By Elizabeth Borsting
BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!
If you’ve always dreamt of a European honeymoon, but don’t have the time or money to get there why not say “I do” to a Rocky Mountain escape? After the veil has been lifted and you’ve made it official, head to Vail, Colorado, for your first escape as Mr. and Mrs.
Reminiscent of the Alpine villages of Switzerland, Austria and Germany, Vail is brimming with gabled architecture, hearty fare and a rugged terrain. The village is a labyrinth of meandering walkways, A-framed chalets, cobbled footpaths, and a heady dose of bistros and wine bars.
Honeymooners will love the plush indoor activities: nice resorts and couples’ massages. But you have to come up for air sooner or later, and that’s when you can ski, snowboard or take a sleigh ride. There’s also time for star gazing—as in celebrity sightings—where Hollywood heavyweights, like Cameron Diaz and Goldie Hawn, as well as politicos from both sides of the aisle (Al Gore and Dan Quayle are both regular visitors) are often spotted on the slopes.
But, even if you’re not a skier or snowboarder and don’t know Katy Perry from Matthew Perry, there are still plenty of reasons to put Vail at the top of your honeymoon hotlist. Why spend hours en route to Europe when you can experience an über honeymoon stateside?
WHERE TO STAY:
If Hansel and Gretel were living large, we’d expect to find them holed up at the luxe Sonnenalp staying warm by the fireplace instead of an oven. And, by all accounts, the mostly all-suite Sonnenalp (112 luxury suites and 15 hotel rooms) has all the trappings of a happily-ever-after existence.
The German-run resort features a posh chalet-style vibe with breathtaking views of either the village or Gore Creek. Sequester yourself behind the door of a contemporary Bavarian chamber oozing with cozy appointments. Gas fireplaces and heated floors prove to be thoughtful touches when the temperature dips. Swing open your balcony door for an invigorating blast of fresh air.
While the resort certainly caters to skiers with its convenient ski-in/ski-out access and ski concierge, the Sonnenalp also offers an indoor/outdoor pool, an incredible European spa, and some excellent dining and après-ski opportunities. Once the snow melts, skiing gives way to golfing on the resort’s pristine fairway. Another reason to hunker down at The Sonnenalp is the hotel staff, which has been schooled in the art of hospitality (be sure to mention that you’re honeymooners, too!) Best of all, the only transportation needed when staying here are your two legs – everything is within walking distance. www.sonnenalp.com
WHERE TO EAT:
THE SWISS CHALET
The name might seem a bit kitschy, but make no mistake that The Swiss Chalet is the real deal. There are plenty of good restaurants in Vail, but you won’t have to venture far to enjoy traditional European fare and the ultimate alpine dining experience – it’s located at the Sonnenalp.
The Swiss-style ambiance complements the hearty menu of Käse Spätzle, homemade Swiss dumplings crowned with cheese and crisp onions, or Wiener Schnitzel. Raclette, which is derived from the French word racler meaning to scrape, offers an interactive culinary experience where a special hibachi-looking grill is placed in the middle of the table. Each guest is given a small spatula to melt their Raclette cheese below the grill, while cooking their accoutrements on top. When finished, diners guests scrape their gooey cheese onto their potatoes, gherkins, cornichons, sausages and so on. Traditional fondue is also a popular item and the restaurant’s sommelier can help pair any meal with an exceptional bottle of wine. Dress code? Mountain casual of course! swisschalet-restaurant.com
WHAT TO DO:
How you choose to spend your time is up to you. Active couples will want to hit the slopes, but a side-by-side spa treatment is a great post-nuptial relaxer. There’s also plenty of places to shop, dine and discover in the village of Vail.
It’s all Downhill from Here…
Touted as the single largest ski resort in the U.S., Vail has more than 5,000 acres of diverse terrain with some epic back bowls to conquer. Aside from skiing and snowboarding, there’s also tubing, snowshoeing and even zip lining.
Get the Spa Treatment
With more than 100,000 square feet of space devoted to spa services, Arrabelle’s Rock Resorts Spa features 11 treatment rooms and an incredible menu of treatments. Of course, convenience is always a plus and guests staying at the Sonnenalp can saunter down to its sanctuary in robe and slippers before draping themselves across a massage table. Enjoy a little side-by-side togetherness in the spa’s couple’s suite with a signature treatment.
Wine on Down
Get your drink on at Restaurant Kelly Liken, where you’ll discover that Colorado is as much about grapes as it is about goggles. Wines made in these parts are actually quite tasty and are listed alongside better known wine producing regions, such as Napa Valley and Washington State. There are some 50 or so vintages available by the glass, plus a bottle of bubbly is the perfect way to begin your new journey. It doesn’t hurt to sip and swirl in a lovely setting either. www.kellyliken.com
For more information, visit www.visitvailvalley.com