Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

“So, where did you go to school?” I’d asked Ryan on the afternoon we met.

And he goes, “I went to Brown.”

The jackpot bells started going off in my head and I said, “Brown UNIVERSITY?”

And he’s like, “No, Brown School of Radio Broadcasting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.”

It turns out he’s a radioman, a radio personality even. That actually works out better for me in the end than some fancy pants Ivy Leaguer because he’s basically the male equivalent of me. I mean, what could be more perfect than that?

Ryan doesn’t do radio anymore, at least not as his job, but he so clearly has this amazing talent and this amazing voice that always has girls crooning and yelling, “Do your radio voice! Do your radio voice!” at him all the time.

Somehow I talked him into pitching an idea he had for a show to KSPN, and the next thing you know he’s booked to host “Saturday Apres Live” from the Viceroy Snowmass every week from 3-6 p.m. outside at the pool for the entire ski season.

You could say this brand-new five-star hotel sort of became our weekend home. We really got into quite the routine there, and began to enjoy and become quite accustomed to a life of luxury.

“This is so not Steamboat,” my mom kept saying when they were in town the weekend of my surprise birthday party and we brought my parents along. It was either that or “Omigod,” every five minutes.

“Wow, those cheerleaders from Texas are really something,” my Dad said, enjoying his perch poolside where a gaggle of half-dressed cowgirls were apparently rehearsing their sideline routine. My parents were really impressed with the spread of crab legs, oysters and lobster tails at our table, not to mention the bottles of champagne that were delivered to wash them down and the free Wayfarer sunglasses they got during the “Veuve Cliquot in the Snow” party.

Then there was the weekend I enjoyed most of all of Ryan’s shows from the hot tub. Let me tell you firsthand there is no other hotel in Aspen that has gone out of it’s way for day guests like the Viceroy. They’ve provided a public bathroom just inside the pool area that has a shower and fancy soap products and even has one of those spin cycle machines you can use to take all the excess water out of your bathing suit. They provide giant bath towels on the table where the fruit- and herb-infused water jugs are (which are highly recommended for the lightheaded drunk person, not that I would know anything about that).

For Ryan’s final show of the season, I decided to do something extra special for myself since he had worked so hard for weeks on end. So I booked myself a massage in the spa.

The spa is all the way down on the first floor so it’s already sort of a cool, dark space, where you can see right away it would be easy to take a nap. You are greeted with the standard locker/big fluffy robe/slippers combo but you also get a warm towel for your hands and face. In the locker room, the plunge pool has a waterfall that feels pretty good when you let it pound on your shoulders, and the rain shower is to die for.

In the relaxation room, it’s all dark and there are water features everywhere and the ceiling has this crazy wood weaving on it that sort of looks like those curled hard candies. It feels like you’re beneath a river, listening to the sound of the water cascading over the rocks above. They have the requisite snacks, the dried fruits and nuts and fruit-infused water and tea. But then the massage therapist comes out and pours warm water over your feetsies and wraps them in hot towels while you lie back on the chaise lounge chair under a cozy blankie and get in the mood. It’s the closest thing to massage foreplay I’ve ever experienced – in a professional setting, that is.

Then she lets you choose the scent of your oil. The one I chose had cucumber, linden blossom, green apple, lemon and heliotrope in it. I have no idea what heliotrope is, but I loved it so much I bought the scented lotion after and am seriously thinking about making the trip back to buy the scented oil. Smell has got to be one of the most underrated senses because having that component in my experience enhanced it tenfold.

The treatment room has high ceilings and Jacuzzi tubs and showers built in for the various scrubs they offer (note to self: might be time to try one of those). Even the massage table is deluxe with sheets so soft and cool you could almost be happy just lying down on it. As a stomach-down sleeper I have often thought of investing in one of those tables just so I can sleep with my face in the hole and not wake up with a numb arm and a broken neck in a puddle of drool the way I do most days.

The complimentary glass of wine and piece of chocolate afterward was a nice touch, and she gave me a polished rock that said “Thankful” on it. I felt like a kid who got a prize with my Happy Meal. I was so happy.

I guess on behalf of me and Ryan I just wanted to say thanks to everyone there who made us feel five-star special even though we pulled up every week in a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada with a driver’s side door that won’t close. They even helped us with the hula hoops and the banners and all our tattered old ski gear and still made us feel all nice and special.

What else can I say? It was Viceroy Niceroy.

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