Ten years ago, I stayed at the then-relatively-new Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, at the base of Colorado’s Beaver Creek resort. The ski lodge was a new concept for the Ritz-Carlton, and I loved everything about it: ski-in/ski-out access, a great room with a huge stone fireplace, an outdoor fire pit for roasting marshmallows. Thankfully, all of that’s still there, but last month, the hotel put the finishing touches on a big renovation. Since I was out in Colorado, I went to take a look.
The big news? A brand-new, three-meals-a-day, open-kitchen restaurant called Buffalos, which serves up its namesake in several forms, like a buffalo steak and eggs, a bison burger, and something I wasn’t expecting to like as much as I did: bison tartare (washed down with a few Colorado craft beers). The hotel’s other restaurant, Spago, didn’t exist when I first visited, but since 2007, it’s been turning out Wolfgang Puck’s sensational seasonal dishes. And as I sampled his stupendous pumpkin-filled pasta, bonus—Puck himself was dining with his family a couple tables away.
Also brand-new: Bachelor’s Lounge, an “adults-only” space (since Puck isn’t the only one who comes here with his family). It’s a welcome addition, as nightlife isn’t one of the Bachelor Gulch area’s strengths. The contemporary spot makes a great last stop for the night, and even includes an outdoor cigar lounge with heat lamps. I passed on the stogie and the brisk air and opted for a drink in a big comfy chair indoors while a piano player crooned some Elton John.
The 180 spacious and comfortable rooms and suites remain structurally intact, but they’ve had a refresh; the new color scheme, lighter blues and greens, bring a brighter feel to the rooms. And while I almost universally hate hotel art, the new wildlife artwork is modern and even pretty cool.
And, oh yes, the skiing. It starts with the ski valet experience, which was redesigned to be more efficient. Walk out to the back patio, ask for your boots (kept in a heated room, of course), drink a hot cocoa around the fire, then clomp out to the snow where your skis are waiting for you. (No equipment? No problem. The hotel’s upscale Gorsuch shop can get you set up, complete with an in-room boot fitting.)
From there I hopped right on the Bachelor Gulch Express lift to find great snow all over the resort, from the main Beaver Creek Mountain over to Arrowhead Mountain. It didn’t hurt that I was demoing amazing Zai skis (which retail for up to $10,000); as a New York City resident, though, I was so anxious to get out there I would have been happy with my old skinny skis (ok, maybe only mildly happy).
After hitting the bumps, it was time to hit the outdoor hot tubs and the sprawling spa, which also features an outdoor heated pool, indoor grotto, lots of treatment options, and super-comfortable single-sex lounging areas, which even include ovens with heated neck pillows.
I love little details like that, and the new renovations here have wrapped those details up in a fantastic package—one that’s even nicer than what I experienced 10 years ago.
Rich Beattie is executive digital editor at Travel + Leisure.