed blankets of freshly fallen powder make for an impressive backdrop. The stunning landscape afforded many enthusiastic photo opportunities for our group before anyone even strapped on a pair of skis.
“With years of experience in producing meaningful connections and personalized service, the Vail Cascade has a solid reputation in the meetings industry and has earned the loyalty of many organizations and companies. Combining our Rocky Mountain setting with Four Diamond amenities, destination management services and multimedia support, the team has mastered the art and science of providing unmatched Vail experiences.”
Winter sports amateurs, such as myself, could choose from beginners’ skiing or snowboarding lessons, while the more experienced among our group were encouraged to join an organized ski tour or explore on their own, depending on their ability. For apres-ski, we retreated to The 10th Restaurant located in Mid-Vail. Truffle fries served with mussels in a saffron sofrito broth with house-made chorizo warmed us all up, and a selection of shared plates from the lunch menu left us feeling fortified for further mountain adventure.
A leisurely stroll through Vail Village let us soak up the ambience of this pretty ski town, built in the 1960s after the opening of the ski resort, its quaint pedestrianized streets and European architectural flourishes suggesting something of the Swiss Alps.
The next stop on our tour was the Landmark, a collection of condominiums that can be rented with as many as four bedrooms and which include fully equipped kitchens, living and dining areas, gas fireplaces and private balconies. The complex itself features an outdoor heated pool, three outdoor hot tubs, a fire pit and BBQ grill.
In the evening, a tour of the premises concluded with an opportunity to sample 10th Mountain Whiskey, crafted from locally sourced ingredients at a distillery in Vail, and named after the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, who trained for alpine combat in the region during the 1940s before being deployed in WW2. Vail itself was founded by 10th Mountain veterans who pioneered the ski industry in Colorado after returning from the war, and the distillery is co-owned by the grandson of a medic who fought in the Division.
Following this drinks reception, we transferred to Manor Vail Lodge for dinner at the Lord Gore restaurant—serving Colorado favorites such as buffalo, quail and salmon—and a tour of the property. Accommodations include a range of studios, 1-3 bedroom suites, penthouses and guest rooms. The venue has recently completed a five-year, multi-million dollar renovation aimed at upgrading its mountain meeting experience. A $750,000 upgrade to its 6,635 sf conference center adds a mountain-inspired color palette as well as a state-of-the-art audio, video and lighting system that can be controlled by a wall-mounted touchscreen.
Vail Cascade’s conference center features 45,000 sf of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting space, accommodating groups of up to 500 capacity. The venue has two ballrooms offering 5,940 sf and 3,310 sf floorspace respectively, and a total of 19 meeting rooms.