We don't have a Monarch Ambassador yet, but here is a very good guide to skiing the place. http://monarchskiguide.com/
I haven't ever stayed overnight in Salida- I was always a Monarch day skier or ski camper for my trips.
By far the closest lodging to Monarch is the mountain lodge, but I have heard it is starting to get pretty ratty. It is about 7 minutes from the ski area, all other lodging is about 30 minutes away.
Mt Princeton Hot Springs are very cool and are about a 1/2 hour from Salida.
Salida also has an indoor hot spring pool in town, but the water is actually piped several miles from the spring and thus is not warm enough to get the pool to a hot level- the warm pool is about 95*. They have private baths that cost the same for 2 people as the pass to the pool, and we like these better as you get a chest deep bath with water as hot as you want it. It is not luxurious, but it does the trick after a day of skiing.
If you do make it down to Wolf Creek, you have some decisions to make. You have towns on both sides of the pass. South Fork is a little bit closer to the ski area and because you aren't driving over the pass to get to your hotel, about an hour closer of a drive. But, the town is really a summer resort town and basically shuts down in Winter- if you are looking for any type of Apres scene, this isn't it.
On the other hand, Pagosa Springs is a bit bigger, has more lodging options, and much more in the way of restaurants and such. It also has three hot spring pool options to choose from.
The closest lodging to Wolf on either side of the pass is here. It is about 5 miles West of South Fork- http://www.wolfcreekranchco.com/
I have heard good things about this one in South Fork- http://thewolfcreekskilodge.com/
I have never stayed at these, so can't really give you a good recommendation, but they don't look like the Bates from the road. There are a lot of hotel motel options in Pagosa including some chains, but I don't know much about them.
Regarding the ski experience at Wolf Creek, I think you would have a ball as long as you feel good about skiing well spaced trees. My only hesitation is that in certain areas of the mountain, you will find cliffs and chutes tucked away in those trees and it sounds like that isn't really your ballgame.
If you want to explore in the trees but don't want to get cliffed out, stay out of waterfall, except for the Southernmost gate that is just above the intersection of S' Wonderful and Navajo Trail. The area from Pitch's Gate to Tsunami is safe as well. If you are skiing Pitch's Gate or Serendipity and find yourself staring down at very steep chutes, cliffs, etc., it just means that you wandered skiers left into waterfall, and you can just traverse back skiers right and get to milder stuff. Stay out of the Numbered Chutes or further skiers right.
Drop me a line if you end up heading to Wolf. If I'm on the mountain that day, I'd be happy to take a few laps to help orient you.