Until a recent visit to Crested Butte, Colorado, I thought I had experienced the ultimate in my unofficial career as a Ski Bunny. I’ve been skiing since the age of six and come from a family of experts who I was lucky enough to spend every spring in various parts of Colorado and Northern California with. Then I took a trip to Scarp Ridge Lodge, and my downhill experience changed dramatically.
Crested Butte is a tiny little place that many consider off the map when compared to ritzy towns like Aspen and Beaver Creek, but that’s precisely what gives it its charm. Situated in a traditional little mining town with a general store and a few restaurants is Scarp Ridge Lodge, my digs for a few days. This was my first experience with an Eleven Experience property, and this location is actually the luxury adventure company’s flagship location. Inside the cozy little six-room property (there are five king rooms, all with en-suite bathrooms, plus a bunk room that sleeps up to seven), it feels like you’re walking into an authentic mountain ski chalet–but with a luxurious twist at every turn. Once a Croation Saloon, it was redesigned with the elite adventure traveler in mind; think reclaimed iron from the local old mills and luxury amenities everywhere, including an indoor saltwater pool and a rooftop hot tub where I would end up spending the end of every day with a glass of bubbly. The incredibly luxurious suites come equipped with oxygen-enriched air systems to help acclimate to the higher altitude (yes, they’ve thought of everything).
And although I had no desire to ever leave my heavenly room, that’s only the beginning of where my trip began. As I learned upon arrival, the whole concept of the Eleven Experience is the belief that no traveler needs to sacrifice luxury in order to have an epic adventure. Two birds, one stone.
The next morning, I made my way downstairs to savor a bountiful homemade breakfast before I layered on my snow gear. Outside, a custom-designed snowcat was waiting at the front door to whisk us away to more than 1,000 acres of exclusive ski terrain in nearby Irwin, led by expert guides that knew exactly where the trackless, un-skied terrain was hiding. This, dear friends, is where the best day of my life began.
What followed was a full day of the best skiing I’ve ever experienced: no chair lifts, no lines, and in fact not a single other person outside of our group. Wide open alpine bowl after alpine bowl were waiting for its first tracks to be made. Truly heaven. In between runs, a private mountain cabin served us lunch and was the perfect spot to warm up our boots before slipping them back on. The only problem with skiing off-piste is that it’s a lot like dipping your toes into first class; once you try it, you don’t ever want to sit in coach again. Will I be back? Absolutely, I dream of it every single day.