One Sensational Colorado Spa and Six Perfect Pools

Warwick Denver Hotel

Many people come to Colorado in the summer to hike, bike, jeep, fish and sit outside to enjoy great concerts amid breathtaking scenery. Yes, Colorado ranks supreme for all that, however, this Rocky Mountain state also boasts some of the best pools and spas in the country. They’re terrific because of the mountains.

Mountain Lodge Telluride

Most of the pools highlighted below are backdropped by scenery eloquently described by Katharine Lee Bates in “America the Beautiful.” And because of the purple mountain majesties where we work our bodies to near exhaustion, it’s important to have glorious pools and spas where we can relax and rejuvenate. We have a good amount of them in Colorado, all of which are attached to prized hotels and resorts.

The Peaks Pool in Telluride

See the photos and my blurbs below to begin your journey through some of the best hydrotherapy offerings in Colorado. Whether you’re going to these establishments for a stay, a treatment or a day pass (often in conjunction with poolside dining), go ahead and plan your travels around them. The benefits you derive from these mountain oases will carry you well past the end of your vacation. And best of all: Most of these pools are open year-round because they’re heated.

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Resort

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Pool and Spa in Beaver Creek
My boyfriend, Steve, and I experienced The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Spa a while ago during a spring ski getaway. I wrote about it at Pick a Spa, Pick a Ski Destination. We loved it then, however, recently we had an even more extraordinary experience, since we logged some delicious pool time as well.

Ritz-y Pool

Poolside Offerings

Oh, the pool. Drawn in by its black lines, we knew this stunning, infinity pool was the place for us. We arrived at lunchtime on a busy Friday and were thrilled to see that there was still a designated lane where we could do laps away from the din of Marco-Polo and all the other activity that characterizes a day at the pool in summer.

Steve diligently knocked out his sixty lengths while I bronzed, something I rarely find the time to do. I decided to forgo my workout because I had already sunk deeply into a lolling around mood, one enhanced by a stack of magazines and my phone turned off. (It actually went dead because of the heat.)

Bottoms Up

Food tastes best when eaten outside, particularly in the summer when salty chips and fries are de rigueur. We feasted on fish tacos and a grilled chicken wrap served in large Bento-type boxes that far exceeded your average poolside chow. (My phone had died by the time the food arrived, however, I did take a snapshot of the menu!)

Since this is Colorado, the clouds rolled in practically on cue by mid afternoon. Pas de problème. We just snuggled up to their poolside bar and sipped a frothy one, a beer that we found very amusing because it was a perfect pour by Bottoms Up. Many guesses later, we discovered that a magnet holds the key to the beer not bottoming out. You might have seen these beers at stadiums and now it appears they’re gaining popularity at certain mountainside resorts. (Just think après ski/large volumes of beer served/perfect every time.)

Steve and Me at the Poolside Bar of The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch

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Pick a Spa, Pick a Ski Destination

Outdoor Pool at The Peaks Resort & Spa

You’re missing out on a good chunk of fun and relaxation if you think your whole mountain experience has to be all about hitting the slopes. Sure, there’s nothing like spending day after day in the fresh air, carving perfect turns on buttery snow or picking through exquisite, diamond-shaped moguls. Yet even the most die-hard skiers and boarders need a day off. Or maybe just a half day. Or how about a couple days off? It’s supposed to be a vacation after all. You don’t want to feel like you need a vacation after your vacation, do you? How about après-ski—don’t those moments represent some of the best of your whole ski vacation? Those delicious hours of the day don’t have to be all about drinks at the bar.

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Skiing and Spa Going: Part One in Vail, Colorado

Après Ski Necessities at Vail Plaza Hotel & Club

Après Ski Necessities at Vail Plaza Hotel & Club

What?  Don’t tell me you’re tired of hearing about skiing.  While most die-hard skiers are still plowing through mashed potatoes and corn snow at ski areas such as A-Basin in Colorado and Mammoth Mountain in California, most of us ardent ski buffs have finally resigned ourselves to hanging up our skis for the season.  But smart travelers should begin contemplating next season.

If any of you out there (devoted readers, for example) have been waiting with bated breath to read about my weekend with Steve (see Weekend Expectations blog below), I can tell you our time together scored exceedingly high marks.  We, in fact, spent two weekends in a row together in April experiencing end-of-ski-season bliss.  Plus we learned that spring is a great time to ski and spa go without dealing with the crowds.  Bargains are excellent during this time as well.  (The same, of course, holds true for early season in November and the first half of December.)

Vail and Its Fairytale-Like Village

Vail and Its Fairytale-Like Village

We zipped off to Vail after Telluride officially closed to experience the fun and fanfare of their closing weekend.  A spring storm dumped impressive amounts of snow on the mountain beginning the Thursday before.  Had it not been for Steve nursing an extremely sore back (from apparently having skied too hard the previous weekend in T-ride which had also benefited from an outstanding snowfall at its closing), I would have feared more powder day problems.  Instead we carried on like two lovers on a weekend getaway where skiing and mountain fun entered into only part of the equation (wink, wink).

I had only been to Vail once before many years ago for my PSIA (Professional Ski Instructor of America) certification, so this time I was eager to discover it for real.  Steve gladly toured me around Vail’s renowned back bowls and I was thrilled to find myself cruising on black terrain considerably softer than what we have in T-ride.  (Of course I love our steeps but they do require more effort.)  After just a few hours of skiing, however, Steve declared that his back had had enough.  That was fine with me since by then I felt as though I had a good grasp of the mountain and looked forward to the day when I could return and really wear myself out at this world renowned resort.

This left us with time to explore Vail Village, a pedestrian-friendly assemblage of shops, restaurants, bars and places of lodging that truly made us feel like we were on vacation.   One might look at this Bavarian-inspired hamlet as hokey (I have in the past), but it really does transport you to a faraway land and we jumped on for the ride.  Steve, with his family ties to the Italian Alps, pointed out how authentic these alpine chalets really were in their construction and interpretation.  This enchanted me even more, so I suggested we stop for a coffee and a strudel at Hotel-Gastof Gramshammer, one of the more charming wooden establishments in the area, founded in 1965 by Austrians Sheika and Pepi Gramshammer.

It was a good choice.  We sat at their German beer garden terrace and then later discovered that this classic alpine establishment also housed two other restaurants, a particularly animated bar and hotel rooms above.  I wasn’t sure whether I was more wooed by its charm or Steve’s attentiveness.

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