The Sonnenalp, Vail

by  Christina Garofalo | Aug 26, 2019
Sonnenalp Hotel, Vail
Sonnenalp Hotel, Vail / Courtesy of the property

Open nearly 40 years, the Sonnenalp is a fixture in Vail’s Bavarian-inspired village. Run by the Faessler family, the hotel was modeled after their century-old B&B of the same name set in Germany’s picturesque Allgäu Alps. The Vail property maintains the same warm, familial atmosphere — from fresh-baked cookies at turndown to your preferred newspaper delivered to your door. The Sonnenalp is located steps from the charming shops, restaurants, bars, and the ski lift. Additionally, the hotel offers great value, especially in shoulder season.

The Basics

Budget Level: Upscale (rates from $240 per night in shoulder season, and from $525 per night in peak season)

Lodging Type: Large Hotel (127 rooms and suites)

What You Need to Know 

The Look

The exterior was fashioned after a Swiss chalet, and the interiors follow suit. Stately couches and armchairs — in a palette of dark green, brown, and blonde wood — are set around fireplaces and large windows, looking out to changing foliage or snowfall. The aesthetic carries into the sizable guest rooms and suites, which are fitted with rustic tables and armoires, (working) whitewashed adobe fireplaces, and bathrooms with heated tile floors and two-person tubs — perfect for a post-mountain soak. The spa has a more modern look, with low white couches, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a new and well-equipped gym.

The Vibe

Warm, family friendly, and traditional — but not stuffy. Since most guests are in town for hiking or skiing, people are in and out throughout the day. Some of the staff even dresses in lederhosen, which adds a whimsical and transportive air (without seeming Disney-esque). The expansive living spaces with fireplaces, free coffee, and fruit contribute to a comfortable, home-away-from-home vibe that set the Sonnenalp apart from big-box chains.

Who Will Love It

Families will love the generous, European-style breakfast buffet, which includes kid-friendly options like Belgian waffles and French pastries; the fondue at the on-site Swiss Chalet restaurant; and game rooms in the basement. For those who value easy access to attractions, the location is a huge perk. The property is at the center of Vail Village and a 10-minute walk to the ski lift, which making coordinating activities and dinners stress-free.

Additionally, anyone seeking a high-end, personalized experience will appreciate the thoughtful touches (cookies at turn down, tea and coffee in the lobby) and attentive staff. It’s not surprising that more than half the clientele are repeat visitors.

Who Might Not

Those looking for an adults-only experience (the Sonnenalp is popular among families) or a trendy après ski scene will not find that here. The décor is purposefully traditional and is not tech-focused. While there are a ton of outlets, none are within reach of the bed. You can also expect a traditional room key and clock radio.

Best Amenity

The spa is a destination on its own. Guests are free to don robes and lounge around the fireplace with a hot tea or magazine in hand (a variety of both are on offer). Floor-to-ceiling windows link the indoor and outdoor pools to a patio, where whirlpools and lounge chairs are arranged amid the trees for privacy. In treatment rooms, guests can adjust heated massage tables and choose from a handful of essential oils to use during their massage. There’s also an oxygen bar (additional charge) to ease altitude sickness. 

At night, we found ourselves looking forward to breakfast the next morning. Served daily in the atrium (which doubles as a wedding reception room), the impressive buffet includes a mix of American staples (eggs, waffles, bacon) and Bavarian favorites, plus fresh-baked breads, smoothies, and an assortment of French cheeses and pastries.

The personal touches go a long way: Each day, housekeeping refills a humidifier (just remember to put it out — if you’re not used to the altitude and dry climate, you’ll want to) as well as two large glass water bottles for your room. A freshly baked cookie is delivered to the room every afternoon.

Money Matters

What’s Included

Daily breakfast and unlimited use of spa facilities — including whirl and lap pools, the sauna, the gym, tea and snacks, infused water, and magazines. In-room perks include heated marble floors in bathrooms, flatscreen TVs with HBO and movies on demand, a Nespresso, daily filtered water, and fresh baked cookies in the evening. Guests can have either The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Vail Daily delivered to their rooms in the morning. There is also free wifi throughout the property.

Fees and Extra Costs You Should Know About

A $40 nightly resort fee per room covers all above perks and use of amenities, plus standard taxes. Note that cancellations within 14 days of arrival will forfeit the first night’s deposit, which is required at booking.

How to Get a Deal

The best way to get a deal on rooms are to visit during shoulder season (spring and fall), when rates can be half the price as they are in winter. Upon arrival, head to the hotel’s casual restaurant, Bully Ranch, for happy hour between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. each day. This includes $4 beer and $6 house wine, plus $6 Mudslides all day on Mondays.

Getting There

In the Neighborhood

Set in the heart of Vail Village, Sonnenalp guests are in walking distance to most major attractions, including the city’s most popular restaurants and bars, the ski lift, and parks.

Nearest Airport

The Sonnenalp is about 35 to 40 minutes by car from Eagle County (Vail) Airport, or two hours from Denver. Epic Mountain Express offers affordable van-pooling between Eagle County (Vail) Airport and Vail/Beaver Creek for $39 one-way and $59 round-trip.

Nearest Public Transit

Once in town, Vail’s free bus system — the largest free bus system in the U.S. — provides reliable, easy-to-navigate service between the mountain, Vail Village, and other points of interest, like the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater. The nearest stop is a five-minute walk from the hotel.

The Bottom Line

This upscale, family-friendly establishment offers thoughtful touches and superb customer service at a great value and in an unbeatable location.

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