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Nothing is more important when selecting the best lodging for your family’s ski vacation than location…except for maybe a really comfy bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. Or on-site heated pools and hot tubs for your tired post-ski muscles. Or a fun lodge-style hangout room with a view for your apres ski libations. Or the perfect evening s’mores roasting opportunity. You get the idea, and our recent stay at the newly reopened Hotel Talisa, a Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel in Vail, checked all those boxes and more.
We dove into the details about the Hotel Talisa’s location, rooms, and how to book for less using SPG points in this post, but now it is time to highlight the hotel’s onsite activities and amenities. If I’m being serious for a minute, because we have little kids, a mountainside location is truly the primary driver in selecting our ski lodging, but everything else a property has to offer also comes into play since ski days usually end by 4PM, and we are then often too tired to leave the ski property.
During our three-night stay in Vail at the Hotel Talisa, other than to ski, we only left the property on our final evening, and that was because I insisted we experience a little more of Vail. If I had left it up to my eight-year-old, we would have done Round 3 of evening chilling at the hotel eating cheeseburgers and chili, listening to live music, and soaking in the hot tub. She wouldn’t have been wrong to pick that agenda, as it was lovely on our first two nights.
Hotel Talisa Hot Tubs and Heated Pool
The Hotel Talisa has an outdoor heated pool along with two separate hot tubs. I love a good post-ski dip in the hot water, but so do many other people. This presented a bit of a problem for the hot tubs at the Hotel Talisa as there are 285 rooms and just two small-ish hot tubs. On the first night, we tried to go to the hot tub nearest the pool, but it was very full, with what looked like a line waiting to get in, so we quickly changed our minds on this adventure. This failed attempt was later in the evening and it was a decidedly adult crowd, so we decided to try hot tubbing a bit earlier in the day the next evening.
Immediately after skiing the next day we went to the smaller hot tub that was close to our room and away from the main pool. There were just one other family people in it when we arrived, so enjoyed our 20 or 30 minutes in the hot water.
I was never able to get a photo of the ‘main’ hot tub as there were people in it every single time I walked by. In contrast, the heated pool was pretty much always empty. It is heated, but it isn’t heated to the point that you will probably want to hang out in the water while it is 25 degrees outside. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be for the hotel to expand the size and number of hot tubs as soon as possible.
Free Afternoon Cookies, Cocoa, and Champagne
In the afternoons, the Hotel Talisa offers some complimentary post-ski goodies that should please everyone from the hangry toddler to the fancy adult. At 3PM, the hotel offers included cookies, cocoa, and hot cider along with fixings such as marshmallows and Oreo crumbles.
We never got there in time for the cookies as those seem to go quickly and were not replenished, but closer to 4PM when we would get off the mountain, there was still plenty of hot chocolate and cider to go around!
At 4PM the Hotel Talisa also has an evening champagne sabering with a complimentary passed champagne tasting that sounds very similar to what you will find in the evening at most St. Regis resorts.
Evening Entertainment and Food at the Hotel Talisa
There is often live music from 3 – 6, and then again on some nights from 7 – 10PM. We ate and relaxed in the Hotel Talisa’s Fireside Lounge on our first two nights to the sounds of a live singer/guitarist and loved every second of it. Here we enjoyed menu items such as an $18 cheeseburger, $15 goat cheese and prosciutto salad, and a $13 bowl of bison chili with very friendly service.
There is also a child’s menu available with selections in the $8 – $9 range.
If you are feeling too tired to head out after a day in the powder, I highly recommend spending an evening just chilling in the hotel’s lounge eating good food, trying a jalapeno-infused cucumber margarita, and listening to live music.
If you want to be slightly more active than just vegging with a margarita in the lounge, the Hotel Talisa has several lovely spaces where you can hang out with your group and play available board games, grab a drink, or even shoot some pool.
Breakfast at the Hotel Talisa
I made a push for SPG Platinum status this year in part because I knew how pricey breakfast would be at some of our planned SPG hotel destinations, one of which was the Hotel Talisa. SPG Platinum status gave me included continental breakfast buffet for two people, with upgrades to the full buffet available at the Gessner restaurant for about $4 via a President’s Day special. I was told the normal upcharge for adults was $6 per person. There was no upgrade for my daughter except on the day she ordered for the child’s menu, which was charged at regular price.
Gessner is a beautiful space to start your day in the mountains with large windows where you can look out and watch the snow fall.
I was thankful that the breakfast buffet was mostly included for us as it normally sells for $32 for adults and $19 for children 5 – 12, those 4 and under are complimentary. This price includes all of the items on the buffet as well as a made-to-order omelette. The continental breakfast buffet is $24 and excludes the hot items. If you are not interested in the buffet, menu items such as Belgian Wallfes, Smoked Salmon, and a Three Egg Omelette are in the $19 – $22 range.
With busy ski mornings, I am all about the quick and ready buffet, and this one did not disappoint.
The items rotated a bit over the course of our three-night stay, and everything was good, with the yogurt parfaits being my personal favorite…well, that and the bacon. SPG Platinum status saved us about $150 over the course of this three-night stay just on breakfast buffet charges. This also allowed for smaller than normal lunches on the mountain, which also saved money.
If breakfast is not included in your rate and you are looking to keep meal costs down or simply want to grab an even faster option, there is an on-site grab-and-go market with items starting with a $2.50 muffin.
Hotel Talisa Winter Activities
The hotel has a weekly activity schedule with rotating offerings such as morning yoga, $15 child craft activities, evening s’mores with a s’more butler, and even a $15 kid’s pizza and a movie activity. Our schedule didn’t align to try any of these offerings outside of the afternoon cocoa and evening live music, but it is nice to know the hotel offers some included or affordable entertainment options.
Hotel Talisa Spa and Fitness Center Now Open
On our mid-February visit, the hotel’s spa and fitness center were not yet completed, so all we could do was peek in through the doors as the spa construction progressed. However, according to their website, the spa is now open and operational as of March 1st! There are ten treatment rooms, including two for couples, with treatments ranging from 25-minute massages and nail touch-ups to 120-minute signature services, hair, make-up, and more.
Also filed under things we could only see through locked doors is the Kid’s Club that looked close to completion, but not quite ready to roll. The spa, gym, and kid’s club room are all on the same stretch of hallway on the hotel’s lowest level.
Hotel Talisa Ski Valet and Ski Shop
Last, but far from least, be aware that the Hotel Talisa has an on-site ski valet and ski shop so that you can rent and store your gear with ease. I didn’t know whether their ski shop was 100% up and running or not before our visit (it is), so I rented through Ski Butlers who I know and love. The Hotel Talisa ski valet service is available for guests at no extra charge as it is included in the resort fee. I loved that there was ample space in the shop to store your shoes and such in bins while you are on the mountain.
That said, I think that there ski valet process can use some fine tuning as it was chaotic every single morning trying to find our skis outside. My skis and my daughter’s skis were split up each day, and it took about 20 minutes to locate hers the first morning, almost making us late for ski school. They line the skis up outside either without any order, or in an order that I am able to comprehend. At the very least, it would be helpful to keep a family of skis together so that when you find one set, you find them all. Instead, it was like a time-crunched, crowded, and stressful easter egg hunt for skis each day.
All that being said, the Hotel Talisa is a very, very nice ski property that is worth the 20,000 – 25,000 SPG points per night it will cost if you are looking to avoid the $500 – $1,000 per night room rates. We found the hotel to have the right mix of luxurious decor and offerings without a pretentious or unwelcoming attitude. You can get an even better feel for the property in this short video.
There are some things for the Hotel Talisa to fine-tune over time, but for a hotel that is still getting all of their amenities up and running, it is truly off to a great start. I hope we are fortunate enough to return on a future ski trip to Vail and enjoy another round of chili and margaritas while listening to John Denver tunes in the Fireside Lounge.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.