Game Creek Chalet Retreat on Vail Mountain
February 22, 2014
To drop into the powder-laced glade alongside Game Creek's Ouzo slope is to float atop piles of heaven's fallen crystals — bundles of frozen angels not so easily quantifiable.
These flakes are a few (or quite a few), of my favorite things. Not just the snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes, but the abundance of them found amidst this seemingly secret stash.
Perfection, however, is to know that at the end of this slope are a few more of my favorite things: terrycloth slippers and an oversized robe; hot tub time surrounded by mountains and their alpine glow.
Apres ski at the Game Creek Chalet is far from slinging shot-skis and is much closer to home, with the warmth of a fire in company with wine, cheese and charcuterie.
It was more than three decades after Vail opened when Pete Siebert, one of the ski area's founders, envisioned bringing more European hospitality to the mountain, and in 1996 the Game Creek Chalet was built. The alpine cabin sits on the side of Game Creek Bowl at 10,300 feet, nestled in the trees and overlooking scape of snowcapped peaks and sun-drenched sky.
"The Chalet is ideal for anybody who is looking to get all this scenery and to be further away from town," said Logan Johnson, concierge for the Chalet. "It's where people can actually feel like they are in the mountains the whole time they are in Vail."
Although the Chalet stands next to Game Creek's well-known on-mountain dining establishment, staying in to eat is what can truly create a cozy home away from home. A private chef is available for those looking to keep their dining experience effortless and refined.
"The sky is the limit when it comes to the menu," Johnson said. "The chef allows you to really get a customized experience."
On this mid-February evening, chef Tyler Doyle prepares five courses as the afternoon hours fall into a vibrant sunset and quiet twilight, while we sink into the plush throw pillows and acoustic melodies in the Chalet's high-beamed sitting room.
King-sized beds are calling, but hors' d'oeuvres of braised short ribs and polenta, chorizo stuffed dates with prosciutto, fennel goat cheese tartlets and lobster guacamole tacos seem to speak a little louder than even the most tantalizing feather-down duvet.
"Cooking up here really gives me time to go over the top on everything," Doyle said amidst simultaneous course preparations of a winter salad, Ahi sashimi appetizer, crab-crusted Dover Sole and fillet of beef with truffle mashed potatoes.
The pastry course finale offers its proper sweet ending as a chocolate hazelnut tartufi, served with toasted meringue and caramelized bananas. Sugar plums danced in my head well before it hits the pillow, but everything melts into the sweetly serene as our night comes to a close.
Although daylight usually awakens dreams, like silver white winters that melt into spring — I find myself still streaming through heightened senses in the morning as I wake beneath plush covers, immediately beckoned by thoughts of first tracks just steps away from this break in my slumber.
Upstairs from the bedrooms, light streams into the kitchen, illuminating a plate of fresh fruit, croissants and coffee cake, all accompanied by the sounds and smell of fresh coffee brewing — a welcomed preparation for the pre-ski dip in the steaming balcony tub.
For just a moment when I step on the deck, there's fresh snow between my bare toes. Yes, these are a few of my favorite things.