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The TimberHouse Ski Lodge is a great lodge that we frequent when skiing at Winter Park Resort in Colorado. It’s an older place with a lot of character, and with excellent staff and service.
We usually make our way there via a HomeJames transport bus (about a two hour drive), since we have no reason to rent a car otherwise.
The TimberHouse is a European-style lodge (apparently these types are actually the American ideal of what European lodges were/could be – I wouldn’t know, just repeating what I’ve heard). The rooms are adequate but spare, and there are large public areas to congregate, relax, and get to know your neighbors. It’s part of what makes this place so special.
In the evenings, most people seem to hang out with a beer or a glass of wine and play board or card games, solve puzzles, chat or even read a book. When talent is in the house, the piano is played and/or songs are sung. Last season, a guy did a nice performance of Le Miserables’ Empty Chairs at Empty Tables.
Though there are rooms on the main level (which is upstairs from the main entrance), it seems like I am always staying upstairs (likely due to cheaper rooms without private baths).
This year, we stayed right off the landing of the most-used staircase, near the restrooms. You can get rooms with private baths, rooms that share a bath with the next room over, and rooms that use the public bath, including dorms and shared rooms where the beds rent individually. We have always gone for the private rooms with the public baths.
If you can time your ski trip and/or your showers right, then the public bathrooms are really no big deal. The whole week we were there, I showered in complete solitude, with the single exception being one day that there was one other person showering.
One of the things I love about the TimberHouse is that it has been built onto so many times that it is a quirky building, and the rooms often have odd nooks or crannies. This year, the room we wound up with had both a full bed and a twin, and the twin wound up being an excellent staging area for all of our crap, which was very nice.
Dinner has two seatings when the lodge is at or close to capacity, and only one when less full. You’re seated with other lodgers and waited on by seasonal workers – usually young adults here to ski as much as possible. Everyone is very friendly, and you get to talking to all sorts of people, and rediscovering some old acquaintances from last season.
And the food is hearty, delicious stuff! i wasn’t disappointed by a thing I tried, and though I avoided a few things I am generally finicky about, there were always plenty of other delicious things for me to eat.
There is another public space somewhat like the main room, downstairs in the rear of the lodge. Here there are couches, a pool table, ping-pong table, and a very neglected piano (that still gets played). This trip, when the evening movie was played, we headed down here to drink and cuss away from the ears of children, and play games.
Believe it or not, we did ski. We showered at night, to be ready to jump out of bed at the last possible moment, and slide downstairs in our jammies or long-johns to get breakfast. This resulted in some spectacular hairstyles, if I do say so myself…
After breakfast, it was time to head upstairs to finish getting dressed, then to the basement’s “locker room” (no lockers, I just can’t think of a better way to describe it) to get on our helmets, goggles, boots and gloves – and to grab our skis and poles.
After a short wait for the TimberHouse van, we load up and get delivered to the base for a great day of skiing!
In the afternoons, we could catch the van back to the lodge, or ski the infamous Billy Woods Trail straight back to the cabin. Then it was upstairs to peel off the gear and slide into swimwear. A short dash through the snow with bottles and glasses is rewarded by a nice long soak and drinks in one of the three hot tubs.
Then we’d hit the showers to clean up for dinner, have a great meal, play some games with other guests or the help, hit the sack, and do the whole thing over again the next day.
Personally, we love the TimberHouse, though I could easily see how some people could think it is run-down, or that the rooms aren’t big enough or fancy enough. The TimberHouse definitely shows it age, but it is well-run and well-kept. If you want a big fancy room where you van hang out with all your iGadgets, taking Instagrams of your sweet digs to impress folks back home, and not talking face-to-face with anyone, then seek lodging elsewhere.
If you’re looking for a simple place to stay that is conveniently located, feeds you, provides personable and personalized service, is generally full of friendly faces, and is truly an incredibly cheap deal when you really get down to it, then the TimberHouse may be the go-to place for you, like it is for us.