Donnerstag, 29. Januar 2015

ALPEN TRAVEL TIPS & PICKS: World Class Excitement in VAIL - Feb 2015

In just a couple of days, Vail, Colorado will turn into the "Olympics" of World Ski Championships, hosting the biggest event  (next to the Olympics) in the Alpine Ski World: The FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Usually hosted in Europe, this thrilling event will take place for the fourth time ever in its 104 year old history here in in the USA. The event will attract ski enthusiasts from all over the world who will be cheering on their National teams.

The Vail Valley Foundation quotes, "The World Championships represent the largest and most impressive collection of ski racing talent in the world, second only to the Olympics. To host such an event is not only a great honor for our community and our state, but a great opportunity to rally the nation around the sport of skiing..."

Visit their website to find out more about the FIS Championships beginning 2 Feb 2015.

If you go...

be sure to get your good luck SWISS Cowbell to cheer on your favourite team!


With all of the excitement about to descend upon this "Alpine" looking American ski town, I thought it appropriate to share with my Alpen Schatz Travel Fans my "Alpen" Travel Picks in Vail, including my favorite hotel and places to dine and shop in this colorful "Alpine" styled Colorado ski town.


Being the ultimate Europhile and therefore extreme critic when it comes to fine places to stay in America, the SONNENALP in Vail tops the list in European fine luxury accommodation, true Alpine ambiance and the European style professionalism demonstrated by the staff.

DaVinci enjoying our rather large
suite, complete with fireplace

Pet friendly and situated in the heart of Vail, the SONNENALP is by far my top choice, not only for my pick in Vail, but one of my top picks in the world as one of the finest and most enjoyable places to stay - oozing with European gemütlichkeit and refined elegance that I so relish in European five star resorts - and the SONNENALP being situated right here on our back door step! 

Not only are their rooms tastefully decorated with Alpine Baurernhaus (Farmhouse) furnishings, inviting Alpine fireplaces and romantic balconies, but their extensive European SPA is a reason in itself to stay at the hotel.

Relaxing at the spa

The SPA is one of the most beautiful, relaxing, all encompassing spas I have ever experienced - complete with a rather large pit fireplace and snack/beverage bar for light indulgences inbetween soaking in the hot tub and swimming in their indoor-outdoor pool.

Baked Artichoke Dip in Sourdough Bowl, Seared Ahi Tuna Salad
and over-the-top Cobb Salad at Bully Ranch
For dining, the Sonnenalp has two of my favourite restaurants in Vail - which in the summer are also pet friendly when dining on their romantic patios: The Swiss Chalet Fondue Restaurant and their Alpine "rustical" Bully Ranch Bar & Restaurant. The food in both establishments is top notch and highly recommended by myself and Valentino and DaVinci who have experienced their patio dining and of course tasty samples of my meal :)

Read our full review of the Sonnenalp HERE

Coming back to the FIS Ski Championships, the Sonnenalp is one of the main host hotels for the FIS, accommodating the German Ski Association amongst other FIS Ski celebrities.

Meet the German Ski Association at the Sonnenalp
In fact,  over the next two weeks, they are hosting TWO exciting events nightly whereby you can meet the German and Swiss Ski champions over dinner - in the "German Haus" at  Bully Ranch (the German Team) and in the "House of Switzerland" at the Swiss Chalet Restaurant (the Swiss Tearm). Reservations recommended. 

Dine with the European Ski Champions at the Sonnenalp
Make your reservations now!
20 Vail Road, Vail, CO
Tel. 970-476-5656

 European Shopping Pick: GORSUCH

Established in 1964 and situated in the heart of Vail's village core, Gorsuch is a family run European emporium filled with beautiful Alpine designer clothing, home furnishings, stylish ski gear and much more.

Gorsuch carries a fine selection of Alpen Schatz imports, including our famous yodeling, dancing and singing marmots and many of our classic handcrafted Swiss cowbells and collars.

Gorsuch's baby Berner, Zeus at 4 months

They also have their own signature Bernese puppy waiting to greet you - sweet Zeus.
Valentino and DaVinci got to meet the little guy on a recent visit we made to Vail and we all fell in love with their miniature (but not for long) equivalent!
Gorsuch is indeed one of my favourite shops to visit when in Vail - full of Europe's finest temptations and true Alpine eye candy everywhere you look.

263 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO
Tel. 970-476-2294

DaVinci meeting Zeus -
"Let's play!"

HUNTER Swiss Cross Collars

Situated just steps away from Gorsuch in the Village Core of Vail is an amazing pet's treasure chest filled with gourmet dog and cat accessories, treats and toys.

The Pet Boutique of Vail is hands down, Valentino and DaVinci's favourite shop, where they insist on spending as much time as possible on our visits to Vail.

Valentino, DaVinci and two Doodles
getting their "Treat Fix" from Deena

Deena, the owner, is extremely friendly and always seems to have yummy treats on hand for visiting pups. 

The Pet Boutique of Vail carries one of the most extensive collections of Alpen Schatz Swiss, German and Edelweiss "Herzli" Austrian pet accessories in the Nation - in addition to a wide range of our original Swiss Handcrafted Cowbells of ALL sizes.

She even carries our signature oak Swiss Alpine Kegs- for one's pup to wear proudly or to sit with honour on the bar.

So, be sure to visit The Pet Boutique of Vail on your next visit - a must for both you and  your loving four-legged faithful friend!

Vast Array of Swiss Cowbells at the Pet Boutique of Vail

182 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO
(970) 476-0255

Ski Enthusiast Pick: 
The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum
and Hall of Fame

For those who have a passion for history, Vail houses a must visit: 

Conveniently located on the third level of the Vail Village Parking Lot, the Museum offers a nostalgic walk through the history of skiing (& boarding). With its vast array of pictures and memorabelia, one is transported back to the beginning of a sport that is now one of the biggest recreational sport industries in the world.

They have a number of exhibits, including one honoring the fames 10th Mountain Division - the ski troopers of World War II.


German Custom
After visiting the exhibits, wander through the museum's Alpine Gift Shoppe, which features many Alpen Schatz goodies, from our limited edition German Handcrafted Steins, custom labeled with VAIL, COLORADO or BEAVER CREEK, to our popular Italian Silk Edelweiss Scarves and Scarf Ornaments

They also have a nice selection of our cute and cuddly mini stuffed Bernese toys - complete with Swiss scarf! Woof!

The Colorado Ski & Snowboard Museum
231 South Frontage Road East
Vail, CO


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Mittwoch, 28. Januar 2015

ALPEN TRAVEL TIPS & PICKS: Five Paw Alpine Luxury at the SONNENALP in Vail, Colorado

Lapping it up in European Luxury - 
There's no place better than
The SONNENALP in Vail, Colorado
Reminiscent of five star European Alpine luxury, the Sonnenalp Resort in the heart of Vail, Colorado takes the cake.  With its whitewashed walls, rustic beams, rounded arches, wooden  and classic “Bauernhaus”  (farmhouse) furnishings, one feels transported right into the Bavarian Alps.
Pet Friendly staff greeting DaVinci and Valentino

Alpine furnishings
adorn the hallways
The boys, Valentino and DaVinci, were greeted with smiles and welcoming pets as we trundled into the lobby after our long drive from Telluride, Colorado. Having enjoyed living 16 years in Europe, the Sonnenalp enveloped us with relaxing warmth and Gemüetlichkeit that is standard in Alpine classic country resorts.

Impressive professional staff wearing classic Alpine boiled wool vests offered the boys treats and the Concierge generously offered to walk the pups, should we be gone for any extended period of time at dinner, shopping, hiking or skiing.

Alpine fireplaces and wooden
Schranks complete the European
look and feel

The rooms are luxuriously large, complete with wooden European furnishings, romantic balconies and warm inviting fireplaces.

The boys enjoying our spacious room

The beds are super comfortable ...
Testing out the bed. Yup! Just right!
and the bathroom palatial - complete with jaccuzi tub and separate shower and WC.
Palatial bathroom

The robes they provide tempt one to take a warm bubble bath...

 or relax in their world class European SPA.

The Sonnenalp SPA boasts an indoor-outdoor serpentine heated pool

and indoor-outdoor hot tubs.

As with all fine European SPAS, the Sonnenalp Spa is designed around the Zen of ultimate relaxation, healing, and health. It even boasts a rather large fire place with comfortable seating on which to relax in between soaks or treatments. Their juice bar offers light healthy snacks as well as signature cocktails for that romantic evening spent with one's partner. Lawrence and I spent a magical evening in the spa unwinding and dreaming of our next trip back to Europe.

The Sonnenalp is  the last Family owned and operated hotel in Vail, run by the second generation of its German founder who created the first  Sonnenalp Resort in Bavaria, Germany. Pictures of the original Sonnenalp adorn the walls of its Vail counterpart. The Bavarian Sonnenalp was founded in 1911 when an old Bavarian farmhouse was converted into the first hotel.

True to its German environmentally conscious roots, the Sonnenalp is a 100% green hotel  - in fact the only 100% green hotel in the whole of Vail Valley! 

Valentino and DaVinci exploring the river bank
 behind the Sonnenalp
The resort is nestled next to the Gore River and offers ample places on either side of the river to allow one’s pup to romp and play without fear of cars or traffic. Each am and pm we took a quiet stroll on the lawns opposite the hotel , along the river leading into the core of downtown Vail with its many quaint shops and restaurants – to include the pups favourite – The Pet Boutique of Vail.
The Pet Boutique of Vail is a darling pet boutique with all sorts of yummy treats and toys…not to mention their fine selection of European collars,  leashes and cowbells from Alpen Schatz

Getting yummy treats from
Deena, the owner
Deena, the owner, warmly welcomes people and their pets alike. In fact, Valentino and DaVinci know exactly where the boutique is, and hardly able to contain their enthusiasm, always break into a canter once we reach the pedestrian zone leading to their favourite shop.

182 Gore Creek Drive, Vail, CO

Mouthwatering Seared Ahi Tuna Salad, warm Artichoke Dip
and scrumptious Cobb Salad
For restaurants, one need not go far. The Sonnenalp itself boasts TWO fantastic restaurants: The Swiss Chalet and Bully Ranch. At both of these fine establishments, one can dine happily with their pup in tow on one of their two outdoor patios. One evening we encountered FOUR other Bernese guests dining with their owners between both restaurants. My boys were in Berner heaven!

During my stay, I sampled both restaurants and had the most amazing traditional Swiss Fondue at the romantic Swiss Chalet and at the more rustic Bully Ranch German-style "Stube" restaurant, I savoured the most amazing Seared Ahi Tuna salad - wonderfully fresh and seared to perfection.

Both located in the Sonnenalp Resort Hotel, Vail
Reservations 970-479-5429


Across the street from the Sonnenalp is another great pet friendly restaurant:  The Alpenrose.  The Alpenrose is not just a restaurant, but bakery as well. Here one can dine on German-style cuisine with their beloved pup(s) in tow. The Alpenrose takes dog dining seriously as they even offer a Doggy Menu, complete with Brats and  Brotchen served on porcelain so that Fido won’t feel  left out.

100 East Meadow Drive, Vail, CO


On our morning walk, we discovered Loaded Joe’s - a great place to get a quick morning coffee or tea and light breakfast sandwich or croissant. The privately owned cafe is situated right across the famous Covered Bridge in the Vail Village Core. It is next to a small riverside lawn complete with picnic tables.  

Loaded Joe's offers a tasty selection of breakfast, lunch and late night dining options. This quaint Vail cafe also doubles as a late night joint, offering food up until 2am when the bars have closed. Needless to say, I did not experience their late night "after hours" cuisine, but their breakfast and tea is always a perfect way to start the day, dining on one of the picnic tables with my pups, Valentino and DaVinci frolicking on the lawn and chasing Vail squirrels up the trees lining the banks of the Gore river.
DaVinci looking for Squirrels

227 Bridge St, Vail, CO

President of the Vail Valley Foundation checking out
Alpen Schatz goods at the FIS Expo at the Sonnenalp
We love the Sonnenalp so much, that we have stayed multiple times, both in winter and summer.  My visit last summer, happened to coincide with an Alpen Schatz business trip to attend a Sonnenalp hosted gathering of the Who’s Who of Vail and the surrounding towns who are involved with the exciting upcoming 2015 FIS WorldSki Championships.

With the European flair of this event, typically taking place in Europe, the local organizers invited AlpenSchatz to “show and tell” its European imports in light of making custom European gifts, giveaways and souvenirs for the event. 

My pups and I exhibited our European made Alpine Pins, Hats, Steins, Dog Collars and Cowbells and strategized on how we could best customize these items for the shops in Vail to sell.
The Sonnenalp is one of the main sponsor hotels for the event, and it is no wonder with its Alpine style that it will be hosting some of the European teams competing. See our posting on the FIS Event and the Sonnenalp's participation HERE.
We LOVE the Sonnenalp!
It get's a FIVE PAW rating from us every visit-
Valentino and DaVinci
 All in all, our pups, my fiance, Lawrence, and I always look forward to our next visit to this delightful bubble of European luxury nestled in the heart of the bustling village of Vail, Colorado.

European Luxury in the Heart of the Rockies
20 Vail Rd, Vail, CO