Stay in a place where you can cook
If you are in a group, stay in place that has a kitchen or a grill. Eating out in Vail or Beaver Creek is expensive, and eating at home more fun! Besides, you will spend your money on apres-ski beer and nachos anyway.
Skiing, Frontside, Vista Bahn
Vista Bahn/Chair 16 is the most common way onto the mountain. It runs from Vail Village to Mid-Vail, where you'll find a restaurant and Chairs 3, Wildwood Express, and 4, Mountaintop Express. Vista Bahn, while it's primarily an access lift, also serves some excellent terrain, and some of the most difficult terrain on the front side. If you want some double diamonds, take the green Gitalong Road to any of the following- Been There, Done That, The Narrows, Mudslide and Frontside Chutes. These will all spit you out onto the lower section (blue) of Riva Ridge, where you'll take Mill Creek Road back to the base.
Tourist Trap has changed since the days of old. It's still a steep, often icy black (especially on the left side as you skid downhill) in the midst of a fairly steep, blue Riva Ridge. Access Tourist Trap Via Gitalong Road, (heading toward Mountaintop Express/Lift 4 from the top of Vista Bahn then cut down onto Gitalong Road toward Trans Montane, another green catwalk.
If you want to take the whole Riva Ridge, a long run that switches from black to blue to black to blue, has moguls and ice and power and a nice pitch- it's one of those thigh-burning, end-of-the-ski-day-hope-I-don't-crash runs that, if you don't stop, makes you feel like you've done something- from the top of Mountaintop Express/Lift 4, take Swingsville (green) and follow it until you hit Rive Ridge. Swingsville will cut off to the left before you get to Riva, but keep going along the ridge. Prima is a nice double black that starts off just across some trees from Riva, and Riva Glade... it's a black I haven't ever taken, but it's there for you.
If you don't want to do Riva, but are in the mood for intermediates, any of the other blue runs, Whistle Pig, Expresso, Cappuccino or Christmas are good runs, as is Swingsville, a green, all of which run down to Mid-Vail.
If you want to head over to Northwoods, take Pronto (black) or the Trans Montane Catwalk(green).
If you find yourself in above your head, take the green Trans Montane Catwalk out.
You can also get to Avanti from Vista Bahn, via Gitalong Road.
Vista Bahn Express Lift/Lift 16- High Speed Quad, 1997 vertical, 9 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Wildwood Express Lift/Lift 3- High Speed Quad, 833 vertical, 5 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Mountaintop Express Lift/Lift 4- High Speed Quad, 1101 vertical, 4 minutes, closes at 4:00 pm.
Alright, this place had a good gimmick ("George's" so everywhere you looked there were pictures of famous people named George.... Clooney, Curious George, Washington, King George, etc...) and the decor was cool, but the food wasn't all that great. We got steaks but they weren't anything special.
Beaver Creek is an excellent skiing resort located about 20 minutes west of Vail. While smaller, Beaver Creek offers an alternative to Vail if one if staying in Vail for an extended period. Shuttle buses are available between the two resorts. Beaver Creek also has some great hotels (including a Ritz Carlton) and restaurants, so one could stay at Beaver Creek instead of Vail. I skied once in Beaver Creek (Feb 2007).
Even In The Off Season...
We stayed one night in Vail on our way to Arizona to visit my grandmother. Even in the off season I remember my dad talking about how expensive it was there ($120 USD for Best Western in July!!!)
Vail is known as a skier's paradise, but many of the shops were closed this particular evening, and obviously the sky areas were not in operation.
I do remember having a view of the pool and hot tub, but my parents wouldn't let us go down there due to several couples making out down there ;)