I would be lying if I told you that I didn't have the highest expectations coming to Vail. When I compare my experience at Vail to my times at places like Snowbird, Telluride and Taos I would have to say Vail fell slightly short.
For starters Vail is really expensive. I was prepared to pay $100+ lift ticket, but the $25 parking was ridiculous, especially when Copper Mountain, 5 miles east offers free parking and shuttle service. The snow was good on the front side, not amazing, predictably well groomed snow. The snow on the back bowls was another story.
Now Vail touts the "Back Bowls" as the feature that separates it from all other ski resorts. I have to admit that they were breathtaking, but their southern exposure limits the amount of sking you can actually do when it is not a powder day. I had a blast flying down the groomers on China and Mongolian bowl, but the one time I ventured into the ungroomed stuff I was met with some of the most crusted over snow I have ever skied. Again, if we would have had a foot of fresh my perception of Vail might have been totally different - and that's why I am not overly critical.
I titled this review "I've skied better" because Vail's size didn't really impress me that much I much more about quality and Vail seemed to have tons of very good terrain, but nothing spectacular like you'd find at Telluride, Taos or Snowbird (i.e. limited hike to terrain). I also didn't like how flat the front side seemed. Unlike Snowbird you couldn't take a gondola to the very top of the moutain and ski 3000+ vertical time and time again. Even the back bowls have less than 2000 vertical, which was somewhat dissapointing.
I look for ski resorts where I can ski 3000+ vertical in one descent and one lift ride and Vail really didn't offer that. There were a lot of boring catwalks to be skiied in order to get to the places that offered long steep cruisers. My time at Snowbird also probably spoiled me considering that we received 40+ inches in the 3 days that I skied there.