AS THE STORY goes, Eleven Experience is named for the reference to the cult-classic Spinal Tap (“These go to 11”), but also because the experience of visiting one of their locations is not a 10—it’s an 11. It’s hard not to agree once you make your way to an Eleven property, all of which are located in slightly off-the-beaten-path destinations: northern Iceland, Harbour Island in the Bahamas and Le Miroir in France, among them. So when I was offered the opportunity to visit not one but two Eleven locations, my excitement level was at—you guessed it—an 11.
My trip takes me back to a state I lived in for 12 years and return to often: Colorado. But all of my years spent in the picturesque Rocky Mountains could never have prepped me for what was in store. Eleven Experience is all about truly customized experiential travel for what the brand refers to as “adventure capitalists.” I feel comfortable classifying myself as that, which made me feel ready—and thrilled—for my trip.
A driver meets me and a few other guests in the tiny Montrose airport to drive us to Crested Butte, an approximate hour-and-a-half journey. We arrive at the robin-egg blue Scarp Ridge Lodge (winter rates from $3,180 per room, per night, based on double occupancy)—set a block off Crested Butte’s main drag—and are greeted by an extraordinarily friendly staff of young locals, all eager to cater to our every whim and desire. The 13,500-square-foot building was once a hall where the silver miners gathered for drinking and dancing, but today it accommodates up to 20 guests (the property is popular for full buyouts). There are five king suites—each named for a mountain that can be seen from the lodge’s windows—and one incredible bunkroom, complete with an adjoining nanny bedroom. (I mentally file this under “properties that have thought of everything.”) All the rooms come stocked with fresh food mini bars filled with tiny jars of anything from seasoned popcorn to yogurt-dipped pretzels to Castelvetrano olives.
The decor at Scarp Ride Lodge epitomizes Alpine elegance, with hardwood floors reclaimed from a 19th-century farm in Kentucky and exquisite metalwork throughout, all made from a local blacksmith whose massive and wild studio (sparks seem to fly from every corner) is close to the property. The marble in the kitchen is sourced from the nearby town of Marble, and hanging on the walls are framed vintage photographs, each telling the story of the town’s heritage and its storied skiing past. There is also an indoor saltwater pool (complete with underwater acoustics) as well as a steam shower and sauna, but the pièce de résistance of that room has to be the Jacuzzi with its jets aimed toward the muscle groups most commonly used for skiing.
And if you visit Scarp Ridge during the winter, you’ll be doing a lot of just that, thanks to the plentiful options. There is, of course, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, known for its world-class on-piste skiing, but the adventure-seekers shouldn’t feel the need to stay inbounds. Scarp Ridge offers guides for both backcountry touring and cat skiing on 1,000 acres of skiable terrain in nearby Irwin that is exclusively offered to guests.
However, I visit in the summer, which means paddleboarding on the Slate River and several-hour mountain bike rides. And when that is done, we hop on the townie bikes parked outside the building to make our way to dinner, or drinks on one of the charming local restaurant’s patios, or simply to chase down the sunset before it dips behind the mountains in the distance.
After a few days of healthy dining, nonstop adventure and decadent lounging, we’re off to our second destination: Taylor River Lodge (individual cabin rates from $1,670 per night, based on double occupancy), 20 miles down the road in the tiny town of Almont. Only open from June to December, riverfront Taylor River Lodge can be likened to a five-star adult camp, with its six impeccably appointed cabins (each named after a fly-fishing fly). There is also a game room, teepee and a plethora of outdoor games (slackline, cornhole, pingpong, croquet and even an archery and shooting range). Transportation at Taylor River is left solely to the cruiser bikes parked outside your cabin, which I use to ride around the property and go to the Main Lodge, where we eat our meals. A gorgeous and massive wood cabin, the Main Lodge has tables on a patio overlooking the river, a gigantic dining area for indoor eating, a stunning wood bar, and a seating area with a leather couch and fireplace. And to top it all off, the rushing river provides the soundtrack almost everywhere you go at Taylor River Lodge, like a glorious sound machine without an off switch.
The chic Bathhouse at this property houses another indoor saltwater pool (and another set of underwater acoustics) and is a sight to be seen, thanks to the gigantic garage door that opens at one end, allowing you to sit in the hot tub and gaze out at the river and massive trees right outside. It also has a steam room and sauna—naturally.
After a day of throwing axes and ascending the climbing wall left me with sore muscles, I indulge in a massage in the tiny spa-slash-fitness area, and follow that up by retreating back to the hot tub, margarita in hand. When not channeling my inner camper, I’m hiking on the nearby trails with a friendly guide provided by the property or white-water rafting with our group on Almont’s class III+ rapids. I even learn to fly-fish in the property’s rainbow trout-stocked pond. On our final night, after a dinner of farm-to-table dishes, we gather by the outdoor fire pit to roast homemade marshmallows and make s’mores.
Tired from the day’s activities and perfectly satiated, I jump on my bike to cruise back to my cabin under the night’s bright stars and think to myself that perhaps Eleven Experience was underselling itself. The experience was more like a 20.