North America's Premier International Resort Community

Winter Season Preview

  • 22 November 2016

Welcoming the Winter Season

SkiersOpening Day - Worth the Wait

It’s here! The new ski and snowboard season officially gets underway this Friday on Vail Mountain. The morning will include a limited supply of complimentary hot cocoa, breakfast burritos, giveaways and prizes for those who come out to celebrate. The season includes the return of Vail’s favorite happenings, including Snow Daze, Skadi Vail, Holidaze, CarniVail, Burton US Open Championships, Pink Vail and Spring Back to Vail. For opening day activities, lift status, upcoming events and all the festivities, visit,

Ski the World with One Epic Pass

In celebration of the snow, Epic Pass sales have been extended! Be sure you’re ready to hit the slopes by securing your Epic Pass for the season. Enjoy unlimited, unrestricted access to 12 U.S. resorts, including Vail and other iconic resorts like Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Park City and more. In addition, Epic Pass holders get unlimited access to Australia’s largest ski resort, Perisher, for the 2017 season. The Epic Pass is currently on sale for $849 for adults and $439 for kids 12 and under. The final chance to buy Passes is Sunday, Dec. 4. Visit for details.

What’s New on the Mountain

The Vail Mountain experience has changed drastically in the last decade, and the wave of investments continues with the replacement of Sun Up Lift (#17) with a four-passenger, high-speed lift to debut this winter as chair #9. The ninth new chairlift upgrade in the last 10 years, Sun Up Express (#9) will increase capacity by 65 percent, disperse skiers and snowboarders into the legendary Back Bowls faster, and reduce the average ride time from 8.2 minutes to 3.9 minutes, meaning more time exploring the mountain and less time riding a lift. New this year, the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster will be operating at Adventure Ridge this winter. The Forest Flyer™ winds its way 3,400 feet down the mountain, following the natural contours of the landscape through the forest, allowing guests on individual carts to control their own speed.

What’s New in Town

Vail’s lodging, retail and restaurant scene this winter will be elevated by new properties and refreshing facelifts. These include The Lion, with its mix of new residential units and street level retail space, a rebranding and overhaul of the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa, plus introduction of the newly remodeled DoubleTree by Hilton in West Vail which replaces the Holiday Inn. The Pendulum restaurant will fill the former Ore House space on Bridge Street across from Pepi's Bar which has been expanded, while Expert Burger opens in Lionshead. At the top of Bridge Street is the new Almresi restaurant plus the debut and expansion of additional retail businesses, including Christy Sports which will fill the former Sports Authority space in West Vail near the remodeled McDonald’s, Cripple Creek Backcountry in Lionshead and more.

VVMCVail Valley Medical Center Expansion

Vail Valley Medical Center continues to make progress on its Master Facility Plan. The first phase of construction began in August 2015, and already, the hospital has opened a newly renovated Intensive Care Unit and remodeled space for Howard Head Sports Medicine. The ICU includes five new, private patient rooms and a centralized nurse station. Howard Head patients are enjoying a new reception area and additional therapy space, including private treatment areas. Construction on the Howard Head clinic will continue through spring 2017 and will include additional therapy space and staff work areas. The west wing entrance is scheduled to open for access in mid-December. Once completed, it will become the main entry to the hospital until the east wing is complete in 2020. The west wing will feature a new lobby for orthopaedic and sports medicine patients, a new space for The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute, five new rooms in the Patient Care Unit, 10 new pre-operation rooms and eight PACU rooms with supporting nurse stations and facilities. In addition, the hospital will build a dedicated operating room waiting area and consulting room, a new BioMotion lab and regenerative medicine research lab and a new state-of-the-art Sterile Processing Department. Once the west wing is complete, construction of the east wing of the hospital will begin in earnest and will include a new Emergency Department, relocated helipad on the medical center campus, a new main entrance to the hospital from South Frontage Road and additional parking. For more information about these plans, visit and join the hospital’s Master Facility Plan mailing list by emailing

Get Your Free or Discounted  Perks from the Town

If you own property in Vail, you’re eligible to participate in numerous services offered by the town. The most popular benefit is a 50 percent discount on the cost of parking compared to the drive-up rate. Simply bring your property ownership verification to the parking sales office in the Municipal Building and obtain a value card for discount parking all season long. In addition to discounts and occasional rebates, a variety of free services are available. These include wildfire assessments; weed management assistance; mulch, tree and reusable bag giveaways; curbside pick up of Christmas trees and cinder pick up; plus chipping services and an abundance of programs and materials offered by the Vail Public Library. Additionally, discounted rates are available for property owners and residents within the Vail Recreation District, including Nordic, golf and tennis passes, as well as discounted rates for adult leagues, youth camps and many other programs and activities. Visit for information. Property owners are encouraged to contact the town for more information about these services and to inquire about any municipal regulations that might apply. The most frequent question from residential property owners is about short-term rentals.  Click here for details.

Vail I-70 Underpass: No Winter Travel Impacts

The North and South Frontage Roads have returned to their two-way alignment and the West Vail Green transit service has since resumed coinciding with completion of phase 2 of the Vail I-70 Underpass project. The area beneath the underpass will remain closed to vehicles and pedestrians throughout the winter and ongoing construction will be minimal with no travel impacts. The project will be completed at the end of November 2017.

Re-register or Subscribe to EC Alert

To continue receiving emergency alerts from Eagle County, recipients will need to re-register
at as a result of a service change to the system. The sign-up process is the same for new subscribers in which recipients will be asked to select from a menu of location-based notifications; pick areas of interest such as traffic and weather; and choose delivery options including email, text or phone. Subscriptions can be changed at any time.

EGE Winter Air Service

Access to Vail this winter just got easier with two new non-stop routes to Eagle County Regional Airport. With the addition of Phoenix and Washington Dulles, EGE now provides non-stop service to 12 markets across North America with convenient connections from over 250 cities world-wide. Service from Phoenix begins Dec. 15 and continues with a flexing schedule from twice weekly to daily through April 2. The Washington Dulles non-stops will operate every Saturday from Dec. 24 through April 1. Eagle County Regional Airport is serviced by Air Canada, American, Delta and United with non-stop winter service from Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York/Kennedy, Phoenix, Toronto and Washington Dulles. Summer non-stop markets include Dallas/Ft. Worth, Denver and Houston on American and United Airlines.

New Event Venue Debuts at Vail Golf & Nordic Clubhouse

The Gore Range Room, one of the most anticipated community amenities as part of the newly constructed Vail Golf & Nordic Clubhouse, is now available to be booked for events and other functions. The opening of the facility completes the trio of recreation, economic and tourism-driven projects approved by voters in 2011. In addition to world class facilities for golf and Nordic services, the community’s newest event venue includes functions for up to 160 guests with gorgeous views of the Gore Range. This community space is available in 4 to 8 hour blocks with pricing ranging from $1,000 to $3,500 depending on non-peak vs. peak, as well as weekday vs. weekend.

Voters Give Thumbs Up to Support Public Schools

A pair of ballot questions forwarded by the Eagle County School District won approval during local elections on Nov. 8. This included a mill levy override that will provide $8 million annually to support operations directly related to student learning and a $144 million bond issue that will provide significant upgrades to district facilities, including a much needed renovation for Red Sandstone Elementary School. Other regional tax questions were turned down by voters, including a countywide 0.3 percent sales tax increase that would have been used to support housing initiatives. For additional election results, visit

Town Council: Full Throttle on Housing

An unprecedented effort to facilitate housing opportunities for full-time residents of Vail is taking shape. Identified as a critical priority by the Town Council and the community, the effort is being addressed on several fronts. In West Vail, the new Chamonix Neighborhood could break ground on town-owned land this spring, providing 32 deed restricted homes for eligible home buyers who will be selected in a lottery process. The new homes could be completed as soon as November of 2017. Also taking place is a first-of-its kind program to purchase deed restrictions on existing free market homes to help facilitate affordability and availability for local home-buyers and retain availability into the future. The program will be guided by the Vail Local Housing Authority with a goal to obtain 1,000 deed restrictions in 10 years. The first purchase is expected soon. Also taking place is an evaluation of up to 9 adjacent parcels owned by the U.S. Forest Service for potential acquisition by the town for future housing or land-banking sites. It is most likely these parcels will be included in discussions that will occur during an update to the town’s Comprehensive Open Lands Plan, set for early next year. In addition, construction of phase 2 seasonal housing at Buzzard Park on the north side of I-70 across from the golf course is being evaluated for feasibility as well as partnership possibilities with regional partners. Further, the town is seeking to recruit a new professional to lead the community’s housing efforts as well as fill a housing coordinator position to administer the day to day operations of the town’s housing programs.

AspensGiving the Spruce and Fir Trees a Break this Holiday Season

When the town-strung holiday lights make their traditional debut in the roundabouts this week, you’ll notice something different right away. Instead of glowing spruce and fir tree branches, it will be the trunks of surrounding aspen trees that will serve as the foundation for the colorful palette.  Rick Gregory, the town’s heavy equipment operator who coordinates the holiday decorating, says the change this season will give the evergreens a much needed break. The town’s practice of meticulously wrapping each tree to create a spectacular visual effect requires a lighting schedule that incorporates giving all of the affected trees a respite for renewed growth and regeneration. In all, about 80 aspen trees will be lit in the Town Center roundabouts this season, which is significantly more than in the past.  These will be decorated with white, red, orange, blue, green and pink LED lights creating a rainbow effect, while lighting for the West Vail roundabout is being retained from last season as part of a two-year rotation. In Vail Village, “Jerry’s Tree,” the spruce used for the annual tree-lighting ceremony on Dec. 18 and named for President Gerald Ford, whose presence during the holidays was legendary, will be decorated with the traditional multi-colored display, as will the Sunbird Plaza tree in Lionshead. Elsewhere, a mix of pine, aspen and crabapple trees have been strategically identified for decorating as part of the town’s annual light display, a favorite tradition for locals and guests alike.

SliferVail Mountain Ski Run Named After Rod Slifer

Recognizing his commitment to the community for more than 50 years, Vail Mountain has renamed a trail in Rod Slifer’s honor. Expresso, a blue run, has been renamed Slifer Express in honor of Slifer. The run is located on the front side of Vail Mountain and can be accessed from the Mountaintop Express Lift (#4). Slifer’s introduction to Vail Mountain came after being hired by then, Vail Associates, in the spring of 1962. Slifer served as the assistant ski school director during his first winter in Vail. He went on to work in real estate, initially for Vail Associates and eventually starting his own firm, Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate. In addition, Slifer has served as Vail’s mayor six times spanning numerous decades.

Nominations Accepted for Vail Trailblazer Award

Nominations for the 2017 Vail Trailblazer Award are being accepted by the Vail Town Clerk’s Office through Dec. 15. The award was created to coincide with the town’s 50th birthday celebration and will be presented annually by the Vail Town Council to recognize an individual, couple or team that exemplifies the spirit and fortitude in making Vail a great community through one or more actions that make a lasting impact. Nomination forms are available online at The first recipient of the award was presented earlier this year to Dr. Thomas Steinberg for his many years of service to the community as the town’s first full-time physician as well as a long-time town council member, among other endeavors.

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