Vail is one of the larger ski resorts in North America, running all the way along a major freeway in Denver. The resort has one of the largest skiable areas in the US with slopes ideally suited to intermediate skiers or better. The slopes consist of 3 areas: the Front Side, Blue Sky Basin which features amazing, ungroomed, wooded slopes and the Back Bowls which, unusually for American resorts, are almost totally treeless.
A Vail lift pass gives you access to slopes in the surrounding resorts including Beaver Creek around 10 miles away and Breckenridge and Keystone which are just a short drive over the Vail Pass. Vail Village has a distinctly European feel to it with a number of influences evident including numerous chalets and bierkellers. Over recent years the resort has gone through a lot of redevelopment and now has a stylish and modern boutique feel.
Vail Village is really part of a multi-centre resort that includes the other places included with your ski pass. There are numerous chalets to choose from in and around the centre of Vail and these not only provide the best access to amenities, bars and restaurants but to the lifts as well. Look for accommodation near the Vista Bahn fast chairlift or in the Lionshead area, close to the gondola and the up and coming Vail Square. There is also a free bus service around the resort as well as to other places nearby so you can easily explore the entire area.
Vail has a brilliant natural snow record, averaging 348 inches per year, but also has extensive snowmaking capabilities that are only usually needed in the early parts of ski season. During the season, the Front Side closes earlier than both the Blue Sky Basin and Back Bowls and both provide very different skiing experiences. The Blue Sky Basin is north facing, wooded and holds its snow well, but sometimes when the weather is unseasonably warm, the snow on the Back Bowls can deteriorate and cause occasional closures.
Vail is renowned for the quality of tuition available and the Vail-Beaver Creek ski school is known as one of the best places you can begin to learn. Classes are never in groups larger than four people and if desired can be taken on the mountain from the start. Vail also has a reputation for pioneering new learning techniques so is a great place to start from scratch.