When picking a ski resort, I put a great deal of weight into the character and authenticity of the town. I much prefer to hunker down with the locals, breathe a bit of history, and feel like I have truly arrived at a destination with soul, rather than just a contrived ski resort. Sure the skiing is important, I like great lifts and gondolas, unique and varied terrain, breathtaking mountain vistas and lots of creature comforts such as ski concierge, well-run kid’s ski schools, and a great mountain “scene” from summit wine and cheese bars to a lively top apres ski scene.
While there are several great Western towns in the US Rockies, Telluride is a small ski resort in the southwest corner of Colorado. Tucked away in a box canyon, surrounded by the mighty peaks of the San Juan mountains, Telluride started off as a mining town in the 1800’s and later on, in 1973, became a ski resort reknowned for world-class powder skiing on 2,000+ skiable acres.
The charming victorian town of Telluride still holds the same character of by-gone era, with exremely friendly locals, an incredible festival and concert schedule, and wonderful organic and fun restaurants. We had the pleasure (if not slightly nail biting experience) of flying directly into the mountain top tiny airport of Telluride – just 10 minutes from town. For those not inclined to wing it on a small plane, Montrose just 90 minutes away has more frequent and reliable service but with a small commute.
Our first stop after touch down was for a superb, completely organic Mexican meal and homemade margarita at Cocina de Luz.
We had the exceptional good fortune to stay in Telluride at the luxury condominium, Element 52, which are gorgeous residences run by Auberge Hotels and Resorts (think Auberge de Soleil, Esperanza, Calistoga Ranch, Palmetto Bluff…yes, those guys!) You can only imagine how lovely the accommodations are and so confortable for families or groups of friends who want to be in town, have ski in/ski out access, but also the comforts of home with fanastic beds, top of the line kitchens, a superb fitness centre, spa, outdoor hot tubs, ski concierge and the most adorable private funicular just for the guests. Units range from 2-5 bedroom and are truly gorgeous!
The on site ski concierge has all of your equipment waiting before you arrive to the resort, does a fitting night before you head out on to the slopes, and is always happy to help you get booted up, or offer you hot from the oven chocolate chip cookie. But nothing is more adorable than when they push the button and call the Element 52 funicular down to collect you and your skis for your first day out on the mountain. This is truly ski in and ski out!
So, about the skiing, the San Juan mountains feel blissfully empty – skiing is truly an act of beauty and peace – a hidden gem. There is never a line, anywhere, anytime, but I am told that Christmas week you may have up to a 10 minute wait! It is blissful and serene and tons of terrain to explore each day. We had a gorgeous snow on day 2 which blanketed the mountains and trees with powder but the sun showed brightly all other days. It could not have been more glorious!
There are many wonderful places to dine mountain top and at the base of the Mountain, in Mountain village. I would often ski all the way back down to Telluride though and walk in my boots up main street to find some new place to dine. I mean look at how cute the locals are:
For those with young kids requiring a walk to the ski school vs. a ski to the ski school, you will be happier being based up at Mountain Village where everything is at your finger tips for ski-ease. You can always take the gondola down to Telluride for evenings out and shopping. We have the marvelous opportunity to experience mountain village for a couple of nights and stayed at the Virtuoso property, Hotel Madeline where clients of Resort to Laura Madrid receive daily continental breakfast, $100 resort credit and an upgrade on arrival. Service could not be nicer and guests can watch the kids ice skate while they unwind with apres ski beverages served by Hotel Madeline rink-side!Telluride, a special place for sure! http://www.hotelmadelinetelluride.com/
Please let me know if you are ready to lock in next year’s ski trip in Telluride!!!