Pictured here our “Steal” – 2665 Larkspur Lane, Vail, Colorado, currently listed for $1.25 million by Led Gardner of Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate.

We are kicking off our Splurge vs. Steal Resort Edition with two incredible ski-in/ski-out listings in beautiful Vail, Colorado. Each property comes uniquely appointed and positioned on the slopes, yet with vastly different price points. Let’s compare and see what makes each one worth it. Bonus: We have pictures from both fall and winter seasons, giving you an idea of the beauty Vail affords year-round.


Squaw Valley Front

We took a family vacation to West Texas when I was a kid, hitting highlights such as Big Bend, Indian Lodge, and Fort Stockton. The most memorable stop for me was the McDonald Observatory. It was so cool to check out the gigantic telescopes that were capable of getting an up-close view of stars, planets, and even galaxies.

So you can imagine how excited I was to see this Squaw Valley listing from Ascent Sotheby’s International Realty. You guys, not only does this $9 million listing have some of the best views in the Edwards, Colo., area, but IT HAS ITS OWN OBSERVATORY.

Squaw Valley Telescope

I just can’t get over how cool that is! Imagine having a home that sits out in the middle of mountain country, where there are no streetlights to obscure your view of the sky. Sounds almost like touching heaven, no?

Imagine the things that will pop up in conversation that you’d never imagine would.

Honey, did you close the door of the observatory dome? It might snow.”

Dear, I think I might have just discovered a new planet!”

Squaw Valley Night 2

Of course, you’ll also love that this home is fully automated and can be controlled via an app on your smartphone. You also get tons of windows from which you can view the changing seasons on your mountain-top hideaway on more than 34 acres. There are five bedrooms, six full and two half baths, and an indoor tropical greenhouse where you can grow your own tomatoes year round inside this 10,561-foot compound. Brilliant!

Squaw Valley Conservatory Squaw Valley Living 2 Squaw Valley Wine Cellar Squaw Valley Bath Squaw Valley master Squaw Valley Kitchen Squaw Valley Fireplace

You are looking at the beautiful vacation homes of Ross Perot, Jr. And Sr., right next to each other! (Ross Jr.’s is to the right of this picture, Ross Perot Sr. to the left.) They are nested right next to the famous ski area, located across from The Four Seasons Residence Club in beautiful Vail, Colorado.

This was my first trip to Vail, a veritable second home playground to many Texans besides the Perots. Other celebs with homes there include hair magnate Paul Mitchell and Kelsey Grammer. Vail was perfection, warm in the day, cool at night, loaded with hikers, rafters, fly fishermen, bikers, mountain bike fanatics and peaceful tourists. They are gearing up for the fourth of July, Vail’s busiest day of the year. Meanwhile, far away poor Colorado residents and second home owners are dealing with at least eight  scary forest fires that have burned thousands of acres of forest lands and that have destroyed some vacation homes, shut down tourist spots. Some major state highways were closed in southern Colorado over the weekend. Passengers who hiked the tall peaks told me of seeing smoke from about a half-dozen fires across the state, some threatening places like Estes Park, home of the Stanley Hotel, Colorado Springs, Fort Collins and even Boulder. And we saw the firefighters stopping in Georgetown, Colo. With the bone-dry, Texas-type weather conditions — Denver  is “enjoying” 100 degree plus temps — the whole state is under a fire ban. Some people were telling me the fires could have started because some residents are trying to rid the state of the annoying bark beetle that is killing off the tall lodgepole pine pine trees and markedly affecting the appearance of the usually lush, green mountainsides. The pest is thinning out the pretty pines with dying trees leaving piles of dead wood poles, the wood some say completely useless. Others, like our fly fishing guide, told me you can use the wood for furniture after it dries out and the beetles depart. Just don’t build houses with it! Local journalists told me the beetle is caused by global warming, as the critters thrive and reproduce in warmer climates. Do the beetles fuel the fires? Good question. The director of bark beetle operations in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest says people are alarmed by the timber loss: 

“The beetles aren’t killing every tree,” Currey says, “but they are killing a majority of mature lodgepole pine, and we’ve lost half our limber pine, too.” More than 116 million acres in the North American Rocky Mountains have been affected. “People are beginning to understand that this thing is too big to stop.”

photo by Darrell Spangler

Vail was just fine, evidence of the bark beetle here as well, but Vail fortunately has a huge variety of trees covering it’s 14,000 foot-tall peaks, including those gorgeous Aspens. And Vail is undergoing a billion dollar plus enhancement, one of the most major nip/tucks I’ve seen. No wonder Texans and Dallasites like the Perots love to vacation here come summer or winter.