After skiing numerous resorts throughout Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado through the late 1980's and early 1990's, I happened upon Heatherbed Lodge at the base of Aspen Highlands mountain quite by accident in 1993. The only other lodge near the first mountain lift at Highlands was booked up and they referred us to the folks across the road at Heatherbed. I had never seen Heatherbed because it is hidden from the road. And from all the literature I had rifled through about Aspen in the late 1980's I cannot recall seeing one ad or advertisement about the Heatherbed Lodge.
My wife and I worked very hard every year to be able to afford one big trip out west during the winter. We were not poor, but when you have to make every penny and every hour count we wanted accommodations that were nice, as close to ski-in, ski-out as possible, but not overly priced. We finally found that at Heatherbed! Not liking big crowds and multi level style lodging that looks like over cramped apartment condos with a community hot tub Heatherbed Lodge supplied everything we wanted to a tee! Although you have to walk across Maroon Creek Road and through the parking lot to Aspen Highlands Mountain it only takes less than five minutes to make the trek. At the end of the day's skiing, if there is plenty of snow, and you plan your route just right, you can zip right down to the steps leading down to the lodge. That was always fun, and at times rather adventurous!
Never needed a car or jeep or SUV. Aspen's transportation system buses pick you up and let you out about 100 feet from the door of Heatherbed. Want to ski at Ajax, Buttermilk, or Snowmass? No problem. Getting there and back are easy as pie. Want a fun night out on the town to do some shopping, sight seeing and restauranting? No problem. The Aspen Skiing Company transportation is the best and they serve Heatherbed Lodge and Aspen Highlands Mountain on a regular basis.
And then there's the intimate little hot tub just outside your room door at the lodge. No matter what time of year I was there the tub was mostly private even if the lodge was full of guests. I never figured out why that was. I guess the other guests respected everyone's privacy because they wanted the same thing. I know we did.
The complimentary breakfasts were great, and plentiful! And the best thing about it was the serving time was not limited so that you had to rush every morning to get there before they closed. I always found the staff overly friendly and ready to help at a moment's notice. The room we stayed in was the "Big" one where the previous owners lived. It was absolutely spacious and comfortable. One year we had five people in our party and there was plenty of room for everyone with a large kitchen complete with utensils, dishes, a stove-oven and big refrigerator.
Overall I stayed there with my wife at least six times choosing Aspen mountains for skiing and Healtherbed Lodge over all the other ones we had skied and stayed at in the west. Unfortunately my wife by a second marriage died at an early age so 2001 was our last visit together at Heatherbed. Two years later after all those great memories I was finally able to put my sadness aside and took my two boys by my first marriage skiing with me. They had skied with my wife and I before but we could never arrange any longer than a weekend trip with them because of their school time and other activities. So this was their first big trip to a major ski resort. When I called the folks at Heatherbed Lodge they immediately remembered me and asked where I had been the previous year. After explaining about losing my wife and telling them I was looking for accommodations in the middle of February, their busiest time, but had not been able to book the necessary months ahead of time, one of the managers got on the telephone and cleared a week in February for me and my boys. I don't know how she managed it, but we stayed in the same "Big" room and were treated royally once again.
I will always remember Heatherbed with the fondest of memories and after a few years of ill health on my part, I am ready to once again head to Aspen for some skiing during the winter of 2007-08. My first call? Heatherbed Lodge! See you on the slopes and hopefully at the breakfast table.