On Location: The Arrabelle at Vail Square

The Arrabelle At Vail Square

We all have an image of upscale European alpine villages from countless international spy movies and Vogue fashion shoots. There’s the little café with etched glass and women sipping alsace with perfect hair and puffy parkas. The men are capable sorts, usually lean and well traveled. Jetsetters, rich ski bums and other dubious types mill around low slung Citroëns with skis on the back, while the air feels charged with intrigue and adventure simmering under the laissez-faire insouciance.

Sorta like The Arrabelle at Vail Square.

“There’s no other place like this in North America that captures the iconic ambience of classic Old World European cities like Salzburg, Innsbruck and Prague,” says John Dawsey, area director of sales/marketing. “During the design phase, we really wanted to capture a feeling aligned with a cultured European central plaza, really a gathering place for friends and family, and groups for special events.”

Open just over a year, The Arrabelle consists of 86 suites overlooking the central square, or skating rink in winter, located at the gondola base of Vail Mountain. The charm is in the details, such as working wooden shutters, copper drainspouts, and subtle fairytale stenciling around the Bavarian Biedemeier-style architecture. The lobby’s windows are Czech, no less.

Off the lobby, the refined yet cozy Centre V brasserie is always buzzing with locals and tourists sipping hot chocolate and Grand Marnier. This is a classic French menu: steak au poivre/sauce diane all the way. Upstairs, we enjoyed a private surf ’n turf dinner around a big warm fire in the chalet-style Great Room, which opens onto an outdoor terrace. Seven meeting spaces total 6,700 sf.

We love the heated rooftop pool and hot tub during the day with the mercury around 40F, with all the steam and bubbles. Likewise, the gas fireplace glowing in the suite at night, when you open double French doors out to the big wooden balcony with views down the village streets. And kudos also to attentive private butlers who open champagne ensuite and fill the bath at pre-arranged times. You know, it could be considered an oversight to attend an incentive or meeting here without a love interest in tow. Everything is just too seductive. The 10,000-sf RockResort Spa ensures no down time for non-skiers and non-working spouse/partners.

Really the best part is Vail’s new Lionshead area anchored by The Arrabelle, with a bevy of 5-star hotels setting up shop. The upscale restaurants, little grocers, hi-tech ski shops and hi-end ski boutiques encircling the winding streets create a village atmosphere atypical for many North American ski resorts. This isn’t a party pad.

Two musts. Together, everyone hops in the gondola at sunset to the summit, to climb aboard a giant tank-like “snowcat” for the transfer to Game Creek Club, with views at 9,000 ft that will buckle knees. Do a buyout for 120 seated. Hire some violinists. Bring calla lilies. And order the forest mushroom bisque en croute followed by red wine braised black angus filet. With a red puligny montrachet. Right, we didn’t know pulignies came in red either. That’s why you visit a place like Game Creek.

Also book a snowshoe, biking or hiking excursion with Trailwise Guides, catered with grapefruit mimosas and barbecued crabcakes mid-mountain. The camaraderie owner Tanya Wiesen invokes among the group is real, and her guides work exceedingly well with each individual’s athleticism. And you’ll learn a lot about beavers. For catered “apres-snowshoe” events, rendezvous back at Arrabelle’s steamy rooftop pool.