The Perfect Vail Ski Vacation for People Who Don’t Actually Ski

While your friends hit the slopes, there are plenty of other equally satisfying ways to while away your day

February 22, 2022 11:43 am
The immaculate lobby of The Hythe, a new hotel in Vail
The immaculate lobby of The Hythe, a new hotel in Vail
The Hythe

Not to burst the bubble of the glowing, cheerful ski population of America, but it’s time for some brutal honesty: some of us don’t like skiing. No, I don’t like snowboarding, either, and yes, I’ve tried it.

The mountain is cold and I am lazy, so why spend all that money and risk serious injury to not have fun? The only problem is, plenty of my friends and loved ones do enjoy the winter sports so much, and frankly, after living in California all year, a little snowy getaway does sound nice! I like ski culture, cozy fire hangs, après-ski drinks, big sweaters, wooly hats … I just don’t like the sport itself. 

So I’m proposing this: Normalize the “non-skiers” ski vacation. It’s simple, really. You go to the mountain and stay in the cute chalet, luxury hotel, room with a mountain view — and that’s the closest you ever have to get to the mountain itself. Now that I’ve solidified my stance, I’m convinced there are more of us. And there’s a new extravagant hotel out in Vail that’s on our side, too. The Hythe is a reimagined luxury property right near Lionshead Village where the après-ski offerings are just as much a priority as their slopeside mountain access. 

To confirm that the non-skiers vacation will actually work in practice, I recently executed a brief 48-hour stint in Vail. I did not set foot on the mountain, but definitely enjoyed all the comforts the adjacent village has to offer. Here’s my rundown of the property’s most charming elements, and what to do in Vail if you’re not spending the day skiing.

All new everything at The Hythe means a chic, ‘60s-inspired lobby with clever, cozy seating areas and a centerpiece modern fireplace

Launched in mid-November of 2021, The Hythe — which means “haven” in Old English — is the result of a $40 million upgrade that transformed the hotel into the only alpine resort in North America that’s part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. The revamped lobby and new interiors by Japanese-American firm Wilson Ishihara Design offer a cheeky nod to Vail’s ‘60s roots, with features like quilted mounted deer heads, a speakeasy bar hidden behind rolling barn doors and a sleek, glassed-in fireplace emanating both warmth and retro vibes. If you’re going to be staying indoors in Vail, The Hythe’s lobby is a great place to veg out, socialize or soak up a lazy day spent at altitude. As for the rooms, the same retro mountain sensibility carries over there, with treated leather headboards, lots of warm wood accents and spacious balconies providing unparalleled views of sparkling snowy vistas.

Margie’s Haas will handle your formal dinner, while Revel Lounge’s casual drinking and snacking area is perfect for all-day hangs

The primary activities for someone indulging solely in the après-ski lifestyle is, naturally, eating and drinking. With this in mind, The Hythe has thoughtfully built four different restaurants into the first two floors of the hotel. Snow sports people can hit the grab-and-go cafe, Mountain Ration, but those who crave a leisurely lunch or happy hour can linger at Revel Lounge for midday wine, beer and cocktails, or snacks, dips and cheese boards. Margie’s Haas is the   property’s formal dinner restaurant, and a sly reference to a Vail legend of the same name who offered home-cooked meals to World War II soldiers training in the area. With a farm-to-table ethos and a host of local delicacies like bison, lamb, grilled venison and Tyrolean speck, Margie’s also provides another fine dining option, a much-needed addition in the area.

Revel Lounge at The Hythe
Revel Lounge at The Hythe
The Hythe

A grounding massage at the Well & Being spa is the antidote to mountain sports

While your loved ones destroy their bodies on the freezing slopes, why not do the opposite? Restorative spa time is just the ticket. An 80-minute grounding massage with native forest oils is the exact opposite of a torn ACL, and even if you’re not in the mood to be touched, the spa’s  Himalayan salt lounge is a restorative treatment that enhances lung health and will help you breathe easy in the alpine climate. By the way, if you do go for a grounding massage, opt for  the scalp and hair oil add-on — it’s time we all learned that an extra scalp massage is worth every penny.

Explore the walking-friendly, Bavarian-inspired town of Vail for some shopping and libations — or grab a nightcap in the lobby’s hidden speakeasy, 10th Mountain 

Located on the edge of one of two German-inspired villages in the city of Vail, it’s an easy five- to ten-minute walk to bop around Lionshead Village, pick up some souvenirs or ski memorabilia, and find a coffee shop (or bar!) to keep your energy up. Hail the local free shuttle, or brave another 15-minute walk to arrive in Vail Village, where more shopping and a picturesque ice skating rink awaits. While you’re  on this side of town, take an hour out of your day to discover the rather patriotic history of Vail at the Colorado Snowsports museum. And after learning all about the of 10th Mountain Division, go drinks some of their descendant’s craft whiskey back at The Hythe’s evenings-only speakeasy.

The salt therapy room at the Hythe's spa
The salt therapy room at the Hythe’s spa
The Hythe

Looking for a less demanding travel day? Stopover at Hotel Clio in Denver’s chi-chi Cherry Creek neighborhood for a recovery day before making your way up the mountain or heading home

Depending on where you’re flying from, getting straight into Vail can be a bit of a hike. Once you arrive in Denver, getting to Vail itself is still a lengthy shuttle ride away — a drive can take anywhere from two to four hours (!) If you don’t feel like cramming all that travel into one day, or would like an in-town break on the way back, consider a night at the breezy Hotel Clio, another recently upgraded Colorado property with a staggeringly good restaurant and a bevy of wellness activities within walking distance. It might be worth a night at Clio just to eat at Toro, where pan-Latin cuisine is perfected in ceviches, steaks, fresh guacamole and unexpectedly delicate  empanadas. It’s the perfect bookend for a trip spent indulging in excellent food and drink, and might even be a strong contender for another non-skiers trip.


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