Jul252011

St. Regis Aspen – Too late to cancel

St. Regis Aspen is an expensive hotel in the expensive Colorado Rockies recreational, educational and upscale tourist center resort of Aspen where you will also find plenty of $600-item designer stores available to the big spender.

This is Aspen
Aspen has a 19th century silver mining history, but it was the planned development of a world class ski resort after World War II that placed the town on the jetsetter scene.

Aspen has a small town population of around 7,000 residents while averaging about the same number of daily tourists.
Summer activities are enhanced by the abundance of mountain peaks on three sides of Aspen Valley and dozens of miles of bicycle trails separated from the vehicle roads. Completed a few years ago over the unused railroad track beside the Roaring Fork River from Aspen to Glenwood Springs, all-day cycling along 42 miles of paved Rio Grande Trail is available to cyclists, joggers and walkers. The Glenwood Canyon trail offers another 16 miles of paved trail east from Glenwood Springs along the Colorado River. There is about a 2,500 feet gradient downhill from Aspen to Glenwood Springs. You can always ride the bus back. Roaring Fork Transportation Authority Rio Grande Trail, rfta.com, Aspen, Colorado.
The day before we arrived in Aspen extremely powerful thunderstorms produced high rainfall totals of nearly an inch of rain in 30 minutes that flooded and closed Aspen Airport. Here is a short Weather.com video showing the flooding at the Aspen airport on July 18, 2011. Residents say this was the strongest rain storm in some 30 years.

I wondered about the impact of the St. Regis 21-day nonrefundable cancellation policy on guests with cancelled flights due to TSA flood. Parts of the Rio Grande trail were buried in mudslides and rockslides in different mile marker locations along Aspen, Carbondale, Basalt and Glenwood Springs.
St. Regis Aspen
The hotel is located at the base of Aspen Mountain (also called Ajax Mountain) on a street featuring the Hyatt Grand Residences, Little Nell and Kimpton Sky Hotel. Aspen is so crowded with tourists and workers that a daily parking fee of $7 is charged to park more than 2 hours between 8am and 6pm every day except Sunday. Parking passes can be purchased at several local stores or from parking meters that take credit cards.
St. Regis Aspen charges $28/day for parking.

St. Regis Renovations


The hotel website states the St. Regis Aspen property closed April 4-June 14 for renovation and reopened this summer to welcome guests with 90 guest rooms.
An email I received on July 14 stated newly renovated guest rooms at the St. Regis are unavailable. The 21-day cancellation policy was in effect at the time I made my free night reservation. The pool area was also closed for renovation during my stay and the hotel offered complimentary transportation to the Aspen Recreation Center.

The day I checked out of the hotel, the St. Regis Aspen updated its redesign webpage to state the hotel will be closing again from September 26-November 7 to complete renovations before ski season.

I read lodging occupancy reports for Aspen indicating the months of April/May and October are the lowest occupancy months in Aspen.

St. Regis Aspen Room
The two double beds room was small for a luxury hotel with a stated size of 400 square feet.

The bathroom area was large with a separate toilet room, double sinks and combination shower/bath. The large bathroom made the bedroom area seem even smaller. Renovated rooms will have separate shower and tub.


Excluding the deluxe bathroom, the room was smaller than rooms we had at the Ramada in Ely, Nevada, Holiday Inn Express in Green River, Utah and Sheraton Denver West. There was one cushioned chair in the room with an ottoman and a small round table with no chairs, but plenty of magazines. Kelley pointed out to me a folding chair in the closet, albeit a nice cushioned folding chair, could be used as a chair for the small table.

The room had a small flat screen TV with Versus channel for watching Tour de France, an electronic mini-bar, and a desk with a jar of chocolates. There was an ice machine across the hall from my room on the 3rd floor of the five-story hotel.

There was a partial mountain view from the room. The room had windows that open, but no balcony space. Many of the hotels in Aspen have balconies, but the St. Regis is not one of them.

The Lobby
I have photos from the St. Regis Aspen from a visit in July 2010. The lobby furnishings have changed from the dark leather motif to a space with lighter colored sofas and chairs.

Summer 2010 photo of St. Regis Aspen lobby

There were very few guests in the hotel lobby or bar during our stay.

Summer 2011 St. Regis Aspen renovated lobby.

I kind of felt like I had to walk the gauntlet of staff greetings every time I exited the hotel.


In the morning there was complimentary coffee/tea self-service area in the lobby.

St. Regis Aspen lobby and bar.

The Restaurant
There was a Tuesday BBQ for $35 per person. The BBQ was not happening in the courtyard since rain was the forecast. I did not eat at the restaurant.

 

St. Regis Aspen Reviews
St. Regis Aspen has surprisingly few hotel reviews on the web. FlyerTalk has only four pages in four years. TripAdvisor.com has nearly 200 reviews and most of the recent reviews from 2011 are suspectingly glowing. HotelChatter references some reviews that are less than flattering. New York Times writer Joe Sharkey wrote about his big cancellation fees for an Aspen trip in 2008 when he needed to cancel day before arrival.

My cancellation fee was something like $600 within 21-days of arrival. I am uncertain whether I would have had to pay this fee since I booked using a free resort night, but I didn’t want to find out the night cost $600 for not staying at the hotel.

My primary disappointment came from wanting to change my free resort night to the St. Regis Park City which has much better hotel reviews than the St. Regis Aspen. The new list of Priority Club PointBreaks made the Gunnison Holiday Inn Express a 5,000 points option the day before my arrival in Aspen. I don’t think it was a good use of my SPG resort night for an overnighter passing through Aspen.
All in all, I liked the location of the Best Western Plus in Buena Vista, Colorado on Highway 24 with great views of the Collegiate Mountains for a more affordable Rocky Mountains experience. I liked the atmosphere of Glenwood Springs last summer for a more down-to-earth hotel stay without the pretentiousness of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Here is my Loyalty Traveler report on Glenwood Springs from August 2010.

The bottom line is the St. Regis Aspen is a decent hotel, but I didn’t find it to be an exceptional 5-star beautiful resort. Aspen is a beautiful location, but there are plenty of other lodging options in Aspen with lower room rates. With the basic St. Regis Aspen hotel room running around $600 per night, I find the property is not an awe inspiring hotel commensurate with the prevailing rates. I think the comparably priced Little Nell in Aspen has better ambience.

Unless you have a reason to be in Aspen like seeing the Republican Presidential candidates or Michelle Obama tomorrow night or an Aspen Institute lecture, then there are plenty of cheaper hotels in the Rocky Mountains where $600 will likely buy an incredible hotel stay experience. My rate checks indicate a Club Level full suite at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek near Vail is about the same summer season rate as the lowest St. Regis Aspen room.

Related Loyalty Traveler Posts:

Glenwood Springs, CO Hot Springs Lodge and Hotel Colorado (August 23, 2010) – Last Friday USA Today ran a piece citing Glenwood Springs as the most fun destination for a U.S. roadtrip vacation.

St. Regis Aspen Pictorial (August 9, 2010)

The Little Nell, Aspen (August 9, 2010)

Hyatt Grand Aspen Residences (August 9, 2010)

 

Brokeass Mountain Road Trip, July 2011

Monterey, California – Denver, Colorado

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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Comments

  1. Nothing better than an expensive hotel that wants to nickel and dime you for everything. If you are paying $$$ for a hotel you shouldn’t have to deal with resort fees and other obnoxious fees. You also shouldn’t have to deal with 21-day cancellation notices.

    I’ve skied in Snowmass and Aspen and have no plans to return to Aspen. The only place I’ve ever been where a guy was upset we ONLY left a 20% tip on a restaurant bill.

    I’ve been avoiding Vegas for the annoying, and usually well hidden, resort fees. When I do go back it will be to Caesar’s where they don’t use them.

  2. @ Rich

    There is no resort fee at the St. Regis Aspen, in fact they give free wifi for all guests. Yes their cancelation policy is 21 days.. which is pretty long and $600 if pretty hefty cancelation fee, but I’m not sure how this compares to other Cat 6 SPG resorts. I’ve seen some pretty huge deposits for the resort in Costa Rica.

    I think that the only big fee is the $28 valet, but you have to pay for street parking. So I’m mixed on this as some SPG resorts that charge $25 a night resort fee and include valet in that fee.

    I agree that I would not pay $550+ tax during the summer for this property in its current conditions as the same amount of money can get you a much larger room at other properties. As far as a free resort night I think it is a decent use. The only real downside is that Plat upgrades are slim, the upside is that use of free resort nights during ski season in Aspen would be great value.

    This property will be much nicer to stay at after the update the rooms after the summer. Ric should have asked to view one of the completed rooms and post some photos, you can see one of the preview rooms on the St. Regis website. I’m a little disappointed at the quality of the photos posted of the room, the bathroom is its current condition is actually much nicer than what Ric is showing. They a decent size, though I would agree that the room size is not.

    This weekend the St. Regis Apsen is sold out, so I guess it is a pretty popular spot late in the summer.

  3. @B – My digital camera broke on the second day of my road trip. All photos outside of Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes, California from the first day of my two week trip were taken with a phone camera.

    I didn’t take many photos of the room since the rooms will look completely different in a few months.

    Here is the link I included twice in the original post for redesign room photos for St. Regis Aspen:

    http://www.stregisaspen.com/redesign

    For ski season St. Regis Aspen may be one of the great hotels of the world.

    For summer season I think there are plenty of other hotels in the Colorado Rockies that have as much appeal at a much lower price point. I am just not wowed by the St. Regis Aspen as a hotel in the sense of its facilities. Service might be phenomenal, but I am more interested in hotel facilities than service.

    The spa gets good reviews, but I am not a spa guy.

    I think Aspen is a beautiful place that is priced way beyond the ordinary travelers’ means. The point I am making is you can visit places like Beaver Creek, Avon, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and other ski resort locations in Colorado and find a good hotel at a far lower cost. You can book a full suite at many other beautiful resorts in Colorado for the price of a basic room at St. Regis Aspen.

    Loyalty Traveler is about hotel value. I personally don’t find the value at St. Regis Aspen to be commensurate with the rates. I have been wowed by the hotel structure and facilities at other $600 per night hotels where I’ve stayed.

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