Montecito Journal – The Curious Traveler

by Jerry Camarillo Dunn, Jr.

Where to Stay: Hotel Columbia (301 W. San Juan Ave.; 800-201-9505, 970-728-0660; Location, location, location! This handsomely updated boutique hotel stands by the San Miguel Riverat the base of the ski area (right by the gondola). It’s within easy walking distance of restaurants and shops. The 21 rooms and suites are contemporary but cozy, decorated in pleasant neutrals. Amenities include pillow-top beds with goose-down comforters, flat-screen TVs, wireless Internet, and iPod clock radios; some rooms have view balconies and hot  tubs. All guests get a deluxe continental breakfast at the hotel’s Cosmopolitan Restaurant, a popular spot for cocktails and dinner (French, Southwestern, American, Thai). Friendly, helpful staffers create a family feeling. Rooms $175-$465, suites $385-$725, varying by season.