Sebastian in Vail looks to keep gold status with multi-million dollar renovation |

Sebastian in Vail looks to keep gold status with multi-million dollar renovation

Melanie Wong
The Sebastian hotel underwent a major renovation of its guest rooms this fall.
Special to the Weekly |

VAIL — When your luxury hotel is in a town largely made up of luxury hotels, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from the pack. Further, in the competitive world of hotels, if you want to stay on top, you have to keep improving.

The owners and managers at The Sebastian in Vail know this, and that’s why the boutique Vail Village hotel recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation of its guest rooms. Beginning in August, all the hotel’s nearly 100 rooms were gutted all the way down to stripped walls and concrete floors and recreated into what the hotel calls “mountain chic.”

That means lighter colors, modern furniture arranged more like a home interior and less like a hotel, and original artwork that echoes the artistic touches that characterize the hotel’s common areas. While the Sebastian rooms were only four years old, the classic mountain decor and feel of the rooms didn’t match the trendy, artistic look of the rest of the hotel.

Yes, the rooms were still functional, but the hotel thought it could improve, said general manager Robert Friedl.

“For us, the status quo doesn’t work all that long,” he said. “We’re always trying to improve, whether it’s the rooms or service. We’re very proud of what we have, but we realize we have to improve every day because that’s how we got the accolades we have.”

High expectations

The hotel opened in January 2011, and quickly earned a number of awards that included Conde Nast Traveler’s Top 100 Resort Spas and Travel + Leisure Best Top 100 hotel rankings. This year, the hotel fluctuated in the rankings, but did earn a spot on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List and the magazine’s title of No. 1 Best Hotel in the West.

The numbers might not mean much to some, but for discerning hotel clientele, they make a difference. Also, in the age of online rating sites such as Yelp and Trip Advisor, the buzz a hotel creates can be significant when it comes to customer satisfaction and booking numbers.

“Honestly, the expectations are high from the guests that come here,” said Friedl. “They read the reviews on Trip Advisor, and they know were not your typical mountain lodge. We’re very authentic. That’s from the physical aspect as well as with the service.”

Another new addition to the hotel is 16 new executive suites, which include a living room, two bathrooms and connected master bedroom. The rooms sleep four with a pullout sofa bed. Friedl said the rooms were created due to the high demand for suites. Previously, the hotel had a handful of suites and some stock from its residences.

“It’s been well received, and in fact is the category (of room) that’s in the highest demand,” he said.

Hotel trends

With crisp, but cozy interiors, a spa, a location on Meadow Drive, the chic Frost bar and a multitude of kids programs, it’s easy to see why The Sebastian draws everyone from couples to families.

Still, the hotel says it’s working hard to stay on top of hospitality trends that will continue to draw visitors. The Sebastian is known for being dotted with original art from famous Mexican artists that include muralist and sculptor Manuel Felguerez and surrealist painter and sculptor Leonora Carrington. Now, you’ll find their art not only in the lobbies, libraries and stairways, but also in the guest rooms themselves.

Following trends that will appeal to many millenials, the rooms feature luxury technology such as radio/clock/iPhone docks on every bedside and brand new flat screen TVs.

The needs of foodies are met with the in-hotel restaurant, Leonora, which serves Spanish tapas and mountain comfort foods. Under the auspices of new Chilean chef Rosa Provoste, the menu has gotten small tweaks and some family-friendly additions. Make sure to take advantage of the restaurant’s wine expertise and extensive collection.

“I like to say we have a Chilean touch on the restaurant,” said Friedl. “We want it to be very approachable. You can have burger and a beer, a flatbread pizza with the family or enjoy wine and tapas.”

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.

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