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A family-focused review of the new ski-out Hotel Talisa in Vail, Colorado. At the Hotel Talisa you can use your SPG points to stay in mountainside luxury with your very own chairlift that takes you straight up Vail Mountain. This hotel is now part of the Starwood Luxury Collection and was formerly known as the Vail Cascade.
If you want to stay on or near a mountain during a ski season weekend, paid rates are probably going to be off the chart crazy. They are so crazy that we simply don’t pay them. We also don’t like to stay very far off the mountains since we are in a season of life with little skiers who do much better without a bunch of travel time to and from a day of skiing. To marry our limited budget with a desire to stay on the mountain, we turn to hotel points to book our ski season lodging. When I first heard that a new SPG property was coming to Vail, I was immediately intrigued and booked what was formerly known as the Vail Cascade when it joined the SPG family using SPG points.
The hotel was renamed the Hotel Talisa while it was closed and undergoing a massive $60+ million dollar renovation to become a member of the SPG Luxury Collection. We had actually used 20,000 SPG points per night to book a stay for last year, but multiple construction delays pushed the opening date back to this ski season. As a consolation prize, they offered those impacted complimentary stays for this ski season. I’m more than happy to wait an extra year to visit in exchange for a stay that only costs us the $38 per night resort fee.
We re-booked our complimentary three-night stay for President’s Weekend 2018, which was a few months after the hotel’s grand opening in November of 2017. If you would like a video overview of the Hotel Talisa, please check out our newest clip on YouTube, otherwise just read on to get a feel for the location and rooms at the Hotel Talisa.
Location of the Hotel Talisa Vail
The Hotel Talisa is a ski in and out hotel, but only if you know how to ski. This is not a ski out location the way that the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is, just feet from the main gondola and ski school. The ski valet corner of the Hotel Talisa is just feet from a chairlift, but it is a lift that is at the far righthand side of the mountain and that can only be accessed if you are a relatively competent green skier who is okay on very easy blues. In other words, your ski babies heading to their first round or two of ski school will not be able to use the lift at this hotel, and instead, you will take the complimentary shuttle bus to Lionshead or Vail Village in the morning for ski school.
If you prefer to walk, I believe you can theoretically walk along the Gore Creek that runs behind the property over to Lionshead and even continue on to Vail Village, though I would not recommend doing that in or with ski gear. In terms of ski school, I would recommend selecting the nearby Lionshead location for your kiddos. Every minute counts in the morning when you are getting everyone ready, and Lionshead is the closest ski school location.
Rooms at the Hotel Talisa
The Hotel Talisa has 285 rooms that range from standard rooms with one king or two queen beds at 325 – 350 square feet all the way up to an 1,800 square foot two-bedroom suite that can sleep up to eight people. On our stay, we were put into one of the more basic rooms, though I have a hard time finding our exact room type on the website as it has a unique step-down area with a couch, coffee table, and TV. This doesn’t meet the definition of their junior suite, so it was one of the more standard rooms, though one with a unique feature. If we had a baby traveling this us, this sunken in area would have been the perfect spot for a crib or pack-and-play.
I have SPG Platinum status that is supposed to ensure space-available suite upgrades, but I didn’t push my luck at check-in since we weren’t paying for the stay anyway. Plus, it was just my eight-year-old and me, and we didn’t particularly need any additional space beyond what we already had.
The hotel is a bit of a maze with lots of levels and winding hallways, but once we figured out the best way to get around (staircase – not the elevator), it wasn’t bad at all. Our room, 175, was on the ground floor, which is one floor below the lobby and restaurant.
From our room, you could walk right off the back patio to the creek, to the closest of the hotel’s two hot tubs, or to say hello to the friendly snowman.
As you can see, the room itself was gorgeous with greys, neutrals, and an ode to the mountains in which it is located. The bed was absolutely perfect and the towels were as soft and fluffy as possible. I’ve never wanted to steal towels before this trip, so perhaps I need to order some of these for my house.
While some rooms here have free-standing bathtubs, our room only had a shower. That said, it was a fantastic, bright, clean shower with great water pressure and plenty of room.
The hotel had a cute amenity waiting for us in the room with a bear, strawberries, and a very handy smores kit that we used on our final night to make our own dessert out by the fire pit. On some nights they do have a smores concierge available, though we just did a DIY approach.
The mini bar in the room had a similar bear available for purchase, which I both love and hate as young kids do not understand that a toy in the room does not belong to them, so I have had to purchase a similar minibar item in the past to avoid a breakdown at checkout time. I almost had to pillage this mini bar set-up when the tooth fairy needed to make an emergency visit on our first night, but in the end, we worked it out without a minibar priced item.
In addition to the bear, I want to highlight the green canister of oxygen in the minibar as this is a very handy item to have access to on your first night at high elevation if you find your head hurting from the altitude. I’ve done an oxygen treatment on my first night in the mountains on a previous trip and it really helped keep my altitude symptoms in check.
I have just two complaints about the room at the Hotel Talisa. First, the temperature settings were completely bizarre and nonresponsive. There was nothing I could do short of turning off the unit to stop heat from coming in our room. The first night we slept terribly as the loud heater kept coming on and overheating the room despite setting the thermostat as low as it would go. The second night I got smarter and turned the whole thing off. This worked, but it can start to get a bit chilly after a while with 15-degree temperatures outside. I’ve read similar complaints online about the heat, so I hope they can do something to make the heating situation in the rooms a bit better.
The other issue is that noise from both the hallway and the room above was a problem. The doors here are very heavy, but that means that they make a lot of noise shutting. We heard the comings and goings of others all night long both in the hallway and above our room.
Aside from those issues we adored our time in the room at the Hotel Talisa as it was comfortable, beautiful, had lots of outlets, and a tremendous view of the creek that we didn’t want to leave.
Staying at the Hotel Talisa With a Family
I know that space can be at a premium in a hotel room with a whole family and ski gear, so I want to say a few words about staying at this luxury property with a family. I peeked in a couple while housekeeping had the doors propped, and standard rooms here are not huge, but they can accommodate four people and ski gear thanks to the onsite ski valet that will store the boots and boards or skis. Some folks even leave their helmets and such down in the ski valet bins, though we did not do that. If you utilize the ski valet, the closet, and the drawers in the hotel room I think a family of four can stay pretty comfortably in a standard room, especially since you aren’t in the room much on a ski trip.
While this was a very nice luxury property, it was welcoming to families and kids with complimentary afternoon cookies, children’s menus, children’s sized robes and slippers, bathtubs in many rooms, and a soon-to-open kid’s club. I’ll talk more about the amenities in the next post in this series, but I do think the rooms with two queen beds will work for a family of four as long as you stay organized with your gear.
Booking the Hotel Talisa for Less
The Hotel Talisa is a Category 6 SPG property which means it costs 20,000 – 25,000 points per night that you can earn from your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, or even transfer in at a 3:1 ratio from Marriott Rewards.
I hate when hotels I love are in the higher categories, but frankly, this hotel justifies the rate. It was as nice as the St. Regis Aspen that goes for 30,000 – 35,000 SPG points per night, and the St. Regis isn’t in nearly as good of a location for skiing families as Hotel Talisa. If you booked a five-night award stay at the Hotel Talisa, the award rate would average out to as low as 16,000 SPG points per night, which isn’t terrible compared to the going paid rates. That said, in recent days I am noticing more ski season dates pricing at 25,000 points per night, so don’t delay on locking in a room at 20,000 points if you want to stay here.
If you are considering paid rates, be ready for $500 – $1,000 per night for the standard rooms during ski season. The good news if you are going to pay those sort of rates is the hotel is available via luxury hotel programs like the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection where those with the Platinum Card® from American Express can enjoy included breakfast for two, guaranteed 4PM late check-out, early check-in when available, space available upgrades, and a $100 property credit to use during your stay.
I’m going to save details on all the Hotel Talisa’s on-site amenities for the next post on this Vail series, but know that this hotel was beautiful and in a very good ski location, especially if your crew can manage skiing greens and very easy blues to take advantage of the on-site lift. On the second day of our trip, my eight-year-old and I decided we would test her skills and see if she could manage skiing those runs, and thankfully, she did great. While we weren’t paying for this stay thanks to the opening delay, taking the lift right up from the hotel would have been worth every single point.
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