Culture / Travel

Telluride’s The Madeline Hotel Gets a Stylish Makeover and Après Ski Bar — Inside a the Luxurious Colorado Retreat

Seeing a Beloved Ski Town In a Whole New Light

BY Amanda Eyre Ward // 06.17.21
photography Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection

There is a tiny airport in Telluride, Colorado, and I’ve heard that the landing — during which the plane drops directly into Telluride’s box canyon in the Southwest corner of Colorado — is an adrenaline-packed thrill ride. But I was seeking serenity, so I chose a flight to Montrose, the nearest airport that promises a nice, long runway. I have never seen so many happy people on a plane: even masked, you could see in our eyes the sparkle of adventure, the sheer joy of a world opening back up again.

And the hotel where my husband and I stayed, the Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection, is also opening back up again, unveiling a complete reimagining of the ski-in, ski-out property in Telluride’s Mountain Village.

Creative director Liubasha Rose of Rose Ink Workshop looked to the area’s mountainscape and distinct seasons for inspiration when handpicking wood-grained walls, chiseled marble tabletops and sweater stitch carpets.

“For the design of Madeline, we pulled inspiration from alpine visions of uncovered memories,” Rose says. “An illustration of a carved wooden house in the snowy woods in a treasured childhood book of Russian Fables, the train interior in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes, and a vintage postcard with ski tracks on fresh snow.”

The Madeline Telluride
The Madeline Hotel & Residences in Telluride can be a stunning experience even in the summer time.

Settling In

The Madeline did indeed feel as if we were wandering into “uncovered memories” — it sounds crazy but it’s true. My husband and I spent one entire evening sipping hand-crafted drinks and wandering through the ground floor of the hotel. We drifted from one cozy couch to another, opening artfully-placed, coffee table books (including the hilarious The Stylish Life: Skiing, which featured photos of movie stars in 1980’s one-piece, neon ski suits), settling in front of a fireplace here, listening to the glamorous click of pool balls there, hearing shouts of glee as locals reconnected in the Timber Room bar, emerging from their winter quarantines.

Most guests wore stylish jeans and fedoras-of-the-moment (I was tempted to buy one in the chic hotel boutique—created in collaboration with Denver’s Sacred Thistle — just to fit in), but one couple breezed through the lobby in spa robes. When we headed to the Alpine Swim Club, the hotel pool deck overlooking the snow-capped mountains, we saw the couple feasting on dinner from the hotel’s restaurant while still in their bathing suits. We watched the sun set from the hot tub, feeling a zillion miles away from our worries — and too far to hear the alpine horn!

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A Telluride view from above.

Grand Après Ski Traditions

Every day, I’d been told by the hotel concierge, Charlene Acevedo, a hotel employee blew an alpine horn to signal it was time for “après-ski,” which has always been my favorite part of the whole ski experience. At the Madeline, “après-ski” meant fresh, fabulous appetizers and seasonal cocktails. I vowed to remember to listen for the horn the following day.

“Get the Bison Tomahawk,” said the man in a robe, as we headed past him and mentioned we were having dinner downstairs. “And a Bearded Hemingway,” added the woman, hoisting her rum cocktail.

The Timber Room is a new indoor-outdoor bar and lounge at Tellruide’s Madeline Hotel.

Despite the allure of dinner in robes, we changed and settled into a table in the beautiful Timber Room, a vibrant new indoor-outdoor bar and lounge that first debuted in January 2021. We did indeed order the 32-ounce Dry-Aged Bison Tomahawk, which arrived on a large serving platter surrounded with the most delicious vegetables I’ve ever tasted: honey glazed carrots, roasted sweet potatoes bursting from their charred skins, crispy onions, and new potatoes. We tried the Devilish Eggs with shaved black truffle (and almost ordered the “Timber Room baked potato,” topped with crème fraîche and Russian osetra caviar).

We were too full to even consider dessert, but ordered the cherry galette (made with cherries from nearby Hotchkiss, Colorado) anyway. Every bite was both tart and buttery, a rare and glorious combination.

We ate the whole thing.

The front desk of The Madeline Hotel in Telluride.

CBD, Spa, Repeat

The next day, after riding the gondola to Telluride town and wandering into the shops and past the “Free Box,” (where in years past we’d discovered books, soccer cleats, and ski gear for free), we returned to the Madeline for the “Couples CBD Experience” at the spa.

How do I describe the utter decadence and pleasure two very tired parents feel upon being scrubbed with CBD oils and shea body butters in a dim room with a crackling fireplace? It was beyond words. After our scrubs, we were left alone with a bathtub for two (located in the same room as the massage) and given a CBD bath bomb. “We’ll knock before we come back in!” said the massage therapist, winking. My husband and I laughed and sank into the bubbles. When the therapists returned, we had massages with more CBD oils, and emerged from our experience grinning and with some amazing, massage-oil-crafted hairstyles.

Once again, I’d forgotten about the alpine horn.

Summer activities at The Madeline Hotel include hiking, fly fishing, and parasailing in Telluride.

Adventure Awaits

The next day, we consulted the resort Adventure Guide, Ashley Denton to plan a “one-of-a-kind luxury rocky mountain experience.” We could bike the San Juan Mountains’ winding trails, motorcycle through the 263-mile San Juan Skyway loop, try the death-defying Via Ferrata mountain climbing trail, or parasail over the backcountry mountains. I was feeling relaxed and indulgently lazy, so requested more low-key ideas.

It was still too snowy for my top choice: foraging for mushrooms and edible greens with the resort’s Executive Chef Bill Greenwood (followed by a private meal prepared with the day’s bounty—adding to my bucket list!).

Ashley suggested fly fishing for trophy trout with a riverside gourmet picnic, and although I had never fly fished, I decided to go for it, and am so glad I did.

Our Telluride Outside fishing guides, Jorn Reimann and Eric Muller, arrived just as we picked up our picnic from the front desk. They led us to the South Fork of the San Miguel River, where Jorn explained that the spring snow melt had led to cold, clear water. Jorn lay out a blanket and chairs and got me into waders and boots without making me feel like an idiot, and then we fished.

Eric and my husband went their way, and Jorn taught me how to cast, how to read the water, and made me laugh for four hours. By the end of the afternoon, I was — pardon the pun — hooked. (“The tug is the drug,” as Jorn explained.) I finally understood my husband’s long days on the river, trying just one more hopeful cast.

That night, we tried the strip steak; had another Hotchkiss cherry galette, snuggled in the lobby by the fire. We were sated, full of mountain air, restored.

But I will have to return: I never did hear the alpine horn.

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