Dan Naden

Grand Hyatt Vail: Paradise by Gore Creek

Our selection of the Grand Hyatt Vail was selected after carefully reviewing many options. The feedback on review sites for the resort was sensational. Thankfully, the hotel lived up to the online hype. From the first refreshing breath of mountain air to the convenient, grab and go breakfasts at the market, the Grand Hyatt Vail was the perfect getaway destination. It’s both a short walk from Lionshead and Vail Village – both stops offer a plethora of quaint shops, restaurants, and sport stores to rent bikes or hiking gear. Although a shuttle bus was available, we chose to walk the short distance, soaking in the mountain scenery and listening to the waters of Gore Creek. The walking trail did get a bit crowded at times, especially as the bikers sped across the winding pavement. It might be challenging because of the limited  space between the resort and the river, but it would be ideal to have a bike-only path and a hiker-only path. Our most memorable walk was during a rainstorm. With no one around, we had the pathway to ourselves as the rain fell with a fury.

The last number of years we had chosen to vacation at the beach. Something stirred in our family this year though to try something different. Heading west the perfect medicine; it was just what we needed after a crazy, stressful year of stay-at-home school and mask-wearing. Vail was a place I had visited many years ago as a collegian. The details have faded from memory, yet I recall a stunning week of skiing and socializing during Spring Break in the early 90s. A trip to Vail this time of year would have us switching out our skis and winter gear for hiking boots, swimsuits and sunscreen. 

The entertainment options surrounding the Grand Hyatt are plentiful. There really is something for everyone.  One night, at the recommendation of our saxophone-playing son, we attended a jazz concert in Lionshead Village. Ann Hampton Gallaway wasn’t a household name, although I can’t say I know many ‘names’ in jazz besides the legends Miles Davis or Ella Fitzgerald. Ann was backed by a bass player, piano player and drummer — all of them amazingly talented at providing a backdrop for Anne to do her thing. With little in the way of expectations, we were stunned at this lady’s stage presence, sense of humor, and artistry. Over the course of two hours, she dazzled the crowd with many of her own songs spanning a multi-decade career. Who knew that this remarkable talent performed a song for a movie starring Robert DeNiro and also wrote a song specifically for Barbara Streisand’s wedding? 

A welcomed theme for this vacation was ‘stepping out of the comfort zone’ and mission accomplished. We took a rafting trip down the Shoshone Rapids through Glenwood Canyon on the Colorado River. The entire family was a bit apprehensive of this adventure, yet now, they can’t stop talking about it. The first part of the trip was a roller coaster ride of dips, drops and twists along the river. Thankfully, I had the prime slot at the front of the tube, which gave me numerous opportunities to get soaked by the tumbling waves. The second half of the trip was calm, although it gave us remarkable views of the soaring mountains which surrounded us. The next float down the river has the family already asking for a step up in rapid class from Class 3 to Class 4 rapids. Bring it on!!

Another day had us hiking up the face of Vail Mountain. Being novices at hiking, we selected a challenging route – the Berry Picker Trail, a 3.3 mile hike which rose nearly 2,300 feet  in elevation. On the surface, what could be challenging about a trail named Berry Picker? If we grew hungry during our journey, we could stop and grab a few berries along the way for sustenance. Within the first few minutes, Berry Picker showed its teeth, sending up spiraling up the face of the mountain; we were gasping for breath as the trail seemed to take us continually skyward. At times, the trail went flat, but much of the journey had us carefully selecting our footing to avoid a tumble. While at times each step seemed like torture, the breathtaking views of the town below zapped away any sense of fatigue. The higher we climbed, the more desolate it became and the more beautiful the scenery. More than two hours later, huffing and puffing, with burning, aching legs, we reached the summit and fell listlessly into a park bench. The ride down the gondola was amazing as we reflected on how we actually climbed this mountain without suffering cardiac arrest. When we visit Vail next time, we will acclimate to the altitude and terrain with some ‘starter’ trails before considering the herculean Berry Picker. 

One day, we took a short taxi ride to hop on horses at nearby Vail Stables. No one in our family were experienced riders, yet we jumped at the chance to try something new. Jumping aboard horses named Bart, Pumpkin, Hocus Pocus and Tonto (I love horse names!!), we navigated an extremely narrow path to see the beauty of Vail from some unreal vistas. On numerous occasions, all of us wondered how our horses would traverse roots, rocks and muddy soil to keep us upright. By the end of the ride we had achy backs and tingly legs, yet we were all hoping we could take another loop around the trail. 

When we weren’t ‘out and about’ in Vail, we criss-crossed the paths just outside the Grand Hyatt’s back patio, even traversing the shallower-than-normal Gore Creek. When it was time to chill, we lounged by the pool. The view from the outdoor pool was stunning. Looking up Vail Mountain at the canopy of green trees is something that could never grow old. And the big plus – no bugs!! I love it that mosquitoes can’t pester and bother at higher elevations. 

The only area for improvement: the TV reception in our room was a bit sketchy, even after a visit from the engineering department. This shortcoming, however, was a blessing because who wants to spend their time at such a gorgeous resort in their room watching television? 

Thank you to the Grand Hyatt Vail for a memorable vacation. We hope to be back soon. 

Who knows? Maybe our return visit will occur during the winter months. The skiing scene surely is exceptional. 

Until next time, 

Dan Naden

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