Guest Blog: 36 Hours at Vail’s Sonnenalp Resort

Travel writer Linda Hayes shares the highlights of her recent visit to Vail Village’s charming Sonnenalp Resort:

We were only a 90-minute drive from home, but it seemed like a world away. That’s the beauty of the Sonnenalp, the lovely resort in the heart of Vail Village to which we’d made a short (yet oh-so-sweet) mid-week retreat.

The Sonnenalp brings a bit of Bavaria to the heart of Vail Village.

The 88-suite resort is owned by the Fassler family, who also own the gorgeous Sonnenalp Bavaria in the German Alps (Sonnenalp means “Sun on the Alps” in German). Johannes Fassler, a fourth generation hotelier, runs the place and his influence is felt in everything from the sincerity of the staff, dressed in traditional lederhosen, to the flower boxes on the balconies.

John, a veteran Sonnenalp valet, remembered us from a prior visit (our orange Land Rover was a giveaway, but stillâ¦) as we pulled up to the door, and from then on, we made personal connections at every turn.

A seat by the fire in the Spa Lounge is the perfect place to relax before enjoying a workout, spa treatment or swim. Grab a hit of flavored oxygen at the Oxygen Bar.

Executive chef Steve Topple, who moved down from Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek to run Sonnenalp’s trio of restaurants, stopped by our table at dinner in elegant Ludwig’s. His menu gives equal billing to both wild game and seafood, which he has flown in daily from both coasts. I went straight for plump sea scallops served over white bean ragout with a bacon vinaigrette, followed by a whole snapper stuffed with crab, while my husband couldn’t resist the butter-poached lobster with beef short ribs and garlicky mashed potatoes. Sommelier Jarrett Quint poured spot-on wines for each course. After dinner, we joined him next door at the Swiss Chalet for dessertâtraditional Palatschinken (crepes filled with hazelnut cream and laced with chocolate sauce) and a glass of port.

Indulgent dishes like this Surf ‘n Turf (lobster and beef short ribs over garlicky mashed potatoes) are a specialty of chef Steve Topple at Ludwig’s, the Sonnenalp’s signature restaurant.

In the morning, my husband hit a dozen inches of fresh powder on the slopes. Me? I high-tailed it to the spa. My visit there started with a terrific, one-on-one Pilates mat class with Sheila, after which Cynthia went to work on my fingers and toes (Ski Teal We Drop is my new favorite color). Next up was a totally indulgent HydraFacial that my aesthetician, Jessica, described as feeling like little wet kisses. It did, and was the perfect foil to Colorado’s cold, dry clime.

From beauty products to yoga clothes, the Sonnenalpâs sweet little Spa Shop has everything you need to enjoy a day of pamperingâat the in-house spa or at home.

Invigorated from our day, my husband and I snuggled for a while by the fire in our suite, which, with mountain views, authentic Bavarian furnishings, luxuries like downy comforters and a king-size bathroom with a soaking tub and heated marble floors, we found extremely difficult to leave.

Guest suites offer a view of Gore Creek or Vail Village and feature a comfy living room furnished with custom-made Bavarian furniture.

The sizzle of Topple’s new seven-burger menu at Bully Ranch proved irresistible, though. Soon enough, we were seated in the Western-style room, complete with chinked log walls and wood-plank floors. Our picks, a Definitive Burger (think Angus beef, candied bacon, onion crisps and blue-cheese butter) and a Hot Wing (a crispy chicken burger slathered with Frank’s hot sauce and topped with a pile of slaw and blue cheese dressing), were seriously good. Our nightcap was the tinkling of piano keys in the King’s Club on the way back to our room.

Rustic Western decor at Bully Ranch is the perfect setting for après-ski. The seven gourmet burgers are local faves, especially when paired with a brew from Crazy Mountain Brewing Company in Edwards.

Too soon, it was time to leave. Fortified by the Sonnenalp’s famous buffet breakfast, we piled back into the Rover and headed home with a snowstorm nipping at our wheels. It might have been only 36 hours, but our getaway to the Sonnenalp was long enough to tide us overâuntil next time.
To learn more about the Sonnenalp, visit

Categories: Mountain Travel