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Solaris Named Best 5-Star Hotel in the USA!

The Insider / 11.14.2013
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At a gala at London's Grosvenor House on November 3, the International Hotel Awards named Solaris Vail the Best 5-Star Hotel in the United States. Solaris general manager Bill Marshall put it best when he said, "This recognition speaks to Solaris' efforts to not only stand out as a top property in service, amenities and accomodations in Vail, but in the country and world." Congrats, Solaris Vail! For rates and info, visit http://www.solarisvail.com/rates.html

Solaris: Vail's New Hot Spot

SKI Magazine / 5.20.2012
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It's Thursday night in February and, despite the lack of snow outside, Bol, an upscale bar, restaurant, and bowling alley located in Vail Village, is packed. Patrons lounge in comfy leather chairs, watch sports on up to 15 different televisions, and roll down 12-pin alleys fit for the White House. But mostly they eat. They chow on everything from gourmet pizza with speck and figs to grilled calamari to a $90 serving of Kobe ribeye. This new hotspot in Vail is tucked into the eastern corner of Solaris, the development created by Peter Knobel, a former telecommunications executive from Long Island-and it's only one of the diverse experiences the complex offers. Solaris also includes 900- to 6,500-square-foot luxury condos, a movie theatre with waiters that serve you cocktails and dinner (try the salmon with lemon-whipped potatoes and New York strip steak) during the coming attractions, art galleries, a skating rink, a coffee shop, and Matsuhisa, a five-star Japanese restaurant. It sparkles, it overwhelms-and it was very close to never existing.

Back in 2005, when the project was initially proposed, some town council members, whose votes were necessary to approve the project, feared the massive structure-547,000 square feet-would block the mountain views. But in a November 2007 election, those council members lost their seats to officials who supported Knobel's project.

So far, Solaris has been a major success. Forty percent of the $1.45 million to $19 million 79 residences have been sold and a number of them are rented for $785-$7,000 per night. The restaurants are usually full-you need to book reservations at Matsuhisa a month in advance-gradually shifting the dining and partying scene from Bridge Street (the area of Vail Village where most of the bars and restaurants are located) to Solaris, a five-minute walk west.

The attention to detail that Knobel put into each facet of Solaris wasn't lost on me. My three-bedroom condo was large enough to house my entire extended family and featured a kitchen and bathrooms that were fully decked out in marble. Solaris also includes a modest exercise room that offers a trainer-led ski- and snowboard- specific morning stretch, massage rooms (though you can just as easily call the massage therapist to your own abode), and a 40-foot-long Turkish bathhouse-style pool. Your skis are stored in a locker just beneath the Vista Bahn chairlift-a five-minute walk from your room (or one of the bellmen will shuttle you there). In addition, a stay at Solaris gains you access to a personal assistant who'll do everything from your grocery shopping to your dog walking. In fact pretty much anything you ask of any of the employees is taken care of with a smile (be sure to carry around a pocket full of tip money).

But the highlight of my experience was Matsuhisa. The restaurant is owned by Nobu Matsuhisa, the acclaimed chef known for his innovative dishes (and his roll as Mr. Roboto in Austin Powers). I started with the new-style salmon and beef sashimi, both of which were so delicate that they seemed to dissolve on my tongue, releasing powerful bursts of flavor. From there, it was on to the black cod, tempura crab claws, and shoshito peppers, all of which were equally impressive. To top things off, I indulged in the bento box with chocolate lava cake.

I stumbled to the elevator and in five minutes was cozied up in my plush, king-sized bed. Two minutes later I was out cold. When I awoke, it was snowing.

Honoring the Arts in Vail

Vail Daily / 8.9.2011
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Although not open quite yet, new sushi restaurant Matsuhisa was the gathering place for people interested in dance, photography and art in public places. The space at Solaris provided a beautiful venue to exhibit the photography of Erin Baiano, who has been a photographer for the Vail International Dance Festival for years.

VIDF Artistic Director Damian Woetzel said of Baiano, "Erin was a dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and danced around the world with them. At some point along the way, she picked up a camera and I watched her grow and become an incredible artist in a second way. She has elevated the Vail International Dance Festival with her work."

Baiano, in turn, thanked many community members, including VIDF Manager Martha Brassel, saying, "Martha makes managing this incredible Festival look really easy, which I am sure it is not."

Baiano also thanked Matsuhisa Manager Anthony Viera, who allowed the group to occupy the space, although the restaurant is not formally open. Viera is obviously excited about this new venture.

"This is part of the Nobu empire," Viera said. "Nobu brought sushi to the United States. He is the original sushi chef. When you have a Nobu restaurant, that means his partners are Robert DeNiro, Kenny G., Jackie Chan and Armani. The original restaurant is in Beverly Hills, with others in Aspen, Athens and St. Moritz."

After delectable bites of black cod and snapper, many meandered over to the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater for an International Evenings of Dance performance, which was dedicated to first lady Betty Ford. After the dance, there was a candlelight vigil to honor Ford. The Vail Valley Foundation has done it again by bringing culture and humanities together in an otherworldly way.

For more information on the Vail Valley Foundation and to view Festival photos, visit www.vvf.org.

The Man behind Solaris

Vail Daily / 7.7.2006


Peter Knobel has been described as both a savior for Vail and a greedy developer. At times, he, even more so than his proposal, has taken the spotlight in the debate over the redevelopment of his aging Crossroads complex. Knobel's $250 million Crossroads proposal has 69 condos, a 10-lane bowling alley, a three-screen movie theater, a public plaza with an ice rink, stores and restaurants. "I'm committed to Vail," he told the Vail Daily last year. "It's the greatest place to live, and I can live anywhere I want to. It's a great place, and it needs quality infrastructure. "The Solaris development is intended to bring vitality back to Vail Village, he has said."Our vision is to create not just a building, but a community center," he wrote in a March 22 Vail Daily editorial. Knobel lives in a home in Vail Village with his wife and two children. The house, which he built, sits among the homes of Vail's founder near Vail Mountain. Knobel is an avid road biker and skier, and it's not uncommon to run across him on a lift on Vail Mountain or riding his bike up Vail Pass. Knobel didn't want to talk about why attention has focused on him during the debate over the Crossroads proposal. "As the developer of the Crossroads project, I've tried to run the cleanest and most factual campaign that I could," he said.

Knobel, 49, grew up in Hewlett, N.Y., on Long Island and graduated from American University in Washington, D.C., with a degree in real estate and finance. Knobel said he's the third generation of his family in the real estate business. He started coming to Vail in the late 1980s for ski trips. Ten years ago, he bought a house here for vacations, and he and his family spent several months here a year. Knobel spent his first summer here in 2001, and his family moved here that fall from Manhattan. Sept. 11 was an impetus for the move, he said. Almost five years later, he said the transition from living in Manhattan to living in Vail wasn't hard. He likes the relatively egalitarian nature of the town, he said. "All people are equal here and enjoy the lifestyle and outdoors," he said. Knobel has welcomed people interested in the proposal to his Crossroads office for one-on-one explanations of his plan. He's also been involved in community causes and events. In April, he helped bring the band Cracker to Spring Back to Vail to perform on Gore Creek Drive. This spring, he was one of the people who donated money to Verbatim Booksellers to help the town's only bookstore stay in business.

Knobel said he has made most of his money in real estate in New York and in telecommunications. Knobel was a partner at the Related Companies, which develops high-rise residential real estate in Manhattan. In addition, he was a founder and partner of Gilbert Charles Beylen, a marketing and sales company for condos in New York. Beylen is Knobel's middle name. He was also a founder of National Fiber Network, a fiber optics company that later became Metromedia Fiber Network, a public company with a market capitalization of $28 billion at its highest point, he said. Another of his companies was Beylen Telecom, an international phone carrier based in the Cayman Islands. In 1997, Knobel signed a Federal Trade Commission consent order that ordered Beylen Telecom to pay a portion of almost $800,000 to consumers who were involved in an alleged Internet scam. Knobel has said he didn't know that a client was running the scam. Knobel was also a partner in WKP, a telecommunications billing company, with Seth Warshavsky and Ruth Parasol, two entrepreneurs who made money in the 1990s in the phone-sex hotline business.

Knobel bought the Crossroads complex in 2003 for $13.5 million from Oscar Tang. The deal started one day after Knobel did the Minturn Mile. Knobel got a ride home from a guy who happened to be a good friend of Tang's. Knobel mentioned to the friend that Crossroads was the best property in Vail, and three months later, Knobel got a call from Tang asking if he wanted to buy the property. The complex was built in 1968 by current Vail Mayor Rod Slifer - who voted against the current redevelopment proposal - and architect Dick Bailey, with help from investors Ted Kendall, Morgan Davis and Fred Ford. Ford was the father of former Vail mayor Rob Ford, an opponent of the current Solaris proposal. After Knobel bought the property, he went to work acquiring the 22 condos in the complex. Knobel also said he's built about three houses a year in the Hamptons on Long Island, and has built a home at Spraddle Creek and one on Forest Road. He was also a partner in the conversion of the Tyrolean Restaurant to a home.

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