BEST DAY EVER
By Megan Weisberg
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ELEVEN
By Megan Weisberg
PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF ELEVEN
Ever wonder what the perfect outdoor vacation would feel like? One in which neither your skill level nor an unexpected turn in the weather could dampen the day’s greatness? Wonder no more. Adventure collective Eleven boasts a remarkable portfolio of intimate properties in remote corners of the world— each offering incredible lodging and delicious, seasonal food combined with private guided outdoor adventures for guests of all ages and skill levels. Eleven has perfected the art of curating finely tuned vacations tailored to each guest’s unique preferences at that moment in time.
After a short flight to Gunnison, Colorado, I was welcomed at Eleven Scarp Ridge Lodge in the charming town of Crested Butte, with a genuine warmth and excitement that contributes to making Eleven, well, an eleven (not a ten out of ten, but an eleven out of ten). Each property’s thoughtfully designed interiors are by No. 12 Interiors, and not a detail is missed as evidenced by each room’s “oxygen” button—should guests wish, they can select to pump oxygen into the room to offset the effects of altitude. Guests are greeted in the family room with an impressive brick fireplace radiating warmth next to dedicated guest lockers in which bulky ski jackets, boots, and other items can be stored for the duration of your stay. Shiplap walls and wood beams throughout have updated this original Croatian Assembly Hall into an outdoor adventurer’s launch pad—also the perfect spot for multi-generational family trips due to the myriad of activities offered.
Waking the next morning to a chef-prepared breakfast of local eggs and vegetables, I was fueled for the five-mile hike ahead. Starting at 10,000 feet in elevation, we hiked the Scarp Ridge trail—gaining 2,500 feet in elevation to witness awe-inspiring views of the Colorado Rockies above the tree line. At the end of our hike, we were treated to lunch at their mountainside Movie Cabin, built in 1975 as the set for a film called The Adventures of the Wilderness Family. Beside a roaring fire, we enjoyed a lunch of the most delicious pork pozole I have ever tasted—to this day I’m trying to track down the recipe—paired with a fresh salad of julienned vegetables and a cilantro lime vinaigrette that sang with flavor.
In winter, this area becomes accessible only by snowcat— perfect for Eleven’s winter cat skiing experience. Looking over the side of the impressive mountains, I had trouble imagining the courage needed to ski down, but that is why many of the Scarp Ridge Lodge guests come to Eleven—the elite and private experience of cat skiing a terrain where you are the only one on the mountain carving fresh tracks. How exhilarating it must be to be picked up in front of Scarp Ridge Lodge by a giant, customized snowcat (outfitted with leather benches and a TV) and then driven up the mountain to begin a day of unforgettable winter adventure.
Eleven’s staff members readily imbue your trip with local knowledge, and our guide was no exception. Explaining that we were in town during peak foliage season, a slight detour was made to an overlook of a valley awash in astonishing yellow leaves from miles of aspen trees. Returning from a full day of outdoor beauty and adventure, and after enjoying a quick après in the rooftop hot tub, we toured the town of Crested Butte. Its charming, brightly colored Victorian-era buildings house independent shops ranging from apothecaries to art galleries. The thriving restaurant scene includes Public House, Eleven’s in-town restaurant. This modern-day saloon features a spectacular menu, including a goat cheese and pickled blueberry salad, and a pan-roasted whole trout paired with a red wine farro risotto. The top floor of Public House has three loft suites for lodging as well as a basement music venue that hosts public and private concerts alike.
True to Eleven’s mission, day two was also an eleven. Exiting my luxurious suite, I was greeted outside with a dual-suspension mountain bike. Biking alongside a river underneath a brilliant blue sky with the dreamiest of white puffy clouds, our novice selves were pushed slightly past our comfort zones, allowing us to feel the exhilaration of mountain biking the largest single-track biking system in the country.
That afternoon, we were transported 30 minutes to Almont to experience Eleven’s other Colorado property, Taylor River Lodge—home to eight log cabins including a single-family home that’s ideal for larger families. Here I was given my own log cabin, perched on the banks above the roaring Taylor River. When not in the perfectly outfitted cabin, stocked with Aesop bath products and cozy Pendleton blankets, I explored all the property has to offer. After trying my hand at archery and ax throwing, I enjoyed a beer tasting from Irwin Brewing Company (Eleven’s Colorado-based brewing company). The Amber’s Lager and Mexican Lager were my favorites. The bonfires and hammocks scattered across the property were ideal spots from which to savor both a beer and the gorgeous mountain views.
I began the next morning with yoga and then moved on to fly fishing—one of the most meditative and calming activities I have ever experienced. Under the expert tutelage of my guide, I caught my first of two fish by 11 a.m. Standing knee-deep in full gear provided by Eleven, I had an overwhelming sense of calm while I methodically and repeatedly cast the fishing line; a scene made even more magical when it started to snow.
After my active morning, I was treated to an Ashiatsu massage. An expert in her field, the massage therapist’s unique treatment alleviates any stressors in your life. Holding on to ceiling bars, she walks on your back using her feet to massage. Sounds different but trust me when I say it is a must experience and one that I hope to have again. After the rejuvenating massage, I headed to the Bath House, an exquisite stone building set next to the river, beside an enormous rocky cliff, with a gigantic floor-to-ceiling glass door that opens upwards to the sky for a true indoor/outdoor experience as you alternate soaking in the hot tub, dipping into the saltwater pool, and enjoying the steam and sauna. Launching this winter, Taylor River Lodge will be hosting annual wellness retreats. Think snow bathing, meditating in a winter wonderland, yoga, and healing foods. Its primary ethos is to connect you to the natural world, teaching guests to take learned tools—like simple breathwork—home.
Each night guests can select a different dining experience by choosing from the seasonal menu, creating a custom dish, or cooking alongside the in-house chef. On our last night, we indulged in a fireside dessert of s’mores under a canopy of brilliant, sparkling stars. Waking up the next morning to fresh coffee and a breakfast sandwich for the drive to the airport had me wondering how long it would be until my next Eleven experience.
Available by room or for full property private use buyouts, Eleven lodges are ideal venues to focus on outdoor adventure pursuits and escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. For more information, and to book your Eleven experience, visit elevenexperience.com.