Category Archives: Colorado

Viceroy Snowmass Getting Light Makeover

Lobby improvements and eatery news at mountain resort hotel.

It seems that the Viceroy Snowmass opened just recently, but in reality, it debuted at Thanksgiving 2009. In the world of luxury lodging, it was time to refresh, and that’s what’s happening this fall. When it closes this month, work will begin on a $3.5 million-plus remodel of several public spaces at the property. It seems that there’s a new project owner willing and able to keep the property in tune with today’s luxury hospitality trends. These include the following enhancements:

  • Refresh of the lobby to make  a more welcoming and cozier 
  • A new coffee shop, Café V. Is that a 5 or a vee/, I wonder. 
  • Toro, a remodeled and reconcepted restaurant by acclaimed restaurateur Richard Sandoval
  • A new fitness center with extensive natural light and all-new state-of-the-art equipment.

These improvements are to be completed ahead of the winter-season reopening of the hotel on December 15. Next spring is to bring additional enhancements to the pool area, including two new oversized hot tubs and the reopening of Nest as a vibrant new poolside/slopeside bar and “outdoor dining experience.”

The Viceroy is at 130 Wood Road, Snowmass Village, Colorado 81615; guestroom & reservations,  877-235-7577.

Crowne Plaza Denver Grand Re-Opening

Latest in new and renewed hotels in Denver.

Nothing confirms Denver’s current boom as much as the spate of  openings of new hotels and renovations of older ones. The Crowne Plaza Denver is the latest. The hotel is right near the convention center, the State Capitol, the 16th Street Mall and other attractions. Its site on an especially uninspiring block of 14th Street (mostly parking garages and parking lots), but otherwise it is being spiffified with a new restaurant and redone guest rooms.

The other evening, the hotel threw a party to celebrate the big changes — something like $27 million worth. Public spaces feature little work station pods so those who are always glued to their laptops don’t have to stay in their (nicely redone) rooms to be productive. The restaurant/bar areas is now called Lockwood Kitchen. The food laid out in the ballroom foretold  a terrific new savory menu (memorable tacos and lamb chops) and the desserts set up in the bar? Beautiful and scrumptious.

Restful and tasteful dcor in the guest room, which are wired to the 21st century guest expectations.
In-room coffee and tea set-up.
One of several work stations on the lobby level. The bar is around the corner for those who want to sip an adult beverage while they work. Note the blue footstool under the desk.
The lighting wasn’t accurate or flattering, but the tacos were fabulous — tuna or shrimp with different salsas (shrimp with mango salsa here).
Exquisite and scrumptious pastries, artfully displayed.
Heated pool on the sixth-floor deck with skyline views.

I understand this renovation is a model for other Crowne Plaza properties. The hotels are part of the InterContinental Hotels Group. The Denver hotel is at 1450 Glenarm Place; 303-573-1450.

Mesa Verde County Podcast Tour

Modern media help guide visitors through Colorado’s ancient lands and sites.

Ancient Voices” is Mesa Verde Country’s new travel podcast that guides visitors through the Southwest Colorado communities of Cortez, Dolores and Mancos. The 30-minute audio tour, which includes driving directions, is versatile and designed to accompany travelers as they journey at their own pace among the archaeological, agricultural and geological wonders of Mesa Verde Country, the modern communities that are neighbors to renowned Mesa Verde National Park. Historical, geological and flora/fauna information in the podcast provides context to a visitor’s experience.

The tour starts in the town of Cortez, nearest to the park entrance. Stop at the Colorado Welcome Center (928 East Main Street) for all sorts of information, brochures, history, a gift shop and  free coffee. The Cortez Cultural Center, located in downtown Cortez, features historical exhibits and live cultural events and activities, including Native American dances in the plaza on summer evenings. For outdoor experiences like hiking, biking, wildlife viewing and sweeping vistas of the surrounding mountains, the Hawkins Preserve in the southern part of town is the place to go.

McElmo Canyon, farther south, is a scenic canyon with sandstone walls,  ranchland and farm fields, homesteads and the area’s two wineries,  Guy Drew and Sutcliffe. The canyon’s temperate climate lends itself to growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, including– peaches, apricots, apples and more. It’s also a rich hay-making area.

The Ancestral Puebloans were master builders who left a legacy for today’s visitors to Mesa Verde Country of southwestern Colorado.

About 10 miles west of Cortez on County Road G are a trailhead and parking area for access to the remote and magical Canyons of the Ancients National Monument. Several trails access the southern reaches of the monument, inviting visitors to travel back in time to learn about the Ancestral Puebloan culture through the ruins that remain.

Just beyond the historic Ismay Trading Post building is the Colorado/Utah border and the entrance to the Hovenweep National Monument. It is perhaps the greatest and most concentrated collection of archaeologic towers in the area. The headquarters is on the Utah side and offers a National Park Service visitor center staffed by rangers who can answer questions and provide maps. Take plenty of water. sunscreen and a brimmed hat — and step into Colorado antiquity.

Last Runs of 2016-17 on Aspen Mountain

Mountain-top skiing & riding on Memorial Day Weekend.

Most of this week has been cool and rainy in Boulder, meaning that winter is far from over in the high country.  No one quite knows when Trail Ridge Road, the country’s highest continuously paved road, will be plowed out. Arapahoe Basin has announced a bonus weekend, June 9-11, and is being coy about possible open days beyond that.  And that other rite of spring skiing continues as Aspen Mountain opens for skiing and riding Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29.

Memorial Day skiing on Aspen Mountain in 2016.

The Silver Queen Gondola from the in-town base to the summit operates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for skiing and riding, and the Ajax Express chairlift runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the season’s last laps on Aspen Mountain’s upper blue runs and such black runs as Summit and Blondie’s.

In addition to opening 130 acres of skiable terrain, Memorial Day Weekend marks the start of Aspen Mountain’s summer operations with access to sightseeing and food/beverage options at the Sundeck restaurant.

Colorado Springs’ Presidential Connections

Ties are relatively tenuous, but they exist for those who look.

Namesakes of the nation’s first president are legion, from the country’s capital and the Lower 48’s westernmost state to the famous bridge connecting New York and New Jersey, plus countless smaller sites. No other presidents have their names on so many places and landmarks. Colorado, in fact, has relatively few. The Colorado Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau has come with a few in the Pikes Peak Region to consider visiting this Presidents’ Weekend or beyond.

This sign affixed to the Royal Gorge Bridge railing helps visitors spot the late president’s horizontal profile.

Near Cañon City, take a sky-high walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge, North America’s highest suspension bridge. Look to the horizon and find John F. Kennedy’s silhouette along the mountain range. A sign on the bridge guides searching eyes to what appears to be his profile lying down.

In the box canyon known as the “grandest mile of scenery in Colorado,” visitors hike the road through the Broadmoor Seven Falls flanked by all manner of various rock formations. It doesn’t require a long trek to spot George Washington’s profile, which be seen in stone just inside the entrance.

There are Ronald Reagan Memorial Highways in several. states. Colorado’s picturesque portion is a section of Interstate 25 in El Paso County toward the Royal Gorge Region and Cañon City.

Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, at least one of the Bushes and Obama are presidents who addressed the graduating classes of the U.S. Air Force Academy just north of Colorado Springs.  The visitor center, sculpture garden and impressive interfaith Cadet Chapel are open to the public.  A six-mile stretch of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail running through the base opened yo civilian cyclists and pedestrians last year. Click here for details on visiting this military site in this high-security era.

The Ski Train is Back!

Amtrak running the train, reborn as the Winter Park Express.

Amtrak-logoToday marked the happy return of the ski train between Denver’s Union Station and the base of Winter Park Resort. The operator now is Amtrak, and the weekend/holiday train is called the Winter Park Express. But the route is the same — and Coloradans are cheering.

Courtesy Charles Stemen/Winter Park Resort
Courtesy Charles Stemen/Winter Park Resort

With 550 passengers, including Governor John Hickenlooper, the inaugural train was sold out, as many that are to follow.

Vail Valley’s Lodge at Cordillera Closing

Posh lodge to become drug rehab center, if lawsuits don’t stop it.

cordillera-logoI first visited the Lodge at Cordillera when it was a construction zone — a small condo building of just a few units was the first to be completed– just 28 rooms and later 56. Somewhere along the line,  the fitness center became a fantastic spa, and the property changed its name to the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera.

The restaurant initially was a fancy French eatery called Restaurant Picasso (and yes, there was a Picasso on the wall) that later became a modern American restaurant called Mirador. I don’t know what happened to the Picasso.  And a golf course, of course.

The Lodge at Cordillera is lovely on a winter evening, but sadly for skiers and snowboarders, itis several miles from the nearest lift.
The Lodge at Cordillera is lovely on a winter evening, but sadly for skiers and snowboarders, itis several miles from the nearest lift.

The surrounding development included more and more multi-million-dollar homes on something like 3,000 acres — all perched high on a plateau incongruously over a trailer park.  Look up “Kobe Bryant” if you want to recall Cordillera’s brush with infamy.

Now, comes the next chapter (and probably some work for lawyers).  Robert Behringer is a Texan whose Behringer Harvard investment firm is under contract to sell the lodge and some surrounding acreage that was once supposed to be a village center to the Baltimore-based Concerted Care Group that wants to convert it into a pricey drug addiction treatment facility. How pricy? Reports are that the cost would be up to $65,000  a month.

Cordillera residents don’t like it. Not one bit, claiming that the plan has already cost property owners $100 million in real estate value. They filed a lawsuit which alleges that Behringer sought modification of Cordillera’s Planned Unit Development Guide. It included 34 potential uses of the lodge and surrounding land, including office space, athletic facilities, an amphitheater and medical offices. Drug rehab was not  on the list. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the website does not say in so many words that the doors close for good on February 28.  It can only be inferred by the fact that every date from March 1 on is blocked out in red on the reservations calendar.

Hotel Boulderado’s Upcoming Lobby Renovation

Boulder’s historic landmark hotel to upgrade main floor space.

boulderado-logoThe Hotel Boulderado, which opened its doors on New Year’s Day 1909, continues to reinvent itself, piecemeal. The restaurant was the Teddy Roosevelt Restaurant or Rough Rider Room (or similar) when I moved to Boulder in ’88. It was later Q’s at the Boulderado, and is now Spruce Farm Food Fish. The down-market Catacombs has been turned into a speakeasy-inspired cocktail lounge called License #1. The Corner Bar has been refreshed.

Now, the hotel at the corner of 13th and Spruce is about to embark on its most dramatic change, a makeover of the lobby. Beginning right after the enormous Christmas tree comes down on January 2, the four-month renovation will begin. The hotel initially said that the restaurants and rooms will still be operating, but it appears that Spruce Farm and Fish is, in fact, closed while the work is going on.

If I understand the plans correctly, the beautiful front desk will become a lobby bar and the gift shop will become a coffee bar operated by Boxcar Coffee Roasters. I’m not sure where the registration desk will go — or perhaps it will be replaced by several sets of tables and chairs. The beautiful staircase to the mezzanine, the stunning glass ceiling and the water fountain boasting of the Arapahoe Glacier as its source will presumably all remain.

Colorado’s Deep Snows

Mountain snowfalls measure deep, especially at Crested Butte.

crestedbutte-logoI am looking out at the wintry snowscape in my yard — five inches or so on the deck railing birds on the heated birdbath and at the feeders (right now a white-headed woodpecker is vacuuming out the seed from the feeder outside my office window). The mountains are reveling in even more snow, a very good thing as the holiday peak season approaches.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort (CBMR) has received over 21 inches of snow in the last 24 hours and 29 inches in the last two days. That appears to be the deepest storm totals in the state of Colorado with a two day total of 29 inches.  Here is a picture from yesterday’s snow.

 The resort says that flights are arriving into the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport with just some minor delays and Monarch Pass is currently open. And that’s pretty much the picture all over the state. Click here for current snow and lift reports from most resorts state-wide.

Wellness & Cuisine Meet at Beaver Creek Studio

Monthly packages combine luxury lifestyle elements.

beavercreek-logoIn European spa resorts, guests come to renew, rejuvenate and relax — and eat well. That concept with an American spin comes to Beaver Creek this winter. Beginning in January, and taking place monthly thereafter, the essential elements of Earth, Water and Fire inspired for the new ‘Mind, Body and Appetite’ series at this luxurious mountain resort. Each element is to be  incorporated into the series to complement movement, nutrition, and cuisine.

What intrigued me was that Vail Valley star chef Kelly Liken is the culinary key to this new series with the “appetite” part offered at her new-ish restaurant, Harvest By Kelly Liken in Edwards. The press release describes this combination thus:

Each event begins in The Sonnenalp Club’s new Movement Studio with 45 minutes of yoga and meditation, taught by renowned yogi Suzanne Oliver, concentrating on one of the three elements. After the yoga class, guests move into The Lounge at Harvest by Kelly Liken to hear a talk from Ashley Eaves, certified nutritionist, dietitian and intuitive coach about how the element affects the body. Guests then enjoy inspired cuisine created by Chef Kelly Liken, comprised of ingredients chosen by Eaves, from a customized menu that stimulates the appetite while interpreting the components of each element through a culinary lens.

The Schedule & MoInfo

January 25. Earth Element (Prithvi), representing all that is stable and unwavering.   Mind – Yoga class includes standing postures and gentle hip openers, ending with a guided meditation and grounding breath work.   Body – The effect of grounding the body through nutrition and its application on mind/body balance . Appetite – Menu focuses on earthy, hearty winter vegetables while incorporating a healthy balance of macronutrients.

February 22. Water Element (Apah Jala), representing the force of attraction and enables flow, circulation, rhythm and fluid movement.   Mind – Using the breath as the guide and meditation to bring intention to thoughts and desires.  Body – The effects of water, hydration, nutrients in fresh juices from fruits and veggies, Omega3, detoxing and healthy digestion.  Appetite – Fresh seafood, healthy fats and umami vegetables, plus juice bar offerings from The Pantry at Harvest.

March 22. Fire Element (Agni), delivering a spark of heat, stimulation and movement, digestion and attitude.  Mind –Yoga session focuses on drawing energy up from the earth into the core of the pelvis, firing up power for arm balancing postures.   Body – Nutrition session focuses on metabolism and the effects of caffeine, proteins, carbohydrates and spicy foods on the body.    Appetite – Menu incorporates spicy foods known to boost metabolism.

Each session takes place from 4 to 6 p.m.  and starts at $65 for Sonnenalp Club members and $80 for non-members;  all three classes start at $175 for members, $215 for non-members. And for those who an adult beverage at the end of the day, “specialty elemental cocktails” are available for an additional charge during the culinary portion. Reservations are required; call 970-477-5377.

Cross-posted to Culinary Colorado.