Our date with Vail was like a date with someone out of our league. But, with someone in a league that we do not want to be in. It is bougie. We are not bougie. The question we asked ourselves is…”Is it the TOURISTS who are bougie or is it the TOWN that is bougie?” We still don’t know but aren’t sure that question even matters much.
We loved the quaintness of the Vail village, with the winding pedestrian walkways, outdoor restaurants, and the charm of a village with a river running through it. From parking lots that charge $44 for 2 hours of parking, to the upscale boutique shopping, to the designer everything, we couldn’t imagine fitting into a life here where everything would feel like a splurge. What we could imagine was a date though! A first date with full knowledge that, while it would be super fun, there would not be a second date.
We made two stops: at Root and Flower for a glass of wine before dinner at Mountain Standard. Root and Flower just reopened after being closed for a private party, so for a bit, we were the only two in the place. We got wonderful recommendations from the bartenders and even a taste of a few wines before we settled on our decisions. Cas noted something we often have experienced in some of these Colorado skiing and touristy towns, that the locals get better service. Is that to be expected? Maybe. I’ve been a local before and it is a hard earned distinction. What we wonder though is how long it takes to become a local? In the North End of Boston, our neighborhood, we became locals at a few spots after just a few visits. Cas will tell you about our favorite server, who we called Grandma, who would call to us across the street if it’d been a while since we stopped in for a cannoli and espresso. And in Gallup, we never had the feeling of being an insider or a local. Two extremes, perhaps. In any case, we want to feel like we are a part of a community and can imagine that in a place like Vail that might be hard to do.
After our lovely glasses of wine, we went to Mountain Standard. We chose Mountain Standard for its iconic Vail nature. Mountain Standard is the child of the long-standing, white-tablecloth Sweet Basil restaurant. We felt like we got white-tablecloth service in a more casual atmosphere. Plus, we loved being right along the Gore River! We didn’t have reservations and the wait for a table was about an hour. We were able to sit right away at the bar and had excellent service from our bartender, Bru. We also happily picked a few items from a few sections of the menu instead of some of the heavier entrees on the menu. It always seems uncouth to do that at a table where your server is counting on your tip and the tips from a few other tables. But, at the bar, where food is an addition to the drinks, we never feel an awkwardness about it. Any servers/bartenders out there have another opinion? In anycase, we had a lovely meal, delicious drinks, and went to our hotel with very full and satisfied bellies.
We stayed just outside of Vail proper at the DoubleTree. We loved the modern mountain lodge vibe that they had going on with roaring fires, deep leather couches, and (faux?) animal skin throws. Our room, too, went beyond the standard expectations of a DoubleTree to fit with the decor. What took the cake, though, was the pool! Oh, my goodness, the hot tub was huge and nice and deep with seating around the edge. And nearby was a long fire feature with lodge-style rocking chairs lining it. It felt luxurious, especially for a DoubleTree and we were delighted by it. We also were pleased by the drink vouchers and freedom to choose $20 worth of menu or store items as a replacement for a traditional breakfast. This place gets our thumbs up!