February 1, 2012 Leave a comment
January 31, 2012 1 Comment
Telluride Jan 25, 2012 – Jan 31, 2012
There are really three choices for flying to Telluride; Durango, Montrose, and Telluride airports. There were not any direct flights from Newark to any of these airports at the times I needed them, so I flew into Denver and then connected to Montrose. I chose Montrose because the flights to Telluride were ridiculously expensive and prone to cancellations. Montrose is about and hour and a half from Telluride, versus two and half from Durango to Telluride. I found the airfares into Durango were a little lower but not enough to justify the extra drive. In the end, my flight ran me about $500.
Since we flew into Montrose, I was a little concerned about the cost of the transfer. At the recommendation of our hotel, I contacted Mountain Limo www.mountain-limo.comwho charges $47 for the transfer each way. We only had 4 travelers so I did not look into a group rate. They were prompt and friendly, and the vehicles were clean and in good shape, so we were satisfied. On the way in, we were the only passengers so it was a direct ride to the hotel. On the return they did have to pick up some other travelers so it added some time to the ride, but the scenery was great and we didn’t mind it.
Where to stay
There are really two options for where to stay in Telluride, Mountain Village or Telluride itself. Mountain Village is at the base of the gondola and is a pretty typical base village, similar to that of Whistler and Vail. There are several large, resort style hotels in Mountain Village, as well as some restaurants and shops, so there is nothing wrong with it, but we chose to stay in the town of Telluride itself. This decision was based on conversations I had with people while planning the trip, and after being there, they were 100% right. The town of Telluride is connected via a free gondola to Mountain Village, so you can for the most part walk to the lift, but I’ll talk about that more in a minute. The thing that makes Telluride great is the small town feel. I think if we had stayed at one of the resort hotels, we would have had a nice but bland experience, and Telluride would have just been another place with snow.
We have tried a lot of different types of accommodations over the years. At some places we stayed in resort hotels, at others we rented private homes, but in Telluride we chose a boutique hotel named The Hotel Telluride. After planning these trips for several years, I always look for certain amenities. First, the place has to have some type of common area, preferably a bar or restaurant where our group can meet up to either eat or gather before we go out. Another must have is a hot tub, and I always look for a fitness center as well. The Hotel Telluride www.thehoteltelluride.com had all of the above, but so do many places. What made this place so great was the staff. Because it was a boutique hotel, the staff was phenomenal. They provided us with shuttle service whenever we needed to go anywhere including back and forth from the Gondola. Although it was not a far walk, we got pretty spoiled and would call them at the end of the day to pick us up. In addition, they handled and stored all of our equipment and each morning it was waiting for us in the lobby. The hotel has an optional breakfast that is served in their small restaurant called the Nook, which also served as a bar. The only criticism I could offer would be that they could give it a more restaurant type feel, but the service was friendly and prompt, and it more than served its purpose. They also do a small après ski at the hotel but it doesn’t compare to some of the other options available. There were some pretty good specials available if you book early enough, so I would try to take advantage of them. The hotel charged me for one night on the day I booked, and the rest of the reservation 30 days prior to the trip, so be prepared. In the end, I stayed a the hotel for 5 nights, which included the weekend, and the total charge for a room with two queen beds for two people was $1300 including all fees and taxes. I found it very reasonable. After staying there, I would absolutely recommend this hotel. If there is nothing else you take from this review, take this advice.
As is the case with any of the larger mountains in the West, the mountain has runs available for skiers/riders of all abilities. My group consisted of 6 riders, and one skier. I would put our ability level as cautious expert, meaning we are capable of doing pretty much anything on the mountain, with the caveat that we stay away from the chutes and cliffs. As a result, we did not ski the portion of the mountain that is predominately beginner trails, but for someone looking for easy trails, they had plenty of them. There were also plenty of nice, wide groomers, as well as enough steeps, bumps, and trees, to keep us satisfied. There are three bowls on the mountain, Revelation, Prospect, and Black Iron. Revelation is your typical bowl, but it got tracked up pretty quickly after we got some snow, We ran it a few times and then moved on to other parts of the mountain. Prospect Bowl was a little different because it was more heavily treed and had some easy and intermediate trails in it. We had a lot of fun running on this part of the mountain. The third bowl is Black Iron. I’m not usually much in favor of hiking, but in order to get into Black Iron bowl, you have to hike about 30 minutes off of the Prospect Chair. After debating it with the other people we were with, we eventually decided to invest the effort and take the hike. Granted it was a beautiful blue bird day, but I highly recommend making the effort if your health and ability allow it. I would not recommend this part of the mountain for anyone who is not an expert. In all, we spent 4 days on the mountain, and at the end of 4 days, I was satisfied. Any more time there we would have been bored, and any less would probably have prevented us from hiking Black Iron. I’m not saying that Telluride is any less a mountain than say Breckenridge or Vail, just that we usually try to do a different mountain every day and Telluride is the only show in town. Lift tickets are a little on the pricey side. I purchased a 4 day pass for about $370. At the time we purchased the tickets, we were told they had a special if you had a season pass to another mountain. I believe this was only available for a couple of days, but if you are going to Telluride you mght want to see if they are running any promotions.
It was impossible to check out every option in 5 days, but we did manage to dial it in somewhat. One must do is Gorronos which is on the slope above Mountain Village. It is accessible from an easy run so anyone can get to it. They have live entertainment, a restaurant, and an outside bar with a fire pit. The place is very charming and we stopped there twice for cocktails. When you leave Gorronos, it is an easy groomer back down to the bottom. You can take the gondola back from Mountain Village to Telluride, but don’t make the same mistake we did. Since there is a gondola midstation, we decided to get in one more run and ski back to Telluride. Unfortunately the altitude hit us and the groomer seemed treacherous. We all regretted it.so I would recommend you put your skis away at Mountain Village and get home in one piece. We also spent some après ski time at a place called Tom Boy which is at the base in Mountain Village. Tom Boy had great food and atmosphere and I would highly recommend it. We tried a place called Trax in Mountain Village as well, but I wasn’t impressed and wouldn’t recommend it. One thing I would recommend is to stop at Allreds for a drink on the way back to Telluride. Allreds is located at the midstation of the gondola, halfway between Mountain Village and the town. Apres ski is indoors but they have large windows with stunning views. To miss it would be a mistake. We didn’t really do any après ski in town, since we were ready for the hot tub by the time we got back. I’m sure there are some good spots there as well but I just couldn’t get to them.
Where to Eat
Unfortunately this is an area that I can’t offer too much help on. We ended up snacking every night during après ski, so we weren’t very hungry and didn’t want to have a big dinner. We did manage to have burgers and appetizers at The Llama one night, and it was more than adequate for us. The Llama has live entertainment and they have a cover charge sometimes, so if you eat there you can get in before the cover charge if you are planning on partying as well. I’ll talk more about that in night life. We also had Mexican food at a place called Los Tres Amigos www.telluridediningguide.com/Restaurant/Los-Tres-Amigos. It was recommended to us by someone who we met that worked there, but it turned out to be very good. Another recommendation we tried was Siam www.siamtelluride.com which is a Thai restaurant in town. My group all enjoys Thai food, and found the food excellent. The other restaurants that came up were The New Sheridan Steak House, and Allreds. We couldn’t make it to them but were told by locals that the steakhouse was good, but steak is steak. Most people told us that Allreds was somewhat pretentious and overpriced, and that if we were going to miss a restaurant, Allreds would be a good one to skip. Don’t’ let that keep you away from grabbing a drink for happy hour.
Where to Party
The one thing that stuck out about night life in Telluride was just how local the local scene was. Telluride is not a big place and the saying that everybody knows each other is far from cliché. There were three places that we found fun to go. The first was the bar at the New Sheridan www.newsheridan.com It is very popular with the locals and was packed on Friday and Saturday night while we were there. There are pool tables in the back and a woodburning fireplace that the locals congregate around. We also spent a night at O’Bannons which is a small irish pub a little off the beaten path. We were there on Sunday night when the rest of the town was quiet, and was much more intimate than the other places. While the locals seemed happy to share the other establishments, I got the feeling that O’Bannons was the place they really prefer to keep for themselves. For a tourist, it was your typical mix of video games, a pool table, and a juke box, but for the Telluride townies I think it is somewhat of an escape from the transient visitors. The third option, is really the heartbeat of the nightlife in Telluride. The Llama is a bar restaurant located in the center of town that offers live entertainment, dancing, and plenty of partying. If you are looking for a loud, hard partying atmosphere, the Llama is it. We spent a lot of time at both the Llama and The Sheridan, and had a blast at both.
How it compares
To me, the best way to assess a destination, is to wait for a few days after I leave and then ask myself, “Would I go back?” The answer to that question is a resounding “Yes”. There are a lot of factors that contribute to how good a ski vacation turns out, not the least of which is weather. We did manage to get some snow while we were in Telluride, but it was the small town feel that I’m now going to compare all other trips to. Telluride claims to be the best ski town in America, and based on my experience, I’m inclined to agree with them. I would put Telluride on my list of must visit destinations for the avid winter enthusiast.
A little about me:
An important part of this site is going to be some background on the author. It is our hope that as we develop more content, readers will be able to find other contributors who have similar interests and abilities, I think it is also important for readers to know what other destinations the author has visited so they will know what references the author has. To that end, here are the things I think you should know.
Travel Group: 6 Men
Ability: Cautious Expert
Other Resorts Visited: Vail, CO Jackson Hole, WY, Banff(Alberta), Whistler(BC), Park City, UT, Brighton, Snowbird, Arapahoe Basin, Keystone, Breckenridge, Lake Tahoe, Killington, Hunter, Mountain Creek, Camelback, Blue Mountain, Elk Mountain,