The Sebastian-Vail

Cool and hip comes to the mountain

16 Vail Road, Vail 81657


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At a Glance

A surprising amount of cool for Vail—a haven for art and design-loving skiers that feels intimate despite its rather grand lobby.

Indagare Loves

  • High-design décor with abstract art and a hip bar
  • The round, glass-enclosed “wine tower” in the hotel’s gourmet restaurant, Leonora
  • Talented masseuses and aestheticians at the Bloom Spa


Constructed in 2007 and originally opened as the Vail Plaza Club & Hotel, The Sebastian was acquired by new owners: an investment company owned by a Mexico City family with long ties to the Vail area. Renovated and rechristened as The Sebastian, the property is now a combination hotel (100 rooms) and private-residence club (36 units) under the management of Colorado’s Timbers Resorts. From the outside, The Sebastian still conforms to Vail’s general style—its stone-and-stucco façade is made quaint with wooden balconies and a scalloped Alpine roofline—but once inside, you are definitely not in Bavaria anymore. The lobby’s scale is mountain monumental - no surprise there - with a huge fireplace and similarly oversized chandelier and sofas as the focal points, but the fireplace itself is freestanding and made of dark-chocolate beams that look like the Legos-on-steroids of a design-savvy (and Gulliver-sized) child.

The chandelier, with its profusion of twig-like branches, harkens to the traditional antler fixtures of yore and yet, randomly studded with a blizzard of small bulbs, it’s the antithesis of traditional; it resembles an electrified anemone as much as any animal’s horns. Works by Mexican abstract artist Manuel Felguerez—including two large moody paintings in the adjoining library, alongside smaller sculptures that could be Braque figures come to life in shiny metal—look right at home here. If that home belongs to an art collector, that is. Similarly, the giant “icicles” hanging above the Frost bar, also just off the lobby, would not be out of place in the coolest Los Angeles (or Las Vegas) bar—no doubt a reason why the space, which has live music nightly, is attracting not just guests but also locals bored with the more predictable bars and lounges around town.

The Sebastian’s public spaces are new-school Vail, making it a modern lodge for a cosmopolitan guest. Upstairs, its rooms and residences retain a more-typical Western look—Indian-print pillows, square-legged tables—but overall the property is worldly and full of personality, well-suited especially to both couples and very well-traveled families. The main restaurant, Leonora, features well-executed ceviches and small plates in the Spanish style, plus excellent entrées. One bite of the mushroom risotto, with its pure, piercing distillation of porcini’s nutlike flavor, and you’ll consider ordering it every night. Breakfast at Market, the café next door, might have a way to go—perhaps offering a buffet daily and not only on weekends would give mountain-bound visitors the flexibility and the speed that can now be missing.

Located in Vail Village, just across the street from the Sonnenalp in one direction and the Four Seasons in the other, The Sebastian is not ski-in/ski-out. But it’s an easy ten-minute walk to the main base, where the hotel has an adjacent ski valet desk whose excellent staff can set you up with rentals and take care of them for you overnight too. For your own after-ski pampering, do not miss a treatment or two at The Sebastian’s Bloom Spa.

Who Should Stay

Visitors who want a hip scene and great food will enjoy The Sebastian which feels more urban and trendy than other area properties.

Written by John Cantrell

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