Mountain chic in Beaver Creek – Rock’s Modern Grill
BEAVER CREEK – As an interior designer, it’s hard to imagine working with someone more ideal than hotel developer Richard Kessler.Kessler is only half developer. His other half breathes with a love for art. An avid collector for over 35 years, Kessler’s personal pieces are incorporated into the decor of his properties in Florida, Georgia and now Beaver Creek. Having access to art like larger-than-life bronzes and vibrant oil painting makes creating a unique luxury hotel seem easy.Kessler Collection’s Deborah Golding, who headed up the interior design at the newly renovated Beaver Creek Lodge, feels very fortunate to work with Kessler. For this particular project, she dived into his art storage, pulling pieces like a gigantic bronze Indian. She placed the sculpture on the patio of the hotel’s restaurant, Rocks Modern Grill. She had a stone fire pit built around the Indian to warm diners as the sun goes down.”When you have someone that collects so many great things, you just go through the inventory,” Golding said. “It makes it much easier. Most designers would never be able to put something like a bronze sculpture in their budget. But the art is Richard’s, and he gets to use them. Not too many designers have that luxury.”Kessler purchased the Beaver Creek Lodge in August 2004. He’s spent millions of dollars on the redesign to create a four-star luxury lodge. It re-opened in December 2004, giving Golding a short 10 weeks to complete the transformation.”We wanted to bring some chic to the mountains,” Golding said.
Upon entering, the lobby sets the tone for the entire hotel. The exterior walls and registration desk are lined in copper paneling, and Golding used a dramatic red on the ceiling, accented by deep brown wood beams and red suede drapery. Most of the furniture is upholstered in Tobasco-colored patent leather with a crocodile texture. Chic indeed, but Golding also incorporated natural accents. Slate flooring, a stone fireplace and tables hand-carved from juniper by a local craftsman from Grand Junction keep the hotel grounded in the mountains.”We’re big on the elements – fire, water, earth – we always like to incorporate those,” Golding said.One of the most sensational art installations is the life-like bronze climbers. Bronze men, connected with real belay ropes, are scaling up the center atrium of the hotel. They act like escorts, leading guests’ eyes up the stairs of the hotel.”That was all Richard’s idea,” Golding said of the climbers. “It was a surprise to all of us.”One of the renovation’s last projects, the hotel’s restaurant, Rocks Modern Grill, opened its doors at the beginning of July. Its decor follows suit with the rest of the hotel, using hues of gold, burnt orange, red and copper. Two juniper trees, sanded and polished, greet you at the entrance. The restaurant’s focal point is the bar, built from stacked stones coupled with bar stools covered in brown ostrich skin. Red-black lighting sets a modern mood.The decor may feel rich in Rocks Modern Grill, but the restaurant’s intentions are not to be pricey. Executive Chef John Trejo’s focus for the restaurant is to make it feel warm and casual.
“We want to see people here three times a week,” Trejo said. “We don’t want to be a restaurant that people come to for a fancy dinner on special occasions. There are a lot of those kind of restaurants in Beaver Creek.”This presented a challenge for Trejo, because he wanted the food to taste upscale but cost casual. He created a menu that features classic American fare, like burgers, steaks and salmon. The menu is very approachable, perfect for families with kids.Trejo – who in his 15 years of culinary experience has worked with chefs Wolfgang Puck, Mark Miller and Kevin Taylor – said his signature dishes is wasabi crusted ahi tuna ($24) with rock shrimp, fried rice and blood orange vinaigrette. Other favorites include filet mignon ($28) with au gratin potatoes and the nightly rotisserie specials ($17-$26). Each night chef Trejo roasts a different meat on a spit and serves it with buttermilk mashers and grilled vegetables. He said the rotisserie sells out each night.”I try to keep things really simple,” Trejo said. “I start with a great product and apply the simplest of cooking techniques.”Trejo grew up cooking with his grandmother. He never attended cooking school, but because the trade came easily to him, learned from experience and worked himself up the ranks in kitchens around the country.”You really just have to love doing it,” Trejo said. “You’ll be good at it.”
Trejo said what he loves about cooking is every day is different. He enjoys the eclectic people in the restaurant business too, which is especially true at Rocks Modern Grill. His staff is from all over the world, from Russia to Argentina to Colombia and Mexico.Trejo hasn’t changed the menu much since opening, but plans to offer more brunch food during lunch. Fruit, bread baskets, omelets, frittatas and pastas will be added this week. Since the restaurant is located in a hotel, Trejo is trying to accommodate late-risers and people who have a penchant for breakfast food even late into the afternoon.Rocks Modern Grill is open to the public starting at 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. For reservations, call 845-1730. For more information about the Beaver Creek Lodge, call 845-8242. New restaurantRocks Modern Grill, serving casual American food from burgers to seafood
Located in the Beaver Creek LodgeFor more information, call (970) 845-1730Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 618, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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