The Sonnenalp Club Connects Community Through The Great Outdoors All-Year Round
For five generations, the Faessler family has defined boutique European hospitality with their Sonnenalp resorts in Ofterschwang, Germany, and Vail, Colorado. Originally a German bed-and-breakfast owned and operated by Adolf and Eleanore Faessler in 1919, the Sonnenalp name made its way to Vail in 1979 with the opening of the hotel. But as Vail became more than just a destination for powder hounds, the Faesslers had to find a way to keep guests engaged year-round.
In 1987 they introduced the Sonnenalp Club, nestled 15 minutes from Vail Village in the town of Edwards, with 160 acres of some of Colorado’s most pristine mountain landscapes. With an esteemed golf course, ball courts, pools and wellness center, it’s certainly not a stuffy country club but an approachable community based on the love of the outdoors and the European hospitality that represents the Sonnenalp name.
In 2016 they added a 10,000-square-foot, high-end fitness facility featuring three wellness studios and state-of-the-art equipment. Offering more than 50 group classes a week, including yoga, Pilates and cardio, there’s no shortage of options to break a sweat and boost endorphins. Outside, club-goers enjoy tennis and pickleball courts, three pools and, of course, the golf course with lightning-fast greens and fairways framed by spectacular mountain views.
The par-71, 18-hole championship-length golf course is the only golf course in the United States co-designed by legendary course architects Jay Morrish and Bob Cupp. The club honors their vision and talent by hosting the annual Morrish-Cupp Cup (a pro-am). Other notable tournaments hosted there include the USGA’s US Junior Amateur in 1987, the Colorado Open in 2001 and 2002 and the Colorado State Amateur in 1985 and 2017.
With its natural flow, fast greens and spectacular mountain views, the course hasn’t changed much since it was designed in 1980. However, this year the club is undertaking renovations and updates, including an upgrade to its 40-year-old irrigation system that will reduce water usage by 20 percent, furthering its commitment to sustainability.
“There is a very robust golf scene here in Vail Valley,” says Sebastian Faessler, the fifth-generation hotelier. “The greens conditions are some of the best you’ll find, and part of that is due to the longevity of our groundskeeping staff and the type of grass we use.” Plus, the course is south facing so the snow clears faster, allowing for a longer playing season. Another perk is their single-rider electric-motor golf bikes, which travel at the same speed and with the same stability as a golf cart but are more environmentally sound—plus they’re just plain fun!
In addition to the sports and recreational offerings, the Sonnenalp’s Harvest Restaurant & Bar serves up elevated classics like short-rib nachos, buffalo chicken flatbread and four-cheese baked gnocchi, all paired with postcard-like panoramic views enjoyed from the dining room, bar and expansive patios.
One aspect that distinguishes the club from others in the area is its young clientele. “We definitely have a family environment here. It’s common to see young children playing with their parents and grandparents,” says Faessler, and special events like Glow Ball—nighttime golf with neon balls—and Dog Day Afternoons—monthly rounds of golf with furry family members—keep them coming back for more. Another favorite is the end-of-summer Poochie Paddle, when dogs swim their hearts out before the pools close for the season.
Sonnenalp Club memberships have been capped out since last summer, but there is a waiting list. Don’t want to wait? Guests of the Sonnenalp Hotel can enjoy all of the club’s amenities, including rounds of glorious golf.
1265 Berry Creek Road, Edwards