Carnes: Vail’s centerpiece is a sore thumb |

Carnes: Vail’s centerpiece is a sore thumb

Richard CarnesVail, CO Colorado

From a strategic viewpoint, its on par with the Giuliani campaign: Sounded great up front, lots of potential, but in the end fell as short as a typical Bronco season.I want you all to know up front that this is nothing personal, nothing whatsoever against those involved, and I personally stand to neither gain or lose either way. But somebody has to say this. Someone simply must come out and call a spade a spade, and it might as well be me.Perception certainly shares the stage with my insight, and my observation admittedly might be skewed one direction or the other, but I dont think so.Over the last six weeks I have heard an over-abundance of similar observations, too many like-minded jibes, a cornucopia of comments, a plethora of prognostications.Therefore, Im just going come right out and say it. Remember, I am attempting to be diplomatic here, but in a euphemistic manner.Arrabelle is not what I expected.There, I feel better.No, wait, I cant sugarcoat this. Thats not being fair to Mr. & Mrs. Happy Valley.Arrabelle is about as aesthetically appropriate as a New York Giant banner in downtown Boston.Arrabelle at Vail Square the newest addition to hopefully boost Vail Resorts rollercoaster stock, the billion-dollar property enhancement that is supposed to set a new standard for luxury at alpine resorts has all the potential of making the Edwards Condominiums Project look attractive (think back to the proposed Miami-looking monstrosity last summer).VR promotes Arrabelle as reflecting the romantic heritage and ambiance of the European Alps, architecturally inspired by European cities such as Innsbruck, Prague and Salzburg.Well, at least you can actually ski in Innsbruck, but those others not so much. Notice also that they do not compare it to the French ski town of Chamonix. There is a reason for this. Two years ago this month I had the good fortune of being in Chamonix, and was pleasantly surprised to run into a former Vail Associates executive. We both were in awe of the surrounding peaks (you have to see em to believe em), but while surveying the town itself we verbally caught each other in mid-sentence. At the exact same moment we both concluded the only problem we could see was the concrete canyons everywhere, and we did so by simultaneously saying it looked too much like Lionshead.We shared a good laugh, and both agreed that a tear-down and re-build was the best approach to revitalizing our little Vail Village West back home.Unfortunately, it didnt work. I know this is like blaming the canvas for a bad painting, but Im reminded of the line in John Denvers classic, Rocky Mountain High.Why they try to tear the mountains down to bring in a couple more – more people, more scars upon the land Its the Colorado Rocky Mountain High They tore down what for decades had been negatively referred to as a Canyon of Condos and replaced them with even gaudier, yet more colorful, multiple canyons of condos.Sorry, but the place seems about as inviting as a prostate exam, making the ironic ode to Mr. Dusseldorf hard to miss.Yes, its cool to have a Burton store, a Patagonia, another Starbucks and an ice rink, however small. Yes, I have been friends for a long time with one of the restaurant owners, and sincerely, I hope they all succeed beyond their wildest projections.Im just saying that after a billion dollars and many years, the final result is aesthetically disappointing. Granted, its not completely finished yet, nor did anyone ever ask my opinion during the planning stages, nor did I ever attend a planning meeting to give my opinion, etc. But face it, I, along with most others in Happy Valley, didnt have a dog in that hunt. I just assumed that where theres a billion dollars being spent, and its all private money (no government), then chances are pretty good that we would be impressed by the results.But Im not, and apparently I am not alone.Even the photo on the official Arrabelle Web site is of fireworks exploding over Vail Village, not Lionshead. It brings to mind why we act so different if bumped accidentally by an ugly person as opposed to a beautiful one.We quickly ignore the less-pleasant looking of the two.NOTE: The preceding opinions belong to Richard and are not necessarily shared by this newspaper but for some reason he thinks they should be.Richard Carnes of Edwards writes a column for the Daily. He can be reached at

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