top of page

On-MountaIn ARCHITECTURE

Vail will never build questionable on-mountain architecture again. We will build the complete opposite - inspiring, uplifting cozy mountain huts for your gastronomy enjoyment. We are taking our queues from our sister city of St. Moritz, and soon to be sister cities of Kitzbühel and Zermatt and their best huts.

In the vision of what first captivated Vail's founder Pete Seibert, prepare at Vail for more:

BEATHTAKING ARCHITECTURE FOR OUR DINING HUTS/RESTAURANTS

(much in the tradition inspired by the quaint and spirit-lifting alpine chalets that Pete saw in Swiss and Tyrolian Alps) 

We think your enjoy our cozy new alpine ski huts. Our architectural sense is simply "charming" and harmonious with the natural surroundings. Oh yes, beyond the design, we are bringing in world renowned chefs — who's food is absolutely delicious and the ambiance genuinely lifts spirts! 😋

Our selection of food will cover the spectrum, from self-service to gourmet waiter service restaurants (like Vail's "The 10th").

Our architects for our planned Swiss/Tyrolian themed hut near Chair 9 are designing some-thing like the chalet to the right. Our chef, we are hoping, will be one of Switzerland's finest who has joined us this year from his previous on-mountain hut in Zermatt. For those interested in a little slower lunch he will be serving fondue, schnitzel, potato pancakes, and other specialties from his region along with a taps of Stiegl beer in real steins, as well as Erdinger (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and four delicious wines.

Our on-mountain huts and its food and beverage are going to be exciting wins. We hope you really enjoy. 

Vail Reimagined.jpeg

Inner team note: an example to lead us is Kitzbühel. They have 62 on-mountain restaurants/huts. Often individually owned and operated. They compete with the other to be the best (write-ups, review, etc.) to attract its customers. Perhaps, we at Vail, could experiment with a food partnership for one or two of our smaller huts. We can think of it was a "food-truck" approach to offer our guests the finest, let's say, Swiss hot dog they've ever had... and on-mountain. In this example, we're thinking of the Swiss hot dog from Vail's superbly popular Blu Cow restaurant. 

OK - back, quickly, to the quality of those individually run on-mountain restaurant/huts all around Kitzbühel. The food is off-the-charts delicious. The photo to the right was taken on a recent family trip to Zermatt. Super simple lunch, but immensely appealing (clean tray, silverware, white plates, real glass steins, and coffee mugs). Haha... maybe the the terrific quality of their presentation made the food taste that good.

A juxtaposition: In March, one ski instructor in Vail told me a story of his three clients (who paid ~$1300 to ski with him in their all-day private) who climbed the stairs to the 3rd floor of Eagle's Nest for lunch. Beyond the less than inspiring box architecture of the building they began their lunch room experience, like everybody else, grabbing a very scuffed-up brown lunch tray (that looked liked they were given to Vail from a lower-income school system at the end of their school year after not meeting their sanitary / clean-lunch facility requirements) and moving over to just barely mediocre food served on similarly mediocre old green and yellow plastic dishes and some old (tips on the forks bent) dull silverware. The food specifically was (1) an unappetizing looking hot dog and fries, (2) chicken fingers and fries, (3) chicken sandwich and same fries at one of Vail's cafeterias. 90% of the thin and soggy fries were uneaten and three bites were taken of the hot dog. Yes, of course, to our Vail cafeterias may be efficient and making significant profits (based on cost of good sold) but our guests (with a significant number of deca-millionaires) looked like they had just sat down with middle-school quality lunchroom food in a cafeteria look and feel of the same quality.

 

The real impact is that there is absolutely zero incentive for these guests to ever want to return (or much less brag about Vail 🤣🤣 to their friends). And sadly, we know that the food at every one of Vail's on-mountain restaurants, except for "The 10th" is the same... but that instructor said couldn’t bear sharing those details for their lesson the following day. 

With a full dose of gratitude to Vail's COO, Beth Howard.... for the NEW Two Elk Biergarten, the highest Biergarten around. Celebrating our Bavarian heritage all season long. Join us for a dose of gemütlichkeit (German-language word used to convey the idea of a state or feeling of warmth, friendliness, good cheer).

 

It was such an absolute treat and win for an enjoyable special/delicious spot for our locals and guests to meet for authentic taps, tasty large pretzels, and bratwurst on our mountaintop.

 

Now, was it a bit of an overflow lunch seating for our packed Two Elk, YES. But the Biergarten still kept its special feel. And in year two, we planning on bringing a third tap.... of STIEGL RADLER GRAPEFRUIT with its 2.0% alcohol (first concocted for cyclists after a day of riding. We think just perfect for skiers too. Prost! 🍻

In addition to our two new huts (and possible third) there will be a complete rebuild of some of our restaurant facilities. More to come as this develops. A pilot program, beginning in 2026, is partnering with our town's finest chefs and restaurants (and extending a nationwide request for the same). We want to make Vail's restaurants THE reason why people are longing to ski Vail and a part of why we WILL deserve to become America's favorite and most sought after ski resorts again.

We WILL / CAN make Vail's restaurants THE reason why people (yes, locals too!) really want to ski and enjoy skiing Vail.


Possibilities for on-mountain restaurants: 

  1. Partner with Almresi family for cuisine at on-mountain restaurant - https://www.almresi-vail.com/

  2. Parnter with The Blü Cow to staff one of our locations. They have been serving absolutely tasty thin dogs for 40+ years in Vail. And thier the place is still and always packed.

  3. Put out nationwide request for bids of this overhaul.

John, READ: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/15/travel/big-sky-montana-skiing.htmlarchitecture/.

EARLY IDEAS: MOUNTAIN HUTS

Yes, as the son, grandson, and great grandson of architects, I was taught early and often of the most important value of clear and beautiful sightlines, beyond the architecture itself.

 

We promise we will only build our mountain huts for dining in areas that are exceptional (yes, some planned locations will be changed for this exact reason) and have equally exceptional sightlines. Our idea with Vail's new and mostly smaller huts is to bring you opportunities to enjoy the finest views of Holy Cross and Gore mountain ranges possible. 

 

Below, are locations and views (of Gore Mountains and Holy Cross) from our hopeful huts/restaurants (this is the view from the top of China Bowl that we plan to take advantage of in our builds):

China Bowl_edited.jpg

Chinese THEME (Hut)

Coming soon, 2029, likely, at the top of the new Chair 21 (Orient Express), is an Chinese-themed restaurant with a magical and serene atmosphere that makes it Vail's must-visit destination for those seeking an alpine escape unlike any place on earth.

Dine like Chinese royalty in our new, yet, traditional Beijing hutong. The term "hutong" appeared first during the Yuan Dynasty, and is a term of Mongolian origin, meaning "water well." Maybe take your skiing adventure to our loved and less-traveled Mongolian Bowls after your refueling. 

YES, at the top of China Bowl (and Chopsticks Run) Vail adds to it's admiration for China and its people. This will be a brand new, but smaller, dining hut with an overhanging dining/patio area at the top of Chair 21 (Orient Express). We believe this location is the most beautiful overlook in all of Vail and we hope you will be able to enjoy it a little better now. Now, a little over 35 years since the opening of China Bowl, we're going to make this spot even more inviting and special for you. As you can see, the views of the Gore Mountains (see photo) from the top of Chair 21 are absolutely breathtaking. Our plan is to build a unique restaurant to give you a particularly special view of the Gore with both a cantilevered dining terrace (see photo) and photo worthy glass viewing platform (see photo) - the latter similar to one in Courchevel. Our greatest hope/aim is to hire a renowned chef from Beijing with the idea of having this serve Chinese food with the tastiest dumplings, egg rolls, pot stickers, and, of course, stir fry this side of the ocean along with the enjoyed Chinese teas, milk, wine, and their popular black beer.

IMG_6614.jpg
IMG_2520_edited.jpg
IMG_2426.jpg

Are we afraid to use one of China's great architects? 

To the contrary, we hope so!

Oh, yes! We really think that the views and the quality of our Michelin Star Chinese chef and his or her culinary staff (from China perhaps) will make Vail and, of course, this restaurant a most attractive draw for our guests from China, Chinese American residents, in addition to all of us who enjoy the culture and food from the country which we named our most accessible ski bowl.

This is important to note: 
China's Ski Boom Is Bigger Than The Olympics


Skiing has exploded in China. The Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and the growing middle class have served as springboards for this craze. Are we seeing the beginnings of a great skiing nation? What a beautiful opportunity for Vail. 

Use this as inspiration: 

https://www.gurgl.com/de/winter/skigebiet/einkehren/top-mountain-star.html

Note: This restaurant will be open for all. When the gondola takes people to Two Elk, well, from there we can have a snowcat designed to take non=skiing customers to our next Michelin Star Chineese restaurant with one of the most grand, breathtaking, one-of-a-kind views in America. 

Photo: Chris McLennan / Vail Resorts

Yes, you are correct. This is Vail and these views exist (in our opinion this spot is the best view from Vail and we want to share with you all). With good hope (and smart partnerships) we are going to add a hut/restaurant (as imagined above) just to the right of the Orient Express seen here. Our thought is a combined upper arrival lift station with our Chinese Michelin Star restaurant. 

Our restaurant (let's call it "Ten Kingdoms" for now) will not only be the highest Chinese restaurant in the world, but also the highest elevation Michelin Star restaurant in the world.

Ivan Parasacco, the Head of Tourism for Courmayeur Mont Blanc, comments: 

‘We are really looking forward to welcoming back international guests to our resort as soon as it is safe to do so and we are implementing various social distancing measures, all in compliance with WHO’s guidelines. I have no doubt that domestic travellers, particularly those with property in Courmayeur, will shortly be visiting us shortly. We also have very loyal visitors from across Europe, the USA and Asia too so are looking forward to their return too.

‘Our resort lends itself perfectly to summer holidays, as well as skiing trips, with plenty of outdoor activities which offer guests the chance to get back to nature and get active – which is exactly what we are all in need of post-lockdown. These include nature hikes, cycling trails, or extreme running, along with yoga or meditation hotspots and beautiful spa hotels for those more wellness-inclined.

‘I am predicting a complete shift in peoples’ priorities on what they now want to get out of a holiday – I imagine people will want to celebrate being in open spaces and being together, which is exactly what Courmayeur offers.

We are quite certain that both the Head of Tourism for Vail Resorts and the Town of Vail ....

IMG_4376.jpg

TYROLIAN THEME (Hut)

csm_Sennjochhuette-schlick2000-winter_95969bdf7f.jpg

This is another brand new dining hut that will be along the ridge leading up Chair 9 (and accessible from Chair 36) plus just above Sleepytime Road catwalk for access also. It will be a Tyrolian themed hut (like pictured) featuring traditional food from the Alps, "think" schnitzel, spätzle, sausages, and traditional German and Austrian beer. The footprint will be reasonably small with a mid-sided outdoor patio. Oh, and most importantly, it will have THE finest views of the Holy Cross Mountain Range of any hut/restaurant in Vail.

On a smaller level, is Vail closed to ideas of regional cuisine - in some of our bowls named after the regions? Of course not. During a day skiing with a family who lived in Russia for three decades, they shared how interested a Russian/Ukrainian or Mongolian family or couple or chef would be in showcasing their food and drink "on mountain" in Vail. How about in a small hut/restaurant near Red Square / Siberia Bowl or Mongolia Bowl? What a most delightful idea! They are surely accustomed to cold weather. 

As an example to help us — having a traditional Mongolian yurt as a venue could be an easy and unique win for Vail and all... as a warming stop for delicious Mongolian food as our guests follow Silk Road from Mongolia Bowl. Do we have tables on the snow or a small deck on warmer sunny days... well, perhaps.

NEW EAGLE's NEST

IMG_5657.webp

We will be rebuilding Eagle's Nest. Yes, we are fully aware of the beauty of the Gore and Holy Cross mountain ranges from his location and look forward to sharing with you from an absolutely gorgeous lodge at the top of our new gondola. The main level will have large picture windows. And the upper floor will be an open dining with gigantic umbrellas and inside area with full leather sofa and chairs and a fireplace.

Oh, for those wondering, yes, we are looking into a escalator in addition to an elevator. While there will be smaller rooms, etc. there will also be a large room for dining, next to the bar room... that can be converted or used as a venue for showing movies (say, a Warren Miller ski movie) with a very large screen option. 

Highest level, this will be superbly tasteful in appearance. Such that people, thanks to an also one-of-a-kind super enjoyable (with Bluetooth enabled speaker system) gondola ride, will actually enjoy the trip for events at Eagle's Nest. Today, no one would dare to willingly take a gondola to Eagle's Nest for an evening event.

Could Vail even possibly do what Copper did with its (near) mid-mountain restaurant complex at 12,312 feet. Called the Aerie their brand-new (A COMPLETE DEMOLISH AND REBUILD), lodge perched at the top of the American Eagle lift completely reshapes and redefines Copper's on-mountain dining experience, Yup, topped off with 270-degree views of the Gore and Ten Mile Ranges.

Well, something this inviting (or better) at the top of Lionshead, aka: Eagle's Nest (for its rebuild) is likely too audacious for Vail but we can still get ideas and inspiration.

Beyond its gorgeous architecture that fits so harmoniously in White River National Forest, their inner idea is brilliant - the complex includes five different areas for dining: a full-service casual restaurant, a bar & large lounge, a private dining area, a food hall, and an area for coffee & pastries.

NEW MID-VAIL

Game Creek Lodge.jpg

Mid-Vail  - Yes, with good hope we are quite certain that this rebuild can be of the quality of our Eagle's Nest complete rebuild. This will most likely take place 2-3 years after Eagle's Nest. We are fully aware of the beauty of the Gore Mountain Range from his location and look forward to sharing with you from an absolutely gorgeous lodge at the top of Gondola One. 

The photo here is of the Game Creek Club. It was build in 1997 and is the finest and most charming building on Vail mountain. It will be our reference and we, in at least one of our huts, hope to similarly replicate its alpine beauty and welcoming/staying power.

Will our creativity combined with tasteful design be enough to create a harmonious little alpine village-like refuge on-mountain in the White River National Forest? Yes. We will have not only small intimate room with a special log cabin feel for eating AND wee are planning a library like large room for guests (yes, all our non-skiing ones) to enjoy our Mid-Vail mountain area also.

Zermatt

New FOUNDER'S HUT

IMG_5617.jpg

This is an example of the type of architecture / building we will design/build (small footprint) part way down the newly opened runs in Pete's Bowl. When Pete Seibert first envisioned Vail, he did so with the beauty of the ski towns and ski areas in Switzerland and Austria in mind. We think he had pretty good taste. The chef at this new hut will be one of Vail's early and popular gastropubs offering their delicious Swiss hot dogs & homemade soup, plus cocktails, beer on tap & a tiny patio.

backsideexpansion.png
Lionshead Hofbrauhaus

Transform LIONSHEAD Base 

There is no question that the architecture in Lionshead is quite beautiful. But, it's a bit underused or appreciated right now as everybody empties from Lionshead after their day of skiing and heads to Vail Village. From the very late 90s for about 8 years, Lionshead was the place that all of Vail descended upon after skiing. It was because of a very large Bavarian style Hofbrauhaus (called the Kaltenberg Castle) located in what was the old Lionshead gondola building. Every night hundreds of locals and guests would come and stay for hours. Women in dirndl and men in lederhosen would deliver liters of beer to the tables. Well, they magic they created worked extraordinarily well, so perhaps we revisit. The location in mind is The Tavern on the Square in the Arrabelle, Not only is the exterior of the building super "in character" with the look of a great beer Bavarian tavern in Germany, but the interior with its vaulted ceilings and archways is just as striking. And, well, the location offer THE best views in all of Vail. 

Can we bring Gemütlichkeit with its warmth, coziness, friendliness, and good cheer... Yes, super possible. EVERYONE will win. Not just the apes ski scene in Lionshead, but Vail Resorts also. Currently the Tavern On the Square (with its Yelp rating of 3,2/5) brings in ~$5 Million in revenue. With some confidence, we believe the reframing can bring $11 or greater (even in its first year). But more so... the customer experience. And the locals.

“No trip to Vail is complete without visiting the Lionshead Hofbräuhaus” See the current and after images and dreams.

 

...where people of all ages come together for drink and great food in Colorado’s most authentic beer hall at the foot of Vail Mountain. In our case, all Hoffbrau. 

Oh yes, super important, we have businessman/restaurant owner from Texas who runs a large bar/restaurant with a large beer garden who wants to help us turn this around... into the most enjoyed (and beautiful) après ski stop in America.

Happiness & Architecture

Follow-Up Note: When I contemplate the important of charming and awe-inspiring architecture in our ski mountains and it's harmony with its intended interlocutor, I refer to the book "The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. 

The Architecture of Happiness is a peek into the philosophy and psychology of architecture and the indelible connection between our identities and our locations and our inner desire to want this to be ours or not.

One of the great but often unmentioned causes of happiness is the quality of our environment: the kinds of walls, chairs, windows, buildings, trees, and mountains that surround us. And yet the concern for architecture is too often described as frivolous by the majority of society, even self-indulgent.

 

Alain de Botton starts from the idea that where we are heavily influences our inner peace and what we believe we can be; and argues that it is architecture's task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential.

De Botton argues that if we are going to plop down a structure in the midst of nature (which already contains natural order, elegance, and balance) let us at least make it a 'best effort' to be true to what might bring harmony. And put thought and consideration into its beauty rather than just treat the building as utilitarian or worse, adding another scar on the landscape. 

IMG_7008.jpg

This excerpt urges those who are of the ability to put all their hearts and minds into designing beautiful and harmonious architecture: “To describe a building as beautiful therefore suggests more than a mere aesthetic fondness; it implies an attraction to the particular way of life this structure is promoting through its roof, door handles, window frames, staircase and furnishings. A feeling of beauty is a sign that we have come upon a material articulation of certain of our ideas of a good life.”

THE ART OF THE RESTROOM

Yes, this may sound frivolous and silly, so please forgive us for that Yes, we are literally going to "design" our restrooms to be exceptionally beautiful, uplifting, and peaceful (more that just simply functional). Oh, and perhaps even memorable too. Go with me for a moment here, this is a true story. After my first time living in Vail I returned to school to study for my masters in business at the University of Notre Dame. Well, I am not sure how or when I discovered it, but on the second floor of the Main Building was the finest bathroom I ever seen, until that point in my life. I remembering saying to myself something to the effect of "wow, is this for real." It added a great shot of joy to that day as I still remember it fondly. And, haha, yes, my days and walks across campus, when near that building were always a bit brighter when I stopped in. You get the point.

Yes, even the bathrooms in our next huts and the new/next Eagle's Nest and Mid-Vail will be something that we hope you might remember and want to come back too. Yup, there is a bathroom Hall of Fame and do we hope to make that list... well, why not. 🤣

Oh, do we plan to meet the quality of the restrooms that Zehren Architects designed for The 10th mountain restaurant  on Vail Mountain. For sure! They are beautiful and we may even be able to learn (and dare we dream to improve) from their 2011 design.

MORE DESIGN

Yes, from a visual standpoint, Vail may revisit our "social media opportunities" with our snow (fall) stake.

 

On the same token, Vail may also begin looking to expand large corporate sponsorships. One of these we hope we will be bringing on is OMEGA® Watches. Yes, we will update our snow stake then. 😉

Snow (fall) stakes from our neighboring ski resorts (Aspen, Streamboat, Winter Park, Copper)

Do we perhaps add value to our customers, and completely remove the desire of people wanting printed grooming reports, and reshape the game with new trail/grooming maps that are designed to harmoniously compliment the area around them.

It could be very tastefully done by way of an electronic trail map at the top of Chair 2 and Chair 4 (and perhaps elsewhere). In addition to showing (and naming) the trails that have been groomed, these can be THE best opportunities for advertising (everything from a chef's special at Two Elk to the time for ice skating on top of Vail Athletic new complex to encouraging ski school lessons, and the list goes on....).

Beyond the trail maps as stand alone areas, we are also working with Doppelmayr on video boards on the crown, so to speak, of our new ski gondolas.

highest Level

Yes, as you can see we are reframing the game (for the better) for you. We will continue to make improvement to our lifts, expand our offering of ski runs (with new ones like we did when we shaped "Cloud 9," and even improve our grooming (with your help for incentivizing our snowcat operators) but additionally we are going to hopefully give you all kinds of fun options for stopping in for a drink or bite to eat in ski huts that open your mind in awe and wonder. 

bottom of page