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If what you want above all else is white-glove service, five-course lunches and 300-threadcount sheets, you might go elsewhere. But if skiing tops your list because, well, it is a ski vacation, then Vail’s your huckleberry. (Though it dishes out service and luxury aplenty.) When readers gush about “the bowls, oh my, the bowls,” they’re talking about areas like Sun Up’s Over Yonder and Siberia’s Bolshoi Ballroom—loosely spaced, powder-choked spruce fields that meander along the bowls’ rims before diving down playful double fall lines. When you hear folks rave about Blue Sky Basin, it’s long sweeping blues like In the Wuides and Grand Review they love. Should someone complain that “the front side gets crowded,” you’ll know they unwisely entered the Mid Vail vortex between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., a rookie mistake, instead of exploring the whoopde- doos on Hairbag Alley, the steep bumps on Kangaroo Cornice or the glades in Cheetah Gully. If by “lacks character” one reader means that Vail is missing the rusty, crusty layer some resorts spin as charm, he has a point: Vail’s villages don’t show their age, thanks to constant nips and tucks and a few recent face-lifts. The mountain, of course, is perfect—and enormous—just the way it is. —Deborah Williams

What’s New » In addition to Bistro 14 at Eagle’s Nest, a new sit-down restaurant called The 10th opens this season in Mid Vail. But remember to go before 11 or after 12:30. Or make a reservation.

Après Spot » Frost, at the newly renovated Sebastian, serves an antioxidant martini. Order it.

Top Event » The Teva Mountain Winter Games are set for Feb. 9 to 12, 2012.

2015 Top Ski Towns: Vail, Colorado

There may not be another community in the mountains that so deftly does the destination jujitsu of combining the thrill of outdoor athletics with the buzz of a booming urban environment.
(Photo: Jeff Cricco)

Pete Seibert, a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division, needed $1 million or so in 1961 to build his life’s vision of the ultimate ski resort. He put together a package for investors: $10,000 got you shares in the unbuilt resort and four lifetime season passes for the family.

How to Ski Vail’s Sun Down Bowl

Take a few spins in one of Vail’s most intimidating Back Bowls.

Terrain » Don’t expect any groomed terrain; Sun Down Bowl is an advanced skier’s stomping ground. While most of the bowl is wide open, the west side serves up fun trees and cliff drops. There are also some gullies separating trails. Warning: They look far shallower than they actually are, so be careful trying to cross them. You might end up bib-deep in powder.

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