I've skied at Vail the last 4 years in late December, and the skiing is wonderful. We don't stay in Vail or eat in Vail - it's way too expensive - but the back bowls are worth the price of the lift ticket. We just go straight to the back side to avoid all the pilgrims who don't know how to ski, and we have a wonderful time. We buy a sandwich each to put in a pocket and get some hot chocolate at lunch and we're set for the day. That way we don't have to worry about service or price on all the things that other people complain about. And we are happy to pay $20 bucks for the covered parking.