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On Top of the World

Sofia Ponce de Leon | September 11, 2018 | Story Travel National

As you approach the town of Telluride, the stress seems to melt away. A skier slices across the powder’s glassy white surface as the gondolas above them inch up and up the line. Somewhere, a fireplace is lit, the familiar scent of charring wood riding the evening breeze. There’s a timelessness to this Colorado ski town—one anchored by its adorable architecture and the hills’ armada of snow and uncrowded trails.

A short drive from the Montrose Regional Airport, Telluride is a skier’s utopia. The Madeline Hotel & Residences, Auberge Resorts Collection (suites from $409 per night), is one of its gems with enchanting cabinesque features throughout its 83 rooms and 71 residences. Sitting at 8,750 feet, the hotel’s windows overlook majestic 14,000-foot mountain backdrops.

How to do it right
Downstairs in the hotel, your ski gear awaits. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert-level skier there is no shortage of stunning routes. Arrange to meet world-renowned private mountain guide Larry Hopkins at the main ski lift. With over 30 years of Telluride guiding experience, his vast knowledge of the mountain will have you skiing like a Bode or Lindsay in no time.

After hitting the slopes, find time for some R & R. The Madeline’s heated pool and Jacuzzi are an alluring respite with apr├Ęs-ski spirits and bites available from in-house restaurant Black Iron Kitchen & Bar. At M Spa, a selection of massages and treatments call your name. Its signature treatment, Spirit of the Mountains, is a mix of guided meditation and hot herbal poultice with sweet basil and kaffir lime. The spa has strong offerings in altitude revival, yoga and salon services as well.

Local foodies know
Telluride can deliver a culinary experience you won’t soon forget. Hop on the gondola and get dropped off at the doorstep of Allred’s. A fine dining experience 10,550 feet up with floor-to-ceiling windows, its menu is a mix of locally inspired game dishes (juniper-bourbon marinated elk strip loin, dry-aged bison ribeye) and globally influenced delights (porcini rotelle, satsuma A5 Japanese wagyu strip loin, spicy country-fried cauliflower).

A more intimate and cozy dining experience is the one-of-a-kind Alpino Vino. As you exit the gondola, a snow cat equipped with plush seats lined with furry throws awaits to take you the rest of the way as jazz music softly plays in the background. Before reaching your destination, you catch a glimpse of the Tempter House, an astonishing luxury home snug on the side of the mountain and available for overnight accommodations through Telluride Ski Resort. With dim lighting and mountain views, Alpino Vino is the highest elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America. The precise menu involves the restaurant’s in-house wine expert, who pairs each five-course meal with an assortment of top-tier wines balancing each bite and sip perfectly. Somewhere midmeal, expect diners to rush to the deck to snap photos of one of the most beautiful sunsets on record.

Not big on skiing or culinary extravaganzas? Not to worry, as adventures abound. From snowmobiling and hiking to festivals and concerts to kids’ camp eco-adventures, Telluride offers anyone the opportunity to experience its splendors. Built on authentic charm and connecting with nature, it is a town worth trying. Simply put, Telluride is restorative.

Originally published in the September issue of Silicon Valley

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