Telluride (at Colorado, USA) is Hollywood’s idea of a Western ski town. Thanks to a late 19th-century silver boom, it is packed with ornate clapboard Victorian homes, most of them in a National Historic Landmark District. The backdrop of jagged mountain peaks is as dramatic as anything this side of the Swiss Alps, while the ski mountain has legendary steeps and bump runs—The Plunge looks like a giant overturned egg carton on a nosebleed-inducing incline—that rival those at Jackson Hole.
It’s a fitting and somewhat Wagnerian setting for the grand entrance of private equity giant Apollo Global Management, LLC, led by a trio of formidable principals in Leon Black, Marc Rowan and Joshua Harris. In August 2014, they partnered with affiliates of Northview Hotel Group to buy the Hotel Madeline Telluride, rebranded it the Madeline Hotel & Residences Telluride and immediately invested nearly $10 million on upgrades. Some of that will be spent refurbishing condo residences that will go on sale this winter, featuring “the most highly amenitised turnkey-residence offering Telluride has ever seen,” promises Mark Mance, a partner at Northview. The hotel’s ski-in/ski-out location is Mountain Village, a mid-mountain development set at 9,450 feet that has been slowly built out over two decades. A neat Euro touch is a gondola that links the mid-mountain hotels and lairs of freshly minted Wall Street power brokers with a downslope town that has a vibe that’s Trustafarian blended with Los Angeles.
Uphill, downhill: The Madeline Hotel’s gondola can take you to Telluride’s legendary runs or straight into town in a matter of minutes. And if skiing doesn’t provide enough activity, there’s always a 24-hour gym with a pool
The reborn Madeline has 89 guest rooms (from $250), 11 suites, 60 residences and a spa. The exterior of stone and stucco is a style that has become the signifier for luxe in the Rockies. The interiors feature overstuffed furniture, stone fireplaces and some good Western art that shouts warm and comfortable, decidedly more Four Seasons than W. The hotel has been squarely aimed at well-heeled families who want everything that a great ski hotel can provide, including some pampering at the end of a run. So the rooms, which go heavy on dark wood and have stone accents, have beds you want to sink into, as well as soaking tubs. Yes, there’s a 24-hour gym and an indoor pool with 50-mile views, but at nearly 10,000 feet, you might opt for Altitude Revival at the spa, which involves breathing in pure oxygen followed by a massage. You can dine at the hotel’s restaurant, REV, or the SMAK Bar, but you can also walk to that gondola and be in downtown Telluride in 13 minutes to eat at restaurants like 221 South Oak and Cosmopolitan.
Telluride is that rarity, a wealthy ski town that hasn’t been Disneyfied, a dressed-down Aspen where local star power comes from quiet property owners like Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren and Meg Whitman. On a bluebird day, it can make the shortlist of the most beautiful places on the planet. And the Madeline Hotel, now its premier property, just gave its skiers a soft place to land.