Vail is rightfully seen as a luxury tourism destination for active winter and summer vacations. What many travelers are unaware of is that twice a year the so-called shoulder season is a time to indulge in incredible values.
We just partook of the experience ourselves by visiting Vail for the Spring shoulder season. Typically, it lasts from the week after the official closure of the ski season (April) till a few weeks after the Memorial Day holiday (Mid-June).
The first enjoyable thing is that days are longer and sunnier with mild weather. The vibrancy of colors is evident. We still saw lots of melting snow and even got a few late snowfalls. The main perk is that everything that is related to tourism is much more affordable than normal. The atmosphere was decidedly quiet, staff at hotels and shops are much less overworked than in high season and consequently in a way better mood.
Out and About:
Almost every store is also running a winter sale so this is a great time to buy winter clothing at the end of the season. Outside Vail in nearby Frisco there is an outlet that had upwards of 80% off during this time of the year and even shops in Vail itself had excellent sales on all winter items from luxury to basic brands. A downside for some tourists is the fact of things being calmer and quieter. Not every place is open and indeed many restaurants go on a full or partial hiatus. Supermarkets and restaurants in general are still open, especially as the shoulder season travelers get wise to the perks of coming at this time of the year.
The lifts and gondolas are not functional during this time, but many of those who come at this time of the year are hikers and mountain bikers. The trails can be a little washed out from the spring thaw and conditions aren’t as pristine as in the summer itself, but the shops for hiking gear and bike rentals were fully operational. Another great thing of this time of the year is that day parking is complimentary in Vail and nearby Lion’s Head which is not the case during much of the rest of the year. These are also covered parking lots.
The beautiful hotels in Vail that in season might cost $800 USD a night can retail for $80 USD per night at this time of the year and we had spectacular upgrades to suites that would be near impossible any other time of year. So if you value those perks and status upgrades there may be no better time of year to get them in this part of the world. There is no lack of luxury properties with names like Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Talisa (Luxury Collection) all on site and charging a fraction of their high season prices, with access to all the same great amenities.
The natural wonders:
If you love nature, active traveling and exploring Colorado and specifically Vail is an amazing spot. Shoulder season we would argue is very well suited for those who enjoy silent sports and exclusivity without the price tag or crowding of the peak season. There were many more activities than we ourselves had time to enjoy and the feeling of having both the hotels and mountainsides to ourselves was thrilling.
The best idea to arrive here is to rent a car, there are no tolls and the roads are excellently maintained. There are airport shuttles available from Denver but they are frankly overpriced and the freedom of the car enables more exploration. Sometimes flights from Denver to Aspen itself and Beaver Creek both within and hour’s drive can be had at a good price as well.