There’s nothing I love more than finding hidden gems, small luxury hotels with big personalities. And by big personality I mean, unique locations, immaculate attention to detail, heartfelt service, and amenity options for all, including the littlest members of our family. Recently, my family and I were fortunate enough to stay and play at such a gem: the Sonnenalp in Vail, Colorado.
The Sonnenalp is an elegant, family-owned and -operated resort filled with Alpine charm and European hospitality. Celebrating 40 years since opening its doors in December 1979, it’s the second oldest family-run business in Vail. It is currently operated proudly by Johannes and Rosana Faessler, the fifth generation of the Faessler family. “There’s a lot of motivation to carry the torch and make it better and pass it on. I think it’s a really cool thing,” says Mr. Faessler about managing the resort.
Even more impressive is the fact that the Faessler family is also celebrating 100 years of their family-owned business—the original Sonnenalp hotel in Ofterschwang, Germany first welcomed guests in 1919!
The Sonnenalp accommodates guests with a range of hotel rooms, jr. suites, and 1- and 2-bedroom suites. All rooms are beautifully appointed with custom furnishings imported directly from Germany and Bavarian-style carpeting that was hand-chosen by Mrs. Faessler herself. They each afford stunning views of either Gore Creek or Vail Village, most from their own private balcony. They are charming, and yet built to pamper, with gas log fireplaces, heated marble floors in the bathrooms, a personalized in-room refreshment center, and robes and slippers. Dual phone lines with data ports and complimentary high-speed Internet will make it so your clients don’t skip a beat while they’re away. And yet it’s the little touches, such as the wonderfully comfortable beds, the humidifiers (which housekeeping refills for you daily), and the freshly baked cookies at turndown that will keep your clients going back.
Unique Dining Options
Whether your clients are exploring the legendary ski terrain of Vail Mountain, one of the world’s largest ski resorts, or they’re staying in and heading to the spa, they need to start their day off right by enjoying a sumptuous breakfast buffet at Ludwig’s restaurant. I promise you, it will be one of the highlights of their stay (the Sonnenalp was the first hotel in Vail to offer an extensive breakfast). Set in a beautiful glass-enclosed terrace, Ludwig’s is known throughout Vail for its amazing breakfast offerings, and its reputation is more than well-deserved. Options abound of both hot and cold dishes, homemade breads and pastries, an egg and omelette station, and a la carte choices as well.
Not a breakfast person? No worries.The Sonnenalp has a variety of dining options that are as unique and steeped in history as the resort itself. Clients can enjoy traditional European flavors, savoring Swiss fondue, raclette, or even schnitzel at the Swiss Chalet restaurant, where many of the ingredients are imported directly from Europe. For more casual dining, Bully Ranch serves both lunch and dinner with a Southwestern and American flair (recommend the delicious burger and their famous truffle tater tots).
Or if your clients prefer unique dining experiences in a beautiful European-style venue, head to The Stuberl at Ludwigs. The decor includes some original antiques from the Sonnenalp hotel in Germany, and the menu is simple, yet creative; Friday nights they offer a special lobster menu that is not to be missed.
And last, but certainly not least, what would a ski destination be without a proper apres-ski? Don’t miss an evening at the King’s Club. It’s a cozy spot to unwind after a day on the slopes, with comfortable seating options around a stately fireplace and live music nightly.
“When we first came, hotels did not have spas,” notes Mr. Faessler when asked about the history of the Sonnenalp spa. “We built the first one.” Drawing from the well-known German spa culture, the Sonnenalp spa is a haven for relaxation—it features 27 treatment rooms, an indoor/outdoor pool with summer pool bar, and a variety of hot tubs. And if your clients are affected by the altitude in Vail, make sure they check out the oxygen bar. A fitness center with state-of-the-art equipment and complimentary yoga classes are available to all hotel guests.
A ski vacation with little ones can be a bit overwhelming, and yet staying at the Sonnenalp made it surprisingly simple. When guests arrive and unpack, the valet staff will take their ski and snowboard equipment to their private ski valet at Gorsuch Ski Cafe, which is located just steps from the main gondola and only a short 5-minute walk from the hotel. The Gorsuch Ski Cafe is a one-stop experience where guests can store their gear throughout their stay and have it tuned up or repaired if necessary. If they choose to travel light, the staff at Gorsuch can prepare them for the slopes and outfit them in new, top-of-the-line equipment. It’s also a great place to grab a light snack or a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
If they little ones need to be dropped off at ski school in the morning, there’s no need to fret. The Town of Vail has a complimentary bus that runs year-round throughout Vail, and the Sonnenalp is located immediately on the bus route, with a stop just outside of the lobby. However, the valet staff will happily drop ythemou off anywhere in town as well. Our first day on the mountain, while we were still learning our way around and lugging the kids’ skis, we chose to take the hotel car, until we realized just how simple it was to take the bus!
More Than Just a Place to Ski
Vail Mountain may be one of the most impressive ski resorts in the world, and yet staying at the Sonnenalp makes your time in Colorado so much more than just a ski vacation. While your clients will most certainly feel pampered at the resort, make sure they check out all of the summer and winter activities on offer in and around the area. Getting outdoors and experiencing the Rocky Mountains of Colorado will leave them with memories to last a lifetime, and the helpful Sonnenalp staff can take all the guess work out of it. Join one of their already planned Sonnenalp Adventures, such as the professionally guided hikes and snowshoe tours, or work with the concierge team to create a custom adventure for your clients. From April to October, they can try their hand at golf at the stunning Sonnenalp Golf Course in Edwards, Colorado, just a quick 10-minute drive from Vail Village. The views are breathtaking, and hotel guests are given preferred tee times.
For clients traveling with little ones who need some adult time there’s a kids’ club on property that is open year-round. The program has structured activities, both indoor and outdoor, for children ages 3-12. Children will delight in making crafts, playing games, and on the weekends they can even enjoy dinner and a movie. Babysitting services are also available on property if your clients require childcare outside of the structured kids’ club times.
This story originally appeared in worldstompers.com, a family travel website created to inspire families with kids to expand their idea of adventures. You can follow the adventures of the Bazavilvazo family @worldstompers on Instagram and The Worldstompers on Facebook.