When I was asked to try the new sushi lounge at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch resort, I didn’t hesitate to clear my schedule. Not only do I love Japanese food, but more importantly, I enjoy any chance I can get to immerse myself in “mountain life.” Not to mention, a picturesque drive was just what the doctor ordered at the time. As a Denver transplant, the Rocky Mountains have become a safe haven of sorts—a place of tranquility for us city folk to relax and unwind. So, I was going to take it all in. I left my office in Englewood around 3 p.m. and arrived at the resort exactly 2 hours and 20 minutes later. Surprisingly, smooth sailing all the way up the 1-70 despite being a Thursday afternoon. When I arrived, I was greeted by the friendly concierge who offered to park my car. Note: If you’re not staying overnight, a day parking pass (particularly during ski season) can cost up to $500.
I was immediately impressed by the open-concept lobby which led into the Great Room—boasting a beautiful wood-trimmed ski lodge feel with a bustling bar to the right. A talented musician happily entertained patrons by singing and playing his guitar; almost like a campfire vibe, but much more upscale. Even sans skiing, the atmosphere was extremely inviting. The décor reflected the perfect combination of eclectic and elegant. Hence, the hotel was very warm and welcoming—and I noted that the staff obviously loves working there. Right away, I knew I was in for a 5-star stay.
The hotel caters to many visitors during the winter, but when the snow melts, there are a ton of exuberant activities, too. From daily guided hikes with an on-site naturalist, high-altitude treatments at the world-class spa, as well as yoga and wellness classes—to a brand-new mountainside terrace, weekly Earth to Table outdoor dinners, private culinary experiences at Anderson’s Cabin, access to a world-class golf course, and featured special events and activities throughout the summer season, there’s never a shortage of things to do. But, besides all of the wonderful amenities, one thing that struck me was the families milling around. Kids roamed the premises with just as much excitement as the adults.
After a quick tour of the resort, I dropped my bag in my room (which had a glorious view overlooking the outdoor pool and chairlifts); I was anxious to take a dip in the infamous stone-lined grotto. At this resort, nature is a healer for both the body and spirit. Tucked within Beaver Creek Mountain, the resort spa offers a 21,000-sq.-ft. retreat inspired by its surroundings. Signature treatments incorporate locally sourced herbs, plants, and minerals, including activated charcoal sourced in Colorado mines. The spa oasis features 19 treatment rooms, relaxation lounges with steam rooms, saunas and plunge pools, and the co-ed grotto. I was in heaven and happy to indulge in the grotto on my own. As the team promised, I imme- diately felt its healing properties as soon as my skin hit the water. With its stone walls and mesmer- izing lights, the cave-like setting had a somewhat euphoric atmo- sphere. So clam. So peaceful. I could have stayed there all night. But, my stomach was calling.
SO GOOD SAKABA
While the hotel offers several upscale dining options, I was looking forward to experiencing its newest Japanese restaurant. Quietly sophisticated with a nod of tradition, Sakaba, meaning “bar” in Japanese, is a contemporary sushi lounge that creates an intimate-yet-casual atmosphere where you can indulge in Japanese delights. This sushi lounge serves fresh fish flown in from Japan daily and an extensive selection of sake. Sakaba opens at 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. only. *The space becomes Vail Valley’s only 21+ cigar lounge after 10 p.m.
As suspected, Sakaba did not disappoint. I immediately loved the intimate vibe and sat right at the sushi bar. I was treated to a variety of delicacies prepared by the talented Chef Yoshikazu “Kazu” Ebina. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, and then a long-time resident in Miami Beach, Chef Kazu was nothing but joyful and indeed proud of his craft. I was asked to select a few items off of the menu, but after 30 minutes of in-depth conversation and watching him prepare his dishes, Chef insisted I try a little more than I anticipated. How could I refuse?
ON THE MENU
From the perfectly salted Edamame ($12) to the Hamachi ($29), Bluefin Akami ($31), Salmon Avocado ($30), to the Miso Black Cod ($52), I was quickly filling up but couldn’t resist a bit of everything. At one point, I was thankful to chase it all down with a signature Sakaba Sling ($24) then a Dassai 50 Sake ($19), and Dewatsuru Nigori ($14). Lastly, I topped my feast off with dessert that comes as per request only; Macy’s Crepe Cream with green tea and 14 Carrot gold flakes! How fitting. Needless to say, my taste buds were satisfied. “You want more?” Chef asked. “I’ve got more for you to try!” “Oh my gosh no. Thank you! I loved it all,” I replied almost embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t have another bite. “Next time for sure.”
As I said my goodbyes to the gracious restaurant staff, I vividly remember the feeling of absolute relaxation come over me. Maybe it was the hassle-free drive, or maybe the mountain air, but either way, something was soothing my soul which allowed me to let my hair down for a night. The hotel was beautiful and the food was to die for. By the time I left the restaurant at almost 10 p.m., I made sure to take in one last view of the rolling hills from my room window before falling asleep. All I know is that I really needed this.
- The world-class Bachelor Gulch spa.
- S’mores every night between 6:30-8:30 p.m.
- Heated pools and hot tubs.
- Arcade-style game room for the kids.
- Live music on the vibrant Mountainside Terrace from 12:30-4:30 p.m. daily and in the Great Room from 6-10 p.m. daily.
Edit by Kerrie Lee Brown
Photography courtesy the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch