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LUXURY HOTELS:  Viceroy Snowmass, Aspen, USA
Style: Modern with rustic touches
Scene: Colorado Rockies
Seen in the lobby: Hip couples and fashionable families
Against normal protocols, there was no exclusive guest list to Aspen's party of all parties. The invitation was left open. Not surprisingly, word spread quickly and 500 revelers arrived on foot and skis, keen to be among the first to check out the Viceroy Snowmass' plush new facilities when it opened with a lavish poolside party during America's Thanksgiving week.
Two years on and the now much-awarded Viceroy has brought a whole new brand of relaxed 'lifestyle luxury' to Snowmass.  Explaining to his staff what kind of vibe he wanted the service in his hotel to have embullient GM Hugh Templeman  said "Think James Bond in a crewneck "; relaxed style is what it is all about here. With the kind of attention to detail that notices a bottleneck at the ski valet desk in the early morning and increases the size of the desk three times in  two years just so guests don't have to wait so long - we like.

kids toys
viceroy snowmass spa

 Arriving a few weeks before the close of the winter season, I'm regaled (while holding up the hotel's 26.5 metre glass-topped bar) with stories of feasting on barbecued lobster tails, shooting back tequila served in glasses carved from ice, hot tub shenanigans and fireside dancing to numbers spun by Australian-born model turned celebrity DJ Sky Nellor.

The next day I discover the Viceroy's wicked (and intuitive) charms for myself when I'm served a glass of white wine and a chocolate before my massage in the hotel's day spa!

Afterwards, under blue spring skies (and the Assay Hill chairlift ferrying skiers up the mountain), I relax waist deep in the outdoor heated pool with a margarita in hand. You gotta love a hotel that's not afraid to bend the rules!

Viceroy is a name synonymous with up market resorts in much sandier locales like Miami, Palm Springs, Anguilla, in the British West Indies (and soon the Maldives). This is the luxury hotel and resort brand's first mountain resort (in the new Snowmass Base Village) and is quickly meeting all expectations, as The Luxury Travel Bible predicted tthe 2010/2011 winter season saw Viceroy packed out with luxury-lovers. Because Viceroy is giving family-friendly Snowmass the kind of high-end cred that until now, only downtown Aspen (20 minutes away) has enjoyed.

Responsible for the hotel's well-appointed interiors is Jean-Michel Gathy of the Malaysia-based architectural firm Denniston International, who's impressive design portfolio also includes One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, multiple Aman Resorts and The Setai, South Beach, Miami.

 Viceroy is giving family-friendly Snowmass the kind of high-end cred that until now, only downtown Aspen has enjoyed

Gathy's gone for a cozy contemporary look but you'll notice some very creative rustic features - just check out those leather and bark-wrapped columns or birch tree lattice walls joined by brass and woven leather dividing diners in the Eight K restaurant (not to mention that mountain view)!

After a perfect powder day you'll be itching to ditch the ski boots and sink into a soft leather armchair or plush cushioned sofa, cocooned by the (flattering) warm glow emanating from the double-sided fireplace in the lounge (near reception) facing the bar. Recount the mountains highlights here with friends over a cocktail and gourmet nibbles or snuggle under one of the faux fur throws and chill out in style with a book chosen from the curated collected of design books (and art) lining the shelves.

The ultimate place to unwind has to be The Spa where treatments range from massage and water therapies to thermal wraps, facials and beauty services with signature experiences inspired by Nordic, Ute Indian and Asian cultures.

Gathy also drew his decorative inspiration from the local indigenous Ute Indians who worshipped the elements of earth, stone, fire and water. Water cascades from ceiling to floor over rough-hewn granite on one side of the relaxation room. In the centre a chandelier made from sculptured steel elk antlers hangs over a round marble infinity pool no bigger than a kitchen table. It serves serve no real purpose other than to inspire a multitude of questions but I didn't get a chance. My eyelids got heavy thanks to those trickling sounds in the background. I would have dozed off - while very comfortably stretched out on one of the surrounding teak chaise lounges - if my pre-massage treat hadn't arrived followed by my therapist.

The hotel's 173 rooms (from studios to four-bedrooms) convey a similar modern-mountain theme featuring first-class amenities such as gas fireplaces, kitchens with granite bench tops and coffee makers, HD flat screen TVs with DVD and on demand programs, Egyptian cotton bed linens and pillow-top mattresses, bathrooms with deep tubs and all-natural Neil George soaps and shampoos to lather up in leisure.
For the 2012/2013 season The new Elk Camp Restaurant at the top of the Elk Camp Gondola offers stunning views of Snowmass. Plus 230 acres of new terrain on Burnt Mountain will be adding to  the apeal of Snowmass this year. While guests at Viceroy's much-heralded Eight K can warm themselves up with Creole cooking from executive Chef Will Nolan, recent finalist for Food & Wine's 2012 The People's Best New Chef - we're loving that recipe for Crawfish Hush Puppies Will.
in our book not even the new Westin Snowmass, opening tthis month (November 2012) can vie with the Viceroy.
 And while the grown ups can indulge their discerning tastes, the teepees will prove a hit with the kids! There is no doubt, your family will also be talking about this holiday long after you check out.
Check in: Viceroy Snowmass, 130 Wood Road, Snowmass Village, CO 81615. Tel: + 1 970 923 8000.
Ultimate Luxury:   Why rent when you can own? The four-bedroom residences are the perfect home away from home with enough space (2200-2600sq/ft) to accommodate one large or two families. Prices start from $US535,000.
Most Indulgent Moment: That après-ski swim/cocktail at sunset. Warm your towel beside the outdoor cabana fire pits.
Insider Secrets: Contructed adnd designed to reduce the hotel's impact on the environment (and qualify it for Silver LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certification). We lso like the LED lighting, motion sensor thermostats in rooms, paperless check-in and checkout services, refillable soap and shampoo containers, and hormone and antibiotic free (and humanely raised) meats in the restaurants.
PLUS Justin Timberlake is bringing 'sexy back' with his own clothing line. Check it out in Viceroy's lobby boutique.
The Little Things:  Ski in and out access. The hotel is a short schuss away from the Assay chairlift. The ski valet will help transfer your ski equipment effortlessly across all four mountains.
Junior Luxies: Book a one-bedroom with den and they'll set up a kids' room with teepees, games and toys etc at no extra charge. Check out the family-oriented Generation V program (offering activities like cooking classes and movie nights) and Kids Club with Wii and Air Hockey. The restaurant offers a children's menu (with healthy alternatives), wiki sticks, ice cubes that change colour.

The hotel also lies opposite the Base Village's extraordinary Treehouse Kids' Adventure Center - a 25,000 square foot (2322.5 sq/m) ski school facility also offering day care for babies 8 weeks and upPure kid (and parent) heaven!

Dress code: Casual but stylish
Perfect luggage: in tanned leather or suede
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link:  www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/snowmass/
Debbie Neilson-Hunter 30/10/10. Updated 7/11/12
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