Weekend Inspiration: Vail - United Hub
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Weekend inspiration: Vail

By Kelsey + Courtney Montague

When people think of Vail, they often think of snowy mountains packed with well-dressed skiers and snowboarders gleefully careening down the slopes. What many people don't know is that Vail is just as beautiful, with just as many activities in the summer.

Here's a perfect weekend in Vail, Colorado, on a sunny summer's day.

Friday

Vail is known for its upscale, impeccable hotel options. When we stayed for our last mural project, we were very lucky to have a suite at the Four Seasons Vail. The rooms are modern and spacious, the bathrooms feature deep, freestanding porcelain tubs with balconies overlooking the Rocky Mountains and there are coffee stations that will make even the pickiest coffee drinker happy. The lobby bar, Remedy, is a local favorite with stellar views of the hotel's stunning pool and green hiking paths. If you're looking for a smaller boutique hotel, check out the charming Austria Haus Hotel.

Two girls pose with Kelsey and Courtney's mural project in Vail

For dinner, we recommend going to Sweet Basil – largely regarded by locals as one of the best restaurants in town. Sweet Basil features fusion food with creative dishes such as saffron linguine and sakura pork tenderloin.

Vail is about 8,000 feet above sea level, so if the altitude hits you a few hours after your arrival, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate your symptoms. Stop by an oxygen bar for a quick O2hit or a hydration bar for an IV of saline and B12. Also, be sure to grab some electrolyte water, a portable oxygen cylinder, some ibuprofen and simple carb snacks (which are easier to digest at higher altitudes). We're native Coloradans, and even we were dragging our first night in Vail.

For your second day in Vail, call your hotel concierge about delivering fixings for a picnic for the following morning.

Saturday

After you've packed your lunch, we recommend heading to eat at the charming Ludwig's Breakfast for a wonderful European-inspired brunch on an enclosed terrace overlooking Gore Creek.

If you're feeling pretty good with the higher elevation, we recommend an easy hike around town to get your (red) blood cells pumping. Stop by the Vail Nature Center and then walk along the winding path next to Gore Creek towards the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater and Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Built in the 80s, the Ford's lived in Vail and wanted to leave a lasting legacy. Hence, they created the highest botanical garden in the U.S. and had an amphitheater designed to match the snow-packed peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Wander through the perfectly manicured gardens, check out the amphitheater schedule and finish up at Patrick Dougherty's mystical art installation "Stick Works." This installation of woven wood makes you feel like you've stumbled across the home of a woodland nymph or an ancient fairy colony.

For lunch, spread out your picnic in the open park space next to Dougherty's masterpiece and watch aspiring fly fisherman practice their casts.

Most Saturday afternoons in the summer are filled with events. Check out vail.com to see what your Saturday has to offer. When we were in town, we visited the Vail Arts Festival, full of talented Colorado artists. We also got to experience the Vail Beer Fest, and with hundreds of craft brews represented, this event has something for everyone. As you walk through the town, be sure to stop by our newest installation in Vail — "What Lifts You - Vail Swings." Created at the entrance of the Vail Transportation Center (near The Solaris Hotel), you can't miss the bright, oversized flowers and butterflies floating along the cement walls.

Dinner at the Alpenrose in Vail Colorado

For dinner, we can't recommend the sweet, home-cooked meals at Alpenrose enough. Alyssa and her brother Joshua run this cozy restaurant and are some of the kindest folks you'll ever meet. Every single detail, from the restaurant design down to the mugs, has been carefully planned and is designed to make you feel at home. Alyssa explained to us that most of the recipes are her grandmother's and are inspired by the Black Forest region of Europe. The menu features Italian ravioli, "Munich-style" schnitzel and traditional German pretzels. Plan for a long meal because you will want to linger over their apple strudel and Gluwein for dessert.

Sunday

The Four Season's restaurant Fire has an incredible breakfast buffet with some of the best service we've encountered. Their croissants are buttery and soft, and their waffles are made to order with a myriad of topping options.

If you're feeling a little full from breakfast, we recommend a pedi-cab to get you to your next destination. Ben Donnelly runs Vail Pedicab, and when he's not showing folks around Vail, he's teaching adaptive skiing to disabled youth in the winter. Let Ben know you'd like to take a gondola ride and he'll get you to the base of the Eagle Bahn lift. Keep your phone out during the trip to take shots of the stellar views of the Vail valley on the way up. At the top there's a slide, a ropes course and hiking galore if you'd like some exercise on the way down.

Lunch at the Remini Gelato & Cafe in Vail, Colorado

For a quick lunch, stop by the Remini Gelato & Cafe about a block away from Eagle Bahn Lift. The owners of this European inspired cafe so desperately wanted their Italian coffee maker that they bought it a seat on a plane back from Italy. This Italian beauty of a coffee maker does make incredible lattes and silky-smooth hot chocolate. Their yummy ham and swiss sandwiches also can't be beat.

After lunch, head over to the Colorado Snow Sports Museum. This newly renovated museum takes you through the history of skiing, snowboarding and even fashion on the slopes. The exhibit about the 10thMountain Division is a piece of history Coloradans are very proud of. Before WWII, Charles Dole, the president of the National Ski Patrol, convinced the US government we needed a division of the armed forces that was adept at skiing and surviving harsh winters and mountain conditions in case of an attack by German forces. The Army developed and trained the tough-as-nails 10thMountain Division of the US Armed Forces at Camp Hale in Colorado. The men of the 10thMountain Division went on to found almost every ski resort west of the Mississippi, co-found Nike and even went on to became politicians (including Bob Dole).

After an interesting history lesson, head over to the 10th Mountain Whiskey and Spirits bar for a proper whiskey. While you're at it, toast the brave men of the 10th Mountain Division for their heroism. For dinner, head over to Mountain Standard. The service is stellar and the generous comfort food is the perfect way to end a trip to this summer mountain getaway.

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Entertainment for all

By The Hub team, August 04, 2020

Our Marketing Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity team and Bridge, our Business Resource Group (BRG) for people with all abilities, partnered together to test and provide feedback on our award-winning seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) system.

Aptly named "Entertainment for all," our new seatback IFE system offers the an extensive suite of accessibility features, allowing for unassisted use by people of all visual, hearing, mobility and language abilities.

"It's nice to know that I can get on a plane and pick my favorite entertainment to enjoy, just like every customer," said Accessibility Senior Analyst and Developer and Bridge Chief of Staff Ray C., who is blind.

"As a deaf employee, the closed captioning availability on board our aircraft is something I value greatly," added Information Technology Analyst Greg O. "The new IFE further cements United's visibility within the deaf community and elsewhere. It makes me proud to be an employee."

Accessibility features of the new IFE include a text-to-speech option, explore by touch, customizable text size, screen magnification, color correction and inversion modes, and alternative navigation options for those unable to swipe or use a handset. For hearing-impaired and non-English-speaking passengers, customization options provide the ability for customers to be served content and receive inflight notifications based on their preferences and settings —with closed captions, with subtitles or in the language of their choice from the 15 languages supported. Our "Entertainment for all" system won the Crystal Cabin Award in 2019, and recently, the Dr. Margaret Pfanstiehl Research and Development Award for Audio Description by the American Council of the Blind.

"This really showed the benefits of partnering with BRGs in helping us improve products and services for our customers and employees," said Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Senior Manager Corinne S. "Even though we have been recognized with awards for our IFE accessibility features, we are not resting on our laurels but continuing to work towards improving the inflight entertainment experience for all of our customers to ensure entertainment is available for all."

Shaping an inclusive future with Special Olympics

By The Hub team, July 24, 2020

If your travels have taken you through Chicago O'Hare International Airport anytime since October 2019, you may have had a friendly, caring and jovial exchange with Daniel Smrokowski. Daniel is one of four Service Ambassadors thanks to our ongoing partnership with Special Olympics. This inaugural ambassador program aims to provide Special Olympic athletes employment opportunities within our operation, affording them a unique and meaningful career.

Since 2018, our partnership with Special Olympics has become one of United's most cherished relationships, going beyond the events we take part in and volunteer with. While the plane pull competitions, polar plunges, duck derbies and Special Olympics World Games and other events around the world are a big part of our involvement, the heart of this partnership lies with the athletes and individuals supported by Special Olympics. To advocate for their inclusion in every setting is one of our biggest honors, and we take great pride in the role we play in the organization's inclusion revolution.

Aiding in the success of Special Olympics' mission to create continuing opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities, throughout the two-year partnership, United has volunteered over 10,500 hours and donated over $1.2 million in travel to the organization. The impact of this partnership is felt at every level, both at Special Olympics and within our own ranks.

"The Inclusion Revolution campaign, led by our athletes, aims to end discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities. United Airlines has joined in our fight for inclusion, empowering our athletes with the skills needed to succeed and opportunities to contribute their abilities as leaders," said Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver. "United Airlines believes that people with intellectual disabilities should be perceived as they really are: independent, world-class athletes, students, employees, neighbors, travelers, and leaders who contribute to make this world a better place."

Our Service Ambassador program is just one of the many ways Special Olympics has impacted not only our employees, but also our customers. "I see every day how our Service Ambassadors connect with our customers the moment they walk into the airport lobby," said Senior Customer Service Supervisor Steve Suchorabski. "They provide a warm, welcoming smile ad assist in any way they can. To see these young adults hold positions that a society once told them they couldn't is truly the most heartwarming part of my job," Steve continued.

"The opportunity to be a part of the United family means everything to me," Daniel said. "I feel so much pride showing up to work in a Special Olympics/United co-branded uniform, working among such a loving and supportive community. The relationship between these two organizations is truly helping to shape my future while letting me use my gifts of communicating and helping others. Hopefully, I can spend my entire career at United," Daniel added.

In honor of Special Olympics' Global Week of Inclusion in July, we're asking our employees, customers and partners to sign a pledge to #ChooseToInclude at jointherevolution.org/pledge.

And be sure to check out Daniel's podcast The Special Chronicles.

United works with partners to send food to USDA food bank

By The Hub team, July 23, 2020

In collaboration with food-logistics company Commodity Forwarders Inc. (CFI), United moved nearly 190,000 pounds of fresh produce to Guam for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program. This new program was created to provide critical support to consumers impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic.

A variety of fresh fruits were transported from Los Angeles (LAX) to Guam (GUM) on United's newly introduced, non-stop cargo-only flight – a route added to meet cargo demand during the COVID-19 crisis. The fresh food was repacked in 10-pound cases in Los Angeles, prepared for departure at CFI's LAX location, and flown to GUM by the United team. Through this beneficial partnership between United and CFI, the perishable goods were kept cool during every step of the process and distributed as part of the food bank program in Guam.

"Everyone on our team has worked relentlessly during the pandemic to get critical goods to where they are needed most. Establishing a comprehensive network of cargo-only flights have allowed us to keep the supply chain moving even while passenger flight capacity has been reduced," said Regional Senior Manager of Cargo Sales, Marco Vezjak. "Knowing that we are able to help during these difficult times – in this case the Guam community – is our biggest reward and greatest motivation to keep moving forward."

United is proud to play a role in maintaining the global food supply chain and helping people access the supplies they need. Since March 19, United has operated over 4,000 cargo-only flights, moving over 130 million pounds of cargo.

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