Lionshead’s Arrabelle opens with style
VAIL – The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a massive complex seated at the heart of Lionshead Village, opened with great fanfare Saturday night.The $250 million project boasts 36 luxury hotel rooms and 50 condominiums right next to the Eagle Bahn gondola. Stores including Patagonia, Burton, Quiksilver, three restaurants and ski services surround Vail Square, an outdoor plaza with an ice rink and fire pit.Most of the retail stores opened before Christmas, and most of the hotel rooms and condos are completed. The spa and the rest of the accommodations will be finished by February or March.”We really feel that this is a great step toward taking number one in excellence status,” Vail Resorts CEO Rob Katz said. “The goal is to really affect the guest experience as far as the level of service people will get and the store options that will be offered.”Vail Mayor Pro Tem Andy Daly said the project heralds “the transformation of Lionshead” and was the result of much collaboration between Vail Resorts and the town of Vail.”This is a real threshold evening,” Daly said Saturday night. “Some of us have been looking forward to this for years and years.”Crowds of visitors, Vail town council members, Vail Resort executives, valley locals and Arrabelle condo owners all crowded into the complex’s Vail Square on Saturday to celebrate the opening with an ice-skating performance, ice-sculpting show and fireworks display.”It’s fabulous, it really is,” Rod Slifer said of the complex. “This will change the face of Vail, not only Lionshead.”
The Arrabelle will mean more business for neighboring stores, too. “It’s going to bring huge draws to Lionshead in general, with the new restaurants and new stores,” said Jay Lucas, owner of Ski Base in Lionshead.”This can do nothing but help (business),” said Craig Arford, owner of Ski Tech Vail.The pristine Arrabelle is a far cry from the old gondola building that used to inhabit the space, he said.Albert Milsden, a visitor from Chicago, said he is impressed with the design and look of the complex. He remembers when it was nothing more than Vail Resorts offices and an old bar.”This provides a welcome addition to improving the architecture of Lionshead,” Milsden said.The cranes and construction crews working at the site for almost two years has hurt summer business, so the opening is a welcome relief, some neighboring store owners said.”It’s been a long and sometimes frustrating haul,” said Lucas, remembering two summers ago when wrecking balls were literally swinging over his shop. “But now we’ll all reap the benefits. Now business is better than it’s ever been.”But that does not mean construction is finished for Lionshead.Work continues on 71 condos for Vail Resorts’ Ritz-Carlton Residences, next to the Vail Marriott. It is expected to finish in the winter of 2009-10.
The Arrabelle project hit a bump in the road in November when there was talk of delaying its opening day. Vail Resorts still had not built the 120 beds of worker housing it had promised, but a deal with the town of Vail allowed the project to go forward as long as Vail Resorts put up a $17.3 million letter of credit.Under the deal, Vail Resorts has a timeline to build the employee housing and would have to start the housing project by May 1, 2009. If Vail Resorts fails to meet the requirements, the town could cash the $17.3 million letter of credit.But despite the obstacles, Katz called the Arrabelle a “successful project.””This has been a long time in the making. Now that it’s happened, there’s some relief and some pride,” he said.==========What you’ll see at ArrabelleThe rooms: 36 hotel rooms, 50 condos with European-inspired design, all in proximity to the gondola and the RockResorts Spa.The stores: Patagonia, Quiksilver, Burton and Vail Sports.The restaurants: The Center V, Vail Chophouse, Blue Moose Pizza, Rimini chocolatier, Haagen-Dazs and Starbucks.What else: Ice skating in the building’s square in the winter and outdoor movies in the summer========Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or email@example.com.