Just Checked Out: Auberge Residences at Element 52, Telluride

In my mind, Auberge Resorts can do no wrong. Place one of their properties in the ultra-charming western town of Telluride, one of my all-time favorite ski towns, and you have a winning hand. In a town with few great lodging choices outside of rentals (unlike Aspen, Vail or Beaver Creek), Telluride was long overdue for a new place where people could rest their apres-ski weary feet.

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That is why I am extremely thankful to globe-trotter friend, Melissa Roth, who created the travel app Mycation (on iTunes now!) for doing a review of her recent stay at Auberge Residences at Element 52, a very welcome newcomer to Telluride that opened in 2011.

Sharing the same passion for travel and desire to make travel planning and sharing more efficient as I do, Melissa has developed a super-cool application that enables all of us with wanderlust to plan our next adventure, capture all the details while traveling (with or without Wi-Fi), and share our travel notes all in a few clicks. I personally can’t wait to get started just to improve my own note taking and sharing for hotel reviews on Inviato and reduce the constant back and forth emailing of travel tips and favorite places!

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Our family of five (three kids ages 15, 13 and 11) has been going to Telluride every President’s Week for the past seven years, the last four years with our great friends from San Francisco. With its challenging terrain, delicious restaurants and unpretentious funky vibe, Telluride is a ski destination worth going back to year after year.

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Telluride actually consists of two distinct towns connected by a free gondola (the first and only of it’s kind in the United States): Mountain Village and Telluride.  Mountain Village iswhere you will find the ski resort (including the drop off area for ski school), several of the resorts including the Fairmont Heritage Place-Franz Klammer Lodge, Inn at Lost Creek and Lumiere,and the majority of the rental properties.  The town of Telluride, while only eight blocks wide and twelve blocks long, is where you will find most of the notable restaurants and shops. With both the gondola and free shuttle services, it’s easy to get around both towns without renting a car.

After seven years of staying in a rental house high in the hills of Mountain Village (we slept [not well] at over 10,000 feet), we were thrilled to check in to the Auberge Residences at Element 52 in the town of Telluride.  Element 52 is tucked into the mountains within a few short blocks of Colorado Avenue (a/k/a Telluride’s Main Street) and the gondola. We loved the modern design of the resort with its industrial edge inspired by Telluride’s mining roots. This relatively new property built in 2011 offers thirty-three two-to-five bedroom residences ranging between 1,400 to 5,700 square feet.

We stayed in the beautiful Mountain View E4 three-story unit (two families need a lot of space) which features a modern kitchen with Wolfe, Sub Zero and Miele appliances; one master bedroom (featuring a steam shower and master closet), one additional bedroom with a king bed, three bedrooms with queen beds; five and ½ baths, two living room areas complete with comfy couches and entertainment centers, a gas fireplace, terraces, two laundry facilities, and an outdoor hot tub.

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The other Auberge Residences feature similar amenities (note that the two and three bedroom Cascade Units predated the Auberge Residences so they offer different amenities but are still entitled to use Element 52’s facilities and services).  The property also has two outdoor heated soaking pools, a very nice gym featuring state of the art equipment (including a Pilates Reformer), a small(ish) spa offering treatments and steam rooms, and complimentary in town transportation.

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After years of carrying our equipment up a hill to ski out of our former Mountain Village rental home, we loved the unique ski in/ski out ease of Element 52.  Every morning starts at the Ski Concierge where the extremely friendly staff lays out your equipment including warm ski boots. The staff even insisted on helping our kids get on their boots every morning (leading us to ask yet again why we haven’t been staying here for the past seven years).  The Ski Concierge facility also offers complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and muffins in the morning, as well as water, soda, beer and snacks (not to mention the most delicious warm cookies) at the end of the day. Once you are ready to hit the slopes, you will really love the convenience of Element 52 – outside the Ski Concierge is access to a unique elevator-like funicular that drops you off at the Telluride Trail ski run.  Just pop on your skis or board and it’s a short run to Lift 7 or the gondola.  Now that’s what I call ski in/ski out!

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This review would not be complete without giving my highest praise to the staff of Element 52.  Keep in mind this is not like most five star resorts – rather than having your usual formal hotel staff, you will encounter mostly twenty-something college educated men and women who relocated to Telluride for the lifestyle.  Without exception, we found the staff friendly and helpful with their own contagious brand of enthusiasm for everything Telluride. Over the course of our trip, we were treated to so many wonderfully unexpected services that they can’t possibly all be mentioned here.

Some highlights include: sending the complimentary car service to pick up our dinner from a delicious restaurant that “really doesn’t do take out”; driving our 13 year old daughter to and from the gondola (where the driver insisted on waiting long enough to make sure she departed safely); helping us secure an excellent private instructor even though the ski school was officially sold out; and finally and, most notably, volunteering to put together the Go Pro camera we bought our son for his 15th birthday (thank you Tim!!). After years of doing everything for ourselves and our kids in our (albeit beautiful) rental home, we and our friends felt like we had gone to ski trip heaven. Needless to say, we can’t wait to come back next year!

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Restaurants:

Telluride has so many fabulous restaurants that deserve mention. Book early (most restaurants are on Open Table) as they do fill up quickly during busy vacation weeks. Here are our personal favorites:

  • 221 South Oak
  • Cosmopolitan (don’t miss the chopped salad)
  • New Sheridan Chop House
  • Siam (shabby chic Thai food located a block from the hotel)
  • La Marmotte
  • Rustico (where we hold our son’s birthday dinner every year)
  • Baked in Telluride (thank you for making my son’s delicious birthday cake with only a few hours notice)
  • Brown Dog Pizza (the best deep dish pizza)
  • Cocina De Luz (delicious Mexican plus great fresh juices and smoothies)

I would highly recommend Auberge Residences at Element 52 to a friend.  After seven years, we are so happy to have found the place that we can now call home in Telluride.

Inviato Note: Check here for the latest offers at Element 52. Right now, you receive 1 complimentary night for every 7 nights stay.

 

Loved Didn't Love
  • Our spacious, modern five bedroom condo;
  • The unbelievably kind and accommodating staff (especially Tim from Black Tie Ski Rentals and Jacqueline, Andrew and too many other hotel staff to mention);
  • The combination of the Ski Concierge and funicular elevator which provides the best ski in/ski out services we’ve ever experienced;
  • The complimentary wine and cheese happy hour every night in the warm and inviting lobby lounge (they also offer complimentary water and soda throughout the day);
  • My friend and I enjoyed celebrating her birthday at the spa where we had fantastic ninety-minute massages (I highly recommend Jen).
  • Although we were happy to have daily housekeeping, it was not the high standard you would expect from an Auberge resort (for example, when we checked in, the garbage had not been taken out and the refrigerator still contained items from previous guests);
  • Some of the furnishings in our unit were a bit bizarre. For example, we had enough plates to serve an army, yet we only had four bowls. Luckily, our friend got used to eating his yogurt and cereal in a white plastic mixing bowl every morning. Also, our unit didn’t feature a house phone so we had to use our cell phone to call the front desk. I could list more strange details but I’m sure you get the picture.
Don't Miss Skip
  • Make sure you spend some time taking in the funky yet sophisticated ambience that is uniquely Telluride – from world class dining to bookstores and head shops, this town truly has something for everyone;
  • The scenic San Miguel River Trail that runs adjacent to the property. I used it as both a hiking trail to the Valley Floor (a great place to ski cross country or snowshoe) and as a convenient short cut to Telluride restaurants and shops.
Rooms to Get Tips
  • The two and three bedroom Cascade Units predated the Auberge Residences so they offer different amenities but are still entitled to use Element 52’s facilities and services
  • The Mountain View E4 three-story unit is perfect for two families.
  • The altitude is very tricky in Telluride and can easily result in altitude sickness. The best course is to hydrate at least 48 hours before departure and continue hydrating throughout the trip. Watching your alcohol consumption will also help;
  • Opt to fly into Montrose (a scenic one hour and fifteen minute drive away from Telluride) rather than the Telluride Airport which offers very few commercial flights due to its size and the unpredictability of the weather (if you are flying privately, however, it might be more convenient to fly in or out of Telluride – just ask Tom Cruise or Oprah);
  • Traveling to Telluride from the New York area has never been easier now that United offers Saturday non-stops between Newark and Montrose, but you need to book early (we start looking for this flight as early as June every year – it sells out quickly and is highly preferred over connecting flights through Chicago, Houston or Denver);
  • As Telluride is seriously committed to maintaining its reputation as an environmentally friendly destination, you really don’t need to rent a car. The two major car services are Mountain Limo (888.546.6894) and Telluride Express (888.212.8294) (ask for the package that includes a stop for up to one hour at the many grocery and big box stores in Montrose);
  • When driving from Montrose to Telluride, make sure to look out for the entrance to Ralph Lauren’s 17,000 acre Double RL Ranch (where his son David famously married Lauren Bush in 2011);
  • Element 52’s Ski Concierge facility conveniently features an outpost of Black Tie Ski Rentals – the same people we have rented from every year in Telluride (they custom fit and deliver the equipment to you wherever you are staying – just call to book an appointment at 877.369.3999).

One response to “Just Checked Out: Auberge Residences at Element 52, Telluride

  1. Amazing review of an awesome trip and hotel. Great job to my wife, Melissa! Can’t wait for the myCation app! Jackie, Great website and blog!

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