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Vail Sister Cities

Our Town of Vail has four sister/friendship cities. It began with St. Moritz in Switzerland in the early 1980s and our partnerships have grown to include San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, Yamanouchi in Japan, and St. Anton in Austria (in June 2023). And, yes, of course, when mutually beneficial and with town that are of exceptionally good fit, Vail might even grow its "sisters" cities. All the while we are continuing to grow and deepen our relationships with St. Moritz, San Miguel de Allende, Yamanouchi of the Nagano region of Japan (which was reignited after a COVID pause in October 2023 in Vail), and, well, St. Anton is just beginning and we're thrilled.

As Vail's Mayor Langmaid said, “we have so much to learn in connecting with our friends (sister cities) face-to-face.” Our sister city program is both for adults and students to widen our arms to friendship and understanding and be goodwill ambassadors for each other. There is a mutual sharing of our sister city's cultures, foods, best practices for the town and mountain, and a whole variety of other things. Moving forward, we will be delving into student exchange programs. There is so much for our students to learn. 

Below: Our Four Sister Cities and other hopefuls (of which we are in no rush to add more at this point).

Vail's founder Pete Seibert knew he wanted a town that contained pieces of several ski resorts in the Alps: Zermatt, the classic Swiss village at the bottom of the Matterhorn; Kitzbuhel and St. Anton and in Austria; and Meribel, in France.

"I had visited Zermatt several times and admired it so much that I eventually memorized the town blueprints, with the idea of bringing Zermatt to Colorado. I even measured the length and width of its streets and took photos of buildings

that were especially appealing," shared Seibert.

OUR NEXT STEPS:

1. Stemming from Pete Seibert's dream for our ski town, we will next explore friendship/sister-city relationships with Zermatt, Kitzbühel, St. Anton, and Méribel. Also on our radar is the ski town of Cortina in Italy (we have a street named after it in Vail; additionally they, like Vail, have been host to three World Alpine Ski Championship and are hosting their second Olympics with the Milano Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic Games). We believe there could be great synergies for all five of these alpine cities and we are excited. We are in no rush (and their are more cities beyond this), but expect by Vail 2033 we will have two additional sister cities! 

2. In addition to our cultural learning exchanges, Vail will, like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and other cities, also add a large (and picturesque art exhibit-ish) sign marker pointing to our sister cities along with the number of miles separating Vail from our sister city. Our signage/mileage marker exhibit will be at the end of Bridge Street. Additionally, on Vail mountain we will have painted signs in one (or more) of our new restaurants/huts. As Vail expands the number of runs in Pete's Bowl, we may even name one of our runs after one of the sister cities that initially was his inspiration for developing Vail (and along that run may where we have one of Vail's new huts (with the cuisine and a chef from that town).. Named of runs after sister cities occasionally happens. Courchevel's sister city is Park City, Utah, and it has a red-graded ski piste named "Park City".

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Note 1: Zermatt is possible. In the United States, Zermatt it also a Sister City of Snowbird. But it is very possible for a town to have more than one sister city in the same country. Regarding the match, Vail patterned it's Bridge Street after the streets of Zermatt and has a street in the Town of Vail named Matterhorn. Additionally, the profiles of our guests are quite similar and we feel that many that would benefit from this partnership. Additionally, there are direct flights from Zurich to Denver (both area's most popular airports). 

Note 2: Kitzbühel is possible. In the United States, Kitzbühel also has Sun Valley as a sister city (begun in 1966). To Vail's advantage, one of Vail's first residents was Austrian Olympic skier Pepi Gramshammer. He grew up Kufstein, Austria (32 km from Kitzbühel). The founders of Vail, from seeing Pepi at the international ski races, offered him the job of official ambassador of our new ski resort. Pepi Gramshammer promoted the new resort in Vail and founded the Gasthof Gramshammer, a restaurant, hotel, and bar that feels like a little bit of Austria in the Rocky Mountains. It opened two years after Vail opened and is still one of Vail's most enjoyed establishments. Johann von Trapp, Austrian American singer and former member of the Trapp Family Singers, whose lives were the inspiration for the musical and movie The Sound of Music,  characterized it perfectly by saying: “The Austrian contribution to skiing in America was huge because it was the seed for all that developed.”

Note 3: Cortina d'Ampezzo is open and good!

Note 4: Following Pete Seibert's love of Méribel - it is also possible. Méribel is located at the center of the world's biggest linked ski-lift network in France's world-class Three Valleys (Trois Vallées) ski domain. A longstanding and commendable policy of restricting the styling of most construction projects to maintain the traditional wood-clad, stone-tiled, chalet-style of architecture typical of this region, has resulted in Méribel being one of the more attractive resorts of its size in the French Alps. The wooded setting further enhances the effect and lends Méribel a pleasant Alpine village ambiance, despite the fact that it's actually a purpose-built ski resort. A perennial favorite among dedicated enthusiasts who return regularly most seasons, Meribel has a well-deserved reputation for offering a fabulous range of great skiing and snowboarding terrain, and for being one of the liveliest resorts in the Alps. 

Note 5: Vail has streets also named after Chamonix, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and Davos.  We recognize that all these world-class ski resorts share many similarities among clientele, guest service, lodging, and amenities in intimate alpine settings. Unfortunately, Aspen already has these three cities as among their official seven sister cities. Telluride has Megeve, France as sister city. 

Note 6: Beyond our sister cities mileage pointer art/exhibit at the top of Bridge Street, another mileage sign marker at the top of Vail mountain (perhaps next to bronze Elk outside of Two Elk Lodge) in wood will made. We believe both will contribute quite well to our international town/mountain flare and a desire for others to want to come and see (perhaps their city) listed on Vail's prominent sign in quite significant locations. Both of these markers will be erected and uncovered at the Initiation Ceremony with our fifth sister city.

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We will always be creative on ways to highlight these special partnerships and our commitment to them. Rome, for example, has a column dedicated to Paris. Others have large town monuments or granite/stone markers fancifully engraved with their sister city's crest. 

We will need to be creative on location, etc., but we also envision a new park called "Sister City Park" (with a strong marker like done above). Different parts of of the park could be designated with trees, shrubs, and flowers from that sister city. My sense is that this level of outreach would be well appreciated. And the type of world-class quality that would continue to solidify our marking and our role as a great international city/town. At the same time, Vail will be the example/lead that other cities can follow. And, who knows, but the attraction to visit Vail, to see all our care that we give to others, might just be heightened too. 

Benefits of sister cities/resorts: it encourages sharing of skiing and village customs, sending people to each other's cities to learn from each other about ski techniques and city/transportation management, foods, and the list goes on.

At the Initiation Ceremony in our upcoming (unknown at this moment) Sister City, Vail will gift (first checking to confirm such is OK) an Elk head and plaque which is representative of the Vail and the animals that live among our mountain town. Shown below is a buffalo head gifted to Garmisch-Partenkirchen from Aspen when they made official their partnership city. And in the image to the right (below) is the Elk that sits in the Ritz-Carlton in Bachelor Gulch as an example.

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We feel the goodwill from shining the light on our Sister Cities and gifts like these will continue to pay dividends  for decades to come. Please, of course, share your ideas with us. Thank you!

We hope this (and our progress to our aspirations) can inspire and excite you on this journey of ours ahead!

And we hope our 2033 vision can brighten your vision for Vail too. There are so many off-the-wall opportunities for Vail to continue to thriving as a marque world-class ski destination in the United States. We look forward to it.

As you may have heard, Vail is interested in buying one of Robert Indiana's "LOVE" sculptures. That one may go in the courtyard near the Vail Art Museum. But at Vail's Sister's City Park, we are hoping to have the Robert Indiana "AMOR" sculpture which means LOVE in Latin and Spanish. 

Each of Vail's Sister Cities will have a large named with the city's name monument/marker. And additionally, there will be a flag pole in the area of the park designed for receptions. And flags of each of the countries represented will be available for use at all times. 

Also at the park is our Sister Cities fountain, a unique representation of the world with Vail at its center. The fountain’s geyser-like spouts mark our 4 sister cities, each positioned according to its global relationship to Vail. 

Sit back and relax. Watch your kids run thru the fountains with water playfully leaping from their spouts. This park celebrates Vail's commitment to strengthening global economic ties and cultural understanding for all ages. Our sister city connections to the world create special relationships with the 4 Sister Cities in 4 countries. 

Rather than a simple fountain—it's just not Vail's style 😉—we've been inspired by the town fountain in Southbank, London, United Kingdom. It has four "rooms" so that minorly keep you dry. Of course, many of the kids and others enjoy the thrill of running between room even when all the walls are up!  :) 

Vail may do something similar! No idea will be turned away... more to come. 

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