The Dog Lover’s Epic Guide to Vail

Get your sporting dog out of the condo and onto the slopes!

By Si Si Penaloza

Dog Lover's Guide to Vail - Get Leashed Mag

Photo credit: Vail Resorts

The best part of a ski holiday ­– besides the powder ­– is the social high. On my recent trip to Vail, the mountains glistened with fresh snow while the village crackled with cozy comforts and a cool community. Best of all, Vail is a four season wonderland for adventurous dogs, even if that “big adventure” boils down to paws getting primped and pampered. What’s better than spending the day on these majestic slopes and topping it off with a cuddlefest by the fire with your fur mate?

From posh pet amenities and perfectly groomed runs to droolworthy spas, Vail takes its hedonistic delights very seriously. Slopeside lunch spots buzz with high altitude excitement and post­-mogul glee. It’s an undeniably upscale scene, without the airs of Aspen. With its sporting spirit and thriving restaurants, Vail doesn’t need celebrities to validate its winning appeal. Here, it’s all about the mountain.

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As the temperature drops, powder junkies flock to Vail on the Epic Pass; the greatest thing to happen to skiers since high speed chair lifts. Imagine one pass that pays for itself in five days, giving you unlimited access to Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado; Park City in Utah; Heavenly, Northstar and Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe and Nevada; Perisher in Australia; Afton Alps in Minnesota, Mt. Brighton in Michigan, and Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin. Best of all? No blackout dates.

Vail Resorts is the world’s leading mountain resort operator; the company holds nine world ­class mountain resorts and three urban ski areas. As a company overall, Vail Resorts wins top marks for pet privileges. I spotted several sporting and working breeds ­– Golden Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Great Pyrenees –­ thriving in their element here. You’ll see a whole new side of your urban dog when you unleash them in this inspiring, snowcapped landscape. A hefty Bernese Mountain dog may be clumsy going down narrow loft stairs, but he’s all muscle and mojo on the mountain. But where oh where to stay? Good thing Get Leashed has the inside scoop on all things Vail.

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The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A RockResort

Snow vacations may be a winter staple, but with so many resorts catering to jet­-setting pets, choosing a hotel can be tricky. If you can book early, cinch a pet-­friendly room at The Arrabelle.

The Arrabelle allows pets in select guests rooms and private residences. The hotel invokes a pioneer spirit of wood and stone ski cabins; think sky-high European charm, with vaulted ceilings and granite fireplaces. If your group prefers to kick back and self­-cater, the best bet is going for one of the private residences — a portfolio of spectacular homes within a quick jaunt of every leisure activity you could possible imagine. Imagine the rush of an alpine picnic here, complete with a choice of craft ciders or champagne!

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For the adrenaline ­junkie in me, there’s nothing quite like pointing down a mountain with a plank bound to your boots! Luckily, Vail powder is soft stuff in which to take a spill. My day one wipeout count was a healthy five. Afterward, it’s easy to slip into the groove, capping off a robust day on the slopes with an indulgent evening routine: champagne and canapés at the hotel’s Tavern on the Square restaurant. Be sure to try the Ahi Tuna Poke, by far the standout of the appetizers. They also do a killer artisanal cheese plate, with every element in the proper ratio for my liking. The menu has carnivores covered with a two pound Tomahawk Bone-­in Ribeye seared to perfection. Ice cream lovers will be in dairy heaven as their selection is off the charts. After a meal fit for Olympic Gold Medalist Shaun White, swagger off to slumber in the most decadent beds imaginable.

The Pines Lodge, A RockResort

For the ultimate package to incite major tail wagging, book into The Pines Lodge, A RockResort, and treat your pooch to the Pines Pup Bucket List. This is the ultimate pup-­cation; the dog-­friendly hotel provides over­ the­ top offerings for furry friends from doggie GoPro loans to spa menus! First off, there’s Tails on Trails – Pup parents receive maps of the top dog-­friendly hiking routes in the summer months. Next, dog spa treatments complete with doggie massages, a bath and a blow­out.

Our favorite feature of the Pines Pup Bucket List is such a clever one – Pup POV – guests check out a complimentary GoPro and four­-legged harness to capture their mountain adventures and post bragging rights on social media. We also love the Booze Hounds bit – The Pines Lodge is located close to restaurants where doggies can bust out their best opening lines at their very own “yappy hour.” To top off a rugged day in the woods, Pup Pillow Service is a nightly rawhide bone turndown service, along with a plush doggie bed and leash to use during the stay.

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The Pines Lodge bucket list also includes in­-room Doggie Dining – they get food and water bowls to enjoy their meals in style. And if you are the kind of pet parent who oohs and aws over your dogs’ cute and distinctive paws, four­-legged guests leave their paw print in the doggie guest book! A Polaroid camera is on hand to capture the fur-­filled moment, naturally.

The Lodge at Vail, A RockResort

Luscious Liver dog treats? While you may find such a cookie unappealing, we assure you, this is your dog’s version of food porn. You can find them at The Lodge at Vail. The lodge has tapped the Enchanted Biscuit Company to keep Fido happy with fun, playful treats. There are an array of amenities available – toys, balls, bones and local nibbles like all-­natural treats from local fave Crazy Mountain Brewery to boot! Zoe and Guido’s Pet Boutique is within The Lodge at Vail, stocked with all the goodies your feisty friend could want!

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At The Lodge at Vail, limited hotel rooms and condos are pet-friendly. There are even a few units on the ground floor with direct access outside, making it easier than ever to bring Fido along!

When the property knows a dog will be staying at The Lodge at Vail, sherpa-­lined dog beds as well as dog bowls are placed in the room prior to arrival. Like The Pines Lodge, the concierge can provide guests with trail maps that have dog-­friendly walks highlighted. It’s not uncommon to see staff taking dogs for a brief walk upon request; they are always happy to help.

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Vail Pet Friendly Dining Guide

Here in Vail, locals tote their dogs along just about everywhere – and guests are encouraged to do so as well. After a full­ day of skiing or hiking, hit Vail Village or Lionshead where dog­-friendly patios are plentiful and ready to please. Keep in mind it is always a good practice to call a restaurant before bringing your dog, as policies are subject to change.

Bart and Yeti’s – a beloved Vail institution in Lionshead ­is a laid-back spot that was named for two beloved local dogs. Classic American fare is served up in a cozy log­ cabin style interior and equally charming patio. Bully Ranch wins high marks, tucked away in the Sonnenalp hotel in Vail Village; this cowboy-themed restaurant with Southwestern fare offers expansive outdoor seating.

Bart and Yeti's - Get Leashed Mag

To refuel on savory carbs, your best bet is Blue Moose, serving up specialty pizzas with ingredients like pine nuts, oyster mushrooms and truffle oil. The wrap-around patio in the center of Lionshead makes it prime real estate on sun drenched days, a great place to people watch while lingering over a craft beer. If rustic sausages and hearty rosti is more your thing, Alpenrose has a three decade long track record of satisfying locals and travelers alike. This German and Austrian­-style eatery is a Vail institution, with live music and happy hour specials drawing a lively crowd.

Blue Moose Vail - Get Leashed Mag

Off Leash Dog Park Tips

Stephens Park – Off­-leash dog parks give your dog ample space to let off a little steam. This park is located in the Intermountain neighborhood of West Vail, and offers seasonal use of a playing field as well as a creek for brisk dips. If your dog suffers from attention deficit, be careful; there is no fence surrounding this park, so this one is for dogs with mature recall skills.

Bighorn Park – This well-maintained open space in the scenic East Vail has plenty of terrain to keep your dog engaged; in the summertime there is a pond and tot playground to boot. You are sure to make a new friend or two, and maybe even pick up tips for cool local trails.