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Five stars on the slopes

Matt Zalaznick
Rett Gunnell and Dustin Widerburg, employees of Swim Clean, seal the main drain of the pool Friday at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. The grand opening for the hotel is set for Thursday Nov. 21st.
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Oh yeah, your dog can sleep there, too.

“Bachelor is a spokes-pet for the fact that we are pet friendly,” hotel spokeswoman Kristin Yantis says.

The Ritz-Carlton these days if full of construction workers putting finishing touches on the hotel and employees going through extensive training sessions before opening day Nov. 21.

But if you bring your dog when the hotel opens, you’ll probably get a room with quicker outside access – 95 percent of the 230-plus rooms have views of either the mountain or the valley.

As for Bachelor, the hotel’s top dog is due to arrive at the foot of the grand lobby’s three-story fireplace in December.

“It’s a unique feature,” Yantis says. “It fits in with the Rocky Mountain environment.”

The dog also fits in with the Ritz-Carlton credo. The hotel and its countless luxuries are suppose to “enliven the senses and instill well-being and fulfill even the unexpressed wishes and needs of our guests,” Yantis says.

So after a grueling day on the slopes, just outside the hotel’s back door, guests homesick for dogs left behind at home can have Bachelor curl up at their feet in the cozy fly-fishing library.

In the spring and summer, guests also can “borrow” Bachelor for a hike. Through the hotel’s Loan-a-Lab program, Bachelor can be signed out for morning and afternoon romps in the woods.

“If you’re out hiking, the dog helps make the experience more memorable and exciting,” Yantis says.

The dog will go home with a hotel employee chosen to be its master.

Aside from the Labrador retriever and all five stars, there will also be a hot-chocolate sommelier for special chocolate-oriented events, a lazy river hot tub for apres-ski, a “snow beach” and a pool-side fire pit just 30 feet from the Bachelor Gulch Express chairlift.

Those are, of course, only a few of the other swanky amenities that will make skiers on the overlooking slopes so jealous they’ll melt the snow.

“The view coming down the mountain is going to be quite beautiful,” Yantis says. “Everyone has called it a “grand log cabin.’ It’s the first grand lodge to be built in the American West in 50 years.”

The Ritz-Carlton is designed to look like the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon Hotel in Arizona. Six million pounds of moss rocks were used,and if all the logs from the facade were lined up end-to-end, they would span seven miles, Yantis said.

“All the wood was dead standing wood,” Yantis says. “The developer did not need to kill any trees for this structure.”

The trim work would stretch to Vail, approximately nine miles away.

And of course, there are rooms – 237 of them. Along with the views, some have window seats, many have gas fireplaces and all have Internet access either through the television or your laptop, if you bring it.

“Furniture is being uncovered, and they’re making sure everything is hanging right on the walls,” Yantis says.

If you stay on the Club Level –$400 to $900 a night –there’s a “Key to Luxury” package that includes use of one of four Mercedes Benz SUVs to tour around the mountains.

If you and your soulmate’s anniversary is in the next month, you can get a room at the Ritz-Carlton for $175. The deal expires on Dec. 12, when sleeping in the hotel will cost anything from $275 to $5,600 a night.

The $5,600 rate is for the 2,700 square-foot, three-bedroom Ritz-Carlton suite between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In case you’re curious, here’s a sampling of other nightly rates during the heart of ski season, Jan. 1 through the end of March:

n Valley View room: $475; with fireplace, $525

n Premium Mountainside: $575

n Club Level Mountainside: $700

n Mountainside Suite, one- to three-bedrooms: $1,450 to $2,800

What about the hot-chocolate sommelier? Well, he’ll be around over Thanksgiving for the hotel’s chocolate buffet –reservations required.

What about the lazy river hot-tub? That’s in the hotel spa’s co-ed grotto, which features a waterfall spilling from the rock walls.

Can I rent skis? Yes. Is there day-care? Yes. A restaurant? Yes, Remington’s? Will Remington’s serve Elk Carpaccio? Perhaps. Will the restaurant have its own unique beer? Sure, The Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs is preparing two microbrews for the resort –Bachelor Tail Ale and Remington’s Red.

And will my wildlife curiosities be satisfied?

The Ritz-Carlton has teamed with Red Cliff’s Gore Range Natural Science School to staff the hotel with a wildlife concierge, who will run environmental programs for guests aimed at familiarizing them with the surrounding mountains and forests.

Will my skis be waiting for me? Slopeside, if you want. Plus, your boots will be warmed.

“This hotel is truly a reflection of its environment,” Yantis says.

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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