Aspen Times Weekly: Offseason escapes
It’s April, and soon it will be time to get out of Dodge to renew, relax and recharge. Armed with a few extra dollars from the high season, most Roaring Fork Valley residents are looking for warmth and sunshine, or inspiration on where to plan their next big trip this spring or later in the year. So we’ve compiled a list of new and remodeled resorts and destinations that suit wallets from budget to blow out.
By Car: Budget Travel (Starting at $79 per night)
Moab Under Canvas, Moab, Utah
There is something about Moab that has been attracting Aspenites to its red rocks for decades. Only four hours, but worlds away, getting to the Utah desert whether to bike, hike or climb is a time-tested offseason fave.
If you are looking for something off the main strip and more luxe than camping, there is a new safari-style, eco-camp called Moab Under Canvas. An ecologically friendly resort, open from March to October (during winter the resort packs itself up and lets the 40 acres on which it sits regenerate), this is the third resort in the company’s portfolio (Yellowstone and Glacier Under Canvas being the others). Rates start at $79 per night for tipi accommodations (with cots, mattresses and sheets) and up to $290 per night for a deluxe, elevated safari-style tent with a wood-burning stove, views of Arches, and an ensuite bathroom complete with shower, sink and flushing toilet — Hallelujah! Pets are also welcome for a small fee.
By Train: Moderate Travel (Starting at $300 per night)
The Crawford Hotel, Denver
When’s the last time you took the train to Denver? A fun adventure for those who enjoy the slow road and want to see more of our state can take the Amtrak train from Glenwood Springs right into Denver’s Union Station ($43 one way), where The Crawford Hotel will be waiting for you.
Housed inside Denver’s 120-year-old train station, which recently completed a $54 million transformation, this Beaux Arts landmark has 112 uniquely decorated guest rooms that reflect the different eras of the building’s history.
Union Station’s Great Hall, which features soaring 65-foot ceilings, serves as the hotel’s main entrance and lobby. It also houses a mix of restaurants and retailers such as Provision by chef Alex Seidel, Stoic & Genuine by chef Jennifer Jasinski, The Kitchen Next Door Community Pub, Snooze and Pigtrain Coffee among others. The building also houses the Terminal Bar, which pours more than 30 Colorado craft beers, and the Cooper Lounge, which channels a Hollywood vibe with high-end cocktails and an extensive wine and spirits list.
If you are eager to explore the capitol city, The Crawford’s central location is within easy walking distance to most points of interest, guests can rent a Denver B-Cycle just steps from the station, or enlist The Crawford’s Tesla car service for rides within a 2-mile radius.
And there is more to come. Union Station is the centerpiece of a bigger $500 million redevelopment of downtown Denver’s transportation hub, with RTD rail lines and buses connecting downtown to surrounding communities, and the eagerly anticipated direct light rail access to/from Denver International Airport in early 2016.
For Food and Wine Lovers (Starting at $600 per night)
The Farmhouse Inn and Spa, Sonoma, Calif.
For those who love great food and wine, there is The Farmhouse Inn and Spa located in California’s Russian River Valley. Owned by a fifth-generation farming family, the resort just completed an $8 million renovation that includes nine new rooms, new spa, remodeled pool area, and the creation of a number of outdoor spaces.
With such a strong connection to the land, The Farmhouse Restaurant is the cornerstone of the property. Michelin-starred chef Steve Litke and estate wine director Allyson Gorsuch create an ever-changing menu that relies on ingredients sourced from the owners’ ranch and from other local artisan farmers and purveyors in Sonoma County.
Rooms are beautifully designed with access to the outdoors, making it the perfect place to unwind. Take part in an in-room Somm experience customizing wine selections for each guest, as well as a wine box with wine notes from Gorsuch to drink in your room or on property and in-room snacks to accompany the selections.
The new Spa at Farmhouse is also a natural extension of the Sonoma farm-inspired experience. The treatment menu of services incorporates spring forest honey and heirloom cider apples from the owners’ ranch along with herbs grown right in Farmhouse’s kitchen garden.
Family Travel Pick (Starting at $300 per night)
Turtle Bay Resort, Oahu, Hawaii
If you are traveling with the pack and want to book a trip that is relaxing, adventurous, fun and most importantly, easy, Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu is your ideal destination. Set on 880 oceanfront acres, along 5 miles of unspoiled beach, Turtle Bay has just come off of a $45 million renovation.
This is the only resort on the North Shore, and is located on the quiet Kuilima Point peninsula, providing guests with an outer-island experience, yet still close to some of the Oahu’s major attractions. And then there’s convenience of a direct flight to Honolulu from the West Coast — no puddle jumpers necessary.
Every one of the 443 guestrooms has an ocean view, or guests can choose to stay in an oceanfront Beach Cottage, which includes a personal concierge, for an even more secluded experience.
There are pools, tennis courts and championship golf courses, as well as 12 miles of oceanfront hiking and mountain biking trails surrounding the resort.
Of course, a trip to the North Shore wouldn’t be complete without surfing, and Turtle Bay offers a great surfing school for novices like me. If that still doesn’t suit your appetite for adventure, you can also go heli-whale watching or, my pick — lava tube fishing. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but I’m willing to try anything once.
Summer in Europe (Starting at $600 per night)
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco, Montalcino, Italy
I’ve been saying it all spring, but if you haven’t heard me shouting the news from the tile rooftops, hear me now: This is the year to visit Europe. The dollar is strong, and European destinations are clamoring for American travelers.
A few years ago I spent a magical week at La Foce in the Val d’Orcia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and ever since I’ve looked forward to returning to this amazing region. Now I need to go back because the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco just reopened its historic Tuscan resort. A bucolic Italian property located in Montalcino, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is set within one of the oldest and best-preserved estates in Italy in the heart of Val d’Orcia.
The property features 23 suites, 10 villas, two on-site restaurant, a private golf course, and new programming for both children and adults. If and when I get there, my time will be spent at the estate’s winery. Castiglion del Bosco was one of the founding producers of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, and is the fifth largest Brunello estate out of 230.
Guests of the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco have access to a private wine tour which includes a walk through the Capanna vineyard, a visit to the Members’ Cellar and finally taking part in a wine tasting of six wines, including the Cru of Brunello di Montacino, sampled with a selection of the best Tuscan cheeses, fresh home-made bread, the estate’s extra virgin olive oil and honey. Sign. Me. Up.
If you can wait until fall to experience this resort, be sure to schedule your trip around the winery’s fall harvest event. Taking place annually at the end of September, exact dates will be revealed this July. Guests of all ages are welcome to come and harvest the Sangiovese grapes, followed by a picnic lunch.
Luxury Caribbean Getaway (Starting at $1,000 per night)
Thirty years to the day from its first opening, the all-new Malliouhana on the island of Anguilla reopened last November. This was after a three-year closure and 18-month end-to-end redesign spearheaded by interior designer Todd-Avery Lenahan, the man responsible for the new interiors of the Hotel Jerome.
Located on a bluff overlooking Meads Bay and Turtle Cove with 360-degree views of the Caribbean Sea, Malliouhana is the first hotel to open on the island since 2009, and like the Jerome, is also being managed by Auberge. It offers just 44 ocean-view rooms and suites, two new infinity-edge pools, a dramatic open-air cliff-side The Restaurant, and the legendary Sunset Bar, with the Caribbean’s largest rum and wine collection in the region.
Sky’s The Limit ($117,000)
TCS world travel’s Around the World Trip
With some time (23 days), and a bit of money ($117,000), you too can have the ultimate, ‘round the world adventure everyone has dreamed of doing with TCS Expeditions. This trip combines a seamless journey aboard a dedicated, custom 757 jet (180-degree flat-bed seats, on-board chef and doctor) for 52 travelers, with an itinerary that spans the globe.
This year’s TCS trip took off from Kona, where it then stopped in Palau to guide guests on a jungle hike to the remote Jellyfish Lake, one of the best snorkeling spots in the world. The group then flew to Myanmar for four nights, which included time in Bagan, the heart of Buddhism in the region, and home to more than 2,000 temples, including the 300-foot-tall, gilded Shwedagon Pagoda. A couple of other stops in Africa and Colombia with a final return to the States. In January 2016, destinations will be Machu Picchu/Cusco, Easter Island, Bora Bora, The Great Barrier Reef, Taj Mahal, Petra and London.
Believe it or not, there is a tangible cost benefit of doing a 23-day TCS trip at $117,000 versus a private jet. The flat fee includes transportation to these eight spectacular locations, guides at each destination, as well as all nights in five-star hotels and meals daily. If one wanted to do the same trip on, say, an eight-passenger private jet, air travel alone is estimated to cost between $300,000 and $600,000. So there you have it, $117,000 is your deal of the day.
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Perhaps it’s because we are in the abbreviated days of winter and I instinctively know that the sun is shining down-under. But every January I go through a nostalgic period where Australian wine dominates my mind.