Telluride is home to celebrities, the wealthy, and the famous. Caroline Smith uncovers the best accommodation on the Colorado slopes.
Ralph Lauren has a ranch here. Oprah has a house. Make that two. Tom Cruise recently sold his ranch. But for the rest of us who are in the know and wish to ski or snowboard at this off-the-beaten-ski-path amongst the ‘fourteeners’ (14,000-foot peaks) of Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, there are plenty of accommodation choices to suit. In either the historic Telluride town or, handily located at the foot of the lift, in purpose-built Mountain Village.
One of the two most exclusive accommodations available slopeside in Telluride’s Mountain Village, Lumiere with Inspirato. It’s the pinnacle for couples or families wanting to treat themselves to the spacious luxury of an entire residence in a magnificent and convenient setting for their Telluride snow stay. From the five-bedroom private penthouse pampering up to 10 people to deluxe studios for two, attentive and intuitive service and all the facilities you could wish for are at your fingertips.
Deluxe Residence at great heights
My One-Bedroom Deluxe Residence is a vast and seriously luxe apartment, with glamorous living and dining areas featuring a cosy gas fire. A full designer kitchen with top-shelf appliances and an indulgent ensuite with rain shower, huge tub and dual vanities all come with adjustable mood lighting. The generous bedroom and lounge-dining areas feature gorgeous views from balconies overlooking Mountain Village to the slopes and the Wilson Range. If you can tear yourself away from the view, a huge flatscreen TV entertains you while you contemplate the next day’s fun – the ultimate in well-located, ski-in-ski-out pampering.
Snow-spoilt with a ski concierge
Being snow-spoilt is so easy to get used to here. And ski-in and out I do. With the willing and most welcome help from Lumiere’s ski concierge, Sam, who practically does everything but ski for me. Providing Black Tie personally fitted rental gear and taking all the hard work out of preparing for a day on the slopes. And then again, in reverse, at the end of the day, when I am hankering for a strong cocktail to celebrate surviving another day on skis.
On-site laundry facilities and in-room childcare are convenient. Add a sauna, spa, outdoor pool, and hot tub, ready and waiting to soak away aches and pains, an intimate bar with an open fire to do the same, and an exclusive restaurant if self-catering is off your itinerary.
Snow haven impossible not to love
Other high-end accommodation options for couples to multi-generational family groups of up to 12 people are the Forbes five-star rated Auberge Resort Collection, Madeline Hotel & Residences, located front and centre in Mountain Village. In the heart of historic downtown Telluride, their mountain-inspired Element 52 two-to-five-bedroom, multi-level residences are ski in-ski out, sumptuously appointed and a mere, spectacular, 13-minute free gondola ride to the Village.
Après ski style in Telluride Style
Drop into Gorrono Ranch (better known as The Beach) under lift 4, where you can pull up a deck chair, soak up some rays with a local brew and a spicy, pulled-pork sandwich. Or, if the inclination takes you, dance (a big call in ski boots) to an upbeat soundtrack by an excellent local singer/guitar player. Slopeside at The View at Mountain Lodge, slide into a long, lazy afternoon après with DJ Wombat (surprisingly not an Aussie) and an unsurprisingly killer, a sophisticated pre-mixed cocktail from the selection, including margaritas and negronis and more.
Signature ski cocktails
Telluride’s signature drink is the Flatliner, a creamy combo of vodka, Baileys, Kahlua, and espresso. Nowhere does it better than The New Sheridan, the town’s oldest and most authentic bar and hotel on Main Street in downtown Telluride.
For an expertly crafted signature cocktail, such as my tequila-based Burning Passion, head to the stylish Timber Room in the Madeline Hotel Mountain Village, named one of America’s best outdoor bars. Or ask Robbie, owner and bartender extraordinaire at the Friday afternoon ‘session’ at Oak in downtown Telluride, to make you a margarita.
At Telluride, there is always plenty of on-snow fun, entertainment and fabulous dining, with the crown winter-only jewel, Alpino Vino. At over 3,600 metres, it is the second-highest fine-dining restaurant in North America, serving an Italian menu for lunch and an exceptional three-course dinner experience, accessed by a snow coach.
Alpino Vino also caters to private dining at nearby Tempter Cabin, where you can indulge your group with a meal your chef prepares. Or head to Bon Vivant at the top of Polar Express (Chair 5), open only in winter, for a unique and exclusive on-snow dining experience of French-Provincial cuisine with top wines or specialty crepes and hot chocolate.
Dining at the Telluride peak
Allred’s is a Telluride dinner institution at 3,200 metres at St Sophia station, the peak of the gondola ride between town and Mountain Village. Along with those extraordinary views, it offers a menu of local, regional, and original contemporary American dishes and an impressive global wine list. But you’ll need to book early.
In town, the restaurant scene steps up another notch. The National serves excellent contemporary dining in a reimagined historic building with industrial-style décor. I sat at the bar and feasted on sensational fresh Japanese Kusshi oysters flown in from British Columbia (only if you ask, not on the menu) and the special cauliflower soup with fried capers. Try the sensational new Japanese sushi house Kazahana for sake and seafood or the Telluride locals’ long-time favourite, Chef Eliza Gavin’s 221 South Oak, for an eclectic menu of new American-style food and an extensive wine list.
Signature Telluride take home must-have
Why not treat yourself to the ultimate Telluride winter souvenir – a pair of bespoke Wagner handcrafted skis? Designed and built by Pete Wagner, a Telluride craftsman and long-term resident. This could be considered an essential rather than an indulgence. And once a lifelong convert, if you wish to get another pair, Wagner will trade in your skis and recycle the materials.