Hotel Review: The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
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When my wife and I started making plans to celebrate our first anniversary earlier this year, we knew we wanted two key components: mountains and luxury. After comparing a number of ski destinations, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch in Avon, Colorado, emerged as the best place to soak up the snow and earn points. The property is pricey, but we felt comfortable splurging after using AAdvantage miles to book direct flights from Chicago to Vail’s Eagle County airport (EGE). Important note to my fellow skiers and AAdvantage members: there can be some great options for maximizing points and miles in Colorado, so be sure to compare your options for the best time to hit the slopes in the upcoming months of mountain fun.
When I was comparing room rates at the property, I decided to go all out for our celebration and book at the Club Level. The nightly rate of $949 — I saved $50 on the rate thanks to my AAA card — was about $300 more than a standard room, but it included complimentary breakfast, lunch, snacks and cocktails. Since we’re hotel bar regulars, I knew we would make the most of the drinks in our après ski time. With an additional daily resort fee of $50 and some pretty steep taxes, my total was $4,590.21. The good news: our travel dates qualified to earn double points with the MegaBonus promotion.
I booked the trip with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to earn 2x Ultimate Rewards points. Between the 83,512 Marriott Rewards points I earned (37,960 base + 37, 960 extra for the MegaBonus promotion + 7,592 Elite additional points) and my Ultimate Rewards earnings, we walked away with plenty of points to use on future opportunities to explore the world. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, Marriott Rewards points are worth 0.9 cents each, so my haul in Marriott points alone was equivalent to $751.60.
Our flight arrived around 12:15pm, and we had arranged transportation with a Colorado Mountain Express shuttle. A one-way individual seat is $49 and the drive is about 40 minutes. If you’re not planning to drive much during your stay in Beaver Creek, it’s a great deal that will save you from hefty $60 daily parking fees for your rental car. The RC occupies its own mountain. While there is a Park Hyatt property and a Westin in Beaver Creek Village, the RC is located on Bachelor Gulch, which adds to the feeling of exclusivity.
When we arrived, our room wasn’t quite ready, so we relaxed in The Great Room, the central gathering place of the property. The entire property delivers an air of mountain elegance, a cross between a rustic log cabin and the typical five-star feel of a Ritz Carlton.
The drinks — an Old Fashioned for me, champagne for my wife — were very good and the ambience was even better with towering chandeliers and a three-story fireplace.
It’s a true ski-in, ski-out property. Directly outside The Great Room, we found plenty of guests focused more on après ski activities including drinking Colorado microbrews and eating bbq.
We headed to the eighth floor to get our room key from the club-level concierge.
After walking through the hallway entrance, a pleasant surprise of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries greeted us. I had mentioned the anniversary celebration when the staff called me a week prior to the trip. As usual with the RC, they came through with an impressive welcome.
The bed was very comfortable, as was the additional chair.
The bathroom was quite spacious.
While the in-room design was great, the real gem of the environment was the private balcony with a view of the mountain.
Since we had paid a premium for access to the club lounge, we assumed we would spend a lot of time enjoying the complimentary drinks and food. Service included breakfast, lunch, evening snacks, and desserts. The environment, however, left a bit to be desired. The lounge kind of felt like a cross between a conference room and a waiting area at a dentist’s office.
I did appreciate that the breakfast spread included champagne for mimosas.
Lunch included tuna, ham and a number of other sandwiches, and the evening spread offered a number of dips, crackers and nuts.
The alcohol selection included some fairly standard wines and a limited number of beers. While we didn’t love the environment in the lounge, the staff was top-notch. They offered to make cocktails, and they helped us secure reservations at some of the most popular restaurants. I highly recommend Zach’s Cabin — a mountaintop restaurant which you must take a snow-cat to get to. The food is incredible, particularly the elk tenderloin.
The main draw for the property isn’t inside, of course. It’s either on the mountain or at the heated pool.
The fitness center also offers an array of machines. There are yoga classes available, too. I used the treadmills twice, and the center offers an equally scenic view for a workout.
We also took advantage of the spa services with deep-tissue massages. I can attest to a spa experience well worth the money. The 60-minute deep-muscle massage was $225. Access to the steam room, sauna and co-ed grotto are all included in the $50 daily resort fee, too, which is very valuable after a day of steep skiing. While I know that resort fees can be annoying, I thought the fee here felt appropriate. It also included a shuttle to the village in Beaver Creek, a game room (good if you’re bringing kids), an evening marshmallow roast by the fire pit and ski valet service.
Despite our lack of excitement over the Club Lounge, the rest of the experience at Bachelor Gulch was a perfect way to celebrate our anniversary. Tucked away from the crowds in the village, we often felt like we had the mountain to ourselves during the day. It was expensive, but staying during the MegaBonus promotion sent us home with enough points to cover the cost of one night here. As a Tier 5 hotel, one night requires 70,000 Marriott Rewards points.
This year, I’m planning to keep a close eye on the snow forecast for the end of the season. Beaver Creek is planning to operate lifts until April 15, and there are some great deals available at the property in the final two weeks, as low as $644 for a two-night stay.
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