Five ways to explore Vail’s new hotels |

Five ways to explore Vail’s new hotels

Sarah Mausolf
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS FireSide Hot Chocolate DT 12-23-10

VAIL, Colorado – There is a special kind of commitment phobia that flares up when one goes to pick a hotel or make restaurant reservations. If you suffer from this ailment, you might find it’s acting up more than usual this year. On top of the usual bevy of apres-ski choices in Vail, visitors will find four new hotels this year, including the highly visible Solaris, the Four Seasons, The Ritz-Carlton Residences and the boutique hotel The Sebastian. Most of those hotels have myriad offerings for the public, from an upscale movie theater to a restaurant featuring a wine “silo.”

How do you choose just one? Luckily, you really don’t have to. You can hop from hotel lobby to mountain steak house … all without committing to a hotel, and by that, I mean checking in.

Movies, glammed up (Solaris)

CineBistro in the Solaris serves cocktails and whole meals with the movie. Over the holidays, the theater is showing the sci-fi flick “Tron: Legacy” in 3D, the comedy “Little Fockers” and the Reese Witherspoon rom com “How Do You Know.” Make sure to buy tickets in advance, as the theater is selling out quickly over the holidays, general manager David Kempner said. You can pick your seat on Tickets are $10 for children and $16.50 for adults. Add an extra $3 for 3D. The theater is family-friendly during the day but caters exclusively to the 21-and-older crowd after 8 p.m. Kempner suggests showing up a half-hour before the movie starts so servers can take your food order.

Towering wine list

(The Sebastian)

When you step into Block 16, your eye instantly lands on the “wine silo” in the center of the room. This circular, glass case will hold as many as 1,000 bottles of vino and serves as the centerpiece of the Napa-inspired restaurant inside The Sebastian, manager Gary Obligacion said. The eatery’s signature wine? The Block 16, a cabernet sauvignon from Page Winery in Napa Valley ($72 per bottle). The cuisine from executive chef Sergio Howland, formerly executive chef at Esperanza in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, takes cues from wine country, as well. For instance, the eatery serves a pepper-crusted tuna with grilled pineapple and a zinfandel sangria reduction ($28). From the dessert menu, look for “The 8150 Fixx,” a mountain-inspired treat consisting of a brownie topped with hazelnut sugar (to resemble snow) with vanilla mousse “chutes” and orange blossom ice cream.

The restaurant opens to the public today. For reservations, call 970-477-8050.

Have your steak, and eat it, too (Four Seasons)

Describing the “Grilled for Two” steaks at Flame, the new eatery in The Four Seasons Resort Vail, executive chef Jason Harrison jokes “It’s as big as your head.” In all seriousness, the portions are huge: You can choose from a 28-ounce porterhouse or a 30-ounce ribeye ($70). Chefs char the meat on an 1,800-degree broiler and then present it to you at your table.

“Roasting it on the broiler makes it nice and juicy inside with a light crust on the outside,” Harrison said.

Finally, chefs bring the enormous steaks back to the kitchen, slice them and plate them with the side dishes (potato confit and chili spiced broccolini for the porterhouse, twice baked potatoes and jumbo asparagus for the ribeye). It’s exactly the kind of showmanship one might expect from Harrison, the former head chef at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Flame is open for dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. For reservations, call 970-477-8650.

Hot, gluttonous chocolate (Four Seasons)

There are many ways to warm up at the Fireside Lounge in the Four Seasons. Cozy up to the gas fireplace. Order sushi from the apres ski menu between 3 and 7 p.m.

Perhaps the most decadent way to defrost at the lounge, though, is to order the “Haut Chocolate.” It arrives on a silver tray. Servers pour the cocoa from a French hot chocolate pot into an oversized mug, top it with a chocolate lattice and serve it with chocolate shavings and whipped cream on the side. The cocoa costs $16 for one person or $28 for two people. The lounge is open from about 11:30 a.m. to midnight.

Library luxury (The Sebastian)

You feel an instant desire to reach for your spectacles, or in my case, to own spectacles, when you wander into this arty library in the lobby of The Sebastian. Antique books line the shelves while large, muted abstracts by Mexican painter Manuel Felguerez accent the walls. You can flex your brain at the checkers tables or simply relax with one of the specialty cocktails from Frost, the nearby bar. The Fusion-tini combines vodka with a splash of ice wine and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds ($12). The “Mexican Coffee,” spikes Vail Mountain roaster’s java with Starbucks coffee liqueur and Don Julio Blanco Tequila ($14). If you notice a Mexican theme running through the hotel, that’s no coincidence: owner Alejandro Marti is an artist from Mexico. You can leaf through a book of his artwork in the library.

Staff Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

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