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Luxe Lavs: Denver in the Pre-Ski Season

Ski resorts may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of the fall months. But it’s actually one of the best times to visit—the crowds are gone, most resorts are open, and you can often find the best deals. But if you want to make a stop in a city before visiting ski resorts in the Colorado Rockies, consider a stopover in Denver. This month’s Luxe Lavs column highlights hotels old and new in the city of Denver, which has recently been going through its own revitalization. Keep reading to uncover the surprises contributing writers Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno found in the city of Denver—pre-ski season. 


It’s fall. The Colorado Aspens are turning and the weather is warm one minute and cool the next. True, you can’t technically ski in Denver. But those in the know are acutely aware that one of the best ways to hit the slopes and get a world-class vacation at the same time is to stay in the city and take day trips to the mountains.

Just over an hour drive up the interstate 70 from Denver, the resort towns begin. Some of them open as early as mid-October, a few such as Keystone open Thanksgiving weekend, and others wait until full-blown winter in December. Even if you aren’t into winter sports, Denver has been undergoing major redevelopment, especially in the downtown area. With a 142 percent growth in residential population since 2000, springing up everywhere are new housing developments, breweries, restaurants and hotels, including those with bathrooms that don’t just say “pass through” to a ski resort anymore.

The Crawford Hotel

Denver Union Station, July 9, 2014.  Photo by Ellen Jaskol

The expansive transportation hub returns Union Station to its roots with local and national train and bus services. The RTD rail lines and buses will connect downtown and communities as well as provide a direct railway to Denver International Airport in 2016. Housed inside this historic 120-year-old Union Station, with its just completed $54 million transformation and 65’ ceiling, is the new stand out luxury hotel The Crawford Hotel. Named for Denver’s urban preservationist and Union Station partner Dana Crawford, the hotel’s 112 rooms reflect the different eras of the building’s history combined with modern design by Denver’s Tryba Architects and JG Johnson.

The “Pullman-style” rooms are reminiscent of train travel during its heyday, including vintage service ads. The “Classic” guestrooms are inspired by the Victorian era beginnings with much of the lavatory trim from Denver’s own DSKB Plumbing and Tile, and “The Loft” rooms in the former attic feature exposed wood timbers and vaulted ceilings and “Seneca Deer” prints on aluminum by Denver artist Mai Wyn Schantz. All the bathrooms were created to give guests everything they need and nothing they don’t. They all have rain showers, and many have freestanding claw foot or soaker tubs, and warming towel racks. With cutting edge technology, the rooms are not only unique, but also cozy modern.

Hotel Teatro

hotel teatro

The Hotel Teatro is a boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Denver. It was originally built in 1911 as the Denver Tramway Building and converted into a hotel in 1997. The name teatro comes from the Italian word for theater. New this year is the renovated ground floor and hotel restaurant The Nickel, paying homage to the tramway vault that originally collected nickels from customers riding streetcars. The hotel is curated with a unique collection of costumes, photographs, and antiques throughout that time, including a custom fleet of vintage bikes for guests to ride around town.

The 12-foot ceiling rooms’ furnishings are comfortable and relaxing, using rich soft gold or sage tones and lush cherry wood finishing. With Indonesian sandstone floors, marble bathrooms, floor-to-ceiling rainforest showers, deep-soaking bathtubs and Plantation Bath Products, the bathrooms are simple yet satisfying. But it was the special attention to service that made this boutique hotel particularly memorable.

The Ritz-Carlton

ritz carlton

Looking for serenity in the city, is the reliable Ritz-Carlton Denver located in the prime downtown Denver corridor. Offering the impeccable service one expects with the brand, the interior of the luxury hotel, including the glowing light of the lobby’s hand-blown art glass chandelier, creates a sense of calm that is echoed in their rooms.

Blending modern design elements with rich natural materials, relaxation awaits in the large five-fixture bathroom. Choose from soaking in the oversized-marble bathtub with Bath Essentials by Asprey or the Rainforest shower with steam-free shower mirrors, then wrap yourself afterward in the Plush Frette terry robes and slippers. Here, in the center of the Mile High City, simply relax as you gaze out at the horizon where the Rocky Mountains meet an endless expanse of blue Colorado skies.

Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa

westin riverfront

For those who do want to spend the night in the high country, there’s the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Beaver Creek. Located in the heart of Vail Valley, the gondola is just steps from the doors of the resort. The newly renovated 27,000 square foot Spa Anjali is extensive, and the new Maya Mexican restaurant offers more tequilas than a Mexican town, as well as some mouth-watering table side dishes, like queso fundido. Besides that, you get what you’d expect from a luxury ski resort.

Decorated in a clean, contemporary style highlighted by natural materials and a fresh, neutral color palette, the bathrooms, like the rooms, are spacious and have soaking tubs and separate showers. Also dubbed “Heavenly” along with Westin’s beds and showerheads, are the Bliss toiletries and soft bathrobes. After a spending several hours on the slopes, they might have it right.

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By Angela Fairhurst and Natalie Compagno for PeterGreenberg.com