This past weekend, I went with some friends to Beaver Creek for a night off from the city (because, obviously, we live so hard and fast in Denver that we need a break). But this wasn't some rustic retreat: The Condo of Beaver Creek is a gated community inside of Avon. You have to give the lady in the booth at the entrance a reason you're entering before you're even allowed in — and I'm pretty sure we had to pay just to do that. 

Five things destitute dames need to know about shacking up in fancy hotels

Once inside, it was like the fake European villa of my dreams. Our hotel was built into the base of ski runs where white people got to sit by a bonfire (or my personal favorite, a jacuzzi) and watch other white people ski. But I quickly picked up on the fact that I didn't have nearly the manners needed for such a fancy place. Here are some things I learned in the 24 hours that I was wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe and plenty of monetary discomfort.

1. You don't have to take everything "free" that is offered to you Though my first inclination was to stuff every tiny jar of jam, delicious-smelling shampoo and pair of too-nice-to-be-disposable house shoes (I mean, slippers) into my bag upon arrival, I didn't. After growing up in a family that "Kamped" (that's how KOA spelled it back in the day) in a 1970 Volkswagen bus, at 31 I'm still not used to the finer things. Like showers that don't need quarters to turn them on. Or soap that doesn't come wrapped in paper that says "thanks" and makes you feel dirtier after your shower than you did before you got in.

2. Just because a fancy hotel has complimentary bathrobes doesn't mean you can wear them to brunch Naturally, when I emerged from the hot tub after a morning dip, I went straight into the dining room for brunch. In my bathrobe. Because that's what fancy people do in the movies, right? Wear oversized robes made specifically for lounging around, in all areas of the hotel, because it's like a giant version of your own house? Wrong.

Not only was I the lone diner in a stark white bathrobe, I was the only one with a gay husband in swim trunks, a towel and my flip-flops. After hitting the buffet line, we settled in to enjoy our breakfast and coffee -- but he was soon asked to go back to our room and put on more clothes. While I was not asked to do so, I still felt a twinge of Pretty Woman awkwardness sitting alone at the table in a bathrobe, surrounded by families in neon ski apparel, waiting for my companion to come back "properly clothed." Then again, I feel like Vivian Ward the majority of the time when I'm in a place that feels expensive, regardless of whether I'm wearing a robe or not. It's like even the artwork can tell how poor I am.

3. A breakfast buffet and a continental breakfast aren't the same thing At La Quinta, Motel 6 and other semi-hotels of my usual caliber, a continental breakfast usually means it's free. It also means cereal, dry toast and, if you're lucky, some kind of protein like yogurt or sausage links fresh from the microwave. But at fancy hotels, a breakfast buffet translates to $30. Those bucks will get you omelets prepared to order, never-ending cups of good coffee and fresh fruit, so it's a trade-off. When in doubt, however, both fancy and non-fancy hotels always have cereal, and you can't go wrong with Froot Loops. Even if they're $5 a bowl.

4. Hot tubs have time limits Though this joint in Beaver Creek had five jacuzzis, it's still not appropriate to stay in one for more than an hour. Not just for health reasons, but also because you don't want to bogart the hot tub. It looks tacky. To me, pools and hot tubs equal ritzy shit, so when I encounter a place with a heated outdoor pool and enough jacuzzis for my entire family to enjoy their own tub, I want to be in one. For hours. I don't have such luxuries in my everyday life (which is why I illegally pool-hop in the summer months), so of course I desire to boil myself alive. But fancy people don't do this. Fancy people in fancy hotels practice moderation.

5. You can't blend in, so don't even bother trying By this I mean, if you wear stretch pants and band T-shirts all the time, just wear them to your fancy hotel. Everything you own will make you look poor anyway, so there's no use in trying to fit in with all the Ralph Laurens wandering the lobby in loafers with no socks. Besides, even if I had the money to dress well, I'd end up looking like Lloyd and Harry, post-Pretty Woman makeover. Or, in a more true reflection of my fancy style, I might resemble Biggie Shorty. Which I would prefer, actually.

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