Our Story

Our Roots Run Deep

No one ever imagined the Sonnenalp would be in Vail.

When the small bed and breakfast that inspired the Sonnenalp first opened in Germany in the early years of the 20th century, Vail wasn’t even on the map. As that humble German inn transformed into what would become a celebrated hotel and resort, its founders envisioned bringing their legacy of European hospitality and superior guest service to the United States. In the 1960s, the burgeoning village at the base of the Vail Ski Resort became the ideal location.

Vail and Sonnenalp grew up together.

The modest lodge our founders established 40 years ago led to the hotel and resort that rests at the heart of Vail Valley today — a renowned, destination intertwined in the fabric of an iconic community. Even though the two hotels are a world apart, they share a welcoming spirit cultivated by a history of family ownership and management that makes staying at the Sonnenalp an unforgettable resort experience.

Faessler family posing outdoors for photo with two dogs

has set and maintained the highest standards of hospitality and service at their Sonnenalp Resorts in Ofterschwang, Germany and Vail, Colorado

  • Sonnenalp-40years


    Both the Sonnenalp in Vail and the Sonnenalp in Germany celebrate anniversaries. Sonnenalp Vail observes 40 years of hospitality in the U.S. while Sonnenalp Germany recognizes 100 years of history.

    Explore Sonnenalp Stories to commemorate a few of the stories we’ve had the pleasure to be a part of over the years!

  • esmarie sebastian wedding


    Sebastian marries Esmarie Van Zuylen at the hotel. Esmarie and Sebastian assist Johannes and Rosana in operating the Sonnenalp–Sebastian in Business Development and Esmarie as the hotel’s Director of Marketing. Francesca continues her studies at the University of Denver.

  • Johannes Faessler Family


    Sebastian Faessler joins his parents Johannes and Rosana in managing the Sonnenalp in Vail as the hotel’s Leisure Sales Manager. Francesca is currently at the University of Denver.

  • Competitive downhill skier racing towards flag


    Vail and Beaver Creek host the 2015 FIS World Alpine Ski Championships for the third time since 1989. Second to the Olympics, it is the largest ski racing event in the world. The Sonnenalp Hotel was honored to host the German National Ski Team for the event, including
    Felix Neureuther.

  • historic Vail slopes photos


    Vail Celebrates its 50th Anniversary as one of North America’s premier resort communities on December 15, 2012.

  • Sonnenalp Hotel surrounded by trees with fall foliage


    The Sonnenalp Resort Celebrates 30 years of welcoming guests from around the world to Vail. Since opening in 1979, the hotel has received many accolades and recognition for its achievements from publications such as Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler. In 2001, the Sonnenalp became a member of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World collection.

  • Sonnenalp Hotel facade and street


    In a third major expansion, a new wing of the hotel is built along Meadow Drive that adds 42 new units comprised of 29 suites and 13 hotel rooms. The project also creates an enhanced, upscale pedestrian experience with new retail shops, gardens, heated surfaces and the new Swiss Chalet Restaurant.

  • People in a pool on a sunny day


    The Faesslers implement a $6 million renovation project on the Sonnenalp Golf Course clubhouse restaurant, Balata, quickly becomes a local favorite.

  • Indoor pool


    The second phase of the Bavaria Haus reconstruction includes the creation of a spacious spa facility featuring an open lobby with fireplace, health bar, treatment rooms and an indoor – outdoor pool. Outside, sunny patios and flower gardens were created along the bank of Gore Creek.

  • Sonnenalp Hotel under construction


    Between April 1992 and November 1993, the Bavaria Haus is completely rebuilt in two phases. The original hotel is replaced with an iconic Vail landmark consisting of 88 guest suites, 2 hotel rooms, the new Ludwig’s and Bully Ranch restaurants, multiple conference rooms and a luxurious new spa.

  • Couple on a steamy outdoor hot tub on a winter day


    The Sonnenalp in Bavaria creates the Quellengarten, an impressive water park and spring garden consisting of indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, steam rooms with cold plunges and an exotic solarium.

  • Pristine golf course in Vail


    The Faesslers purchase Singletree Golf Course in Edwards, Colorado and rename it the Sonnenalp Golf Club. While county covenants require that the popular course remain semi-public, the Sonnenalp is able to offer preferred tee times to hotel guests and club members.

  • Building exterior on a sunny day


    Their three properties are renamed Austria Haus, Swiss Haus and Bavaria Haus, creating the Sonnenalp Family of Resorts and Hotels. The Talisman Lodge is transformed into the Swiss Haus, with 56 hotel rooms, a spa, outdoor pool and the Swiss Chalet Restaurant. Until its closure in 2004, the boutique hotel welcomed guests with relaxed European charm.

  • Man and woman standing next to railing, Sonnenalp Hotel in the background


    Johannes Faessler, son of Karlheinz and Gretl, takes over management of the Vail Sonnenalp properties with his wife Rosana in 1986. The Faessler Family expands its Vail Village presence by purchasing the Kiandra and Talisman Lodges along Meadow Drive.

  • Exterior of Sonennalp Hotel restaurant at night, entrance awning filled with snow


    Intrigued with success of the Vail Ski Resort, Karlheinz and GretlFaessler purchase the Wedel Inn Motel next to the Covered Bridge. They remodel its 38 rooms and rename it the Hotel Sonnenalp. In 1986, the name changes to the Sonnenalp Austria Haus. The Austria Haus Club and Hotel occupies the site today.

  • Historic photo of Sonnenalp Club golf course


    A golf enthusiast, KarlheinzFaessler opens the Sonnenalp “Ofterschwang,” a 6,500-yard, 18-hole championship golf course designed from plans drawn by legendary golf course architect Donald Harradine.

  • Exteriorn of hotel and ground covered with snow


    The Sonnenalp Resort of Bavaria welcomes the new year with 180 employees and an international reputation for setting a new standard for luxury and privacy. Guests enjoy outdoor family-oriented activities promoting health and wellness.

  • Bulding on fire, smoke billowing out of top windows


    Tragedy strikes the Sonnenalp Resort of Bavaria when a fire destroys the restaurants and 120 bedrooms in the main hotel. The hotel was immediately rebuilt and opened in time for the holiday season that year.

  • Couple posing for photo, smiling

    THIRD GENERATION 1964-1998

    From 1964 to 1998, Gretl and KarlheinzFaessler continue to expand the Sonnenalp Resort of Bavaria while laying the groundwork for a Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail.

  • Newspaper frontpage from 1962


    Vail Ski Resort opens on December 15, 1962 with $5 lift tickets, one gondola, two chairlifts, nine runs and eight ski instructors.

  • Historic photo of Sonnenalp Hotel in 1956


    In 1956, the Sonnenalp Resort of Bavaria begins a 10-year expansion that includes the addition of an indoor swimming pool, sauna, tennis courts and 53 new rooms.

  • Historic photo of chalet in 1932


    Eleonore and Adolf turn over management responsibilities to their son Ludwig and his wife Resi the same year Franklin D. Roosevelt is elected 32nd President of the United States. Over the next 20 years, the industrious and personable young Faesslers add 80 beds and register the Sonnenalp name.

  • Older couple smiling


    Between 1932 and 1964, Resi and Ludwig Faessler transform the Sonnenalp from an inn to a hotel.

  • Room with two tubs, doors open, and view of trees and hills


    The Faesslers spend several years refurbishing the lodge, adding guest rooms and a dining room. They offer guests Moor mud treatments which remain a popular treatment today.

  • Family posing for photo outside hotel in 1928


    The original Sonnenalp Resort of Bavaria is founded in the picturesque Allgäu Alps in southern Germany when Eleonore, an innkeeper’s daughter, and Adolf Faessler, a baker, purchase a small ranch house with acreage and eight cows in the Bavarian Alps.

  • Adolf and Eleonore

    FIRST GENERATION 1919-1932

    Adolf and Eleonore Faessler

    For five generations the Faessler family has set and maintained the highest standards of hospitality and service at their Sonnenalp Resorts in Ofterschwang, Germany and Vail, Colorado.