Ski Out Luxury: Review of the Hotel Talisa in Vail

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If you want to stay on or near a mountain during a ski season weekend, paid rates are probably going to be off the chart crazy. They are so crazy that we simply don’t pay them. We also don’t like to stay very far off the mountains since we are in a season of life with little skiers who do much better without a bunch of travel time to and from a day of skiing. To marry our limited budget with a desire to stay on the mountain, we turn to hotel points to book our ski season lodging. When I first heard that a new SPG property was coming to Vail, I was immediately intrigued and booked what was formerly known as the Vail Cascade when it joined the SPG family using SPG points.

The hotel was renamed the Hotel Talisa while it was closed and undergoing a massive $60+ million dollar renovation to become a member of the SPG Luxury Collection. We had actually used 20,000 SPG points per night to book a stay for last year, but multiple construction delays pushed the opening date back to this ski season. As a consolation prize, they offered those impacted complimentary stays for this ski season. I’m more than happy to wait an extra year to visit in exchange for a stay that only costs us the $38 per night resort fee.

 

We re-booked our complimentary three-night stay for President’s Weekend 2018, which was a few months after the hotel’s grand opening in November of 2017. If you would like a video overview of the Hotel Talisa, please check out our newest clip on YouTube, otherwise just read on to get a feel for the location and rooms at the Hotel Talisa.

Location of the Hotel Talisa Vail

The Hotel Talisa is a ski in and out hotel, but only if you know how to ski. This is not a ski out location the way that the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is, just feet from the main gondola and ski school. The ski valet corner of the Hotel Talisa is just feet from a chairlift, but it is a lift that is at the far righthand side of the mountain and that can only be accessed if you are a relatively competent green skier who is okay on very easy blues. In other words, your ski babies heading to their first round or two of ski school will not be able to use the lift at this hotel, and instead, you will take the complimentary shuttle bus to Lionshead or Vail Village in the morning for ski school.

If you prefer to walk, I believe you can theoretically walk along the Gore Creek that runs behind the property over to Lionshead and even continue on to Vail Village, though I would not recommend doing that in or with ski gear. In terms of ski school, I would recommend selecting the nearby Lionshead location for your kiddos. Every minute counts in the morning when you are getting everyone ready, and Lionshead is the closest ski school location.

Rooms at the Hotel Talisa

The Hotel Talisa has 285 rooms that range from standard rooms with one king or two queen beds at 325 – 350 square feet all the way up to an 1,800 square foot two-bedroom suite that can sleep up to eight people. On our stay, we were put into one of the more basic rooms, though I have a hard time finding our exact room type on the website as it has a unique step-down area with a couch, coffee table, and TV. This doesn’t meet the definition of their junior suite, so it was one of the more standard rooms, though one with a unique feature. If we had a baby traveling this us, this sunken in area would have been the perfect spot for a crib or pack-and-play.

I have SPG Platinum status that is supposed to ensure space-available suite upgrades, but I didn’t push my luck at check-in since we weren’t paying for the stay anyway. Plus, it was just my eight-year-old and me, and we didn’t particularly need any additional space beyond what we already had.

The hotel is a bit of a maze with lots of levels and winding hallways, but once we figured out the best way to get around (staircase – not the elevator), it wasn’t bad at all. Our room, 175, was on the ground floor, which is one floor below the lobby and restaurant.

From our room, you could walk right off the back patio to the creek, to the closest of the hotel’s two hot tubs, or to say hello to the friendly snowman.

As you can see, the room itself was gorgeous with greys, neutrals, and an ode to the mountains in which it is located. The bed was absolutely perfect and the towels were as soft and fluffy as possible. I’ve never wanted to steal hotels before this trip, so perhaps I need to order some of these for my house!

While some rooms here have free-standing bathtubs, our room only had a shower. That said, it was a fantastic, bright, clean shower with great water pressure and plenty of room.

The hotel had a cute amenity waiting for us in the room with a bear, strawberries, and a very handy smores kit that we used on our final night to make our own dessert out by the fire pit. On some nights they do have a smores concierge available, though we just did a DIY approach.

The mini bar in the room had a similar bear available for purchase, which I both love and hate as young kids do not understand that a toy in the room does not belong to them, so I have had to purchase a similar minibar item in the past to avoid a breakdown at checkout time. I almost had to pillage this mini bar set-up when the tooth fairy needed to make an emergency visit on our first night, but in the end, we worked it out without a minibar priced item.

One top tooth down

In addition to the bear, I want to highlight the green canister of oxygen in the minibar as this is a very handy item to have access to on your first night at high elevation if you find your head hurting from the altitude. I’ve done an oxygen treatment on my first night in the mountains on a previous trip and it really helped keep my altitude symptoms in check.

I have just two complaints about the room at the Hotel Talisa. First, the temperature settings were completely bizarre and nonresponsive. There was nothing I could do short of turning off the unit to stop heat from coming in our room. The first night we slept terribly as the loud heater kept coming on and overheating the room despite setting the thermostat as low as it would go. The second night I got smarter and turned the whole thing off. This worked, but it can start to get a bit chilly after a while with 15-degree temperatures outside. I’ve read similar complaints online about the heat, so I hope they can do something to make the heating situation in the rooms a bit better.

The other issue is that noise from both the hallway and the room above was a problem. The doors here are very heavy, but that means that they make a lot of noise shutting. We heard the comings and goings of others all night long both in the hallway and above our room.

Aside from those issues we adored our time in the room at the Hotel Talisa as it was comfortable, beautiful, had lots of outlets, and a tremendous view of the creek that we didn’t want to leave.

Staying at the Hotel Talisa with a family

I know that space can be at a premium in a hotel room with a whole family and ski gear, so I want to say a few words about staying at this luxury property with a family. I peeked in a couple while housekeeping had the doors propped, and standard rooms here are not huge, but they can accommodate four people and ski gear thanks to the onsite ski valet that will store the boots and boards or skis. Some folks even leave their helmets and such down in the ski valet bins, though we did not do that. If you utilize the ski valet, the closet, and the drawers in the hotel room I think a family of four can stay pretty comfortably in a standard room, especially since you aren’t in the room much on a ski trip.

While this was a very nice luxury property, it was welcoming to families and kids with complimentary afternoon cookies, children’s menus, children’s sized robes and slippers, bathtubs in many rooms, and a soon-to-open kid’s club. I’ll talk more about the amenities in the next post in this series, but I do think the rooms with two queen beds will work for a family of four as long as you stay organized with your gear.

Booking the Hotel Talisa for less

The Hotel Talisa is a Category 6 SPG property which means it costs 20,000 – 25,000 points per night that you can earn from your Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card,  Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card, or even transfer in at a 3:1 ratio from Marriott Rewards.

I hate when hotels I love are in the higher categories, but frankly, this hotel justifies the rate. It was as nice as the St. Regis Aspen that goes for 30,000 – 35,000 SPG points per night, and the St. Regis isn’t in nearly as good of a location for skiing families as Hotel Talisa. If you booked a five-night award stay at the Hotel Talisa, the award rate would average out to as low as 16,000 SPG points per night, which isn’t terrible compared to the going paid rates. That said, in recent days I am noticing more ski season dates pricing at 25,000 points per night, so don’t delay on locking in a room at 20,000 points if you want to stay here.

If you are considering paid rates, be ready for $500 – $1,000 per night for the standard rooms during ski season. The good news if you are going to pay those sort of rates is the hotel is available via luxury hotel programs like the Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection where those with an American Express Platinum Card® can enjoy included breakfast for two, guaranteed 4PM late check-out, early check-in when available, space available upgrades, and a $100 property credit to use during your stay.

I’m going to save details on all the Hotel Talisa’s on-site amenities for the next post on this Vail series, but know that this hotel was beautiful and in a very good ski location, especially if your crew can manage skiing greens and very easy blues to take advantage of the on-site lift. On the second day of our trip, my eight-year-old and I decided we would test her skills and see if she could manage skiing those runs, and thankfully, she did great. While we weren’t paying for this stay thanks to the opening delay, taking the lift right up from the hotel would have been worth every single point.

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Comments

  1. I pricelined this hotel when it was the cascade back in 2013. $200/night mid week in February. The new prices are frustrating. I agree with your overall assessment of the location.

    • The new prices are rough for sure. It is a very nice ski property, but that doesn’t make the rates easier to swallow. I hope you get a chance to stay there again!

  2. Well, it’s only 16k UR points to book the Talisa this Friday (pow day saturday!). I’m considering it…I just don’t like using the Cascade lift to get anywhere. 3 Chair min ride to get to any good lifts…

    Was this property SOO GOOD that I shouldn’t just pay 13k UR points for the better located Tivoli lodge? (Also a 4 star property). Then again, maybe I’ll just go stupid cheap, book the Comfort Inn in Avon for 7k UR points, and drop the $30 for parking in Vail’s garage…

    • Gabriel, we really enjoyed it, but it sounds like you have hesitations and it may not be the best property for you as it isn’t the cheapest and you don’t love the Cascade lift. If you do book it, I would do it because you want to hang out in the lounge there that evening and enjoy their breakfast with a view the next morning before uploading on the mountain. IF you are just looking for cheapest and best location then skip it. Have a great time no matter what you choose!

      • Cheapest isn’t what I’m after. Value is. 16k UR points is crazy cheap for this property…so I was intrigued by it. Plus I love me some Elemis Spa toiletries. Thanks for the reply. I think you’re right that it’s probably not the best for a single night late season ski stay. Maybe I’ll check it out in the summertime. I believe Cascade still runs for hiking access, so that would be a fun time then.

        • I don’t want to be the one to talk you out of it – a short stay may be the perfect low-risk way to see if it is a good fit for you. I just think part of the charm of the property was hanging out there a bit, so factor that in if you book it…and obviously I’d love to hear how it goes either way!

          • Update: going with the Doubletree in Vail. Despite Talisa falling FURTHER in price (only 14.5k UR points after taxes), I wasn’t prepared to stomach a $38 resort fee + $38 valet fee for a property that I’ll only spend a couple of hours awake in. Combine that with the Doubletree going for 38k points (instead of 80k) and waived resort fees when paying with points…Doubletree comes out the winner. However, I’m still refusing to use their shuttle and going to make the brother in-law pay the parking fee for Vail Village. Here’s to Ullr delivering the goods the next 36 hours!

          • Enjoy some late season runs! Let me know what you think of the DoubleTree – I know I think you stayed there when it was under a different flag.

  3. I’ll report back on the updates from the renovation. I’ve stayed there as a Holiday Inn before. My only concern is that parking is valet only instead of self park…despite it being in a very weird location next to a strip mall. Oh well, I’ll get a late evening cookie, hopefully hit the hot tub/pool and walk next door to McD’s for breakfast. Closing weekend! After this is only Breck for a week then Abasin!

    • what about it isn’t ski-in, ski out? there’s a lift on it’s doorsteps, and a run (granted it’s more of a catwalk than a wide open piste) that goes back to it. it’s definitely ski in, ski out. just happens to be on the side of closer to beginner terrain.

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