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Finding my Zen in Vail, Colorado

Mom-time travel without the kids

By Holly Rosen Fink, GoGirlfriend contributor

As a working mom, life gets busy. Sometimes I feel like I need to slow down, which often means getting away to really reconnect with a part of me that gets lost in the daily shuffle.

I was recently invited to Vail, Colorado and my first thought, was “Vail in the summertime?” But then I thought of the mountains, the fresh air and the natural environment. And then I thought what a perfect place to rest my mind and get away for a short break.

Vail without the snow

Vail in summertimeWhen most people think of Vail, they think of winter sports – skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding. But there’s a saying in Vail, Colorado that “people come for the winter but stay for the summer.”

On my recent weekend visit, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Vail has a lot to offer visitors when there's no snow on the ground. With its idyllic, beautiful mountainous scenery always in sight, it offers access to golf, fishing, hiking and, most importantly, relaxing. I took time and breathe in the Rocky Mountain air and enjoy the alpine village. I embraced my time in Vail, seriously chilling out, eating some seriously good food, getting some seriously good exercise and embracing the town’s strong sense of Zen.

Transported from reality at the Arrabelle

Arabelle at Vail SquareThe Arrabelle at Vail Square was the perfect place for me to be transported from every day life. The lobby is a combination of luxurious mahogany and antiques, yet comfortable and cozy. Service was responsive upon check-in, allowing me to relax and let the vacation vibe settle in.

The property is steps from the Eagle Bahn Gondola and Born Free Express lift. Vail Village is a short (5-10 minutes into town) shuttle ride away (which happen to be free all day, all night) and there are plenty of great restaurants, bars and shops close by.

patio luxuriesMy room was also exceptionally cozy. Despite my busy agenda, I embraced every moment I had at the Arrabelle. Decked out in lush antique furniture reminiscent of another time and place, the hotel offers unusual touches like pumice stones in the shower, fresh, plush towels (not just 2 or 3 like other hotels, more like 4 or 5 so you never have to ask for more), a Keurig coffee maker, free fresh water, a shower with two valves so two people can shower at the same time (very romantic), plush robes and slippers, thick curtains that shield the light from the room, a dramatic balcony with a new of Vail, a flat-screen TV, free Wifi and…ready for this? An electric fireplace built into the wall with an armchair that’s easily pulled up in front for rest and relaxation.

At the end of a busy day, coming back to the room for a break before dinner to a lit fire (set by the room attendant when turning down the bed) is pretty wonderful. Breakfast on the balcony, reading the NYT, wasn’t bad either. Looking out at the lovely view of Vail was a wonderful way to start my day.

A visit to the Heavenly Spa

spa serenityMy zen state that resulted from my stay at the Arabelle really culminated with a visit to their RockResorts Spa. Voted #19 out of the top 270 spas in the world in the 2012 Conde Nast Reader’s Poll, it’s easy to see why. Guests of the hotel get free access to its relaxation room, whirl pool, sauna, steam room and Swiss showers. I took advantage of these facilities each day and also indulged in an aromatherapy massage which was heavenly.

The 10,000-square-foot spa complex also includes a full-service nail salon and a retail shop with professional skin care lines, lotions, soaps, oils, meditation books, cards and other spa products. The Spa uses botanical technologies and treatments feature organic ingredients, indigenous massages and wraps, rejuvenating facials, and other special amenities. The Arabelle Spa is definitely one of the nicest hotel spas I’ve ever been to and I highly recommend a visit. When I think of it now, I get all serene. Ahhhhhhh……

Getting cultured in Vail

what to see in Vail coloroadoWhile in town, I experienced something very special: a night at the Vail International Dance Festival. I was in town for a few days, which happened to coincide with opening night of their 25th anniversary. To celebrate, the festival featured a bill of repertory highlights at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater stage. We were privy to some of the finest dancers in the world, including Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, Maria Kochetkova from San Francisco Ballet, Jeffrey Cirio from Boston Ballet, Analia Centurion and Gabriel Misse performing tango, dancers from the NYC Ballet and best of all, a performance of “Serenade” by the Pacific Northwest Ballet, bathed in natural moonlight and accompanied by full orchestra. Each act had something both interesting and beautiful about it, either in the performance or the message.

Seeing Vail

Other highlights of my trip included a walk around the Vail Farmer’s Market, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this summer. Every Sunday from 10am to 3:30pm, visitors can stroll through the booths, tasting cuisine or buying art and gifts made by locals. The market also features musical performances in the middle of the market and performances by professional artists. I also rented a cruiser bike from Gorsuch Ltd. and went fly-fishing with Gore Creek Fly Fisherman, two outdoor activities that left me feeling healthy and ready for dinner.

Farm to table service

Known for farm to table service, I was eager to try everything Vail had to offer. I lunched at La Tour, a restaurant located in the heart of the Vail Farmer’s Market and offers organic, natural and sustainable products. They offer lovely Bananas Fosters French toast, lemon poppy seed pancakes, lobster benedict, burrata cheese omelet, and other delicacies like warm madelines with lemon curd dipping sauce.

farm to table freshnessDinner at Terra Bistro is another of Vail’s favorites, offering free-range meat and vegies from local markets. I had the Pan Seared Steelhead Filet with wheatgrass & fresh herb jus, Colorado quinoq & arugula salad, fresh avocado which was divine, along with sprouted quinoa chips as a starter.

My favorite meal was at Matsuhisa, which serves up Japanese and Peruvian fusion cuisine from Chef Nobu Matshuhisa. It was all incredibly delicious but the image of broiled black cod with miso lingers deliciously in my mind when I think of the long evening full of top quality sushi and sashimi.

After a weekend in the mountains, I got my groove back and came home with a clear head and full heart. Ready to re-embrace motherhood.

Holly was a guest of Vail Local Marketing District, who hosted her experience, but all opinions expressed are her own.

Ever been to Vail in the summertime? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook - and let's continue the conversation!

About Holly Rosen Fink

Holly Rosen Fink is a Marketing, Communications, Public Relations, Branding and Social Media expert with over 15 years experience increasing brand awareness and sales at leading publishing houses and media companies.  She is the founder of TheCultureMom.com and has been a contributor to is a current contributor to This Girl Travels, Ciao Bambino, Family Vacation Critic, The Broad Side and Women & Hollywood.

Last year she edited Come Closer: How Tourism is Shaping the Future of Nations and associate produced the off-off-Broadway hit The Best of Everything and the NYC production of Listen to Your Mother.

Catch up with Holly online:


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