My idea of a perfect weekend escape with friends? Two nights at a nearby (but not too close) hotel, pampering spa treatments, fine dining and plenty of outdoor activity. Throw in some red wine and lots of late-night girl talk, and I return home refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle real life again.
Such a getaway is easy and affordable in the springtime, thanks to the number of Colorado hotels with spas that offer specially-priced packages and discounted room rates once the ski season ends. In this “off season” of mid-April to the end of May, resorts are quiet before the summer tourists begin arriving in June.
Since business slows in the spring, some restaurants in high-mountain towns do close for a spell. Be sure to call ahead and check if you have your heart set on dining somewhere specific. At the same time, the eateries that do stay open through the spring often reward locals with ultra-affordable prix fixe meals. And stores discount their winter clothing, making for some great deals.
Remember that May is still mud season in the mountains, so pack some sturdy boots if you plan to explore nearby hiking trails. Same goes for mountain biking — be prepared to get splattered as you negotiate single track. Check with the hotel concierge or local forest service to determine the driest trails.
Here are five resort hotels with on-site spas that offer discounted room rates or special packages in the spring:
St. Regis Resort Aspen
This AAA four-diamond hotel is consistently ranked among the country’s top ski and spa resorts by savvy travel-magazine readers and seasoned travel agents. Indeed, these experts know what they’re talking about: The gracious St. Regis staff attends to guests’ every need, stylish rooms are exquisitely appointed, and you can’t beat its location in downtown Aspen at the base of the ski mountain.
But its 15,000-square-foot, sophisticated Remède Spa is what really sets the resort apart from Aspen’s other luxury hotels. Treatments include custom massages, body wraps and scrubs, facials, manicures and pedicures. You’ll want to arrive at the spa at least an hour before any scheduled treatments to enjoy all of the amenities: A state-of-the-art fitness center, sauna, “steam cave,” Jacuzzi and the co-ed Confluence area. Here, subdued candlelight sets the mood for relaxation in a shallow pool into which cold and hot waterfalls descend. Pre-treatment, nibble on dried fruits and hydrate with fruit-flavored ice water in the Relaxation Lounge. Post-treatment, drink champagne, sample truffles and breathe citrus-infused oxygen in the Oxygen Lounge.
In town, fun restaurants that typically remain open through the off-season are Jimmy’s: An American Restaurant & Bar, L’Hostaria and Campo de Fiori for Italian and Pacifica Seafood Brasserie for seafood. The “upscale casual” Lulu Wilson, serving small plates of contemporary American cuisine, opened this winter to rave reviews.
Aspen ski season ends mid-April. From mid-April to May 31, deluxe room rates drop to as low as $205/night; Remède Spa treatments, excluding nails, are 25 percent off from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; valet parking is complimentary. (888) 454-9005; www.stregis.com/aspen.
The Lodge & Spa at Breckenridge
A seven-minute shuttle ride from Main Street Breckenridge and you’re at the Top of the World (fine-dining restaurant, that is) at the Lodge & Spa at Breckenridge. This rustic retreat boasts amazing views of the surrounding mountain ranges from its location atop a 10,000-foot cliff. Rooms at the boutique-style hotel are individually appointed, with peeled-log accents, wonderfully cozy feather duvets and Aveda toiletries.
Construction begins this summer on a major hotel expansion and renovation, including a much-needed update of the 20-year-old spa and Athletic Club. In the meantime, the fitness center and spa facilities are nothing fancy, but certainly adequate, and include two outdoor hot tubs and a heated indoor pool. Choose from diverse treatments like a Mountain Lomi Lomi Massage, Caviar Facial or Nourishing Mud Wrap.
In town, make a point to stop by the welcome center on Main Street, which gives visitors an excellent introduction to the history of the town with its interactive exhibits. The friendly folks here can also give you tips for dining and other activities for your weekend stay. The “it” restaurant in Breckenridge these days is Relish, but it will close for a couple weeks in May. If it is open when you visit, make a point to eat here for its contemporary seasonal “menu of diverse flavors.” (The pomegranate martinis are excellent.) Many locally owned shops and boutiques line Main Street, making for a nice way to wile away an afternoon.
Breckenridge ski season ends toward the end of April. A “Party of Five” package includes two nights’ lodging in a mountain-view hotel room, catered outdoor lunch for five and five spa treatments for $1,250, May 1 to June 15. Otherwise, standard rooms with two queen beds start at $89/night beginning the day after the end of ski season. (800) 736-1607;www.thelodgeatbreck.com.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa
The deluxe Park Hyatt Beaver Creek recently underwent a renovation to the tune of $20 million. More than half of that went toward the expansion of its Allegria Spa.
With the addition of a water sanctuary, a brand-new second floor, expanded fitness center and enhanced locker rooms, it is quite possibly Colorado’s finest hotel spa. And at 30,000 square feet and 23 treatment rooms it’s certainly among the state’s largest.
The spa staff recommends a pre-treatment, self-guided water ritual (complimentary if it’s in conjunction with a paid treatment) called “Aqua Sanitas.” Soak in a warm thermal pool infused with natural juniper mineral salts, move to a warmer pool for wildflower aromatherapy, rinse off under a rain showerhead, immerse yourself in a steam room and, finally, relax on heated tile lounge chairs in the quiet tepidarium.
The spa menu is vast, with the more unusual experiences ranging from a Sweet Orange & Citrus Salt Scrub to an Indian Spring Clay Ritual to a Balancing Hot Oil Wrap (75 minutes of pure bliss). Park Hyatt guests have free use of the cardio equipment or weight machines in the large fitness center; classes are an additional $20 each. Kinesis is a revolutionary new fitness regime imported from Italy using vertical and horizontal cables and pulleys for 360-degree resistance-based strength training. The class, an extra $40, also incorporates flexibility, core-strength and balance training.
For downtime, kick back with cocktails in the hotel’s Antler Hall, with its spectacular views of Beaver Creek Mountain; the Park Hyatt’s on-site restaurant, Bivans, is open for limited hours in the spring. Otherwise the pickings are slim. For casual Italian, try Blue Moose Pizza steps away on the pedestrian-friendly plaza. Grouse Mountain Grill in the Pines Lodge offers a springtime, three-course, prix-fixe dinner special for about $40.
Beaver Creek ski season ends mid-April. Allegria Spa is closed mid-April to May 6. A “Girlfriends Getaway” weekend May 7-9 includes a welcome reception, Aqua Sanitas ritual, Kinesis class and dinner for $325 per person double occupancy for two nights. The “Great Escape” package, with lodging, breakfast for two and valet parking, starts at $159/night per person, mid-April to May 27. (970) 949-1234; www.beavercreek.hyatt.com.
Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa
Telluride’s grand Peaks Resort & Golden Door Spa closes its doors April 9 through the end of the 2007 year for a major renovation. However, smaller, but no less indulgent, accommodations can be found in nearby, laid-back Ridgway at the Chipeta Sun Lodge & Spa.
Charming Chipeta, 40 miles from Telluride, is an affordable base from which to enjoy the glorious outdoor playground that is the San Juan Mountains. The adobe-style hotel features some deluxe rooms with private hot tubs; two-bedroom condominiums are perfect for sharing with a number of friends.
The spa is intimate, with just four treatment rooms, but offers a full range of services, including some treatments inspired by Native American traditions, such as a massage that uses feather techniques. Work out on the new cardio and strength-training equipment or take a complimentary fitness class in the yoga room.
Steps away in downtown Ridgway (population 800), dining options range from Thai cuisine to pizza and burgers to sophisticated Mexican food at the Adobe Inn, where locally grown, organic products are used as often as possible (favorites are the enchiladas suiza and the chimichangas). Since this area is known for its natural hot springs, don’t miss a visit to the nearby, clothing-optional Orvis Hot Springs. Or, for the more modest, take a dip in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool, 10 miles down the road, where bathing suits are required.
Telluride ski season ends the beginning of April. From the end of ski season to June 1, a “Girlfriends Spa Getaway” includes two nights in a deluxe room with private hot tub, three spa treatments, day pass to Orvis Hot Springs, spa lunch and private yoga class for $500 per person. Otherwise, standard rooms start at $95/night. (800) 633-5868; www.chipeta.com.
The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera
The chateau-style Lodge & Spa at Cordillera is a five-mile drive into the hills above Edwards and the Vail Valley. Appointments in the rooms and suites are top-notch, with plush towels, wood-burning or gas fireplaces, and large balconies from which to enjoy the magnificent mountain vistas.
The atmosphere at Cordillera’s 20,000-square-foot Avanyu Spa is soothing and serene. The women’s locker room isn’t huge, but features a steam room and sauna. An indoor, 25-meter lap pool, outdoor leisure pool, fitness center and complimentary daily yoga and exercise classes offer plenty of opportunities for exercise. (Otherwise, consider a round of golf at one of the four area courses.)
Spa treatments run the gamut from body scrubs and Vichy showers to mud masks and facials to hot-stone massages and shiatsu. Book a manicure or pedicure, and you’ll relax in an overstuffed chair in a spacious, sun-filled room with floor to ceiling windows affording still more fabulous mountain views.
Mirador, the dining room at Cordillera, offers a clever tasting menu that allows guests to sample a handful of small entrees (each of which are about $10), such as a jumbo scallop, a 3- to 4-ounce serving of smoked salmon or a few mushroom raviolis. It’s a fun way to share small plates with friends. In Edwards, choose from a number of other fun eateries, including Juniper Restaurant, with its “contemporary American fusion,” and Eat! Drink! Dish!, a combo wine and cheese shop with an upstairs full-service restaurant that focuses on seasonal and organic foods.
Vail ski season ends the end of April. From the last weekend of March to the last weekend of May, the “Girls Night In” package includes lodging, one spa treatment, daily breakfast for two, bottle of bubbly, gourmet popcorn and in-room chick flick starting at $212 per person per night. 800-877-3529; www.cordilleralodge.com.
Kara Williams is the editor of Mountain Parent (www.mountainparent.com), a free bi-monthly publication for families who reside in and visit Colorado’s Roaring Fork Valley.
From the Editors: We spent a heap of time making sure this story was accurate when it was published, but of course, things can change. Please confirm the details before setting out in our great Centennial State.