Vail has three main areas: Golden Peak, Vail Village, and Lionshead. Altogether they’re stretched across 7 mi, it’s served by a free bus system from about 6:30 am-1:30 am, which should be enough for all but the most hard-core party animals!
Very few places at Vail have ski-in/ski-out access, but all the access points to the mountain have bus stops nearby. Some of the larger and higher-end hotels have set up slope-side ski-check or valet services to make the trip between your room and the runs easier while many rental shops also offer ski-check for their customers. Lodging prices naturally depend not only on the time of the season and the level of luxury and amenities, but also proximity to the center of the village and the slopes.
Golden Peak is on the east end of the resort. It’s quieter and more residential than the rest of the resort village, but it’s also convenient to the race area and the superpipe where events like the Burton US Open are held. It’s also home to the nursery, one of the children’s ski schools, and a large learning area off the Gopher Hill Lift (#13), so it’s a good choice for families. The largest property here is the Manor Vail, but there are also several condo and home rentals available.
Vail Village is in the middle and is the heart of the resort, with most of the shops, dining, and bustling après and nightlife spots. It’s also where the Vail Transportation Center is; if you’re using a shuttle or bus service that isn’t door-to-door, this is where you’ll be dropped off.
The area is easily walkable without much vehicle traffic to contend with, and it was designed to exude a European alpine-style vibe. From here, Gondola One (#1) offers access directly to Mid Vail and a wealth of intermediate terrain with the renowned Back Bowls one more lift ride away. In addition to condos and homes, there are high-end options like the Solaris, the Bavarian-themed Sonnenalp, and the Lodge at Vail, which was the resort’s original place to stay (but don’t worry, it’s been recently renovated).
Lodge at Vail: The Lodge at Vail is situated in the heart of the Village and is owned by Vail Resorts. It is a chalet style lodge with hand crafted wooden balconies and real wood burning fireplaces. Drawing on its Bavarian influences, the Lodge emanate an European Charm you would expect to find in Austria and Switzerland. Guestrooms sport fluffy down duvets, beautiful tile and stone baths, and robes to wear to the outdoor pool and hot tub.
From the Lodge at Vail you are a short stroll from some of Vail's best bars and restaurants. Après Ski at local favorites such as the Red Lion and Pepi's or dine at the Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard, and Bol (a bowling alley eatery that’s quite hip).
The Arrabelle at Vail Square: For some luxury-style living, stay at The Arrabelle at Vail Square. The Alpine-themed hotel is just a two-minute walk to the Eagle Bahn Gondola and steps from the best shopping, restaurants, and bars of Vail Village. The guest rooms are plush and modern, the staff highly professional, and the ambiance cozy and elegant. Even your pet will get pampered at the Arrabelle.
Finally, Lionshead is to the west. Somewhat smaller than Vail Village, it still has plenty of dining and après options as well as access to the slopes via Born Free Express Lift (#8) and the Eagle Bahn Gondola (#19). Its pedestrian village was recently redone in an Austrian motif to more closely resemble Vail Village. Here is where you’ll find properties like the Marriott and Ritz Carlton plus a more affordable option in the Evergreen Lodge. Lionshead also has a pedestrian bridge over I-70, where there are more condo rental options.
Cascade Village is another 0.25 mi to the west of Lionshead. It’s a quieter area, away from the hustle and bustle of the heart of the resort, but it’s served by its own lift.
East and West Vail are each up to 25 minutes away from the center of the village by bus, but have some hotel properties and condo rental opportunities. For a cheap eats, fast food chains like McDonalds and Qdoba are in West Vail, along with two supermarkets if you'd rather cook instead. Alternatively, Resort Delivery and SkiCountryGrocer.com can bring groceries to your room or condo.
If you’re in the heart of the resort, you might find most of the places you’d like to go are within easy walking distance.
If you’re heading a little farther or your legs are roasted from the slopes, the town’s shuttle runs 19 hours a day in the village, with hours and frequency varying for outlying areas. The ride can get crowded in the early morning and at the end of the ski day, especially during peak periods, but the town tries to add extra buses when demand spikes.
If you rent a car and drive, some lodging properties offer parking but usually charge extra; it’s best to check with your hotel or condo ahead of time to find out. There are two parking structures at Vail Village and Lionshead that are within walking distance to the lifts. They’re free for the first hour and a half or after 3:00 pm. Alternatively, all day parking is available for $25. When they fill up, such as on a powder day, weekend, or for a big event, Frontage Road is opened up for parking at no cost.