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Visiting Vail During Its Festival Season

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© Getty Images PHOTO: Snow-covered Vail, Colorado. (photo via miralex/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

By Allison Ramirez, TravelPulse

The largest ski mountain in Colorado, Vail is a go-to for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling as well as summer activities like golfing and hiking.

What you may not know about this town, just two hours driving distance from Denver Airport, is that it also hosts a number of festivals throughout the year including the Vail Dance Festival, Bravo! Vail Music Festival and the Vail Craft Beer Classic.

I visited during the Vail Film Festival (VFF) and the Taste of Vail, a food and wine festival showcasing more than 30 of Vail’s chefs, restaurateurs, and winemakers from all over the country.

While I’m sure I would’ve enjoyed Taste of Vail (who doesn’t love superb food and wine on a mountaintop with fairytale views?), I devoted most of my time in Colorado to watching female-written, directed and produced films at Blue Starlite Cinema and Cinebistro at Solaris. I also visited local restaurants and enjoyed the luxe room and amazing bathtub at the Arabelle at Vail Square.

While staying at the Arabelle, you may notice GMC Yukon Denalis everywhere—and that’s no accident. GMC is the official automotive sponsor of Vail Resorts, a hotel group that aspires to have a “zero footprint” by 2030 and has three hotel properties on the ground in Vail (the Arabelle, the Lodge at Vail and the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort).

Thanks to this GMC partnership, guests have round the clock access to Yukon Denali courtesy shuttles, which will take you anywhere within Vail. This was especially nice during Vail’s lively festival season, because Colorado snowstorms, are more prevalent in spring than I had thought.

This April’s VFF was the 15th annual, but the second in a row to celebrate women in film.

The festival’s Executive Director, Sean Cross, said that although the VFF has always been a platform to promote unique voices and to foster up-and-coming filmmakers, he saw an immediate need to support female filmmakers—both in Hollywood and in the independent film world. He realized that the VFF could help share their unique perspectives and play a role in creating greater equality within the film industry.

There’s more to do at the Arabelle than just lounge around—although the rooms are pretty amazing with heated bathroom floors, full-sized lemongrass bath products and blackout curtains for sounder sleep.

Its restaurant, Tavern on the Square, has live music nightly (during peak season) and is a cozy, fun place for a full meal or a quick bite with a cocktail. The Tavern is open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily and offers dishes that use Colorado-sourced ingredients as well as vegan and gluten-free options and a kids’ menu.

Parallel to reception (and out the lobby’s double doors) is the entrance to RockResorts Spa at the Arabelle.

This 10,000 square foot spa boasts Rocky Mountain views and organic, eco-conscious products. The 50-minute AromaTouch massage combines essential oils and sweeping movements with a massage that quiets the mind and results in full-body relaxation.

I left the spa wishing I could return to Vail monthly just to indulge in the spa treatment.

If you’re looking for a lovely meal outside the Arabelle, Four Seasons and Hotel Talisa offer superb dining options and are just a five-minute drive away. Brunch at Flame (Four Seasons) is tranquil. If you’re looking for peace and quiet in the morning, this is your place. The menu includes freshly baked pastries, juices, healthy options, lots of eggs and all kinds of carbs, from belgian waffles to brioche french toast to buttermilk and gluten-free pancakes.

Dinner at Gessner (Hotel Talisa) allows you to indulge in authentic cuisine inspired by the Colorado Rockies and the European Alps. Gessner has an extensive wine list and your server will help pair your meal with vino. I enjoyed the seared rainbow trout and a buttery melt-in-your-mouth ravioli.

Both restaurants have floor-to-ceiling windows so you can experience the great outdoors, no matter the time of day, while staying dry inside.

Grab a beer and listen to live music at the Shakedown and the Red Lion, two local hotspots. Remember to drink a lot of water! At around 8,000 feet, it’s easy to get a little too tipsy a little too quick in Vail.

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