If you’ve ever stayed at the Sonnenalp in Vail, then we can safely assume two things about you: You have exquisite taste, and you’re over 55 years old.
This Bavarian-themed hotel and spa is a gem in so many ways. From the minute you walk though its doors, the service-oriented staff makes you feel fantastic. It’s family-run, which gives it a warmer, more personable vibe than at Vail’s more corporate-feeling developments. Silver-haired owner Johannes Faessler greets his guests as if he’s the host of the hottest party in town—which is often the case, since many of Vail’s A-listers are fond of the Sonnenalp’s dance parties, film screenings, and wine dinners. And heated bathroom floors? Pure bliss.
But it was a mature scene, for sure. In the King’s Club, the richly-upholstered bar and lounge where guests converge for après-anything drinks, the average age was 55-plus. And although the hotel values those guests (many have returned year after year), it knew it needed to broaden its appeal beyond those devoted baby boomers.
So the Sonnenalp partnered with freeskier Chris Anthony, of Warren Miller fame. The premise: Anthony’s recognition among younger generations, combined with his social-media savvy, might attract a vital new demographic to this Vail landmark.
Anthony’s relationship with the Sonnenalp actually began a few years ago, when he started skiing with members of the Gold Club (the hotel’s best, most loyal customers). But this winter broadened his role as the Sonnenalp’s Ski Ambassador.
Drop Chris Anthony’s name, and you get an extra-low room rate. When he’s not globe-trotting for ski films and steep skiing camps, he hits Vail’s slopes with guests. He also participates in the Sonnenalp’s Vail Living Well events, which bring together preeminent doctors, researchers, and athletes to help participants become their healthiest selves. The hotel also hosted the premiere screening of Anthony’s documentary film on the 10th Mountain Division.
Future events might match guests with brands that Anthony’s already chummy with—such as Ferrari (yes, the Italian car-maker) and California’s Silver Oak winery. But already, the partnership appears to be working. “I was in the bar last week and there were actually younger people there,” Anthony tells me. No, it still doesn’t feel like a LoDo nightclub, but a new demographic is clearly discovering the Sonnenalp’s own version of cool. Which just goes to show that the hotel didn’t have to reinvent itself to reel in younger guests—it just had broadcast its appeal via the channels they tune into.
—Image courtesy of Sonnenalp Resort and Spa