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Vail Athletic

Play, swim, exercise, relax and enjoy in the heart of Vail.

Dignity and elegance for everybody... with a little bit of poetry in it all.


Vail Athletic and Aquatic Complex

Dobson Hockey Arena

Where aesthetics and world-class athletic facilities and our local community come together. Our goal is to transform the way you think about fitness and wellness. We collaborate with the world's most renowned sports scientists and doctors to offer a center of hope and joy in our whole-person approach to wellness.

PLEASE NOTE:  This page is used as a personal idea board. Intended to allow us to dream better. Much text is original, but some & photos are taken from other sites.

Like the greatest architects, we are preparing Vail Athletic to be a building of inspiration, far beyond all its functional offerings inside.

 Through design, we are relentlessly committed to opening opportunities of holistic well-being, pride in your town & athletic home, and a little bit of awe and wonder to keep drawing you back. 😃

Welcome Vail's public athletics and aquatic home with its easy access to skiing (a 4-minute walk from Lionshead on the way to Vail Village). We feel it's one of the most visually stunning athletic clubs in world and we hope you'll enjoy.

Much of our inspiration came from the public pool in St. Moritz. Our inspiration also came from other facilities including Courchevel's new public pool, Harvard Business School, Purdue University, and others. Architecture is important to us and our clean aesthetic will be both harmonious in Vail's alpine environment and superbly beautiful — built on Vail's alpine tradition with contemporary flair.

Vail's new state-of-the-art hockey arena will be designed as the foundation (lowest level) and have its own entrance. And our rooftop terrace (called "The Buena Vista") will have a bakery/coffee shop plus a bistro open to all called Vail Athletic Café. Like "Meet you at The Clock" (of the St. Francis Hotel) became the time honored refrain in San Francisco, we hope "Meet you at The Buena Vista" becomes that for our residents, employees, and guests in Vail. 🥂


Vail Athletic will also help future-proof our town against warming winters and climatic volatility.

Oh, yes, as you'll see more of soon, we will have a theater and, well, we hope one of the ski county's best fireplaces for our residents and guests to gather in a public spot. 

Borrowing what Kitzbuhel says about their mountain aquatic facility...

After your fun day on the slopes head to Vail Athletic and unwind with an evening of relaxation, pampering, or fun with friends and the family. The athletic facility is located just 4 minute walk from the Eagle Bahn gondola and a 5 minute town bus ride from Vail Village. The complex features a large leisure area with waterfall, a 25m sports pool, slides, children’s pool area, sauna, steam rooms and a restaurant. plus much more.

Borrowing what Courchevel says about their mountain aquatic facility... Fun, wonderment, relaxation, sharing the excitement and creating long-lasting memories. Say goodbye to limitation! Vail Athletic promises laughter, fun, diving, jumping, splashing, thrills, and simply daydreaming.


We can't overemphasis how carefully and thoughtfully we will design our facility to joyfully welcome all of any disability in solidarity to our world and culture of sport. 🤍 #VailAthletic

The absence of an "outside of luxury hotels" athletic and aquatic facility for our locals in the Town of Vail is over. Yes, the Avon Recreation Center opened in 1995 and Minturn Fitness Center opened in 2014 and are good public facilities. Eagle's Pool & Ice Rink opened in 2003 and is being renovated for 2025 (see photo), Gypsum Rec Center has been thriving for its residents since 2006, and our friends in Glenwood Springs opened their community aquatics and fitness facility in 2004. These public pools and fitness areas are not practical for our residents (especially for our ones in East Vail). And the Aspen Recreation Center (its combo fitness, pool, ice rink, climbing wall) which opened in 2003 is beginning a massive redesign/update soon.

To be very clear — Vail is not trying to be any of above. Our Vision is to be the "Premier International Mountain Resort Community" but their design elements have been gentle nudges/guides for us. Most specifically, our sister city of St. Moritz with their superbly attractive, inviting, and popular community pool(s) and fitness facility, has helped significantly in the design of our town pool/fitness facility. With our full respect and gratitude to the beautiful town of St. Moritz! 


We begin with a sincere thank you to each of our individual generous donors, the Town of Vail and our many partners that are enabling an alternative world-class athletic "home" to be built our town, yes, beyond our ski mountain. It will be a place for our residents and guests to recharge after a day of skiing or snowboarding, or hiking, biking, or running, or a place to be active when the weather is difficult, or a home for our non-skiers, and the list goes on. At the highest level — a sort of welcoming sanctuary where alpine atmosphere and culture merge into one another. The location will be the site of our current Dobson Ice Arena (and the land to the northwest) the middle of Vail with easy access on the town bus route. For our residents and employee, will it help us all navigate the low-seasons a little more gracefully? Absolutely, yes. 😊

Also of highest importance for us in the Town of Vail is to bring accessibility and inclusion (oh, yes, beyond what ADA rules currently require) to our disabled residents and guests. In this regard, we want Vail Athletic can be thought of as a "gem" of the mountain communities of the world in this regard. The entire facility will be state of the art in new innovations that improve accessibility to pools, showers, sauna, steam room, our cold plunge pools, restrooms, and more for those in wheelchairs. We are working with our local wheelchair residents and others to bring the most innovative way for those with disabilities to joyfully and easily participate in what Vail Athletic offers. This might mean the new pool accessible ramps being experimented with in northern Europe but all will be aimed at breaking down barriers for people of any disability. We aim to have close to zero architectural barriers or physical parts of our building that prevents movement or access for anybody.

One of our finest long-time locals emphatically shared "we need to build what is going to incentivize and serve our local community not just more to serve tourists.... we have nearly lost our local community in Vail to all the small towns down Valley." To that we totally agree — and we are reframing the game. In many discussions on this very topic we have determined that the pricing model for Vail Athletic will in ways almost unseen before benefit our Vail residents and we believe the attraction of facility's quality will in its own right build and strengthen our local community and our community/town pride. In our full support for our local community cost for day, monthly, and yearly passes to Vail Athletic will be 1/3  the cost of a standard entry for Town of Vail residents, and 2/3 the cost for Eagle County residents.


Daily Rates: $45 or $16 Eagle County resident, $8 for Town of Vail resident (potentially free, thanks to donor gift)

Monthly Rates: $155 or $80 Eagle County resident, $45 for Town of Vail resident (potentially free)


As a further incentive for local families to stay in town or return and other young families to move to town Vail Athletic is again being bold in reshaping the game. Monthly and annual passes for families will be simply the price of two adult residents. Additionally, members of Vail Athletic (who live in the Town of Vail) with annual memberships will receive 24 free guest passes (essentially two per month) for their friends and family who come visit and are looking for something wonderful to do. Eagle County residents will receive 12 free guest passes annually. Additionally, entry is free for all children 5 years and younger. We are here to serve our local Town of Vail community and we hope our greater Vail Valley community will have incentive to join us too.

SPECIAL NOTE ON ABOVE:  Like the Aspen Art Museum has thanks to a very generous donor admission to their museum is forever free — a family is considering an endowment for free admission to all year-round local Vail residents (yes, this is serious and possible) at Vail Athletic. 

We want people to take pride in where they live and invest themselves in this place. Vail is so siloed,” says Ramsey Cotter of Vail's J. Cotter Gallery. “We have handfuls of people doing their own thing, but how do we create synergy between us all?”

"Having a center that people can access year-round is so good for mental wellness and community building.”


Ramsey Cotter is hopeful that younger residents of Vail have a say in what happens in this new space because, she notes, younger residents of Vail aren't necessarily tuned into Bravo! events or other long-standing cultural offerings at the Ford Amphitheater.

Vail's high-altitude aquatic and athletic facility will have five pools, a water slide area for the kids, two different saunas (Finnish and bio sauna), steam room, hot tub, and, yes, cold plunge pools. Partially, as futurists, we are preparing our town for the warming temperature trends with more opportunities for our residents and guests... winter and summer. We will also have a two-story cardio and weight room and an indoor/outdoor terrace bistro with meals and snacks made fresh daily (led by a world-renowned chef from San Francisco). A teens room with foosball, air hockey, and ping-pong is likely and a spa is will be on the roof level with a special comfort and seclusion in the treed landscape. Vail Athletic will certainly have free child care available. Our architectural lead firm could possibly be ones that imagined our inspiration — the public aquatics center, OVAVERVA Pool, Spa & Sports Centre — in our Sister City of St. Moritz. Many photos below are from OVAVERVA.

In our gratitude of John Dobson, Vail's mayor for eight years who built Vail's covered bridge and led the ground breaking of the Vail Chapel with his wife, Cissy, and clergy, we will keep and rebuild a state-of-the-art skating arena in his name on the site. The rink will be in the lower / sub-grade level of the facility with its own (and the primary) entrance across from the library near where it is now. From exploratory drilling our geotechnical and structural engineers, along with architects determined that it's likely what we will go 35-feet below ground ("think" the Vail Valley's crown jewel for performing arts in the Vilar Performing Arts Center Beaver Creek — the previously unimaginable dig is 50-feet below ground). Additionally, like is done at the skating arena in Utah and Milwaukee, there will also be a running track around the rink as well as a climbing wall.


🌟 May we, Vail, have the insight to be ahead of the curve (of the affects of the world's warming temperatures and a future of less snowpack and a less reliable ski industry) and start offering amazing world-class alternatives that match our world-class ski mountain. Oh, we are beginning to brainstorm on a special aquatic's bonus that both the kids and adults will enjoy. And might Vail Athletic have Halotherapy cave/room–a.k.a. salt therapy–Halo is Greek for salt. It's been suggested to us and until we learn more ...nothing is off the table. The calming and detoxifying effects of halotherapy can support the immune, nervous and lymphatic systems. Additional benefits are reduced stress and headaches, increased energy, and better sleep patterns. Salt ions purify the air and may increase lung capacity and reduce physical ailments for adults, children and athletes (from here).

Yes, there is a lot here (above). To add a little more color, part of our 2024 Objective & Priorities for the Town of Vail include targeting affluent guests, maximize longer stays and higher spend, and developing and delivering upon a brand position that reflects community values and differentiates Vail in ways that build its competitive edge, and inspires all to care for the town. Part of this marketing includes prioritizing Mexico efforts. And speaking of our Mexican brothers and sisters, being Godfather to a child of a very prominent Mexico City family who visits Vail multiple times per year, they are highly interested in being fit. Vail Athletic would not only be a draw and a joy for them, but it would also greatly add to the reasons for encouraging their country men and woman friends to visit Vail also. 

Our aim is to open (at least partially) in the year of 2029. We hope to commence digging in early summer of 2025. One benefit of the location is that despite a 2.5-year construction plan, noise and traffic generated by the project will have very little direct impact on local businesses as there are none in the area. The exception, of course, being Vail's Public Library which will still be easily accessible via the town bus route, biking, or walking. To accommodate our hockey programs during the rebuild a ice rink "bubble" will placed in Ford Park. Additionally, as is also currently done, the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink is being a great partner for us. Thank you!


Town of Vail Vision & Mission




To be the Premier International Mountain Resort Community!



Grow a vibrant, diverse economy and community and preserve our surrounding natural environment, providing our citizens and guests with exceptional services and an abundance of recreational, cultural and educational opportunities.

Our Opportunity


Yes, as with all great organizations and towns, we use our vision and mission as our guiding light. It is the question and answer to every major (and many minor) decision our Town of Vail makes. Which is, does what we are dreaming meet our Vision — to be the premier international mountain resort community — and our Mission? If not, it's a very quick pass. If the answer is "Yes" we proceed confidently.

The question we asked ourselves... can Vail be "the Premier International Resort Community" and not have a public pool and athletic facility. Our answer was easy. And our sister city of St. Moritz offered us a good bar (with their public pool of 10 years ago). Now, with the opportunity at Dobson, we may be able provide our citizens and guests with a swimming opportunity that a great number can enjoy.

Would Vail Athletic be attractive enough to add value to Discover Vail's "How to Have a Dream Winter Vacation in Vail if You Don't Ski" . . . We leave that to you to decide.

With no major athletic center like this... many believe that Vail can never be a legitimate draw for active young adults and families - and surely not " THE Premier Mountain Town." But with, Vail could again be the place that the world wants to be - yes, including the elite class that once called Vail home, too.

Vail Athletic's pools will be like no other recreation center's pools in America.... there will be no colors, per se, or paintings on the walls, or artificial looking (snow covered) rocks, etc. The singular and dominant style-type will be white in the way of marble (or equivalent), titles, etc. along with glass being the prominent architectural features. There will be two areas of contrast to the clean timeless pool areas. One will be what were calling the "Mountain Lake" pool with a lazy river. We will work with finest designers on this, and there is a possibility of having real trees and ferns and other live greenery around the lazy river. Additionally, the "Family Pool" will be a stand along "retreat" kind of pool with a double tall ceiling, stained glass dome, and tastefully designed cabanas for relaxation and reading, etc. 

Customer Trends

Over the past decade-plus, consumers have slowly shifted their spending from "things/products" to "experiences" and this includes the types of fitness facilities / gyms that people gravitate towards. The interest shift has been from going to a gym simply for the functional purpose of weights and cardio work, but for the wholistic experience of having a place for both that along with the beauty of the place and opportunities that such a place can bring to their lives, which vitality and community specifically. 

As noted in an industry analyst report (Apil 9, 2024), "Leisure facilities seek to benefit (from this shifting of interests) but must innovate to do so because of the industry's high competition and capital intensity." The big winner in this report is Life Time (NYSE:LTH). "With over 150 locations and gyms that include saunas and steam rooms, Life Time is an upscale fitness club emphasizing holistic well-being and fitness." 


We at Vail are already on board and ahead of the curve. And while Vail has not yet built its fitness and aquatic facility, this time of waiting might have been just the perfect storm... allowing us to build the most innovative state-of-the-art fitness facility in the world... and also have Vail beautiful views all around it. 

Will this top the Non-Skiers Guide to Vail?

Yes... without a doubt.

"We can’t rest on our laurels - we win by creating and leading, so the world, at least America knows, without question that Vail is the mountain destination like no place else on earth and worth their valuable time - winter or summer."

-President of Vail Chamber of Commerce Chris Romer

Proposed Quote for Chris



In 2022, our mayor, Kim Langmaid, and a delegation from the Town of Vail visited our Sister City of St. Moritz on a "best practices" learning exchange. Part of the visit was experiencing their spectacular (and extraordinarily popular) public pool and athletic facility. It, without a doubt, was our initial inspiration for what was possible in a world-class ski town.

Below is a birds-eye view of how five pools plus water slides can fit into a three-story facility.


This will be a massive project for Vail. We will need your help. For those interested in joining us please let us know

Yes, major benefactors are superbly important and appreciated. Beyond undirected gifts, the naming of different areas/pools is still completely available. For example, the "Shiffrin Family Athletics Hall" (our two-story fitness area) or the "Phelps Family Infinity Pool" or "Warner Family Children's Pools" etc.

ROOFTOP Bakery & Bistro 



As written in the Town of Vail's 2019 Civic Area plan, welcoming/inviting public indoor and outdoor spaces that are safe, easy to access, and offer enjoyable daily opportunities for connectivity are essential to the success of Vail's local community. We couldn't agree more in 2023. Plus, these can be places where guests feel they can actually be at "home" with the locals too. The "where do the locals hang" question is most beautifully answered with Vail Athletic.


The Town of Vail envisions that beyond the athletic opportunities Vail Athletic will make for a important public venue/gathering spot for locals and guests of the Vail Valley. Our rooftop terrace (named: "The Buena Vista") will offer both bakery & coffee shop plus a bistro — Vail Athletic Café — with a world-renowned executive chef, sous chef, and culinary staff managing both (and food opportunities in the hockey rink area). These will be located above the archway (see Model 1 below) in the part of the aquatic facility adjacent to the Lionshead parking structure. This public area is large and will accommodate up to 150 in the two indoor areas and another 150 people on the outdoor terrace.

Leading up to the roof, we are planning a footbridge/walkway (Photo 1) as another gift for the people. Shown is a popular bridge stairway in Spain as an example. Our roof stairway will have its own smaller deck and additionally you can also access our two-story rooftop (Rendering 1) where will have our bakery and bistro. This area will also be available for receptions, etc. without having to go thru the building stairway or elevator (see the arch span below). Beyond the additional entry point (perhaps for runners to access their post-workout perch for stretching and re-hydration or for stair running workouts) we think the architecturally creative stairway will be another little treasure in the heart of town. It will provide a beautiful vantage point for views of the ski area.... bringing our mountain closer to the people. ❤️

Vail Aquatic Stairs to Roof Terrace
Vail Athletic Rooftop Bakery_Coffee & Bistro

Photo #1 - Rooftop stairway (this will be always open with a viewing deck and also an entrance to the Bistro and Bakery/Coffee Shop areas)

Rendering #1 - Vail Athletic Rooftop (called "The Buena Vista") with its bakery/coffee shop (called Vail Athletic Café) & bistro PLUS open outside deck AND upper private gathering room and balcony.

Photo #2 - One of our dreams, this from architect Thomas Heatherwick, where we might on a roof section of pool (above the dive pool specifically) have large sections of glass to enjoy and see divers like one hasn't likely seen before. We are simply adding opportunities for awe and wonder along with a bit of personality in our design.

Vail Athletic 2_edited.jpg

Photo #3 - This is simply an example of what the inside of the bakery/coffee house/Bistro would look like. Yes, feeding your heart and heath with a whole lot of tasteful beauty too. 

Sometimes the best surprises are right at the top

Might Vail Athletic have a 1/8 mile walking path on the rooftop terrace that our local residents and guests can enjoy in the spring, summer, and fall (adding to the attraction as a remote working location with the coffee shop and bistro)? And in the winter might the Town of Vail / Vail Athletic turn its 11" wide walking path into one of the county's most attractive and like Vail—far from the ordinary—rooftop winding skating path... but, of course!  

Might Vail Athletic put a walking and wi

This shows a little more on how the rink might look. And with the Dobson Skating Rink on the lower level sharing of the skate rentals is quite ideal. 

Do we expect that this will draw the kinds of crowds of the curving Ironworks Ice Rink in Wisconsin... well, we're surly thinking that it will add vitality and community enjoyment to our rooftop terrace. 

Home to 20 trees and thousands of plants and flowers in the summer, this iconic public park 45 feet above Lionshead's Civic Center is open for the enjoyment of all. And there’s nothing else like it anywhere. 


Everyone’s welcome to enjoy our living roof with its curved walking trail lined with benches, dancing fountain, and chef-led bakery and bistro... plus its large tables that can be used as your away from home office.

Just tell your friends.... "I'll meet you at The Buena Vista" (the name of our rooftop terrace for a walk (or winter skate) or drink or bite to eat.

Delicious snacks, meals, and drinks will be available all day for everyone at our Bistro. As you can see (Rendering 1) it is an indoor/outdoor space with tall sliding glass doors. This rooftop gathering area will be two stories high with space available for receptions, etc. The whole idea of our rooftop public gathering space is a key concentration for Vail Athletic. We are designing the Bistro plus Bakery/Coffee Shop with all best practices of popular community gathering spot as top on our list of requirements. And we hope that Vail (residents. plus those working in town, and out-of-town guests) will finally have a spot that is open and free with public WiFi and a variety of different (and, of course, comfortable/inviting) indoor and outdoor chairs and tables to call their home. The delicious food (of both the Bistro and Bakery) will be managed, as we mentioned, by a chef from San Francisco and her culinary team. Yes, even if your friends or family don't use the Vail Athletic facility, have them meet you after. 

In the kitchen our chef and team freshly cook, bake and fry every day seasonal specialties and popular "alpine" classics – vegan, vegetarian, fish or meat. Or try our sweet and savory snacks. Or our juices, coffees and teas, and refreshing aperitifs (from our Bakery and Coffee Shop) which, of course, can also be enjoyed on our public roof terrace. 


Model #1 - The iconic archway of Vail Athletic (entrance for Vail International guests PLUS stairway to different levels of the facility)

The arch will span over East Lionshead Circle. Our design envisages this as a connector between the current Dobson Arena area and our available space to the northwest (currently an area used by Children’s Garden of Learning and a driveway). It's likely that owners and guests of Vail International Condominiums will have what we envision as a iconic archway welcoming them to their home.


This arch section may also be the way to our rooftop bistro and bakery and to our Vail Athletic facility's west entryway. Here the major circulation of the building will be visible, matching the permeability of our open glass architectural design of the main part of the swim facility above the skating rink.

One of the four entrances is visible in Model 1 - it is right side and this "archway entrance" will be primarily designed for hockey/skater drop-off (this will have turnstile accessibility). The others: 1) the "Dobson Arena" entrance for skaters (visible as first image in slide show at top of page and also here), 2) the "Buena Vista" entrance from the parking garage, 3) the "Lionsgate" entrance from the street level (with quickest access when walking from Lionshead)

Access to the theater with a seating capacity 350 will be from our Lionsgate entrance lobby (idea visible in slide show #1 -which we give thanks to the most tasteful aesthetics of the lobby in Avon's Westin. Behind this entrance is a stairway down to our tennis court and 4 pickleball courts (and potentially another studio room . The rest of the sub-grade (accessible from the main lobby) will be filled by the auditorium (naming yet to be determined). Note: a large IMAX Theater will be built in the Vail Museum of Art (scheduled for 3-5 years after Vail Athletic). Our theater in the Lionsgate entrance while small, will be extraordinary.

"I myself am often there & am firmly convinced that the new aquatic center in St. Moritz has changed and improved the town for the long term. The project brings significant added value for the entire region, infrastructure and tourism."

It is quite likely that we'll add an outside escalator (like Beaver Creek) on the far east side of the Lionshead Parking Structure. This will make it significantly easier to reach the rooftop (coffee shop, bakery, and bistro which we're naming "The Buena Vista") terrace and reach the "Buena Vista" parking lot entrance to Vail Athletic. This would also give skiers and others who park in the structure easier access to street level (since there is no elevator on the east side of the structure).

We follow the wisdom of our dear friends in Beaver Creek, "At Beaver Creek we don’t believe in stairs, so we try to eliminate them whenever possible,” said Tim Baker, the executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company. “ … Stairs are not a real enjoyable experience when you’re trying to walk up them with two 6-year-old kids who have skis over their shoulders and are wearing ski boots.”

Our Vision

To create a world-class public home for locals (and guests) to enjoy health and fitness, fun and conviviality, tranquility and relaxation. In the process, keep the heart and soul of Vail alive; and energize Vail's brand and attraction for decades to come. Our Town of Vail vision "To be the Premier International Mountain Resort Community" consistently nudges us to keep innovation alive and inspire people with awe and the good that's possible.


Within Vail Athletic there will be 4 meeting venue locations (for larger groups): (1) the theater for movies & other talks, (2) the upper roof inside space, (3) the lower roof inside space (which is also where the bakery/coffee shop and Bistro are located, (4) both the east or west side of the lower roof indoor area.


Yes, consumers rank Vail highly as a luxury mountain resort but recent reports continually show more interest in taking trips to competing destinations. When it comes to a full more complete (with beautiful pools, etc.) alpine mountain home, no longer will Vail be loosing our guests and potential residents to Aspen, Banff, Deer Valley, Sun Valley, Steamboat, Telluride, Park City, and others. To the contrary, Vail Athletic World Center, will be another extraordinarily attractive draw to our town and help us take back our competitive edge. In due diligence, we've studied the public pools in these ski areas (and the great ones at ski mountains in Switzerland and France) and our learnings from their facilities are baked into our plan for Vail. Without being too far ahead of ourselves, we can't even tell you how excited we are. We believe our Center may even become a singular destination draw — from athletes looking for an extended high-altitude training home to families looking for one-of-a-kind world-class recreational and dinning opportunities, and the list goes on.

Of course, for our Vail local merchants and restaurants, this was singularly the clear win of options for the reinvigoration of the Dobson Arena. Our new facility will not only satisfy and bring value to our local residents (and numerous guests), but also grow the quality and opportunities of our vibrant diverse economy and community. We believe it can be a reason to extend stays, attract new, and, very importantly, have people excited to return again for more.

Our Sister City of St. Moritz opened its swim facility, called OVAVERVA, in the summer of 2014. In its very first year, they welcomed a total of 172,000 guests (nearly double their expectations), with up to 2,000 visitors on record days. This, of course, was a another additive to our excitement for this audacious project and dream. 

OK - there's no question that a day of skiing/snowboarding is a full-body workout. We absolutely believe there's no better way to recover than with a restorative soak in water (be it hot bubbling or simply a pool) at the end of your day. 😊

creating A more inclusive WORLD

One of our very highest interests at Vail Athletic is to offer more opportunities for those who can not as easily ski or enjoy our trails in the summer because of a disability. We hope Vail Athletic's design and inclusivity attention can impact lives, remove barriers, and unlock wonderful possible for athletes with disabilities or impairments and truly anyone with a special ability. Can our athletic center and town become a haven recognized globally for this... we sure hope so. This includes more than simply accessible pools and and exercise facilities, but also includes accessible parking, restrooms/showers, dining on the rooftop terrace, and more.


Do we genuinely want to be recognized for our attentiveness and opportunities for all? Yes, absolutely. The UIA Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Awards were established to promote inspiring buildings and sites that have created socially sustainable environments accessible to all through highest quality architectural design. This is important to the Town of Vail. To become noted architecturally on the world stage is something that Vail Athletic will give us the opportunity.


The UIA Friendly and Inclusive Spaces Award considers whether the quality of the architecture:

  • Takes account of human diversity, accessibility, and inclusivity

  • Enhances user experience through use of friendly scale, form, color, material, and light

  • Facilitates orientation, navigation, wayfinding ease of understanding and cultural safety

Of course, we look forward to making a significant contribution to improved quality of life and our attentiveness to above will be top of mind in our design. We will use this language from the United Nations regarding Disability Inclusion. 

  • ​Social benefits:

    • Increase the quality of the location (Town of Vail) as a residential home where people can live and visit such that it brings genuinely uplifted mental well being and vitality to people year round. Personal experience: At 7pm on the last day of the ski season 2024, walking over the covered bridge, the woman in front of me was kinda yelling at the gentleman next to her saying "this town is dead, everything's closed, there is nothing here... etc." There was a bit of truth to what she was saying, but it is easier to fix than we think... we really need to develop gathering spots like this where people have borderline "magical" things to do that aren't offered in their home towns/cities, such that they don't want leave Vail and, more importantly, tell their friends and can't wait to return! 😃😄😁

    • More and more articles in the Vail Daily talk about mental health issues and high rates of suicide in the Vail Valley. Factors for this are complex, but social isolation or loneliness, experiencing discrimination, and social/financial disadvantages, along with the idea that one had better be a good skier/snowboarder and enjoy drinking to find happiness in Vail all have been mentioned. Our hope is that Vail Athletic can provide another choice/opportunity for our residents. And unlike just about everything else in this valley, we are very dialed into offering significantly lower rates for our Vail Valley residents than for those who visit Vail. And one resident's gift has been rumored to be an endowment to enable free membership to all residents of the Town of Vail additionally eliminating financial disadvantages that some kids or family's might experience.

    • Complete the circle, so to speak, of traditional wellness opportunities often available in alpine resorts, where "water" in various forms offer rejuvenative, healing, spirit lifting health benefits.

    • Give those who work in Vail, but may live down valley, a opportunity to enjoy Vail while simultaneously strengthening the feelings of togetherness, community/local culture and pride, and friendliness.

    • Pricing for use of the Center will be patterned off the model of the Avon Rec Center but with bold resident discounts for "Town of Vail" and "Eagle County" residents.​​

    • The three major theaters: (1) the large 350-seat Vail Theater, called "The Gillett Theater" for idea purposes, (2) the 110-seat Upper Room (the highest point of the Buena Vista rooftop), and (3) our 80-seat capacity "Friends of Vail Athletic" conference room (adjacent to its 14-seat boardroom) will be host to the "Presidential Lecture Series" featuring presidents from industry, higher education, along with Nobel LaureatesPritzker Architecture Prize LaureatesPoet Laureates, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, and, of course, former or sitting U.S. Presidents, along with others of this caliber. This series will be in coordination with the Vail Symposium

      • About Vail's Presidential Lecture Series

      • Launched in 2029 by Vail's Mayor, Vail Symposium's Executive Director, and the President of the Vail Valley Chamber of Commerce, our Presidential Lecture Series exposes Vail's residents and broader community to inspiring ideas, courageous leadership, and a whole range of models of civic engagement and civil discourse. Our intent with Vail's Presidential Lecture Series is to welcome the great intellectual, business, and civic leaders of our time (of varied viewpoints and perspectives). As one of the popular gathering places for the world's business and governmental leaders and elites we expect this "Fireside Chat" type series will be a joyful home/stop for great thinkers across a wide variety of disciplines.

  • Economical benefits:

    • ​Create another reason to inspire/nudge people to vacation or live in Vail and, of course, visit our restaurants and merchant shops and stay at our hotels.

    • Drive demand during lower-demand time periods.

    • Front page of Vail Daily headlines (for the first few years to this similar effect): "Surrounding hotels and restaurants enter next level of customer traffic with opening of Vail Athletic and The Vail Theater"

    • Another potential headline: "Our town's iconic (is it too early to say such a statement) Vail Athletic and Theater buildings open it doors next week, much to the excitement of many Vail residents and friends around the world, in particular nearby business owners in town."

    • Lengthen the stay of visits and be a good reason for repeat visits to Vail.

  • Diversity benefits: Offer additional opportunities for "winter" appeal beyond skiers only.

  • Environmental benefits:

    • Introduce the world to leading edge sustainable energy usage in buildings like this.

    • Our concept will meet nearly all energy needs from renewable sources and greatly exceed typical requirements of policymakers and the private sector.

    • We hope to lead in regenerative design. The building’s operation is zero carbon and net-positive energy, meaning that it produces more energy than it consumes.

  • Athletics benefits:

    • Vail has become the high-altitude training home for professional and recreational athletes of so many disciplines. It makes sense to bring Vail's athletes (and training camp visitors) a world-class facility for training and restoration.

    • The first Olympic Gold medalists began training in Vail in 1972 with Frank Shorter prior to him winning the Olympic Marathon in Munich. But it wasn't just Frank Shorter who trained in Vail that year — the entire Olympic distance team for the United States did and many have since. Additionally, Vail is home to skiing Gold medalists Mikaela Shiffrin ( The 🐐 ), Lindsey Vonn (second most winning female skier), and numerous other Olympians (over 20 have connections to Vail through residency, schools, and the ski club).

    • The Center will be closely partnered with its adjacent neighbors of both The Steadman Clinic and Howard Head Sports Medicine at Vail Health hospital. These attract people from all walks of life, from all over the world to come and rebuild their body and spirit. We hope that Vail Athletic can be of valuable assistance to their missions.

    • Keep Vail top of mind for the many different skating camps—including the "Road to Gold" camps (which used to come to Vail) and others—by offering a best in class rink. 

    • Bring the Vail Valley its first and only indoor track (practical for a snowy climate town). It will be creatively designed so as to not interfere with hockey while at the same time also enabling a larger track itself.

    • Bring Vail a swimming facility for local youth—as none of Vail's schools have pools for swimming lessons, classes, or competitive teams.

    • Bring Vail a tall climbing wall in the hockey rink area. In our continuous commitment to our local businesses, the walls will be managed by Apex Mountain School (Vail's original source for outdoor climbing education). Additionally, a smaller ten foot wall for beginners and kids in the teens room.

Join us for your daily adventure in wellness.



Extraordinary ("think" soulful, rejuvenating, spirit lifting, with personality and detail) and noble architecture for the Town of Vail is a key part of our vision. The best of architecture translates to visual happiness/luminosity (and a deep pride) for our residents and visitors for generations beyond us. Many people will come to a town or building only for the architecture (think the beautiful architecture of Chicago, for example) and we do hope initial attraction of Vail Athletic can potentially be one of those. And we believe that the visitor's experience of the architecture and participation in it can add genuine value beyond their time skating, or swimming, or exercising.


Of course, beauty attracts in its own right and brings joy... and that absolutely includes beautiful architecture. At the highest level, while Vail Athletic will be a fascinating facility with much happening, it will be clean (marble/granite slabs of concrete envisioned for much of the water area), joyful to navigate, and attractive (think of the Apple iPhone with Steve Jobs and Apple's director or industrial design Jony Ive). First of all because Vail Athletic will be a place where users will be sweating/dripping, etc. and secondly for staying power. 

When I was 29 years old, after just finishing graduate school, I inherited my great grandfather Peter Brust's collection of architecture books (83 large books — smallest size was 11" x 19" — that were published from 1891 to 1911). The combined books weighed hundreds of pounds and I personally studied them with great joy and dedication for the next ten years. These books ranged from the large picture books of the best architecture of developed countries in Europe plus Mexico to very detailed and dedicated books on archways, doorways, and even door handles. After studying in Europe and further studies (so to speak) as the lead draftsman at Milwaukee's Ferry and Clas Architects, our great grandfather and his business partner started their own firm in 1906. By the 1920s, the firm was the largest architectural firm in Wisconsin. While their craft was designing residential, business, education, medical, public, memorial, recreation, and theater commissions they became particularly well known for their numerous ecclesiastical (churches, convents, chapels, monasteries, rectories, and seminaries) commissions as well. Our favorite of his designs was a Romanesque Revival convent chapel. I share this because one of Peter's heavy books was simply on vestments showing me how "completing the circle" is of utmost importance — yes, interiors and details (down to what the workers wear) matter when you design and dream of nothing less then world-class quality. As that most remarkable convent chapel brought deep peace, joy, and pride to the blessed nuns of the School Sisters of St. Francis so to do we want to bring for our residents of Vail and our guests for generations to come.

Our great grandpa's books surely piqued my interest in the power of stupendous design and Alain de Botton's book, "The Architecture of Happiness," encapsulated the philosophy and psychology of architecture well. As it explains one of the great but often unmentioned causes of happiness and inner peace is the quality of our environment: the kinds of walls, chairs, light fixtures, windows, buildings, and trees that surround us. And yet concern for extraordinary architecture is too often described as frivolous by the majority of society, even self-indulgent. This well regarded book delves into, beyond the joy architecture brings us, how it heavily influences what we believe we can be. And argues that it is architecture's task to stand as an eloquent reminder of our full potential. WOW 😳

De Botton smartly attests that if we are going to plop down a structure in the midst of nature (which already contains natural order, elegance, and balance) let us at least make it a 'best effort' to be true to what might bring harmony. And put thought and consideration into its beauty rather than just treat the building as utilitarian or worse, adding another scar on the landscape. ​

Our building will appear bright, resplendent, and welcoming to visitors and blend harmoniously into the surrounding landscape as a landmark for Vail. Yes, intensive preparations will be required in which professionals from various specialized fields will be involved.​

  • Do we hope the architect of Vail Athletic is recognized with AIA Gold Medal awarded by the American Institute of Architects, YES.

    • The AIA Gold Medal is the highest American annual honor recognizing individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture

  • Do we hope our facility is recognized with the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, YES.

  • And, of course, do we want our architect or architectural firm(s) responsible for Vail Athletic to receive the most highly regarded and prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.

    • The Pritzker is the single international architecture award presented annually "to honor a living architect or architects whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture."

  • And do we want Vail Athletic to be the reason for a living architect, firm or architectural collective comprising architects to be honored with the  UIA Gold Medal & Triennial Prizes — most prestigious distinction attributed to an architect by architects, ABSOLUTELY YES! ​​

    • The UIA Gold Medal and Prizes are awarded on a triennial basis to recognize achievements of international consequence. The only lifetime achievement awards bestowed upon architects by their peers, they are traditionally attributed on stage at an awards ceremony at the end of the UIA Triennial World Congress. ​

  • Our striking facility will combine an ecological construction with an environmentally friendly operation.

    • The indoor pool complex, with its generous glass fronts will create flowing transitions to the expanse of the mountains of Vail and create a bright and inviting atmosphere inside.

    • The outdoor pool with its bubble loungers and terrace will allow visitors open views to Vail beautiful mountains

    • “Hidden” in the roof of the building will be a spa — intimate, peaceful and a generously designed inner world. Visitors are protected from outside gazes, but can enjoy soothing views to the mountains.

​​Do we want Vail Athletic to be recognized on the cover of Architectural Digest, and front page of The New York Times and Wall

Street Journal, beyond the great ski publications — YES, YES, and YES.

DESIGN NOTE #1:  In terms of planning: noble architecture, harmonious integration into the landscape, and an innovative energy concept are requirements.


DESIGN NOTE #2:  I want to talk about a crucial function that's missing. It's the function of emotion. The ability of buildings to mean something to us and to our community. To lift our spirits. To connect us. TH

As award winning architect Thomas Heatherwick shared in his TED talk, The Case for Radically Human Buildings: There's continually more research showing that simplistic, monotonous, simply functional buildings are not just that, they're harming us. They're bad for our mental health. And they're also bad for societal health.


Could Vail Athletic, even in a super small way, lessen this epidemic of mental health (and perhaps even suicide) in Vail and the valley? Perhaps yes.  

Structural Engineering Marvel

Yes, while this might seem an "impossible" build/vision, with our partially submerged ice skating area, many of the conflicting requirements have been met. Regarding design of Vail Athletic & Dobson Ice Arena we've been in conversation with Morger Partner Architekten in Basel, Switzerland. They were part of the architectural consortium along with Bearth & Deplazes Architekten of Chur, Switzerland for our inspiration pool facility in St. Moritz. Vail's Center will be spread over three upper floors and the partially subgrade hockey arena and includes all the necessary infrastructure for such a complex venue. With certainty, views/sightlines will be precisely designed and the use of carefully chosen materials (mineral materials whenever possible) will allow us to create different room and lighting moods and unite Vail Athletic in a harmonious unmistakable character. 


There will be no exposed "unfinished" timber (aka: Vail Athletic will not be a rustic looking facility like much of Beaver Creek, but rather a more contemporary alpine facility with elements not as prone to "aging" so to speak. Sure, while heavy timber looks OK in some circumstances, (Vail's Two Elk, for example) it can also "date" itself. While the AI developed images at the top of this site show a tall, grand façade, more realistically, we'll opt for a better use of space. VA will be grand/striking, yes, of course, but not by height, rather by beauty. The Lionsgate entrance may likely have a (1) a tall welcoming lobby with comfortable chairs and sofas and fireplace (and front desk just before staircases to the upstairs and down to the tennis and pickleball courts), (2) a large aquarium to prolong seating and interest, (3) an art deco entrance to the theater (if the theater is made in that design type) - see slideshow.

"People attend and buy tickets to theatres, not movies."

— Marcus Loew

Beyond the two architecture firms in Switzerland (chosen for their deep familiarity with the project and subject matter expertise, we will also be inviting to the creative design conversation world-renowned Pritzker Architecture Prize Sir David Chipperfield of London and Jeanne Gang as our potential leads. We are very excited as we believe these would be the best firms and truly a good fit. Additionally, we look forward to talking with Jim Deters who owns the tastefully designed Gravity Haus locations around the great Rocky Mountains and California. Speaking only from visiting their Vail location, the creative use of varied room heights, tiered leveling, and light (both natural and artificial) of Jim's Gravity Haus building makes for a very aesthetically pleasing alpine intimacy. Yes, their buildings/interiors are more rustic than we are envisioning for Vail Athletic, but what their architecture does to lift spirits and foster connections and conversations and open up amble amounts of awe and wonder are just what we're looking to do too.

From a structural engineering standpoint it is possible that we will use an "arch" ceiling (Diagram 1) above the skating arena. Architecturally for its beauty and the "look and feel" of arenas, but simultaneously for its bridge tensile strength for the aquatic/fitness facility above. We are in conversations to learn more about this possibility and/or other structural ways for support or how this is best possible.

Diagram 1                                                                                                                   Diagram 2

We may (also) use a tied arch bridge (Diagram 2) not hiding its architectural beauty such that its viewable in the aquatics area above, where hangers and support columns can be at work. Of course, if needed, the bowstring-arch could be hidden in the walls between pools. We are excited to learn what is possible and are hoping to know more by the first or second week of November. 

​Haha... we hope this structural challenge will not be nearly impossible. But, if so, and we're able to pull it together we hope its grand scale can inspire awe in travelers and scholars alike.


1. No, we do not need to have super tall ceilings in the fitness rooms (some fitness centers do this - visually and functionally, it doesn't add anything, it's not needed). While you might think that lean on the aesthetic value, the functionality of space is to the inch important with the world's Pritzker Prize architects (and we promise we'll be right there with our architectural consortium). The exception to this will be the skating rink area which will likely have a climbing gym with some of that "wasted" space.

2. So many athletic center's have unused lobby areas - it might be because they are just "cold" with their tile flooring, inexpensive chairs and sofas, etc. The main welcome lobby from the Lionsgate entrance will have, to the contrary, follow the practices of the great hotel lobby's (including the just redesigned one at the Westin Avon). Keep in mind, that this is the lobby that will also be used by the Vail Theater. Yes, the athletic center itself will use white marble looking flooring, etc.

3. We are not rigid on the name "Vail Athletic" and "The Vail Theater" (this can easily have major sponsor's name) or "The Buena Vista" rooftop terrace or the "Lionsgate" entrance, but good naming is critical and we'll be super attentive to it. There is tons to think about here... and we are not scared on partnering with a great branding agency - which can be insightful. Of course, through socialization, it's somewhat clear that "Community Center" or "City Center" are not necessarily winning names for the "vibrancy" factor or "cool" factor or "International Appeal" factor. 

4. Vail Athletic will fully embrace work trade programs (if you don't live in Vail and qualify for our free resident membership... thanks to two generous donors). Yes, if there is an extra cost for the climbing wall(s), etc. there will, of course, we trades available for anyone who would like this. 

5. Someone asked once, are there going to be enough people for a public fitness and aquatic center in the Town of Vail? The simple and quick answer is YES. Every town fitness center that we have visited during our investigation/recon missions... tells us that they wish they had built a larger facility as they all are looking to expand. The Town of Avon is looking to increase the size of their pool, add in tennis, pickleball, and basketball courts. The City of Aspen has already opened a new/second full climbing wall gym for its residents as their recreation center is too small (despite it being large) for proper climbing beyond the center's first tower wall. The Town of Gypsum is also looking to redesign to gain more room -- worth noting the director of the Gypsum center told me that it was THE GATHERING SPOT for the town... beyond the Costco.

5b. On the idea of is anybody going to use Vail Athletic... well, like the Lifetime Fitness (for profit fitness centers in Colorado) the memberships fill up quickly. On the newest Life Time Fitness in Denver West, their home page reads: "Availability is limited. Join the waitlist for the opportunity to become a member." Of course, Vail Athletic will limit membership and offer waitlists where local town residents are at the top of the list, followed by Eagle County residents, followed by guests/visitors to town. And, yes, we will be working with consultants from Life Time Fitness (along with our Sister City friends in St. Moritz and other places) in our design phases. 

Not necessarily related to the text, but a bunch of curated photos of great design ideas. 

Skater Main Entrance

The new Dobson Ice Area (for our Vail Junior Hockey Club, Skating Club of Vail, and Vail Yeti, the semi pro hockey team, and all other skaters and spectators) will have the Center's signature location entrance along the bus route (just as it is currently). The entrance for the skating area will be patterned off of below with a sloping ramp (for those in a wheelchair and all who might need including those rolling in a hockey bag) and stairs while keeping a clean and inviting look and feel.

Oh, yes, we might have misled you above. Like Aspen did at their Hockey Rink, we are planning to add lockers for our junior hockey club skaters (AND VERY POTENTIALLY OTHER GROUPS TOO) to keep their skates and equipment bags. 😃


This ten foot down sloping "primary" entrance from the street level will enter at the mezzanine level. This level goes around the entire arena and includes all concession stands as well as skate rentals and restrooms for guests. At this level, escalators and elevators (in image below) go both up to the aquatics facility and down to hockey rink (and track) level. Also accessible on the far west side of the lower level is a climbing wall. On the main level will be both men's and women's dressing rooms with individual showers and lockers. Additionally, there will be a referee dressing room with two individual showers. And while not shown below, there will be two meeting rooms (for now, we're calling "halftime rooms") for teams to be able to gather and meet... before, during, and after games. These will be, as all else, tastefully designed and functional and on the main ice level. 

These are both examples of what the "mezzanine" level of the hockey arena will look like. Yes, this is the entrance level for the rink/track.

Our new lower level hockey arena is more than just the new home of the Vail Yeti and our recreational hockey programs in Vail.  Along with the rest of our athletic complex, it's designed to reflect the heritage, history, and personality of Vail while actively projecting progress, accessibility, and a renewed sense of community.


There will be two private event spaces on the north side of this mezzanine level of the arena. From an intimate reception to a full company meeting, our Vail Athletics complex has an incredible event space to host your next event. Featuring world–class culinary team, led by Chef _________ (who runs our bistro/restaurant on the aquatics level and food offerings on the rink level).

Oakley Lounge

Easily accessible on the northwest curve of the Mezzanine level
Mix and mingle with your group in a lounge-like space with exceptional views of the arena rink and track. Enjoy the energy and atmosphere of the crowd from your dedicated space. 

Arrangements and capacities:

  • Reception: 130

  • Classroom: 60

  • Rounds: 20


"Friends of Vail ATHLETIC"​ Rooms

This area (three rooms) is open to our generous benefactors at all times, including before – and during – games, concerts and special events. Located on the mezzanine level just to the right of the entrance area, there are two open space room (see below) and a boardroom.

The main area is called the "Olympic Club Room" (above) which boasts convenience and privacy along with dedicated service during nearly all events and customizable dining options (for private events). Adjacent to that we will have our "Trophy Room." Both of these rooms are available for use anytime that Vail Athletic is open. Our TVs inside will have a sports channel (say Tour de France, etc.) and business channel always on. Accessibility is via your member ID code biometric access (so you don't need to carry a fob or keycard).

Arrangements and capacities:

Reception: 90

Classroom: 40

Additionally, a boardroom is also available (by reservation) from our Friends of Vail Athletic area. We hope this very well appointed club area can be of good use/help and enjoyment for our friends.


The arena floor offers a one of a kind event experience, offering the most transformational event space within the Vail Athletic complex. This space can be used in many different varieties from  trade shows, concerts, receptions or seated dinner events. The arena floor is perfect for a large scale event.

Climbing GYM

Also accessible from the skating arena floor is the Vail Athletic climbing facility. It will be a dedicated teaching gym featuring instructors with a full range of climbing experience.


We are calling the our climbing gym "Eagle's Nest Climbing" - enjoy the views of the track or hockey rink from the top. We will have beautiful walls up to 51 feet (this meets the IFSC standard for lead climbing competition walls of 15 m (50 ft), slab to overhanging. Yes, the upper 15 feet of the wall will be interweaved with the rest of the building and viewable from windowing in upper levels of the building.

UPDATE - the Gypsum, Edwards, and Aspen Recreation Centers all have a single climbing tower practically in their lobbies. In speaking with either the Director of the Center or those at the front desk... everybody said, it was a large and tall waste of space and hardly ever used. We figured that was the case - but reassuring to hear also. Rather fully committing to a climbing wall (and potentially on our outside walls too) like you were a climbing gym is the win. And literally, with the height needed for the Dobson Ice Rink, well, a climbing wall might be just the perfect fit. This is an inspirational video of the climbing wall in the Alps that is a must go!

We aspire Vail Athletic's climbing to be a catalyst for personal and collective growth, offering a challenging opportunity for all from the beginner to recreational to professional climbers. As you may be able to sense we are fully dialed into the aesthetic value we bring and hope even seeing this area (or perhaps outside climbing wall too) will lift your spirits and inspire you. Highest level, we are family-oriented everywhere in Vail Athletic and hope our walls can be transformative for everybody.

We will be working with Walltopia and simultaneously with Coloado's professional rock climbers to create something super unique and captivating for all climbers. Yes, it is possible that we incorporate both inside (from ice rink level) and an outside climbing wall viewable from the Lionsgate entrance plaza—super visible area for an impressive eyecatcher—to attract interest and vitality around Vail Athletic. Yes, this outdoor wall (see photos and movie) would then also be visible from our Buena Vista rooftop terrace. We're not sure on space constraints yet. 


Accessible from the Lionsgate entrance and essentially completely sub-grade below where the Lionshead bus turn-around is for the hotel buses, will be 4 pickleball courts and a tennis courts. As with the character of the rest of Vail Athletic these will be of varying heights. The ceiling about the tennis court will be 25-27' and the height of the pickleball courts will be 22'. Yes, lighting in both the pickleball and tennis areas will be excellent. And, yes, we will have designed seating (available) around the pickleball courts, for if/when a pickleball tournament is hosted at VA.

OK - just because we'll only have one tennis court, we hope the designer can make it into one of the most stunning tennis courts in the world (see slide #2 for one of our inspirations).


Make no mistake that our Family Pool area will be a special little escape, even inside of the VA facility itself. As mentioned above, this pool will have two lap lanes and the rest will be for open swimming, including swim lessons. While this pool will not have the mountain views (it will be inside without side windows) it will have a skylight. Is it too much to change the architecture style of the other pools and more closely match the design aesthetic of the (proposed) art deco theater? Well, we're just in the dreaming phase at this point and taking in all heart-lifting and awe inspiring ideas. SO, yes! This type of skylight is possible. Seen with the crown about the pool is the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

DESIGN NOTE #3:  A public design competition will be held to select/include (ideally) a Vail Valley firm in our consortium of architects.



If you do a little research you'll find something like this has never been built in the United States.

So, for the debut — Vail, of course.

Our bids and estimates, have the total cost of this at $165 million. Our funds will come from (1) Town of Vail - $45 million (funds that must be spent by June 30, 2030) currently available via the Vail Reinvestment Authority Tax District thanks to the the Arrabelle at Vail Square development project), (2) Vail Resorts - $14 million, (3)  Vail Recreation District (VRD) - $6 million cash contribution (which is based off of the financial gift that Mountain Recreation is giving for the Eagle Pool replacement)  (4) a 0.2% increase to 4.5% Town of Vail sales tax (yet to be approved ballot initiative) - $1 million annually; note: Sales Tax collections, the town’s largest single revenue source, are estimated at $30.7 million in 2022, (5) a 0.1% addition to 1.4% Town of Vail lodging tax (also yet to be approved) ~ $.5 million/annually (6) The Steadman Clinic - $3 million, (7) the Howard Head Sports Medicine - $3 million (8) four families who are contributing between $2 and $5 million, and a generous anonymous title donor of $20 million. Of course, with prudence, we will explore partnerships/sponsorships with major corporations. Speedo and Omega watches are partnered with some of the world's premier pools and may be good fits we pursue.

We hope our vision will inspire and excite your vision for a brighter Vail too.

Vail Athletic.

Where aesthetics and world-class athletic facilities, dining, and our local community come together.

Thank you, Town of Vail.

There are so many off-the-wall opportunities for re-establishing Vail as the marque world-class mountain destination in the United States and globally. This "re-establishing" Vail has almost completely to do with Vail Resorts not being active in stretching the world's minds in awe and wonder of what's possible with lifts, dining, terrain, and architectural quality for a ski resort. Yes, of course, Vail's terrain is terrific, but its last new runs were introduced 23 years ago. Since, every ski resort is pushing boundaries as "futurists" listening to what the next generation of skiers and snowboards want — exciting/adventurous terrain that is not as "easy" for the masses to obtain as the people might have wanted in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. Aspen, for example, is in the process of selective cutting on a number of brand new runs; Aspen Highlands opened Highlands Bowl (its 270-acre powder playground is the closest thing to a European Alpine experience around — yes, you have to hike 782 vertical feet to get to the bowl, but fresh tracks await all those who attempt); Deer Valley, for example, is in the midst of doubling it's skiable terrain (adding an exciting 3,700 acres of terrain); Big Sky is in the midst of its ambitious 10-year vision transforming the Big Sky experience with multiple new chairlifts (all covered/bubbled with heated seats as most the other great ski resorts have been doing for the past 10 years), gorgeous new gondolas and an aerial tram (along with one-of-the-kind departure and arrival stations), continuously adding significant amounts of new employee housing that provides all its workers pedestrian access to the ski mountain for convenience, quality of life, and no burden needing transportation, plus breathtaking new architecture for its on-mountain dining huts/restaurants, etc.

OK - enough of the griping on mediocrity outside of our control. 😂😂 As the Town of Vail, we will continue taking no shortcuts. That we promise. We can't wait and are looking forward to this journey ahead with Vail Athletic. We think, like with St. Moritz and its public spa/aquatic facility that has reshaped their historic town the Town of Vail may just do similar... and our reliance on the ski mountain will be just a little less. 


Socialization Feedback


"I myself am often there and am still firmly convinced that the design has changed and improved St. Moritz in the long term. The project brings significant added value for the entire region, infrastructure and tourism.— ​Martin Klein, partner and owner of Morger Partner Architekten Basel and responsible project manager for planning and realization of OVAVERVA in St. Moritz.

​"There has been conversation in the past about a rec center in Vail (before my time), there is certainly some demand for it (a rec center in Vail). I don’t think it’s a conversation we are having at this time, with renovating Dobson Arena, that project is the priority for now!" — Director of Vail Recreation District

"...the swimming pool, spa and sports facility’s results exceed all expectations. As expected, OVAVERVA served as a good place to visit when the weather was bad during the summer months and it was even more frequented in the autumn-winter period." — explains Marco Michel, operations manager of OVAVERVA

Reviews of our inspiration/model OVAVERVA (by Trip Advisor, rated the #1 of 10, in Fun & Activities in St. Moritz)

  • "Best sports center ever. I totally recommend it as an athlete but also as a tourist."

  • "Great place to see and be at St. Moritz. This is a place to go if you have kids or you like swimming. The architecture is clean and beautiful, the set-up is great. Highly recommended!"

  • "We went every evening after skiing. Incredibly clean facility, well run, organized. Lots of people of all ages using the various facilities - families, couples, singles. My wife and I only used the jet pool and the spa, but the remaining areas were also well used. Highly recommended."

  • "If you forgot your swimsuit, not to worry, there is a very good shop on the premises that stays open late so while not the most economical you will find something (great selection of sizes too) so you wont miss out. Pro tip: Come a little later than apres-ski and make it a relaxing evening. You'll avoid the rush hour and leave super relaxed and happy!!! This is a beautiful facility."

  • "Best place for everyone, specially for my little kids (they are one and three). There are different pools, the best for me has been the little one. It's just twenty cm and you can leave your little kids playing without fear of drowning!"

  • "Wonderful experience. We entered the place quite late at night so there were not many people, not too crowded."

  • "Do Not Pass Up. This place is amazing! There is something for everyone! Just thinking about it, makes me what to be back there now. If you're staying in St. Moritz, this place is a must! I can't wait to come back again!"

  • "This is a truly outstanding public spa, pool and gym. I think every ski resort should have a public spa and pool like this one. St. Moritz definitely has set the bar very high."

  • "As the only non skier in the family it’s often hard to find an activity that we can all participate in. The pools here are phenomenal. There a pool for laps, a thermo pool, a diving pool, 2 pools for little kids and a range of slides fun tower). The cafe looked lovely. It was all impeccably clean. The staff were attentive and friendly. I can not recommend this place highly enough."

  • "Perfect. Just a perfect place to swim, relax, and have a nice healthy meal. By the way, you may have the chance to meet some Olympic champions on the swimming pool!"

  • "Need a break during your ski or outdoor activities or it is a rainy day and you want to do something else? Visit this facilities : great swimming pool and wellness area."

  • "Swiss Top Quality"

  • "Access to Ovaverva was included in our stay at Hotel Laudinella and we came here every evening - the sauna facilities are amazing with different sessions every hour (e.g.meditation, salt scrubs, body butter) and the water slides are the best water slides I've seen at an indoor pool."

  • "In St Moritiz on a slow, rainy day and Ovaverva saved us. A large, magically built family focused pool in Spa at the bottom of St Moritz. Fun and fast slides, outdoor pool and diving boards. Highlight was being in the pool admiring the beauty of the Swiss Alps. All five of us loved it and would strongly recommend."

  • "An incredible find close to hotel where we were staying. Best swimming and spa facilities yet."

  • "I believe that it is a place where you must visit during your holiday in St. Moritz."

  • "This all-in-one fitness center, pool, spa and healthy snack bar is a real treat. We went every day after skiing. The gym is well equipped and not over crowded. There is a huge lap pool and separate diving well. Well worth a visit - you could spend several hours there."

  • "Functional, elegant and well kept. The new swimming pool (opened 2014) is very well planned, nicely decorated, pleasant to the eye and inspires tranquility. The huge glass walls allows you to enjoy the indoor, while seeing the outdoor."

  • "Amazing relax after a day of snowboarding. We had lots of fun at the Ovaverva. The swimming pool is nice for a few laps, the outside thermal pool offers a wonderful view of the mountains. There is even a kid area, we had a 10-month old baby with us and she loved it. The most fun were definitely the water slides :) Great place for the whole family!"

  • "Great value, great fun and incredible scenery. We only spent three hours in the complex, but other people in our party, took books etc and made a whole day of it. You can buy food and drink by the pool side. So there is no need to leave for the whole day. I think the food and drinks are quite reasonably priced."


Testimonials with Vail Guests

DATE: Monday, June 12, 2023

Location: Vail Town Bus (from VV to Lionshead)

Interaction: Was speaking with what looked like a mom and dad and their daughter. The day was cold (say about 48 degrees) and the mountain was not "opening" until Friday. We lightly chatted on the bus and all got off together in Lionshead. Perhaps not knowing that the mountain (and shops and restaurants) was still not going to be in full-swing until the coming weekend, they ask me which way to the Lionshead shops and such. Well, I pointed in the direction and explained a little bit. They asked me what else there might be to do in town besides going hiking on a cold and damp day. I said perhaps someday a large and beautiful world-class aquatics and athletics center for the public. Of course I shared that the Vail Museum at the parking structure was definitely worth the the visit (if they were skiers). 

DATE: Friday, November 3, 2023

Location: Hotel in Vail

Interaction: Well, technically, I was caught listening to a conversation with the front desk. The guest gentleman asked a woman at the front desk if she had any recommendations for what he and his two boys (looks like age 5 and 8) might enjoy doing. He said, "I know its a bit of an in-between time, etc." I was interested in hearing the woman's response. She suggested going to the Vail Ski and Snowboard Museum but then stumbled a bit, beyond walking around town, and trying some of the restaurants. All I could think to myself was, beyond being a terrific win for our local residents, what a win (and draw too) Vail Athletic would be for that gentleman and his kids. That perhaps with having an evening of awe and wonder on the top of Vail Mountain at the new telescope/observatory and a creative daytime adventure at the new Vail Museum of Art

DATE: April 1, 2024

Location: Vail Library

Interaction: "What about the Aria Athletic Club at the Grand Hyatt?" Well, it is empty, tired, and way too far away from the people to be sustainable. But, yes, it was a gigantic 78,000-square-foot spa and fitness facility. I was a member and despite the fact that everyone needed a car to visit (NO ONE took a bus there) it was a good gathering and meeting spot for many of Vail's locals and workers. It had a tiny little three lane running track (but they went half-in, so it wasn't used by any actual runners) around the upper floor cardio and weights; it had an impractical outdoor pool and a reasonably large outdoor hot tub; it had a 1/2 court basketball area and four racquetball courts; it had 2 steam rooms and 2 saunas (separate in the men's and women's locker rooms); it had 4 tennis courts; and a full spa. Yet, it lacked any architecture or design that would ever be an encouragement to have others tell there friends about it. And it was too far from Vail Village or Lionshead for visitors/guests or anybody without a car to visit. There is also a private ($170/month based on year commitment) 18,000 sq ft. fitness facility at the Gravity House in the heart of Vail Village and an open/private (drop-in: $35/day, or $115/month) 2,800 sq ft fitness center at the Vail Racquet Club (which includes a 4-lane outdoor lap pool in East Vail.

Aquatics Bonus

THE "Aquatics" Bonus 

Town of Vail likes to exceed expectations and we hope this will be one of those 😊🤍


Taking "Aquatics" even deeper...


Our idea is to bring awe and wonder with education from our "dreamed" single salt-water aquarium tank. Can this be done at altitude, we don't yet know. But if we can not design and build a one-of-a-kind aquarium that is extraordinary, of course, we WILL NOT do. The photo above is to help us remember to "dream big" so our local kids might say, "Mom, Dad, can we go to Vail Athletic again tomorrow - I want to see the fish." One idea is to have aquarium visible (glass on both sides) from our "Little Explorers" area (our reasonably large kinder care room) and "if" we decide on an aquarium tunnel, well, that might be the connector to the aquatic part of Vail Athletic.

Yes, we understand this would be the world's highest-altitude aquarium tank. Currently, China's Qinghai region has the highest at 2200 meters above sea level. 


All said, we hope to make this a learning opportunity with awe and "sea world" wonder in the heart of our mountain town. Of course, like the Shedd Aquarium (in Chicago), we hope that a family may be interested in our proposed gift of $5-8 Million for the naming of Vail's Aquarium (__family name__ Aquarium). This will be only a single tank with the possibility of connected walk-thru tunnel so visitors can be immersed in the sea world.


If you didn't see, we are also working with a local resident who's financial gift interest is that of an endowment to enable free (or massively subsidized) membership the the athletic center for all Town of Vail residents (for the first 11 years of operation). And, also, don't forget child care is free for all who use Vail Athletic. 😇 

Are kids captivated and inspired by large aquariums... ABSOLUTELY! And research suggests that watching fish swim around can reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Plus, of course, they brings tons of smiles, too. 

Who says the only aquarium in Colorado has to be in the Denver area (Denver Aquarium & Littleton's SeaQuest) — 15 miles from each other. Ours will be one large tank, located in the Lionsgate entrance lobby in front of the Vail Theater. The single marine life tank is designed be a super captivating draw and win for the mountain communities of the Vail Valley. 😁


A development team is being gathered to comprehensively research all of Vail Athletic's possibilities and intricacies. If you have a genuine interest in joining the team for this monumental project from its inception and/or if you have a particular skill/gift that you could generously share, please contact us. ​

Thank you! Live happy. Lift others.

With the delicacy of water in the mountains we want to open an opportunities to play in and enjoy it... especially our non-skiers. Celebrate water with us in Vail!


355 E Lionshead Cir. (address for the Theater building entrance)

321 E Lionshead Cir, (address for the Dobson Ice Rink entrance)

Vail, CO 81657

LOCATION NOTE: This is very important. Having Vail Athletic within walking distance to Lionshead and Vail Village is critical. 

Remember: Community (and hence vibrancy) today are attracted to beautiful clubs that inspire them, not the weights.

Facility Hours (suggest new hours)
Monday thru Friday: 6 AM – 9:30 PM
Saturday 8 AM – 9:30 PM
Sunday 10 AM – 8 PM

Seasonal Closure: Our aquatics and athletics facility closes for one week commencing at the end of Vail's ski season and closes for the first week of November.


OK - this closure may not continue for many years in the future, as the town becomes genuinely less reliant upon Vail Resorts and its ski resort. Rather, depending upon financials, we may actually remain open as another avenue of balanced health (both mental and physical) during down seasons. We shall see.... what the board and town council thinks.

With Our Sincere Gratitude

—John & team

© 2024 by Project Vail 2029: Building Great & Resilient Communities 

Good read when time.

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