Well Intentioned: a Winter Wellness Guide to Vail

After a day carving through fresh powder, release tense muscles using the wellness facilities at the Sebastian hotel
After a day carving through fresh powder, release tense muscles using the wellness facilities at the Sebastian hotel | Courtesy of The Sebastian / Expedia.com
Photo of Emma Sparks
23 November 2021
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Seek cold comfort in the healing powers of whiskey, hot tubs and holistic therapies in this quaint Colorado ski town.

Home to the most epic mountain in Colorado and one of the biggest ski resorts in the USA, the quaint Tyrolean-style town of Vail is a paradise for lovers of snow sports. But if all those black-diamond runs and apres-ski parties have left you a little tired, there are plenty of ways to unwind. Hang up your ski poles and shake off your boots – here’s how to slow down and find winter wellness in Vail.

Gravity Haus Vail

The alpine-style property of Gravity Haus Vail is covered in snow
Courtesy of Gravity Haus Vail Hotel / Expedia.com
With just 22 rooms and condominiums – featuring overstuffed sofas, gas fireplaces and deep soaking tubs – Gravity Haus Vail feels intimate and exclusive (indeed, there’s an in-house members’ club, meaning you’ll rub shoulders with hip locals at the bar). Gondola One and the Golden Peak base area are just a five-minute stroll away – after a day on the slopes, stretch out at a yoga class or let the experts at the spa melt away ski-weary muscle tension with magnesium and CBD-oil massages.

Vail Valley Wellness

Spa
A woman holds a jade roller
© Content Pixie / Unsplash.com
Founded by Dr Becky Burgess, a qualified practitioner of Chinese medicine, this wellness center in Eagle-Vail runs the gamut of holistic therapies, including acupuncture, cupping, reiki and even ionic-charged foot baths. If that sounds a little woo-woo for you, play it straight with candlelit yoga classes and deep-tissue massages.

The Sebastian

A cosy-looking living room at the Sebastian in Vail, with sofas faced towards a working fireplace
Courtesy of The Sebastian / Expedia.com
Carefully curated Mexican artworks and quirky modern sculptures warm up this contemporary ski hotel, which entices guests to linger in its many cozy nooks and social spaces. After a day on the mountain, hunker down with a hot chocolate in the library, soak up mountain views from the outdoor pool and hot tub, or retreat to the spa for oxygen therapy (to help you adjust to the altitude) and a mud body wrap to hydrate dry winter skin.

Walking Mountains Science Center

Building
Wildflowers blooming in the Colorado Mountains near Vail
© Deberarr / Depositphotos.com
Busy peak-season ski slopes left you feeling frazzled? Looking for a less hectic way to enjoy the great outdoors? Explore the quiet backcountry trails of Vail Valley on a free snowshoe hike, led by the naturalists from Walking Mountains Science Center. The visitor center – worth a look for its educational exhibits – is a 10mi (16km) drive west from Vail Village, but nature walks are held in various nearby locations, including Vail Mountain.

Sonnenalp

The all-wood Swiss Chalet restaurant at the Sonnenalp hotel
Courtesy of Sonnenalp / Expedia.com
The Faessler family have worked in hospitality for five generations and their Bavarian roots are clear at this German-style hotel. Beamed ceilings, wood paneling and gas fireplaces keep rooms warm, while the Swiss Chalet restaurant satisfies hungry guests with the ultimate comfort food: fondue (they melt 16,000lb/7,250kg of cheese a month). Don’t miss the spa, featuring an outdoor pool overlooking Gore Creek, Turkish steam rooms and a snug firepit – the lymphatic facial is great if you have the sniffles.

Colorado Snowsports Museum

Museum
Ski-related memorabilia at the Colorado Snowsports Museum
© Dan Leeth / Alamy Stock Photo
Everything you could possibly want to know about Colorado’s snow sports is on show at this lovingly curated free museum. Exhibits cover everything from the invention of skiing and the history of the WWII ski-specialist army unit, 10th Mountain Division, to vintage kit and quirky ski fashion. There’s also a hall of fame celebrating local athletes and other Coloradans who’ve helped promote snow sports in the region. If you want to feel connected to the local community, this is a sure-fire way to do it.

Sunshine Massage Studio

Massage Parlour
A woman enjoys a massage
© Wavebreakmedia / Depositphotos.com
If you’re looking for a simple shoulder rub, this massage studio might not be for you. Samantha Sunshine invites clients to “go down the rabbit hole of relaxation” with her as she and her fellow massage artists employ new bodywork techniques – many of Sunshine’s own invention – to heal your aches and pains. Whether they walk along your spine or lift you into a series of tension-releasing acro yoga poses, you’ll feel a few inches taller after you leave.

10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirit Company

Store

It has antiseptic properties, at least as many antioxidants as wine and a history of being prescribed as medicine – but whether you believe in the healing powers of whiskey or not, there’s something comforting about a hot toddy on a cold winter’s night. Swing by the 10th Mountain tasting rooms to warm up with a flight of whiskey, or buy a bottle to take home.

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