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BANG FOR THE BUCK: ST. JULIEN HOTEL & SPA, BOULDER, COLORADO

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Why It’s a Contender: Most of America still thinks of Boulder as Berkeley with bigger hills, a gorgeous town 30 minutes from Denver (and under an hour from Denver International Airport) where aging hippies mingle with college kids and fitness-obsessed Boomers. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but Boulder has lately emerged as a first-rate getaway for foodies as well. If you’re headed to Colorado for business or vacation, consider a night or two at the 18-month-old St. Julien, Boulder’s first true luxury hotel in a century.

Who Should Go: Grownups looking for a romantic getaway in a chicly modern setting; food lovers who want to be able to walk to one of the wonderful restaurants (Frasca, The Kitchen, L’Atelier, Mateo, Seven Eurobar, etc.) that have sprung up along the lively Pearl Street pedestrian mall, just one block north.

The Rooms: Nicely balanced between soothing and hip, with comfy chairs and ottomans, spacious bathrooms, and some excellent photography on the walls. Guest rooms average 400 square feet.

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More Reasons to Stay: The indoor lap pool is perfect for working off last night’s dinner, and the 10,000 sq. ft. spa offers locally-based treatments under the Boulder Canyon moniker, and other, more international-themed indulgences.

What’s the Deal: Rack rates hover in the mid-$200 range, but specials and on-line deals (check hotels.com) abound, and paying $175 is not uncommon. Avoid weekends when parents of University of Colorado students pack the place, and you can score a room here for as little as $125 a great value.

Insider Tip: Don’t miss the bountiful Boulder Farmer’s Market, held every Wednesday and Saturday, a few blocks away.

Location, Location, Location: It’s just 45-minutes up to Estes Park, gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.

The Details: 900 Walnut St., Boulder, Colorado 80302; 877.303.0900; www.stjulien.com.

Tom Passavant

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