Discovering Vail

Pepi Gramshammer was an acclaimed and internationally known ski racer, first as a member of the Austrian National Team and later on the International Professional Ski Racing circuit. He was lured from Sun Valley by early Vail pioneers Dick Hauserman, Bob Parker and Morrie Shepard. During his initial visit Pepi hiked up the mountain where he skied the now famous back bowls of Vail Mountain. Hiking up the bowl (this was before ski lifts) Pepi said, “that took forever.” Hence the name of Vail’s famous back bowl, “Forever.” Pepi met Sheika, a New York model and Las Vegas dancer at a 1963 ski race in Aspen. The two Austrians were engaged within a matter of weeks.

Traveling the world on the ski race circuit Pepi was impressed with numerous aspects of the towns and hotels he visited and hoped he would someday get the opportunity to open his own hotel. Pepi said, “Well I got the chance.” This came with partners Howard Head, Eddie Lynch and Cotty Davison. Opening a business in 1964 in Vail was a brave adventure. Vail was a fledging ski resort, with only a few businesses scattered along Bridge Street. The world had not yet discovered Vail and skier numbers were small.

With Pepi on the road ski racing, running the hotel fell to Sheika and she went to work to learn the business. Sheika enrolled in a business management course in Denver, tended bar at the Red Lion and managed the front desk at the newly opened Plaza Building. Pepi and Sheika called their new hotel, Gasthof Gramshammer to reflect the name of the owners and to convey the idea of a hotel and restaurant known in Austrian hospitality. In Austria, “Gasthof” is a term for “a house for guests.” Gasthof Gramshammer opened in December 1964. The rooms were complete, however guests had to carry the newly arrived furniture to the upper floors from the lobby if they wanted to sleep in their rooms. Those were the early days of Vail.

Vail, Colorado 1964

Vail, Colorado 1964

Gasthof Gramshammer opened December 18,1964 with their partners being the first guests.

With Pepi on the road ski racing, running the hotel fell to Sheika and she went to work to learn the business. Sheika enrolled in a business management course in Denver, tended bar at the Red Lion and managed the front desk at the newly opened Plaza Building. Pepi and Sheika called their new hotel, Gasthof Gramshammer to reflect the name of the owners and to convey the idea of a hotel and restaurant known in Austrian hospitality. In Austria, “Gasthof” is a term for “a house for guests.” Gasthof Gramshammer opened in December 1964. The rooms were complete, however guests had to carry the newly arrived furniture to the upper floors from the lobby if they wanted to sleep in their rooms. Those were the early days of Vail.

It did not take long for the hotel to host its first celebrity; astronaut Scott Carpenter. Over the years, the hotel has hosted a number of celebrities, from actors to pro athletes including Clint Eastwood and Barbara Streisand, but after Gerald Ford, a part time Vail resident, became President in 1974, the political celebrities started to arrive and stay at the hotel.

Asked to name the highlights of their time in Vail, the Gramshammers were split between Fords’ ascension to the presidency and the 1989 World Alpine Ski Championships, both instrumental in Vail becoming known as one of the premier ski destinations in the world. An early ambassador for Vail, Pepi was very involved in obtaining the World Championships for Vail, his reputation as a skier strongly recognized in the European ski community as well as a United States representative. August 26 is forever set aside as” Pepi Gramshammer Day” in the State of Colorado by a proclamation issued by Governor Jared Polis in honor of Pepi.

Opening a business in 1964 in Vail was a brave adventure. The world had not yet discovered Vail.

Vail is the American dream come true for the Gramshammer family

Classic Charm in the Modern Era

Today Gasthof Gramshammer continues to offer an inviting atmosphere maintaining old world Austrian charm in the heart of Vail Village to guests from all over the world. Offering the intimacy of a small hotel while offering amenities including an on-site restaurant, Pepi’s Bar, the famous Antlers Room offering more gourmet specialties and Pepi Sports, a full-service ski shop and boutique. A four-minute walk to Vail Mountain ski lifts offers unparalled world class skiing at your doorstep as well as numerous boutiques and restaurants located in the village.

The hotel has remained a landmark in Vail Village featuring Austrian atmosphere Vail has come to be known for over the past 50 years. It is the only remaining hotel in Vail Village to remain in family hands since inception with owner and proprietor, Sheika Gramshammer. Daughters, Kira and Sheika Jr. also play their respective roles in running the establishment.

Vail is the American dream come true for the Gramshammer family. When you ski down” Pepi’s Face “on the front of Vail Mountain named in honor of Pepi or “Forever” in the Back Bowls, think of Pepi and all he did for the sport of skiing and Vail.

Vail, Colorado 2020

Vail, Colorado 2020

Today Gastof Gramshammer continues to offer an inviting atmosphere maintaining old world Austrian charm.

CLOSED until May 13th

Our Hotel and Restaurants will both be closed until May 13th. We look forward to seeing everyone then!