Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Apres Ski Life at Wildwood Snowmass - Colorado

Here I am hula-hooping in the hotel lobby
We're back from our trip to Snowmass + Aspen! After spending years trying to figure out how-to snowboard, I finally gave up and decided to learn how-to ski (clearly I am a slow learner). I was beyond lucky that the instructors at Snowmass Resort were some of the best in the country. I Couldn't even stand on my skis properly on Sunday. By Thursday I was swishing my way down the bunny hill and slowly building my confidence towards bigger, longer and steeper runs.
Well maybe I didn't exactly 'swish' down the hill that time
So how did we end up in Aspen for Christmas? Well, we drove our car from Toronto to LA on Route 66 and at some point we had to eventually turn around and come home. While we were hanging on the beach one day in LA I asked my husband Paul out of the blue, "Where would you want to go tomorrow if you could go anywhere in the world?" I knew my answer - Tokyo, Japan. Paul looked at me and said, "Well, I've always wanted to snowboard in Aspen and Vail."
Snowmass in the distance
I got out my trusty map of the US of A and lo and behold - Aspen and Vail were only 90 minutes apart and on our way home! The original drive home through Texas and New Orleans went out the door and we were frantically trying to book last-minute accommodations in Aspen during Christmas and Vail for New Years, while scrambling to find tire chains (mandatory in Colorado) for the 13" wheels on our little Honda Fit.
We lucked into a newly-renovated Starwood property called the Wildwood Snowmass which was a hip, fun hotel that reminded me a bit of The Standard Hotels that I love so much. We were able to book a room at the last-minute and here's a tip - everyone shows up in Aspen for their ski vacation on December 26th. So if you go over Christmas, it's not that bad. New Year's Eve will be expensive but anytime after January 8th should be affordable, even in Aspen.
The Wildwood Lobby Bar features 10 New Belgium beers on tap, a gourmet hot dog happy hour menu and drink specials from 3-6 pm daily. The colourful neon loungers were beckoning me to start drinking Bloody Marys immediately and after a few drinks, we were playing 'Operation', one of the many classic board games spread throughout the lobby bar and lounge area. 

Lots of detail and thought has been put into the decor of the lobby lounge, we even found a full-set of vintage Hardy Boys novels on the bookshelf! Since the rooms are a bit on the small side, we found ourselves hanging out here in the communal living room in front of the fire. A live DJ takes over on Saturdays until 11 pm.

A basic breakfast is served at the hotel until 10 am everyday. I really enjoyed the fluffy pancakes with sausage patties in the morning. It's nothing fancy but the prices are pretty reasonable for a hotel with menu items between $10-15. If you're looking to hit the slopes first thing, with no time for breakfast - then I highly recommend grabbing a fruit and yogurt parfait at The Elk Camp before your first run or ski school which meets right next to the lodge.
Photo Credit
If you're looking for fancier dining options, I would recommend lunch at the Vue Lounge next door at the Westin Snowmass (a sister hotel) - try one of the rice bowls full of Thai curry and veggies. They also have a DIY hot chocolate bar ($4) fully stocked with marshmallows, whipped cream, flavoured syrups and gourmet toppings. The Westin also brings out fresh-baked cookies and hot cider at around 3:30 pm everyday! The Vue Lounge is full of natural light, with a large fireplace and a view of the mountain. It's the perfect place to check-in and get a bit of work done. For fine dining, the Snowmass Kitchen on the lower level of the Westin is also a nice option. This is where I spotted BAM from Jackass!
The art above the bed
The Guest Laundry at the Wildwood Snowmass featured brand-new front loading machines which we used to keep all our ski gear dry and fresh. After a long day on the slopes, we hit up the two outdoor hot tubs and cooled off with a dip in the year-round outdoor heated pool (open until 10 pm daily).
The rooms are all very colourful and keep with the modern vintage ski lodge vibe of the hotel. Think peg headboards, utilitarian hooks, old-school ski racks and cute cubbies. The bathroom is a bit of a tight squeeze - keep in mind that this is modern renovation of an older lodge and bathrooms were tiny back then! Our room included an empty mini-fridge and an in-room coffeemaker. We had no problems with heating (though the door was a bit drafty) and our internet was fast and consistent.
Overall, we had a fun time at the Wildwood Snowmass and I enjoyed all the little design details, neon colours and cute quirks. We found a wall by the upstairs entrance that featured hilariously retro 'ski-themed' cross-stitch art! My only wish was that the rooms were a bit bigger. Also keep in mind that this hotel has a motel-style lodge layout. So your room opens out to the outdoors and the lobby is located in the main building. Dress warmly because the slopeside location can't be beat. 

Wildwood Snowmass Hotel
Snowmass Village - 40 Elbert Lane 
(970) 923-8200



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