Vail, Colorado, is a small town at the base of Vail Mountain, home of the massive Vail Ski Resort. Set within White River National Forest, the town is a gateway for winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding. It’s also a summertime destination for golfing, hiking and cultural festivals. Gore Creek, popular for fly fishing, runs directly through the town center.
Vail was incorporated in 1966, four years after the opening of Vail Ski Resort. The ski area was founded by Pete Seibert and local rancher Earl Eaton in 1962, at the base of Vail Pass. The pass was named after Charles Vail, the highway engineer who routed U.S. Highway 6 through the Eagle Valley in 1940, which eventually became Interstate 70. Seibert, a New England native, served in the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division during World War II, which trained at Camp Hale, 14 miles south of Vail between Red Cliff and Leadville. He was wounded in Italy at the Battle of Riva Ridge but went on to become a professional skier after he recovered.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Vail. I lived here for several years and got to know may wonderful people. I once owned two radio stations here. Living in Vail is somewhat like living in Disney World. Vail is a very magical place to live both summer and winter. There are plenty of excellent restaurants, hotels and shops. Obviously the outdoor life is what is's all about, hiking, skiing, walking, tennis, you name it, they have it. The absolute best resort hotel in Colorado is the Sonnenalp. Why you say? If you include all aspects of a lodging facility the Sonnenalp always comes out on top. The best restaurants, the best rooms and suites, and the most friendly staff. Again you say why? Because this is a family owned and operated resort since the day it opened, Johannes Faessler, son of Karlheinz and Gretl Faessler, takes over management of the Vail Sonnenalp properties with his wife Rosana in 1986. Now son, Sebastian is on the team. This is a hands on family, on the job every day 7 days a week.
Ludwig's Restaurant, perhaps the best restaurant in Vail, and yes, it is in the Sonnenalp Resort Hotel. The Swiss Chalet, I love this place. Try, Züricher Geschnetzeltes $34 Sautéed Veal, Creamy Mushroom Chardonnay Sauce, Rösti, or Raclette Raclette Cheese, Potatoes, Squash, Zucchini, Bell Peppers, Onion, Tomato, Mushrooms, serves 1-2 guests. The Bully Ranch Restaurant is a favorite with the kids. The Kings Club is a wonderful place for apres-ski German Beer, Cocktails and Yes, some Small Plates if you are hungry. No place better than sitting by a warm fire after a day of skiing.
Sweet Basil is another one of our favorite restaurants in the Vail area. This restaurant has withstood the test of time.
Kevin Clair opened Sweet Basil in June 1977 as a 47-seat restaurant in a location that had housed six different restaurants in six years. 193 Gore Creek Drive was also considered "off the beaten track" since it was not located on the main drag, Bridge Street. Still in the same location, now considered the heart of the Vail Village, Sweet Basil has seen ten remodels and expansions, hundreds of menu changes and has become known as an iconic restaurant in the Vail valley.
Sweet Basil can claim a lot of “firsts” among Vail eateries, from having been the first to serve bottled wines by the glass (when everyone else was pouring it from a box), to having been the first to go completely smoke-free. That record of innovation partly stems from the fact that Clair, a gourmand and frequent traveler, has always tried to measure the quality of Sweet Basil’s food and service not against the competition in Vail, but against the best establishments in great restaurant cities such as New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. It is that commitment to staying ahead of the curve that has earned the restaurant numerous awards and honors as well as prompted a New York Times reviewer to gush that his dinner “was one of the best meals” he had had in months.
Sweet Basil accomplishes this mission through dedication, innovation and plain old hard work. It’s that commitment to quality and excellence that keeps them on top of all the surveys and ratings…even after 41 years!
Just in case you wondered, Mr. Five Star is the sole editor of this website. We do not receive any money from the content of these pages or from the Resorts or restaurants. This is a for profit site, however our funds come from large national companies we selected. I am personally passionate about what I like and enjoy sharing my experiences.