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Sizing up the new 'Arrabellagio'
Arrabellagio? You be the judge. Vail Resorts went to great lengths to capture a Euro-tinged flavor for its new hotel, but the blogger contends they created Tyrolean World.
By David O. Williams 

Sizing up the new 'Arrabellagio'

A little slice of Vegas/Disney without ever leaving the Valley
By Jill Alfond

March 7, 2008 —  It’s taken a long while (like nearly three weeks), but I finally feel ready to weigh in on the new and improved Lionshead, specifically the $250 million Arrabellagio (aka Arrabelle at Vail Square).

For the most part I feel conflicted and confused. Do I like how it looks? Not on your life (I think that the nearby Lifthouse nailed it with its chic little facelift, though). However, as a former resident of the space the Arrabelle now proudly occupies - the filthy, leaky, security-challenged Sunbird Lodge (former scene of Vail Associates’ employees enjoying cheap rent and close proximity to the Sundance watering hole) - I have to conclude that as much as, aesthetically, I don’t like the candy-colored, neo-Disney/Las Vegas exterior stylings of the Arrabelle, I absolutely LOVE what is stands for.

To me, it stands for progress, and improvement—and it is the sole reason that a trip to Lionshead now feels like a vacation instead of a trip back in time. I still heart Bart and Yeti’s, Montauk, and Billy’s Island Grill, and will continue to frequent them as much as possible (seriously, the garlic fries at Montauk - simply delish), but crossing the threshold of Vail’s New Dawn now allows me that “out-of-town feeling” that was formerly only obtained by, at minimum, a trip to Denver.

And if I am expeditious, I can still enjoy the mini vacation without spending a dime on parking. I have done it: an amazing slopeside lunch at Centre V (order the pommes frites but bring the plastic because they’re not cheap), a quick trip to cure my Patagucci jones and a swing through Performance Sports (while outside the Arrabubble, Performance still maintains one of the town’s most carefully edited selection of ski clothing).

It wouldn’t be a true getaway without shopping for things I can’t afford, though: I came! I saw! I conquered! I went into a new store (Avalon) and tried on a beautiful coat! It was $1,800! I put it back! And when I was paying for my cute new mittens at the Quicksilver/ Roxy store, the adorable émigré working there told me to enjoy the rest of my trip, thereby giving me back my vacation feeling.

There is much more I didn’t get to experience: it’s a mystery as to when the ice skating will be available, the Rimini Gelato looks amazing (I was too full from Centre V’s heavenly chocolate mousse), and the Vail Chophouse had a deck full of people enjoying the sunny day, which looked pretty fun to me.

I am already busy planning my next vacation here … and I am so thankful that neither the TSA nor United Airlines will be part of making it happen.



Comment on article  4 Comments on "Sizing up the new 'Arrabellagio'"


David O. — March 7, 2008

Jill, you've coined a catch phrase for the ages with "Arrabellagio." The Arrabelle will now be known by that moniker for generations to come, much as the VistaBahn chairlift is known as the RastaBahn (for obvious reasons). I, too, lived in the old "Scumturd Lodge" one summer and frequented the "Scumdance Saloon." My rent was $300 a month, compared to $1,300 a night at the Arrabellagio. Four months of slopeside lodging for the cost of one night. Times have changed.


Kristin — March 7, 2008

How many times have I told the two of you that you don't admit publicly that you ever lived in the Sunbird?

Meet you at Centre V the next time we vacation at the Arrabelle!


RKG — March 7, 2008

Long gone are the Sunbird days. Kristin, what do ya mean don't admit you lived there?!!! Why, it's a badge of honor to say you survived life at the Sunbird. And what better way to stumble home from the Sundance than to head through the door and up the stairs? I was there the first season it opened to employees. Great memories! But, yeah, without benefit of seeing the new building, I know it needed a facelift over thar. Hope it's not too garish. Adios from the rainy East Coast.


Big Jim — March 18, 2008

I lived in Sunbird in 1989. In the late Spring of 1990 I attempted to sign up for another one-season lease to continue illegally cooking hot dogs on my mini Weber grill on the balcony, share my dorm room sized suite with two other 21 yr old drunks, and walk through vomit filled hallways. Much to my dismay, I was denied as the Sunbird was to be torn down that summer.

Much to my amazement, in 2007, a mere 17 years later, the Arrabellagio was erected!

This is not the Sunbird of old, but an Arrabelle of new.



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