There are 2 SPG properties in Aspen/Snowmass area, with one being the St Regis in Aspen right beside the Silver Queen Gondola and another being the Westin right by the slopes of Snowmass. When I was making the decision, I wanted to stay at the St Regis but with reviews that Snowmass was more suited for snowboarders and thinking I was going to spend more time at Snowmass, I decided to book my stay at the Westin Snowmass instead. To compare the 2 properties, the St Regis Aspen was a category 7 property (highest SPG category) while the Westin was a category 5 property. This meant that a free night redemption costs 30,000 points at the St Regis and 12,000 at the Westin. But redeeming 5 nights meant one night was free, so it costs me 48,000 SPG points, and with the 35% off Platinum renewal gift, it meant I used just 31,200 points. Not a bad deal considering the stay might have cost me more that US$1,500 since rates varied between US$299-399 per night for the 5 nights I stayed there.
Arriving via Aspen Pitkin County airport, there was a host for both SPG properties by the small baggage claim area and once I told her I would be staying at the Westin, she told me to wait inside while she checked if the shuttle bus was available. Very amicable service on arrival and I did not have to wait long (probably 10 minutes or so) before I was told the shuttle bus was ready. In the end I was the only passenger headed for the Westin on that flight. The drive took probably 10-15 minutes from the airport as it meandered up along the valley.
The lobby was quite busy on arrival since that is probably the time when most skiers and snowboarders were lounging and making enquiries with the front desk. The thing is that the lobby is quite small, and thus it was kind of difficult placing my snowboard and luggage as I waited for a front desk associate. Since the hotel was quite busy when I checked in, I was only assigned an Alpine room which is further away and required a change of elevators. Thus I requested for a change of room once a more convenient one was available. Overall I was not too impressed with the reception at the Westin, especially when compared to the Westin Whistler.
The plan of the hotel is such that the main lobby is actually located in the middle, with the main restaurant on the lower lobby floor. The lower floors also leads to the terrace and fire-pit where the hotel hosts a s’mores night on one of the weekdays and the ski and snowboard valet and rental shop. For a US$20 per day charge (applies to all rooms), guests were able to store their boards and skis at the store. Two floors below the lobby provides access to the mall where there are other restaurants and shops including convenience stores to purchase some snacks and drinks. The main village and the Snowmass guest services is accessible via the SkyCab gondola located just beside the ski and snowboard shop that operates until quite late at night. There are more dining options in this part of Snowmass.
Room No: 697 Category: Alpine King Standard Room
For the first night I was assigned to room 697 on the 6th floor by the Alpine Wing. This is definitely the quieter wing and it is actually quite easy to access the slopes from room on this floor as there is a fire-escape door by the end of the hallway leading to the slopes directly. It is however very inconvenient to access the lobby since a change of elevators at either the 3rd to 5th floor is required. The Alpine Wing has its own small lobby with coffee and tea provided along with some seating areas. So this is a good area to relax in the afternoon for some quiet time since it is rarely occupied during the 5 days I stayed there.
On entering the room, there was a large spacious bathroom on the left. It was bright, clean and featured a walk-in shower stall which I always prefer to the small bathtub/shower combo. The layout of the bathroom was kind of similar to that of the Andaz West Hollywood in Los Angeles.
The wardrobe and closet though is not located by the walkway like most hotels, instead it is found beside the large King bed. This layout allowed more space by the walkway to place your ski gear, and there was even an array of coat hooks for the winter jackets.
The decor of the room was modern with a rustic charm as the bed headboard and the wardrobe featured wood panels with distinctive patterns. It felt like staying in a ski lodge for sure, so I appreciated the thought put into the rooms.
There was also a welcome amenity of a bowl of fruits with a note of welcome. Guests are provided with 2 bottles of water daily and it was also easy to get more from housekeeping if necessary.
The next day after a day at the slopes, I was able to get a change of room to one on the 5th floor. I was able to get it changed while taking a break in the middle from my snowboarding. During the change, the fire alarm actually went off, and it created some confusion for sure, since the fire alarm results in the closure of some doors in the hotel. Anyway the new room was still by the Alpine wing, but this time there was direct access to the slopes via the balcony and it was a real ski-in/ski-out property. I would definitely encourage guests to pick these rooms if available since it is the right balance of quiet and convenience to the slopes.
Room No: 571 Category: Alpine King Balcony Room
The room was similar in decor except with the addition of a shared balcony with several rooms beside. This balcony leads to a small quadrangle courtyard with direct access to the slopes. Naturally the new room had a nicer view out of the window.
For my Platinum amenity, I elected for breakfast since I will be staying for 5 nights. Breakfast was served at the Snowmass Kitchen one floor below the lobby and guests who chose this were able to go for a continental breakfast buffet, with the option to top up for access to the eggs station. Amongst SPG hotels in North America, the buffet was considered pretty good with smoked salmon and assorted cream cheese plates, and a variety of cheese and cold cuts. There was also a nice range of pastries, cereals and fruits to make one full in the morning.
Another nice amenity I enjoyed was the daily cookies and hot beverages spread out at the main lobby every evening. This meant I always took some time to lounge by the lobby after a day at the slopes. It was wonderful to rest and relax while munching on some snacks. This also meant there was a lot of crowds usually in the afternoon after the last ski chairlift stopped operating.
Like most SPG hotels, the Westin also has a fitness centre but since I was already doing workouts in the form of snowboarding, I did not use them. I did however take advantage of the outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi/hot tub right on the 2nd floor, located just beside the slopes. I used them on 2 of the nights around 8-9pm and they were surprisingly empty.
Located at the lobby is a casual bar and bistro where guests could order some food too along with an outdoor patio which afforded a good view of the slopes. The location of the bar and the restaurant below made for a noisy and crowded lobby most of the time. The only time it is quiet is perhaps in the middle of the night and early morning.
Even though I stayed at Snowmass, there was a free shuttle bus operating between Snowmass and Aspen. Buses run regularly from the mall area just a short walk from the Westin. This meant that even based in Snowmass, I could spend the evenings exploring the shops and nightlife of Aspen, which is the more bustling of the 2 ski areas. Beware though the bus can get pretty crowded around 9pm when departing from Aspen back to Snowmass. Guests at the Westin could also get a free ride through the hotel’s shuttle bus to any area located between the airport and the hotel like to the Snowmass Centre where there are pharmacies, grocery stores and Taster’s Pizza.
Since my stay was free except for the resort fees which probably came down to about $100++, I splurged on a spa treatment at the hotel. I got an 80 minute massage at the Westin Spa which is located in the Alpine Wing. The spa hires outside therapists when guests book a treatment thus it is necessary to book before hand. Inside the spa, there is some lounge chairs for guests to relax with a cup of tea before and after the treatment. It was certainly nice to enjoy a sports massage after several days of snowboarding!
After snowboarding at both Aspen and Snowmass, I have to say I liked the idea of staying at Aspen better since there was much more to do after a day at the slopes. However for families, Snowmass might be a better option since it is pretty much a contained resort and the terrain in Snowmass seems easier for beginners and there is much more to explore. For the more adventurous and those that seek a vibrant nightlife and aprés-ski experience, Aspen is where much of the action happens. With that being said, I did enjoy my stay in the Westin Snowmass, but compared to the Westin Whistler, I think the latter is better but only because Whistler is more like Aspen in its own right.