Vail Square

Vail Square is the result of a $200 million renovation project that was initiated in recent years. Found in the Lionshead Village area and close to the heart of Vail Village, it offers numerous shops and galleries that can fill hours on end. That's not all, however. The Eagle Bahn Gondola offers high-speed access to the slopes from Vail Square, and the hotels that are found in the immediate area are among the best around. Add in the ice rink, and it only gets more enticing.

Over the years, Vail Resorts management started to feel that the experience in Vail Village had deteriorated. It was especially believed that the resort's village just wasn't competing with the villages at competitor ski resorts, such as Aspen and Park City. As such, the Vail Square notion was born, initiating a greater renovation process that aims to put the village experience on par with the skiing experience.

Lionshead Village unfolds to the immediate west of the Vail Village center. This basically puts Vail Square visitors in the heart of it all, and it also means that the hotels found in this area can make excellent vacation bases. Stay at one of the Vail Square hotels, and you won't have to go far to find all kinds of things, including boutiques, ski shops, and eateries of various kinds. Lively bars and clubs also call this part of Vail home, as does the Arrabelle Ice Rink, which is open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Rental skates are available if you need them.

At Vail Square, the Eagle Bahn Gondola is complemented by the Born Free Express chairlift, which provides a shorter ride to some of the runs. Because of both lifts, Vail Square basically enjoys a ski-in, ski-out location, and at least one of the local hotels promises true ski-in, ski-out bliss. This hotel is the Arrabelle at Vail Square, and it is easily one of the best Vail luxury hotels.

The Vail Square hotels are all enticing, and this has a lot to do with their locations. It also has to do with the high levels of comfort that they provide. At the Arabelle, you can indulge in personal concierge service, for example, and the well-equipped guest units are arguably the best that you will find anywhere in Vail.

Another lodging gems that figures among the Vail Square hotels is the Antlers at Vail, and the area is also home to the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort & Spa and inviting condo establishments such as Vail Spa Condominiums and Montaneros Condominiums. For those who are trying to save on lodging, the Lionshead Arcade and the Lionshead Inn offer some of the cheapest rates in the Vail Square area.

Vail Square plays host to various events, including outdoor concerts during the warmer months, and winter visitors who have kids in tow might be happy to know that it is where you will find the renowned Vail Children's Snowsports School. Also found at Vail Square is a Vail Information Center where visitors can get help with all kinds of things, including finding a place to stay, purchasing Vail lift tickets, and getting in touch with the area tour options.

If nothing else, you might keep Vail Square in mind when trying to figure out where to park at Vail. Just steps from the heart of this area is the Lionshead Transportation Center. It offers paid parking, and after 3 p.m. on summer days, you can park there for free. Vail Valley buses also stop at the Lionshead Transportation Center, and it is home to an information center of its own for visitors to take advantage of.

Image: Jack Affleck, Beaver Creek Resort

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