Vail or Steamboat Springs???

Old Nov 11th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Vail or Steamboat Springs???

We are planning a short trip the weekend before Christmas and have narrowed it down to Vail or Steamboat Springs. Airfare and lodge prices are similar, so either would be fine. We are just looking for something with a nice holiday atmopshere.
Some things we need opinions on...
Would one be cheaper then the other as far as rentals/lift tickets?
How far are both airports from the towns themselves?
Is one likely to have better/more snow during that time of year?
While I know it is going to be crowded, would one maybe be less crowded than the other?
Which would you pick?
mgtr is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2006, 05:47 PM
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steamboat's ticket is a few dollars less than vail's.
steamboat is about 150 miles from denver and the drive would take about 3 hours.
vail is about 100 miles and the drive will take around 2 hours.
if you fly to either vail or steamboat the airports are within a few minutes of the towns. both are expensive flights.
both should have excellent snow. steamboat is already reporting some.
vail is gigantic which can be an advantage if you know your way around the mtn and can thus avoid the crowds. steamboat will be easier to navigate imho.
i personally prefer the town of steamboat. it is a real town and continues to support working ranches. vail was built in the 70's in what used to be a cattle pasture. it's designed to look like a europeon village. both are really excellent ski areas and towns, so it really depends on which atmosphere would please you more.
both have everything from mcd's to fine dining.
both will be totally decorated and probbably have things like sleigh rides, caroling, etc going on.
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Old Nov 11th, 2006, 06:24 PM
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Vail's airport is surrounded by mountains; Hayden (Steamboat's airport) is flatter. The mountains seem to cause a little more turbulance during landing and take-off.
Crowds are not too bad at either because Vail's mountain is very large; steamboat is more remote, so there aren't many weekenders.
Because Steamboat is more northerly, the snow is generally good, but sometimes too good.
What really sets the two apart are their atmospheres; Vail is more sophisticated and feels like a European village; while, steamboat has more of a rustic, western feel.
Most recently (12/04) we visited Steamboat. We stayed at the Steamboat Grand and loved it. I highly recommend the following restaurants: Cujino's (Italian), The Cabin (expensive, gourmet), Chaps bar (margaritas and nachos), Bear River Grill, Hazie's (at mid-mountain), Blue Sage Pizza and Soda Creek.
All in all, if I wanted a casual, laid-back vacation with ample and varied offerings for skiing and dining, I'd pick Steamboat. If I wanted a sophisticated vibe and greater quantity of offerings for skiing and after-ski activities (shopping, dining, night life)I'd pick Vail.
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Old Nov 11th, 2006, 06:36 PM
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Nearly everything at Steamboat Springs will be a little bit cheaper than at Vail.....but just a "little bit".

The closest airport to Vail is in Eagle, about 30 minutes to the west.

Likewise, the closest airport to Steamboat is in Hayden, about 25 miles west. (Again.....a "little bit" closer)

Conversely, the town of Vail is right at the base of the ski hill, whereas the ski hill at Steamboat is about 3-4 miles from the town proper.

Steamboat has one nice hot springs for soaking right in town and another (Strawberry Hot Springs) about 3 miles north of town. Vail has no hot springs.

I like the mountain at Vail better than at Steamboat, in regards to both size and ease of getting around. Yet Steamboat generally gets more early season snow than Vail.
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Old Nov 12th, 2006, 08:15 AM
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MaureenB
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Completely different feeling to Steamboat vs. Vail. I agree with above descriptions. Steamboat is more authentic Colorado country, with wide open vistas. Vail was created to look like a European town, and sits next to the highway. Very expensive shops and dining in Vail. Probably less per diem expense in Steamboat. Great opportunities for horse-drawn sleigh rides in Steamboat's open country. I personally prefer Steamboat.
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Old Nov 12th, 2006, 09:53 AM
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Don't get me wrong. I too love the town of Steamboat Springs. It's "authentic west". And I love the hot springs. I prefer it's "open-ness" to the more claustrophobic valley that Vail is situated in, and I'm not enthralled with the ambiance of the town of Vail which to me seems somewhat...........contrived, for lack of a better word.

But the ski area at Vail is bigger, more easily accessible from the town proper, and a bit easier to navigate from point "A" to point "B" once you're on it(IMHO).
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Old Nov 12th, 2006, 07:25 PM
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You've gotten good advice, and obvious bias from frequent visitors and locals. I'm only going to add that you can also easily ski at Beaver Creek if you choose Vail... and my (terrain) preference between Vail and Steamboat... Vail. You really can't go wrong with either though. So have a good time whichever you choose.
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Old Nov 13th, 2006, 03:31 AM
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HIGH season both places. Can you find lodging at this date?
I prefer Vail--and you can ski other areas nearby too.
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