Vail’s Alpenrose brings gondolas to the street |

Vail’s Alpenrose brings gondolas to the street

Katie Coakley
EAT Magazine
The interiors of the Alpenrose gondolas are cozy and comfortable.
Joshua Thoma/Special to the Daily
Alpenrose Gondolas 100 East Meadow Drive #25 Vail, CO 970-476-8899
  • Price $59 for a two-course menu
  • Ambiance: Cozy redesigned gondola car
  • Signature dish
  • Raclette/fondue dinner

The world was changed in many ways by the pandemic, but one thing that’s more positive than negative is the creation of unique, outdoor dining opportunities. From globes to literal glass houses, restaurants got creative with ways to increase seating while retaining the spirit and ambiance of the original restaurant. At Alpenrose, the answer was gondola cabins.

Alyssa Thoma, who operates Alpenrose, credits her father with the idea.

“We thought, nobody wants to sit outside — but apparently everybody wants to sit outside; even in the biggest snowfall, many guests sat outside on the porch,” Thoma said. “Having this in mind, we decided to bring over gondola (cabins). My dad went to Italy, got the gondolas, brought them to Austria where we did the interior finish, then we brought them to Germany to do the exterior finish. Then, we flew them over to the U.S. and they found their way to the back patio.”

What started with three gondola cabins have now grown to five. Capable of seating up to four adults comfortably, each cabin is outfitted with cozy furs, a small heater, adjustable lighting and Bluetooth speakers so guests can set their mood. Festively decorated with garland, most of the cabins have a blue scheme. However, the one cabin that’s done up in gold has become a particular favorite: Guests ask for it specifically.

“We have a lot of dates… and last year we had an engagement (in the gondola cabin) so that was really cute,” Thoma said. “It’s a unique setting and I think it’s very, very sweet.”

Support Local Journalism

In the Alpenrose gondolas, cozy in for a multi-course meal.
Joshua Thoma/Special to the Daily

Whether blue or gold, the main attraction is the two-course prix fixe menu. Start with the baked pretzel to share — and perhaps add in an extra salad course — before moving on to raclette (scrumptious grilled cheese that can be eaten with bread) and the main course. Though the space is small, the dinner is interactive, utilizing a raclette grill and fondue combo. This clever device allows you to grill or fondue your beef, chicken, brats, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini and more to your preference.

Alpenrose is known for its desserts so make sure you leave some room for Black Forest gateaux or apfelstrudel. If the weather outside is frightful, cozy up in the gondola cabins at Alpenrose and you can watch the world go by, snug and satisfied in your own little cocoon of alpine ambiance.

Support Local Journalism