When the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch opened in 2002, it was one of the hottest ski in-ski out lodges to check into for several years. But with recent openings of new ski lodges such as Montage in Deer Valley, The Sebastian in Vail, and Viceroy in Snowmass, this 206-room property has fallen a bit under the radar lately (even though it continues to be on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold list year after year). Still, Ritz Bachelor Gulch has long been on my list of “go to” places to visit and so we booked a long weekend of skiing in February.
The Ritz Bachelor Gulch is exactly what I expected a lodge to be – exuding quintessential rustic mountain ambience. Not too big that you would get lost in it or feel it was packed but grand enough that it never felt confining. Inspired by the grand historic lodges in Yellowstone National Park such as the Old Faithful Inn, the hotel has stone, timber and dormers all in the right places.
I learned that the name Bachelor Gulch is actually in memory of seven single men who moved to the area in the 1900s to raise cattle and chicken and to grow hay and lettuce. Despite the population growth from the 1930s on, the name just sort of stuck.
When traveling to the Beaver Creek area today, many opt to stay at Hyatt Beaver Creek which rests conveniently at the base of the mountain. We had stayed there a few years ago. There is much to like about the Hyatt but I found it frenetic and the rooms overpriced for the quality and size.
While the Hyatt has the benefit of being right next to the Children’s Ski School, don’t let that dissuade you from staying at the Ritz. What many don’t know is that the mountains of Beaver Creek, Arrowhead and Bachelor Gulch are inter-connected and you can ski from one to next easily. For a small fee, there is a Ski Nanny service at the Ritz that delivers guests children each day from the hotel to the ski school (and makes sure they are settled in the right groups) via a shuttle (it runs promptly every 10 minutes) while parents can take the high-speed quad chairlift right outside the Ritz. It was an incredible feature that we took advantage of during our stay. There is also a Ski Concierge at the hotel to take your skis and boots each day as well as ski lift desk and ski shop with everything you could possibly need.
The Great Room – with its large stone fireplace – is the hub of the Ritz Bachelor Gulch. A live musician played every night during our stay, which the kids loved. With deep-cushioned (Ralph Lauren would have been proud) seating plentiful, we opted to eat there our first night rather than either of the hotel’s two on-site restaurants, Spago and the more casual Buffalo Bar. With sushi often served at a makeshift bar and the opportunity to pick from menus of both restaurants, it was ideal.
On the subject of food: Breakfast at the hotel is at Spagos – very tasty but expensive (complimentary breakfast, which was included in our rate, is for continental breakfast only). We opted to eat in our rooms most mornings to keep on schedule. At the hotel’s cafe, Cafe 7, kids will go crazy for the hot chocolate to rival Angelinas and a toppings and candy bar. To top that off, every afternoon, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies are served in the Great Room and outside at the fire pit. If you are lucky, you will catch an employee literally roasting chestnuts at one of the fireplaces and handing them out to guests. It’s one massive nosh fest.
Our resort view (translation: partial view over hotel entrance) Residential Suite was spacious and comfortable enough with a small gas fireplace, kitchen and sleeper couch in the seating area for the kids. There is a small hallway and another entrance separating the master bedroom from the living area, making it very convenient to move around. Our only gripe was that the decor was very dark and the lighting inadequate. Next time, we would try a mountain view Residential Suite (Note: there are 40 suites at the hotel).
Service at the hotel was all-around excellent. The concierge (Powers Van Der Mandele is the man!) took every request we threw at him prior to our stay without one hitch. If you go, you are in very capable hands with him or any of the others at the concierge desk.
During our short stay, we missed a visit to the 21,000 square foot spa (with 19 treatment rooms) as well as the outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi. There is only so much you can do in a short-time. But it gives us another reason to return next year!
Note: The Ritz Bachelor Gulch is undergoing a $15MM renovation – a “refresher” if you will – beginning next month through Fall 2012. Guest rooms will be decorated in a lighter palette (thank you) as well as updated furnishings to add some modern touches to the public spaces.
What we Loved:
There is a lot to love about the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch. A few stand-outs for us were:
- The clientele was not over-ridden with NYers (even though we are one of them, it’s nice to have some diversity on vacations). A variety of states and countries were well-represented!
- The on-site Ski Nanny service – took all the nuisance out of checking in and shuttling to ski-school. A winner!
- Premier Ski Service – if you book ahead, ski fittings are done right in your room with this service. When we arrived, we had everything completed that evening. Ask the concierge to hook you up.
- Girls Rock Absolute 4 Ski School – a new service offered by Beaver Creek Ski School offered at peak holiday periods for girls ages 7-14. Designed by Lindsey Vonn, girls now can ski in groups exclusively with other girls and a female instructor. It was game-changing for my 9-year old daughter!
- All dogs – regardless of size – are welcome (including 100 pd. golden retrievers like ours) and there were four-legged canines of all types hanging around. Amenities such as overstuffed dog beds, a VIP “Bachelors Pack” containing dog toys and treats and “Pampered Pup” in-room doggie massage are all offered. My kind of hotel!
What we Didn’t Love:
- The Game Room at the hotel – Even though we headed there after dinner nightly, it was really just a few games in a conference room and many, such as the air hockey, were in dire need of repair or missing essential pieces. The toys were bit dirty. Ritz management take note: please enhance this!
- Lighting in guest rooms could be vastly improved, especially as most rooms have a heavy, dark palette to begin with (hopefully the upcoming renovation will fix this)
- Bungee Jumping at the base of Beaver Creek Mountain.
- Dinner at Zach’s Cabin at mid-mountain of Bachelor Gulch. Take an open air sleigh up the mountain to this gorgeous log cabin restaurant. Early seatings are mostly families with a decent kid’s buffet. Book ahead as seats gets booked up quickly.
- Fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies and chestnuts daily at the lodge.
- Snuggling with Batch, the resident St. Bernard puppy. He makes his rounds around 4 pm and 7 pm every day. If lucky , you will also get to meet Miner, the labrador retriever, who comes to visit every few days.
- Sitting around the outdoor fire pit each evening with s’mores (provided in your room) listening to the singing Cowboy who told great stories and happens also to be quite the astronomer. Ask him to bring out his telescope. You may get lucky enough – as we did – to see Jupiter!
Lunch at the Beaver Creek mountain base – food was just not good. Mid-Mountain lunch fare was much better at Spruce Saddle Lodge or Red Tail Camp.
Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is an American Express Fine Hotel & Resort member. If you book through FH&R, you receive a $100 credit, complimentary breakfast and upgrade if available. The upgrade isn’t available for residential suites.
Photos owned by J. Magid and Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch and not for copyright.
The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch
0130 Daybreak Ridge,
Beaver Creek, Colorado
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