Ten years ago Vail was in the midst of a building boom, producing the Arabelle, Solaris and Four Seasons resorts. Now The Lion, the town’s first luxury vacation property in a decade, is open for business.
Luxury is the key word. From the gorgeous stone and wood facade to the high-end finishes of the units to the extraordinary design pieces in the common areas, everything about it is top-notch. It eschews Vail’s historic Bavarian motif in favor of an alpine modern look.
The Lion stands in the footprint of the 1970s era Lionshead Inn and VailGlo Lodge torn down in 2014 to make way for the spectacular new building. It houses 65 residences that include studio apartments and one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condos. Its location is one of the best in Vail—350 yards from the Eagle Bahn Gondola in Lionshead and across the street from the free bus stop. The pavers on the pathway are heated in winter.
Grupo Pegaso, a Mexico City-based conglomerate with a long history of real estate development in Mexico, Europe and the U.S., developed and owns The Lion, one of their latest projects. The owners are not new to the Vail Valley. “They spend a lot of time here in Vail,” said Ben Jarrell, The Lion’s front desk and facility supervisor. “Their families have houses here, some live here full time. They are definitely hands-on.” Local Vail Valley company East West Destination Hospitality manages the property.
Step inside the majestic building to a decor that is exquisite yet mountainy. The design company, Lama Designs, chose furnishings that convey a sense of luxury while still being functional and comfortable. Many of the furnishings came from firms at the Denver Design Center as well as Lama’s sources in Italy. “Collectively, these sources provide a stand-out example of an emerging mountain contemporary style,” owner Chus de la Lama said. Some of the paintings are from Casa Lamm Gallery in Mexico City.
The dramatic entrance features a regal Holly Hunt chandelier with glass pendants dangling above a sensational zig-zag patterned rug of animal hide patches. Several of these extraordinary area rugs in different patterns grace the floors throughout public spaces. Stone, marble and reclaimed barn wood define the lobby they call the Great Room. Indeed, it is, with an eye-catching double-sided fireplace. The other side glows onto a grouping of contemporary couches anchored by a single-piece fossil wood table in the center, emphasizing the alpine sense of place. A backlit onyx front desk greets guests on one side of the Great Room. The effect is simply stunning.
In our one-bedroom condo, the finishes are elegant without being pretentious. A wide-plank hardwood floor and rich walnut cabinets create warmth in the living areas and kitchen. The stone fireplace surround complements the softness of the area rug. Even with a fairly large kitchen and breakfast bar, plus a dining table and living room grouping, the unit never feels cramped like some resort condos. High ceilings, large windows and a generous deck accessed from both a bedroom slider and living room door add to the spaciousness. From the deck we have great views of the mountain.
The bedroom, also, is roomy and pleasant next to a lovely marble bathroom with two sinks. The kitchen, with leather-finish granite counters, is outfitted with stainless steel appliances and every gadget you’d ever need. A closet hides a stacked washer/dryer.
Clearly, the lodge caters to the skiing crowd with all the amenities skiers like to come home to: a huge fire pit in a private courtyard next to a large saltwater hot tub; an indoor infinite-current lap pool and hot tub; spacious steam room and showers; fitness center; entertainment room with TV, pool and ping-pong tables; business center; playroom for the kiddos; and best of all, an enormous ski storage room with individual lockers large enough to hold multiple pairs of skis, snowboards and boots (boot dryers included). Of course, there’s a ski valet, and in summer, complimentary bikes for guests, plus three levels of underground parking with 175 spaces. A restaurant, bar and retail shops in the street level commercial space will be added soon.
Another great feature is security. Codes are used everywhere, and you self-code your unit with the last four digits of your cell phone after placing the back of your hand on the key pad. Definitely alpine modern.
Accommodations ranging from traditional rooms up to four-bedroom residences are available at The Lion with rates starting at $739 per night.
Claudia Carbone is an award-winning freelance journalist who contributes regularly to Colorado Expression and other publications. Follow her blog Sleepin Around on GoWorldTravel.com.
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