An in-town vacation |

An in-town vacation

Alex Miller
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyThe Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.

BEAVER CREEK – This is the time of year when locals tend to look around and wonder why more people don’t travel to the High Country in fall.Granted, the perfect autumn days can be broken up on occasion by some decidedly wintry weather, but Indian summer can last well into October and even early November. These are the days that are perfect for hiking and biking or simply relaxing on the deck.They’re also the days for deals, and for travelers to and residents of the Vail Valley, there’s no better time to take advantage of some of our best hotels. At the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Beaver Creek, a special beginning Oct. 9 and running through Nov. 19 puts a room at the hotel starting at only $125 per night and $150 on weekends.

There’s something about a stay in a hotel of this caliber – even if it’s just for a night or two – that helps put daily life in better perspective. You can’t stay up on the hill forever, but it’s a pleasure to experience it for a night or two.One of the benefits of taking a vacation close to home – be it for a day or a week – is that you can apply the cost of travel to other things. And with the deal going on at the Ritz-Carlton, that means you can spend a few nights, indulge in some spa treatments and have a couple of great meals for what you might spend just to travel to another city.Up on the hill

While the Vail Valley is home to some of the West’s nicest hotels, the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch stands out for a number of reasons. As a relatively newer facility, it’s thoroughly modern, combining luxury with functionality that makes one feel well taken care of without a lot of fuss. With its “timber palace” feel, the hotel manages to be rustic and classy without looking silly, and the rooms are tastefully appointed without too much in the way of Cheyenne chic.Compared to other hotels in its class, the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch also supports a more sociable atmosphere in its common areas. The couch-filled sitting room off the lobby features a roaring fire at night, not to mention the house Labrador retriever – who’s also available for hikes. Just outside, a large fire pit surrounded by chairs provides a nice coda to a meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants a perfect place to enjoy an after-dinner drink with other guests from around the world.For those looking for a true break from the real world – even if it’s only a few miles away – it’s tough to beat this hotel for sheer location. Situated up on the side of Beaver Creek Mountain, the Ritz-Carlton feels like another world, far removed from the world below. While this is a natural in winter to be close to the hill (the property is ski-in, ski-out), in the fall it simply feels like you’ve dropped off the map. A nice place to be, indeed.

Four starsOnce ensconced in the comfortable environs of the hotel, it won’t be long before the lure of the spa becomes too great to ignore. The Ritz-Carlton Spa is one of the big reasons people visit the property, and it is a unique facility in its own right. In addition to a predictably impressive array of treatments, the spa is a retreat within a retreat.With its low lighting, rock features and soothing atmosphere, it’s a pleasure just to spend time soaking and steaming in the gender-specific areas. There’s also a neat, co-ed grotto, a rock-lined space with a “lazy river” hot tub.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa is the only one in the state to have earned the Mobil Four-Star award, but you don’t need ratings to know that it’s a top-flight facility. With yoga and pilates studios and treatments ranging from simple facials to full body massages and mud wraps, the spa can be a vacation in itself. Along with the lower room rates, there are also some deals on spa treatments, including a $99, 50-minute massage.It’s worth it. After being initially apprehensive about touch therapy, my wife emerged from her session with Steve ready to adopt him into the family.

A true sommelierAnother good person to see at the Ritz-Carlton is Sean Razee, the wine director. While Razee oversees pretty much anything having to do with fermented grapes on the hotel property, his true calling is serving as sommelier at Remington’s, the Ritz’s signature restaurant.While many high-end restaurants have waiters or maitre d’s who know a thing or two about wine, it’s rare to find a true sommelier these days. Razee, who is actively pursing advanced levels of sommelier certification, is a font of knowledge who relishes the challenge of pairing wine with food. Working from a variety of open bottles, Razee makes recommendations based upon individual preference, food selections and his own encyclopedic knowledge of wine. Razee is emblematic of the Ritz-Carlton’s staff, who go out of their way to make a stay there a special one. While the skiers are still in Kansas and the prices are as low as they get, now is the best time to give the Ritz a spin.

Alex Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 615, or

Vail, Colorado

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