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5 Weekend Escapes: Vail

In the winter, Vail attracts aggressive skiers to its black-diamond slopes, about 100 miles away from Denver. Summer visitors come for different reasons:outstanding fly-fishing, wildlife concierges who know the best hikes through the surrounding White River National Forest and burgers at Wolcott Yacht Club—the insider's stop after a day of white-water rafting on the Eagle River.

Where to Stay
Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
Inspired by Western park lodges like Yellowstone's Old Faithful, the 1 1/2-year-old 237-room Ritz has a 21,000-square-foot spa. The hotel's unusual outdoor programs include amenities like Loan a Lab, which lends guests a dog to take on hikes, and a wildlife concierge who can help with wildflower identification and animal tracking (doubles from $295; 0130 Daybreak Ridge, Avon; 800-576-5582 or ritzcarlton.com).

Sonnenalp Resort of Vail
In a town known for fake-chalet architecture, Sonnenalp has genuine Bavarian charm (it's been owned and managed by two generations of the Faessler family), as well as 88 stylish rooms, all with fireplaces, and expansive views of either Vail Village or Gore Creek. Plus, the hotel is extremely well located, right in the center of town (doubles from $240; 20 Vail Rd.; 866-284-4411 or sonnenalp.com).

What to Do
Gore Creek Flyfisherman
The place with the best fly-fishing guides in Vail (183-7 E. Gore Creek Dr.; 970-476-3296 or gorecreekflyfisherman.com).

Lakota River Guides
All levels of rafting trips are available, including night-vision expeditions for nocturnal wildlife spotting (800-274-0636 or lakotariver.com).

Red Sky Golf Club
An eternal local debate exists over which course is best: the Tom Fazio, with stunning views of Vail's Back Bowls, or the Greg Norman, which cleverly incorporates the hilly terrain (376 Red Sky Rd.; 866-873-3759 or redskygolfclub.com).

Where to Eat
Cranberry Isles Seafood Company
Oysters and lobsters are shipped overnight to this popular 1 1/2-year-old restaurant (27 Main St., Edwards; 970-926-0639).

Larkspur
Chef and owner Thomas Salamunovich features a 4,000-bottle wine room, plus dishes like roasted duck with sun-dried apricots (458 Vail Valley Dr.; 970-479-8050).

Wolcott Yacht Club
Local kayakers and rafters head here directly from the Eagle River for hefty burgers and fish tacos (27190 Hwy. 6, Wolcott; 970-926-3444).

Published May 2004
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