by Paul Maraschiello


I had arranged to visit Vail and ski there with my daughter, Jessie and my 5-year-old grandson, Christian. I arrived before they did and checked everything out. I dropped off my bags Manorvail Resort and picked up our tickets from Guest Services. I was walking back to Manorvail as they pulled up in the airport shuttle. The Manorvail Resort is just across the street from the Golden Peak base area and chair lift. This was a really great location and a very nice place to stay. There was a free shuttle bus stop across the street, so all of the village of Vail was easy to get to. We had a nice one-bedroom condo with king-size bed, fold-out couch in the livingroom, 2 TV's, a fully equipped kitchenette and bathroom with a private balcony. This is a pretty swanky place with the kind of pricing that you would expect in a ski-in, ski-out hotel complex at Vail with a great view.

For reservations at a really first-class place, call: (970) 476-5000 or toll-free (800) 950.VAIL. Feel free to tell them that you read about their excellent establishment in the Ski Bum News. (Please Note: Manor Vail Resort will be closing April 2, 2007 for renovations with an anticipated re-opening in July of 2008.)

I was interested to see that they had included three tickets to the Tubing Park in our package. Jessie and Christian had been traveling since early that morning, so I didn't know how cranky the youngster would be. It was nice to have some additional options.

After meeting up with my family and checking into our room, we headed off for a little lunch. After lunch and a short rest, we decided to check out the Tubing Park. We rode up the Gondola to the top of the mountain, got our tickets and walked over where everyone was sliding down the mountain on inner tubes. We listened to the orientation and then picked up our tubes.

Now, these tubes were designed specifically for tubing and had a rope with a handle attached for pulling and grips for holding on. We dragged the tubes over to the lift and rode up the hill. Our tickets were good for an hour of tubing and we had a great time. We started off with a run down the "easy" course which was a little shorter than the "more difficult" runs. Actually, they are both very easy. All you do is drag your tube from the tube tow to the run of your choice and the attendant gives you a little push and gravity takes care of the rest. It's a real adrenalin rush and required little to no skill. For people who don't ski or ride or those who want to try something different, the Tubing Park is a fun alternative.

Fine Dining
That evening, we had a really great dinner in the Lord Gore Restaurant at Manorvail. Everything was really excellent. The diningroom decor was very elegant with acres of dark paneling and spectacular views. The menu included: Grilled Elk Chops, Bison Tenderloin, Roast Duck, Colorado Rack of Lamb, chicken, pasta and a variety of steaks. I had the Elk and it was delicious. The service was excellent and we were really happy with our choice for dinner. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is interested in a really fine culinary treat.

The next day, Jessie and I dropped Christian off at Ski School and headed up the mountain to do a little serious skiing. It was a picture-perfect day with plenty of snow, bright sunshine and warm temperatures. There was a long line at the Gondola but almost no one at the chair lift right next to the Gondola, so we rode that chair up the mountain and took a couple of warm up runs on the trails serviced by that chair.

We had planned to meet my friend Wild Bill from the Leadville Hostel at the Two Elk Lodge, so we began to work our way over to that part of Vail. Now, Vail is really HUGE and it took us over an hour of skiing trails and riding lifts to get to Two Elk. We wound up getting there a little early, so we took a few runs in the Back Bowls and sampled the ungroomed powder and moguls. We started with Straight Shot in the Sum Bowl and then took the High Noon Lift to the top. Then we did The Slot to the Sun Up chair. Next, we took a run in the China Bowl and enjoyed the steep, ungroomed bumps.

We went into the Two Elk Lodge for some Gatoraide and a glass of orange juice. Jessie went into culture shock when she found out how much things CO$T (almost $10) on the top of the mountain . . . WELCOME TO VAIL. We took a little time out to wait for Bill and enjoyed the sunshine on the top of the mountain.

Wild Bill showed up and we skied over to the Blue Sky Basin and explored this new area at Vail. After a few runs, we started to make our way back to the front side of Vail. We skied for miles and had to ride a few chair lifts to get back. Vail is one of the biggest ski areas in America and it takes a lot of time to get around. Luckily, you get to ski a lot of really great runs moving from mountain to mountain. Bill and Jessie are both expert skiers and we shifted into high gear, skiing most trails non-stop, except when we had to consult the trail map.

By 3:00 p.m., I was tired and so was Jessie, so we said good-by to Wild Bill and went over to the Ski School to see how Christian had faired. We caught up with them just as the class was skiing down the hill for their first ride up a chair lift. We got to see all these little tikes ski and we were happy to see that most of them (including Christian) could turn and stop. Jessie had the pleasure or riding up the chair with Christian and I had the pleasure of the company of a little five-year-old girl on the chair. All these kids had on vests with a built-in handle on the back that came in handy when this little girl made her first attempt at getting off the chair.

After the class, we picked up Christian and then stopped at the bar upstairs for a couple of beers. Christian said he wasn't in the mood for a beer and had a soft drink. While we were there, I ran into Glenn Plake and said hello. I first met him at the Goodwill Games at Lake Placid a few years ago and I run into him from time-to-time at various ski resorts. He had a hat on and I hardly recognized him. He was there doing some filming, so I'm sure you'll see an episode on Vail on the Ski Channel at your favorite ski resort.

We took a little rest after skiing and then headed int the village for a little dinner. We were all tired and headed back to our condo for a well-earned rest.

The next day, Jessie and I explored more of Vail and had a great morning skiing. We did many of the trails we had skied the day before and explored some new runs too.

After lunch, we met up with Christian in the kiddie Ski School lunch area, thanked his instructors and went for a run with him. He could now turn to the left, turn to the right and stop, WOW! We will be doing a feature article on the children's program at Vail, so if you have kids, keep tuned to the Ski Bum News.

Vail has three distinct mountain areas, the Front Side, Back Bowls and Blue Sky Bowl. Each area has its own charms. The Base Elevation at Vail is 8,120 ft. with Peak Elevation at 11,570 ft. and a Vertical Rise of 3,450 ft. with snowmaking on 390 acres and an average annual snowfall of 348 inches.

Vail has four terrain parks, seven bowls and 5,289 acres of freeride terrain. Vail is seven miles wide, so finding fresh tracks is easy after a big dump. They classify the 193 trails as 53% Expert/Advanced, 29% Intermediate and 18% Beginner. The longest run is Riva, 4 miles. The total number of lifts is 33with one Gondola, 14 high-speed quads, one fixed-grip quad, thee triple chairs, four double chairs, five surface lifts and five magic carpets with a total uphill Capacity of 53,381 people per hour.

They have four terrain parks (Fly Zone, Flight School, Aviator and Sky Way), one 450 ft. Superpipe with 18 ft. walls, two half pipes with 13-foot walls and at least 14 tabletops throughout all parks. There area more than 30 plus 12 unique hand-carved rails and boxes.

They claim that on an average day, there are only two skiers per acre, and on a busy day, only four! You couldn't prove that by what we saw but as you know, SKI AREAS NEVER LIE. All kidding aside, Vail has some of the best ski slopes in the USA and should be on everyone's "MUST SKI" list.