Mud season is one of the best times for hotel deals in the high country
Sure, the convivial Après-ski culture makes winter the prime time to visit local ski resorts, but with 300 days of sunshine in Colorado, there’s never really a bad season in the mountains, is there?
The spring snowmelt — often called mud season — brings a quiet, crowd-free experience, made even better by major deals. So, raise a toast to mild, high-country weather, having the golf course to yourself, long nights of fireside reading, catching first glimpses of the state’s earliest blooming flowers, and first-class service at these four- and five-star resorts.
Aspen’s still known as a ski town, but gone are the days of the town’s resorts shutting down completely when the lifts stop turning (only to reopen when international crowds return in June for events like Aspen Ideas Festival, the Food & Wine Classic, etc.). Now, a secret season draws in Coloradans looking to enjoy Aspen without the tourists.
In the historic West End district, Aspen Meadows Resort is a work of modern art, with outdoor walkways weaving through Herbert Bayer’s landscape architecture. The all-suite property is especially great for families needing separate living/working/sleeping areas and a wet bar. Having just wrapped up a major renovation on all 98 guest suites, the resort’s welcoming locals with a Colorado Resident’s Rate. Through May 30, nightly stays start at $236 for Coloradans only, a pretty sweet deal considering ski season rates are $620 a night and up.
Beyond typical amenities, guests have access to complimentary bikes. Parking is included, and a free shuttle runs to/from downtown Aspen. No need to go far for a meal, though: At the on-site restaurant, Plato’s, from 2 to 6 p.m., guests can get a burger and beer for $20 (unheard of in Aspen) plus a discount on bar snacks. There are also plenty of spring restaurant specials in town.
Several properties in the Vail Valley are offering specials:
The Four Seasons Vail is also running a residents-only offer all month. Nightly May rates at this contemporary mountain retreat start at $315, and that includes a $50 resort food and beverage credit plus complimentary valet parking. (Compare that to peak season prices of $600 to $2,000 a night.) With Vail Village right out the front door, it’s easy to take advantage of all the quiet season discounts at local restaurants, including The Remedy Bar and Flame Restaurant.
Most of the resort’s recently renovated, wonderfully spacious guest rooms have balconies perfect for admiring a spring sunrise or sunset. And there are views for days from the indoor-outdoor year-round, perfectly heated pool. What really makes a five-star property like this one special, though, is the people and their unmatched attention to detail and service. The grand spa with its 13 treatment rooms isn’t bad, either.
Now’s the most economical time to check out the multimillion-dollar renovations finalized last December at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch. Stone fireplaces, gorgeous wood accents, and views of either Beaver Creek Mountain or Vail Valley make all the property’s guest rooms feel like that luxury mountain home you’ve always dreamed of owning. Spring season rates start at $399 per night for a king room. Come summer, those rates will jump to $799 before hitting $1,299 (and then some) during peak ski season.
Once you’re booked, there are plenty of freebies on-site, including daily live music in the Great Room along with complimentary guided hikes and craftsman programs including whiskey and woodburning classes. Through the photography concierge service, guests get a 45-minute photo session with a resort photographer (included with your stay, but must be reserved in advance).
Spa and wellness experiences are more accessible during secret seasons, too, with some guest packages running 30 percent off. So don’t overlook the 21,000-square-foot spa with its rock-lined grottos and integrated wellness program.
It’s no wonder Conde Nast Traveler named The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa one of the 50 best resorts in the world in 2022. The lobby belongs on an Architectural Digest cover; the views from the heated saline lap pool are spectacular; and the guest rooms strike that perfect balance between cozy and grand. Plus, you really can’t beat the resort’s proximity to the Eagle River and Nottingham Lake.
During peak season, travelers checking into The Westin Riverfront can expect to shell out at least $1,000 a night on a weekend night from mid-December through March. During peaks within the peak, the going rate is more like $1,500. Those who visit in May, or during fall’s soft season, can get first-rate service and amenities for $239 a night on select weekdays. There’s not much range between low and high prices, as May nightly rates top out at $299 over Memorial Day Weekend. Those with extra time can take advantage of the resort’s Stay Longer & Save More promotion, where guests get 15 percent off a four-night stay and 20 percent off five-plus nights. Marriott Bonvoy members get an additional break on lodging.
Many of the resort’s one- and two-bed upgraded rooms have full kitchens, making it easy for families to keep their visits economical with home-cooked meals. Then again, May is also a great time to take advantage of deals at Avon restaurants. Or focus on wellness: Current spa specials – $115 for a 50-minute massage or facial – are valid through June 16.
Devil’s Thumb Ranch & Resort is one of those places you can’t wait to return to. The year-round ranch and full-service spa put off a rustic-yet-upscale vibe. There’s a cozy nook around every corner, plus countless fireplaces/pits, for guests needing some R&R. My non-restful family prefers the on-site activities – hiking, swimming, and horseback riding (for an additional fee) – all of which are easier to squeeze in when the resort isn’t packed.
This May, with a mindfulness focus in full effect, guests can choose from wellness workshops including yoga, meditation and wellness connections with horses. Savings on accommodations might free up extra cash for fine dining in the main lodge (sweeping mountain views are included with the Wagyu beef that’s raised on the property). The wine dispenser in the main lobby is a guest favorite, too, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more scenic sunset than the alpenglow on the Continental Divide.
Rates can be up to 30 percent lower in May compared to peak season, and while it rarely runs specials, Devil’s Thumb Ranch is currently doing a May Mountain Getaways promotion, offering guests 50 percent off their second night or a third night free on all Sunday through Thursday stays in May.
(Jamie Siebrase is a freelance writer, author and former Colorado Voices contributor for The Denver Post)
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