The Arrabelle at Vail Square celebrates 10th anniversary on Friday, Dec. 29 |

The Arrabelle at Vail Square celebrates 10th anniversary on Friday, Dec. 29

Kids and adults enjoy free s'mores over an open fire in the Arrabelle on Thursday, Dec. 28, in Lionshead in Vail. The Arrabelle is celebrating its 10th anniversary with s'mores and more on Friday, Dec. 29, in Lionshead.
Chris Dillmann | |

Time to celebrate

A public celebration of the Arrabelle at Vail Square’s 10th anniversary will be held starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 29, at the Vail Square ice rink.

The public celebration will include an ice-skating show, live music and an ice-carving exhibition.

A celebration dinner inside the hotel will take place after the outdoor event. Tickets to the dinner, prepared by Arrabelle Executive Chef Paul Wade, are $150 per person. The dinner, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., includes Russian caviar, a shellfish bar, beef Wellington and French pastries.

For dinner ticket information, go to

For more information about the Arrabelle, visit

VAIL — Rob LeVine remembers well what Lionshead Village looked like before the Arrabelle at Vail Square opened in late 2007. He also remembers hearing the complaints.

LeVine, who was the general manager of the Antlers at Vail at the time, heard those complaints from a handful of condo owners at the Antlers who groused about the new building’s size or how it was out of character for the rest of Lionshead.

LeVine would always answer with the same seven words: “Did you see what was there before?”

The Arrabelle held its grand opening on Dec. 29, 2007, after two years of construction. The Vail Resorts-developed structure added hotel rooms and condos, restaurants and retail shops to the site of the old gondola building, a structure that started showing its age not long after it was built in the 1970s.

All of Lionshead by then had started to look dated, thanks largely to the area’s mostly concrete-and-straight-lines architecture.

The Arrabelle showed what was possible, and much of the rest of the Lionshead area quickly followed suit in renovating and redeveloping.

Town of Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther also remembers the old Lionshead, with planter boxes made from railroad ties and crumbling concrete staircases.

Sparking a trend

Ruther in the late 1990s helped develop a master plan for Lionshead to renew the look of the area. That planning also prompted the town to create an urban renewal district for the Lionshead area. That district allowed a kind of tax break for the properties that rebuilt or renovated.

The Antlers was first in the renovation parade. But, Ruther said, a turning point came when Vail Resorts brought town officials plans for the Arrabelle.

“Next thing you know, all of Lionshead was in some kind of redevelopment,” Ruther said. “People saw Vail Resorts making a sizable reinvestment in the base area. I think people thought, ‘If Vail Resorts could do it …’”

Ruther added that more than just the look of Lionshead has changed over the past decade. Vail Resorts had to rebuild the skier bridge over Gore Creek in order to bring equipment and material to the construction site. The project also added hotel rooms where none had been before.

And, since the project began when the local real estate market was roaring, more than 500 people lined up, deposit checks in hand, to buy one of the 65 condos at the Arrabelle.

A decade on, LeVine, who retired last year, called the Arrabelle a rousing success.

“Nobody’s perfect, but if it’s not a home run, it’s a solid triple,” he said.

Vail Resorts has been pleased with the project, too.

“The Arrabelle kick-started the revitalization of Lionshead Village and, in conjunction with other businesses, has made it a signature portal to the mountain,” Vail Mountain Chief Operating Officer Doug Lovell said in a statement. “The Arrabelle was the catalyst for many significant development projects throughout Vail, bringing the iconic resort to a new level and setting a new standard in the industry. The property itself has undergone several notable upgrades during the last decade in order to continue to provide the highest quality of experience for our guests.”

It’s still big

At the Swedish Clog Cabin, co-owner Chris Manning said the Arrabelle and the resulting other redevelopment has brought “some great people and great businesses to town.” Like other longtime residents and business people, Manning was quick to add that the Arrabelle is “much better than what was there before.”

Still, even a decade on, one of Manning’s first comments was about the sheer size of the structure.

Packy Walker has done business in Lionshead almost since the village was built. Walker said the Arrabelle “cleaned things up considerably, which had to be done.”

But, he added, the size of the structure doesn’t really work well for special events in the area.

Walker said some day, the Lift House condos, where he was general manager for many years, will do a complete rebuild. That site, and the adjacent building, take up a space bigger than the two acres occupied by the Arrabelle.

“There’s an awful lot more to redevelop,” Walker said. “But who knows when that will happen?”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, and @scottnmiller.

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