SKI Magazine readers recently recognized Vail Mountain as the No. 1 ski resort in North America for the 14th time since the survey began in 1988. And, while Vail is known for its deep powder, it is also known for exclusive hotels and spas, upscale shopping and decadent restaurants. Attracting visitors from around the world, it is the ultimate place for a luxury escape.

Make your home away from home at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa– Vail’s only ski-in/ski-out, AAA Four-Diamond Colorado ski resort. Located at the base of Vail Mountain, it is convenient to all that Vail has to offer. The resort’s richly decorated guest rooms and comfortable beds will leave you wanting for nothing.

Awaken to spectacular mountain views and head to Chair 20, right outside the doors of the resort for a morning on the slopes. If you forgot to bring your ski gear, the resort has an on-site ski shop with rentals. Vail is the largest single-mountain Colorado ski resort, offering more than 30 chair lifts and 5,289 acres of terrain, you can easily navigate to find fresh tracks.

When you are ready for a break head to the heart of Vail Village for lunch at Sweet Basil. The Zagat survey declares it “Colorado’s Most Popular Restaurant” and the lunch menu features such eclectic items such as Niman Ranch pork schnitzel or a simple charbroiled sirloin burger but it is imperative to splurge on the white truffle parmesan fries. Spend the early afternoon wandering the winding cobblestone streets of the village visiting the chic boutiques and art galleries.

After exploring the village head back to the slopes for a few more runs before an afternoon spa treatment at the Aria Spa & Club located in the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. At 78,000-square-feet, it is Vail’s largest spa and fitness facility. The location offers a heated outdoor pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, and aromatherapy steam rooms. Slip into your plush robe and slippers, and unwind in the Sanctuary, a calming space with hand-carved chaise lounges and a central fireplace to help you relax before and after your treatments. The spa provides extensive and exhilarating treatments to ensure you are restored from the morning workout. Try one of the spa’s six signature symphony packages that last from 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours.

For dinner, take a short drive to the exclusive Ritz-Carlton located in Bachelor Gulch. Accessed by a short sleigh ride from the hotel’s great room, Zach’s Cabin is an on-mountain dining experience. Complete with blankets to keep you warm, the sleigh will take you to a magnificent and beautifully decorated cabin with incredible views of the Gore mountain range. Chef Tim McGraw will entice you with his creative American fusion cuisine.

Have a night cap in the newly opened Spago, another addition of master chef Wolfgang Puck, opened at the Ritz in December 2007. Order a cocktail at the trendy yet sophisticated 37-seat bar and make a toast to a most indulgent day.

Vail steals the hearts of everyone who visits. Currently Vail Resort is in the midst of a billion dollar renewal which is said will improve the overall experience. It is a wonder how the experience could get any better…but I think that I can be persuaded to return to find out.

What & Where:
Vail Cascade Resort & Spa (1300 Westhaven Drive, Vail, CO; 800-282-4183 )
Sweet Basil (193 E. Gore Creek Dr.; 970-496-0125)
Aria Spa (inside the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa)
Ritz Carton (0130 Daybreak Ridge, Avon, CO 81620 USA; 970-748-6200)
Zach’s Cabin (970- 845-6575)

Getting There: Less than 2 hours, or approximately 100 miles, west of Denver via Interstate 70