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Snow Flurries: Ski Resort Spas Melt Away Stress: Part II

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Viceroy Spa, Snowmass

Viceroy Spa, Snowmass

by Kim McHugh

As reported in an earlier post, skiers and snowboarders aren’t content any longer to just cruise down the trails on their mountain vacations. Indeed, many resort visitors find relaxing in a quiet room, getting a massage, enjoying a facial or experiencing a host of body therapies (think seaweed wraps, salt baths, oxygen infusions) are great add-ons to their trip. Here is a continuation of spa choices in snow country.

Amangani, Jackson Hole

Amangani, Jackson Hole

AMANGANI SPA, Jackson Hole, Wyoming—Four treatment rooms, two exercise studios, and separate men’s and women’s steam rooms make a visit here rewarding. Amangani, voted the #1 Ski Hotel in North America by Condé Nast Traveler readers, is a resort whose setting on the edge of East Gros Ventre Butte provides panoramic views of the peaks around Grand Teton National Park.
Guests benefit from a spa menu that not only includes a range of massages, facials and healing therapies, but also mud, salt and seaweed body treatments in the wet room. Yoga, Body Shaping, FitBall training, Active Isolated Stretching and personal training are in the Wellness Studio. Outfitted with two ellipticals, one recumbent bike and two treadmills the Fitness Centre invites guests to boost their cardio. 307-734-7333; www.amanresorts.com.
 
AVELLO SPA & HEALTH CLUB, Whistler, BC—Named by SKI Magazine’s 27th annual Reader’s Poll as the number one resort in North America, Whistler/Blackcomb is unquestionably popular. A favorite place for visitors to convene is the Avello Spa & Health Club at Westin Resort & Spa. Offering 75+ treatments, from facials and body wraps to hot rock massages, it is a great spot for re-booting the body and mind. Twenty four treatment areas, eucalyptus steam rooms, a guest lounge featuring a river rock fireplace, and floor-to-ceiling windows revealing mountain views make the spa and health club, which occupies two levels, one of the most dramatic in snow country. The health club has free weights, an indoor/outdoor pool, two hot tubs and gear designed for cardio and resistance training. In-room spa treatments are also available in hotel guest’s rooms. 604-935-3444, www.whistlerspa.com .
 
BACHELOR GULCH SPA AT THE RITZ-CARLTON, Bachelor Gulch, Colorado—A Forbes Four Star-rated resort and spa, the 21,000-square-foot retreat features 19 treatment rooms, a manicure/pedicure salon, and a curated spa menu that includes rejuvenating treatments for couples, expectant mothers, and bride and groom. In 2013 the resort topped Travel + Leisure magazine’s 2013 World’s Best Awards list of Top Hotel Spas in the Continental U.S. and its spa wows guests with men’s and women’s rock-lined grottos featuring steam, sauna, hot and cold plunge area and a co-ed rock-lined grotto with waterfall. Treatments like Roaring Rapids, a hydrotherapy massage experience, and Hot Toddy for the Body, a luxurious scrub containing sweet almond oil, jojoba beads and shea butter with the aromatic spices of cinnamon and nutmeg that is massaged into the skin keeps guests coming back. 970-478-6200, www.ritzcarlton.com .

Bishop's Lodge Spa, Santa Fe

Bishop’s Lodge Spa, Santa Fe

BISHOP’S LODGE, Santa Fe, New Mexico—Meaning “vitality and energy” in Navajo, SháNah is how guests feel after visiting the SháNah Spa & Wellness Center near the Ski Santa Fe resort. Six indoor treatment rooms, two outdoor private massage gardens, an outdoor Watsu pool, fitness center and an authentic Native American Teepee for massage and private reflection give guests a portal towards discovering rich Native American customs woven into exhilarating rituals for body and mind. Treatments like the Purification Polish, a body scrub using a blend of blue corn with mineral salts and Aloe Vera gel, the Tesuque Clay Wrap, where a mineral rich clay masque is applied to the body to nourish and detoxify the skin or Desert Fusion, where a custom blend of essential oils is rubbed on your body to leave you felling wholly energized. 505-983-6377, www.bishopslodge.com.
 
FOUR SEASONS SPA/JACKSON HOLE, Jackson Hole, Wyoming—Recognized among the Top 100 Spa Resorts in the U.S. in a Condé Nast 2012 readers’ poll, this spa invites guests to enjoy a range of massages and treatments to promote relaxation, invigoration and renewal. Of 16 treatment rooms in this luxurious 11,685-square-foot escape, two private suites each have a Swiss shower, fireplace and deep soaking tub. Men’s and women’s tranquility lounges with fireplaces also occupy the space. Guests choose from treatments like Native Stone, where warm stones are used in combination with organic oils to bring instant relief to tense muscles and sore joints, Awaken, a full-body brushing followed by a coffee, cinnamon and clay wrap to remove dead skin cells and promote detoxification, and Alpine Berry, where crushed hawthorn berries mixed with strawberry seeds, wild honey and peppermint to bring a skin-smoothing experience. 307-732-5175, www.fourseasons.com/jacksonhole .

Sebastian Spa, Vail

Sebastian Spa, Vail

THE BLOOM SPA, Vail, Colorado—Located at The Sebastian, voted #1 Best Hotel in the West in 2014 in the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards, the Bloom Spa leaves guests feeling peaceful and rejuvenated. Bloom’s six treatment rooms include four for massages, a couple’s room, and one for facials. Separate men and women’s areas have steam rooms and saunas, and in-suite services are available for hotel guests. Focused on six core areas—Thrive, Nourish, Flourish, Luxuriate, Glow and Refresh—treatments include the “8150 Elevation Attunement,” which includes oxygen inhalation, a high altitude massage and an oxygenating elixir to promote adaptation to the higher altitude of the Rockies. Cardio and strength training equipment by Technogym® also keeps guests fit and trim. A Ski Free/Spa Free Package starts at $288 per person, per night. 970-477-8000, www.thesebastianvail.com/bloom-spa.
 
SPA ANJALI, Beaver Creek, Colorado—Centered on three healing mountain regions—the Alps, Rocky Mountains and Himalayas—Spa Anjali at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa offers guests a full menu of relaxing spa treatments. Ranked #8 in 2013 on the “Top 100 U.S. Resort Spas” list by Condé Nast Traveler, the 27,000 square-foot spa recently underwent a major renovation.
Guests benefit from a new trio of rejuvenating Chakra Blessing treatments, a unique collection of ancient rituals designed to help to balance energy, clear negativity and create an optimal state of well being. Easy access to the resort’s saline-based outdoor pool and three riverside hot tubs give guests additional ways to unwind and feel refreshed. A state-of-the-art Athletic Club offers an extensive schedule of daily ski conditioning, group exercise, Pilates, yoga and cycling classes. 970-790-3020, www.spaanjali.com .

Remede Spa, St Regis, Aspen

Remede Spa, St Regis, Aspen

ST. REGIS REMÈDE SPA, Aspen, Colorado—One of only 120 spas to receive a Forbes Four Star Award The Remède Spa had a “facelift” last fall, giving it a hip, modern look. Celebrating its 10-year anniversary, the spa has a number of specials as well as a fun way to après ski—the St. Regis’ traditional Afternoon Tea Service in the relaxation lounge.
Named in the Travel & Leisure 2014 Readers’ Choice Survey as the #1 Hotel Spa in the World, it invites guests to experience the Oxygen Lounge, a popular spot for guests to acclimate to Aspen’s altitude. A heated pool and three outdoor hot tub areas combine with treatments like Farm-to-Massage-Table. A twist on the popular Farm-to-Table concept, it uses locally sourced, natural ingredients in a five-course spa experience. 970-920-3300, www.stregisaspen.com .
 
VICEROY, Snowmass, Colorado—From Ute Indian-inspired therapies to contemporary beauty rituals, the 7,000-square-foot Viceroy Aspen Snowmass spa provides guests a wonderful sanctuary. Designed by Jean Michel-Gathy the space has six treatment rooms, including a couple’s suite and a hydrotherapy Vichy showers room. Enriching the spa experience is a meditative relaxation lounge, whose sound of falling water from an infinity pool and waterfall is deeply soothing.
Its fitness center, adjacent to the spa, encourages guests to burn calories with Technogym® treadmills, cross trainers, stair climbers, exer-cycles and lateral trainers. Nurturing, rejuvenating and holistic spa treatments are comprised of rituals inspired by ancient Ute, Nordic and Asian ceremonies and culture, as well as traditional massage, facial, and beautification journeys. A slope side pool and 15 percent discounts on all spa treatments before 1 p.m. daily add to the appeal. 970-923-8000, www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com .

Waldorf Astoria Spa, Park City

Waldorf Astoria Spa, Park City

WALDORF ASTORIA SPA, Park City, Utah—Recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as a “Top Hotel in Utah” on the 2014 Gold List and listed in 2013 among the “Top 500 World’s Best Hotels” by Travel + Leisure, no wonder skiers and riders are quick to check in. Located at the base of Canyons Resort, the 16,000 square-foot spa includes 15 treatment rooms, including a few specially designed rooms for Thai massage and couples treatments.  The state-of-the-art fitness center, kinesis studio, a private STOTT Pilates studio buddy up with a full-service hair and nail salon to entice guests to be place even further under the spell of the Waldorf Astoria magic. Forming the foundations for the spa are ancient Asian influences, environmental attunement and classic European spa techniques. Tea and Fireside Lounges—complete with custom teas—amplify the warm, stress-free environment. 435-647-5500, www.parkcitywaldorfastoria.com .
 
Details: Check with the spas to learn about full day, half-day and multi-day packages and or specials that include a variety of body and skin treatments. Bride-to-be, moms-to-be, new moms and male-centric packages are common as well. Personalized wellness, skiing/snowboarding fitness and nutritional programs are often available (expect to pay a premium fee) and, in most cases, you needn’t be a guest of the hotel to be able to visit the spa. Most spas have an age minimum for guests that is 16 years and older. Gratuities to spa staffers are extra.

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Snow Flurries: Palette Pleasing High Mountain Restaurants

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Zach's Cabin, Beaver Creek.

Zach’s Cabin, Beaver Creek.

By Kim McHugh

Serving Zagat Survey-worthy cuisine and postcard views, these snow country restaurants invite you to pull up a chair and eat yourself silly. From entrées such as Pecan Crusted Elk Tenderloin and Sea Bass with Manila Clams, Apple Cider and Chili Braised Beef Short Ribs, Crab Stuffed Rocky Mountain Trout, Vegetable Napoleon and Lobster Risotto, be prepared to be satiated at a higher altitude.

Allred's, Telluride.

Allred’s, Telluride.

Allred’s
www.tellurideskiresort.com
(970) 728-7474

At the top of the gondola Telluride’s flagship restaurant offers a memorable dining experience. Welcomed by General Manager Mario Petillo, patrons look forward to an extraordinary evening. A menu inspired by Chef Mike Regrut features delectable elk, lamb, steak, and seafood entrees, as well as fresh local vegetables, salads and a wonderful wine selection. Dinner served nightly.

Alpenglow Stube, Keystone

Alpenglow Stube, Keystone

Alpenglow Stube, Keystone
www.keystoneresort.com
800-354-4386

At an altitude of 11,444 feet, the Alpenglow Stube (pronounced STEW-bay) is North America’s highest AAA Four-Diamond fine dining experience. Draped with a lap blanket, guests arrive via a pair of über fast gondola rides. The menu features a choice of four- or seven-course dinners focused on Colorado and contemporary cuisine with Bavarian accents. Dining is offered Thursday – Sunday.

Alpino Vino, Telluride

Alpino Vino, Telluride

Alpino Vino
www.tellurideskiresort.com
(970) 728-7474
The highest elevation fine-dining restaurant in North America at 11,966 feet, Alpino Vino is reminiscent of intimate restaurants found throughout the Dolomites of Northern Italy. Traveling by heated snow coach guests are awed by views of the Wilson Range and then enjoy a five-course Italian-themed menu along with the warmth of a wood-burning fireplace. Dinner served Wednesday – Saturday.

 

Beano's Cabin, Beaver Creek.

Beano’s Cabin, Beaver Creek.

Beano’s Cabin, Vail

www.beanoscabinbeavercreek.com

970-754-3463

Hidden amongst aspens and evergreens at the base of Larkspur Bowl, Beano’s Cabin satisfies with AAA Four Diamond Award, DiRoNA award and the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence dishes. Accessible via skis, snowboard or snowcat-drawn sleigh, the restaurant features three- and five-course prix fixe dinners in a “Jeremiah-Johnson-meets-Ralph-Lauren” log cabin. Dinner is served Thursday – Sunday.

 

Cloud Nine, Aspen Highlands

Cloud Nine, Aspen Highlands

Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, Aspen Highlands
www.aspensnowmass.com
970-923-8715

A most aptly named restaurant, Cloud Nine Bistro is an intimate, Euro-style bistro with ski-in/ski-out table service for lunch or dinners on most Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The hearty European-style fare might include Raclette or Fondue, Duck Confit, Black Truffle Gnocchi, or Bouillabaisse. After 1:30pm, champagne bottles begin popping, the music volume increases, and a lively dance party takes over the cabin.  Also open for private dinner parties.

Couloir

www.jacksonhole.com
307-739-2675

Couloir, Jackson Hole’s most unique dining experience, is located at the summit of the Bridger Gondola at 9,095 feet. Named on the Condé Nast Hot Tables List, its seasonal menu features American cuisine with Rocky Mountain roots. The Wine Spectator award- acknowledged Executive Chef Wes Hamilton, who also offers Chef’s Table dining for parties up to six, helms the eatery. Dinner served Thursday, Friday and select holidays.

Der Fondue Band, Keystone

Der Fondue Band, Keystone

Der Fondue Chessel
www.keystoneresort.com
800-354-4386

A decidedly Bavarian vibe characterizes Der Fondue Chessel, which sits atop North Peak. After a pair of gondola rides, guests gather round the tables to perhaps start the evening with a traditional Swiss Cheese fondue—a blend of Gruyère and Emmentaler cheeses mixed with a little white wine and kirschwasser. Meats, veggies, bread cubes, crisp apples add to the dipping fun. Dinner offered Wednesday – Saturday.

Four Points
www.steamboat.com
970-871-5150
Located at 9,716 feet atop the Four Points chairlift, the Four Points Lodge offers a five-course culinary experience rooted in the traditions and flavors of Northern Italy. Guests travel by heated snowcat to sample Chef John Shaw’s innovative cuisine that focuses on healthy, made-to-order items featuring local ingredients, fresh made salads, pastas, homemade soups and hot-stone

Game Creek, Vail
www.vail.com
970-754-4275

Nestled in Game Creek Bowl, this dining destination is reached via skiing or snowboarding down Ouzo or by snowcat from the top of the Eagle Bahn Gondola. Once inside, guests cozy up to the fireplace before venturing into the Mount Jackson Room. A fusion of American-French cuisine with regional and seasonal ingredients awaits patrons. Open for dinner Tuesday – Saturday.

Hazie’s
www.steamboat.com
970-871-5150

Enjoying a short gondola ride from the base, guests are treated to the best views in the Yampa Valley before reaching the summit and entering Hazie’s where the views are equally stunning. The restaurant, named after Hazel Mae Werner, Olympian Buddy Werner’s mom, features an a la carte menu with culinary delights such as a Blue Cheese Crusted Filet of Beef and Macadamia Nut Crusted Halibut. Open Wednesday – Saturday.

Grilled cheese at Alpino Vino, Telluride.

Grilled cheese at Alpino Vino, Telluride.

The Lodge At Sunspot, Winter Park
www.winterparkresort.com
970.726.1446

Board the Zephyr Express gondola and your next stop is this award-winning restaurant, whose stone hearth fireplace acts as a magnet. The culinary astute have been seeking its five-course dinners for years along with an excellent wine selection. Elk Tournedos, Steelhead Trout, Colorado lamb, fondue and vegetarian fare tempt patrons. Open for dinner Friday and Saturday evenings and select holidays.

Lynn Britt Cabin, Snowmass
www.aspensnowmass.com
800-525-6200 x4715

Traveling to the cabin by snowcat, up to 60 patrons can enjoy an exquisite, four-course dinner that kicks off with a basket of fresh baked breads and muffins. Menu choices might feature steak, trout, lamb or duck, and one of the tastiest treats is the live bluegrass and Celtic music played by local musicians. Reservations for the Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday seatings are required.

Lamb Chop at Beano's Cabin, Beaver Creek

Lamb Chop at Beano’s Cabin, Beaver Creek

The Peak Lodge
www.killington.com
800-621-6867

Built in 1967 as the Summit Terminal the original Peak Lodge was positioned to serve up panoramic views of the Green, White, and Adirondack Mountains. Able to accommodate up to 300 guests for special event/occasion dining, the restaurant is accessed via the K-1 Express Gondola. Expect cuisine crafted with robust flavors and healthy mountain living in mind.

Parallax at McCoy Station
www.mammothmountain.com
800-626-6684

Arriving by a luxury heated snowcat guests look forward to a gourmet dining adventure at 9,600 feet. A delicious four-course dining experience awaits at Parallax, the private dining room at McCoy Station. Start your ride with a glass of champagne followed by a Chef’s Table dinner perhaps comprised of Mussels in Cioppino Broth, Colorado Lamb Chop or Red Elk Loin. Seatings available Friday, Saturday and during holidays.

Ragnar's, Steamboat.

Ragnar’s, Steamboat.

Ragnar’s, Steamboat Springs
www.steamboat.com
970-871-5150

Ragnar’s, named in honor of ski jumper Ragnar Omtvedt, is fabelaktig (Norwegian for fabulous). Guests ride the gondola to the summit before traveling by a snowcat-drawn sleigh to this Scandinavian chalet in the woods. Tout de Mer, seafood wrapped in a pastry shell, Pomegranate Duck Breast and Herb Grilled Venison are a few of the temptations. Dinner is offered Thursday – Saturday.

The Roundhouse
www.sunvalley.com
208-622-2012

Since 1939 the Roundhouse has been serving delicious meals, soul-warming drinks and stunning views from Mount Baldy. After riding the Gondola to an elevation of 7,700 feet, guests savor American/European cuisine such as Cheese Fondue for Two, Braided Puff Pastry Salmon and Napoleon of Roasted Vegetables. Its central stone fireplace, and vintage photos of Sun Valley’s history enrich the ambience. Dinner Fridays and Saturdays.

 

The 10th at Vail.

The 10th at Vail.

The 10th
www.vail.com
970-754-1010

Overlooking the Gore Range, The 10th is Vail’s newest ski-in, ski-out fine dining experience. A nod to the World War II veterans of the 10th Mountain Division, including several of Vail’s founders, The 10th invites guests to arrive on Gondola One to enjoy a gourmet dinner atop Vail Mountain. With a focus on Modern Alpine classics, the cuisine is as impressive as the views. Dinner is offered Tuesday – Saturday.

Zach's Cabin, Beaver Creek.

Zach’s Cabin, Beaver Creek.

Zach’s Cabin, Beaver Creek
www.beavercreek.com
(970) 754-6575

Serving American cuisine with a distinctly Pacific twist, Zach’s Cabin is a perennial favorite of Beaver Creek visitors. Executive Chef Tim McCaw, a Colorado native, favors fresh Colorado produce in his amazing dishes. Awarded the Wine Spectator Best Of Award of Excellence for five years running, Zach’s is accessed by a sleigh ride and can accommodate up to 110 guests. Dinner is served Tuesday – Saturday.

Editor’s Note: Reservations are encouraged for these restaurants. When consuming alcohol keep in mind that the higher the elevation the more potent the effect (e.g. one glass of wine at sea level may feel like two or three glasses at 8,500 feet or higher). Ask if there is a child’s menu and associated pricing.

 

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Exclusive Powder at Beaver Creek

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Beaver Creek, Colorado

Beaver Creek, Colorado

Story & photos by David McKay Wilson

Vail and Beaver Creek will become the center of the ski world in early February when the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships return to the Colorado Rockies for 14 days of ski racing and partying. My son and I visited the resorts – just 11 miles apart on I-70 – in mid-December as an electronic sign at Beaver Creek’s entry counted down the hours until the opening ceremonies.

We met up in the mountains after he’d completed his first term in college, and I’d found a way to thrive, for yet another year, in the trenches of daily newspaper journalism. There’s nothing like a few days in the mountains to reconnect, and recharge. As my sons grow older, there are fewer pursuits we can enjoy together. Skiing remains one activity that can captivate us for days.

We’d rolled the dice on a pre-Christmas ski vacation, uncertain if the snow gods would do their light and fluffy thing so early in the season. As luck would have it, they delivered. We hit it just right, arriving on Monday, just after 17 inches of snow had fallen. A day later Beaver Creek opened Grouse Mountain for the season, with more than three feet of powder for the taking that memorable morning floating down Bald Eagle and Raven Ridge. We finished up the week at Vail, which was awash in powder in the Back Bowls, with ample swaths of fresh snow welcoming us a week after the major storm.

We cavorted in Siberia Bowl, finding deep snow in Gorky Park and making graceful turns through the trees in the Shangri-La Glade. Even the boulder fields off the top of Blue Sky Basin on Steep and Deep had enough coverage in mid-December.

“I could ski these bowls all week,” my son declared. “There are so many lines to ski, and so much snow.” The powder alerts from Vail on my phone following our visit provided prodigious evidence that Colorado was in for a fabulous 2015: twelve inches on Dec. 22, eleven inches on Dec. 23, eight inches on Dec. 26 and another inches on Dec. 27.

 

Luke in the powder at Beaver Creek.

Luke in the powder at Vail.

This was good news for Vail Resorts, one of the world’s biggest ski companies, which owns 11 ski resorts, including Vail and Beaver Creek. The publicly traded company bills itself as “the premier mountain resort company in the world and a leader in luxury destination-based travel at iconic locations.”
We’d arrived in Beaver Creek, just a week after the company had announced that its most recent purchase – Park City Mountain Resort in Utah – would merge in 2016 with its adjacent Canyons resort to form the world’s largest ski area, with 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. Vail Resorts plans to connect the resorts with a gondola, as part of its $50 million investment in the merger over the coming year.

Flights were too expensive into nearby Eagle/Vail, so we took the 6:30 a.m. United flight to Denver out of New York City, and were on the mountain skiing by 1:45 p.m., after stopping at Christy Sports to rent a pair of Rossignol Soul 7s for my son. We stayed in Beaver Creek, in a well-appointed Highlands Slopeside condominium, one of 230 managed by East West Resorts. Slopeside meant we could ski down to the lifts in the morning, and find our way down from the Buckaroo Gondola at days end. Staying at the Slopeside gave us privileges at Allegria Spa at the Park Hyatt, which featured an outdoor pool and hot tub, with a warm waterfall of steamy water that fell ever so gently on my tired shoulders.

Highlands Slopeside, one of the many condoes managed by East West at Beaver Creek.

Highlands Slopeside, one of the many condos managed by East West at Beaver Creek.

After my soak, I had a glass of Fat Tire Ale at the Park Hyatt bar, where I met Dr. Kelly Grimes, a physician from Fort Worth who was settling in with his family for a few days on the mountain, which included a sleigh ride up the mountain to a cabin for dinner one night, and a day of snowmobiling with Vail Valley Tours later in the week.

“This place is off the chain,” he said.

Beaver Creek is one of those exclusive resort towns constructed in the mountains, set off from the town, which you enter through a guarded gate. There’s a bit of a Disney World feel, with many of the buildings connected with underground tunnels, a high-end boutique shops in the ski village, and chocolate chip cookies served each day at 3:30 p.m. Its winding roads on the mountainside don’t lend themselves to walking in the winter, but the Beaver Creek free transportation system is a charm. We were on the Eastern Route, which came around every 20 minutes or so.

The author enjoying freshies at Vail.

The author enjoying freshies at Vail.

But you could call for your own free ride to anywhere within the resort by calling Dial-A-Ride, which came promptly during the pre-Christmas lull. I was warned they can take longer during busy holiday weeks.
There are ample opportunities for fine dining – both on the mountain and in town. Our best dinner came one night at Maya, a Richard Sandoval restaurant at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa, just outside the gates of Beaver Creek, in Avon. I’d worked up a mighty thirst on the slopes, which was slaked with a mango margarita. Our waitress made us two guacamoles at the table – one with bacon, and another with tuna tartare. My entrée was divine: chipotle rubbed salmon, with lacinto kale and sweet potato puree.

At Vail, we skied to The 10th, in Mid-Vail for lunch in the resort’s sit-down restaurant, where you take off your boots and put on a pair of slippers, and order from menu. I found sustenance in a cup of steaming hot chocolate, the tomato-filled minestrone soup and a tasty grilled panini.

The race stands are ready for the fans at Beaver Creek.

The race stands are ready for the fans at Beaver Creek.

Parking at Vail can be expensive, so we did as the locals do: we parked on North Frontage Road in West Vail, and hopped on the free bus from the stop by the Safeway grocery sore to the Sandstone stop. We lugged our skis across the walking bridge spanning I-70 and jumped on the lift at Lionshead.

Vail/Beaver Creek could get busy come early February, when skiers from more than 70 nations descend on the two ski towns for the world championships, which were last here in 1999. Hopes are high for the hometown gals, Lindsey Vonn and Michaela Shiffrin. Beaver Creek has emerged at the United States’ premier alpine ski racing venue, with the annual Birds of Prey downhill race. In February, there will be 11 events over two weeks, with all but one of the races in Beaver Creek. The awards ceremonies, and the evening free, and ticketed, concerts, meanwhile, will be in Vail. The races will be held off the Birds of Prey lift, so the rest of the resorts trails won’t be affected by the races. Spectators can watch the races for free – either in the temporary stands that went up in December, on by hiking up the hill and watching trailside.

Visit Beaver Creek

David McKay Wilson, a veteran journalist who lives in New York's Hudson Valley, is an avid cyclist, skier and swing dancer. His travel writing has taken him around the world, with his work appearing in the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Hartford Courant, and several Gannett daily newspapers.

David McKay Wilson, a veteran journalist who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, is an avid cyclist, skier and swing dancer. His travel writing has taken him around the world, with his work appearing in the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Hartford Courant, and several Gannett daily newspapers.

The Ultimate Ski Resort Guide to Plan Your Perfect Trip

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Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Tram at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

By Larry Olmsted

Colorado’s ski season is off to a tremendous start, Utah is catching up and Tahoe is finally shaking off the snow shortage of the past two seasons and returning to its normal deep, white conditions. Early pre-Christmas snow across New England helped kick off the winter in style in Vermont and New Hampshire, and more is on the way. For skiers and snowboarders the season is off to a great start, and as usual, a lot of friends and acquaintances have been calling or emailing me with the same questions I get around this time every year, “Where should I go for my ski vacation?” or “What’s the best ski resort?”

Continue reading …

 

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Midmountain Majesty at Telluride’s Chic Madeline Hotel

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Hotel Madeline, Telluride

Hotel Madeline, Telluride

By Everett Potter

Telluride is Hollywood’s idea of a Western ski town. Thanks to a late 19th-century silver boom, it is packed with ornate clapboard Victorian homes, most of them in a National Historic Landmark District. The backdrop of jagged mountain peaks is as dramatic as anything this side of the Swiss Alps, while the ski mountain has legendary steeps and bump runs–The Plunge looks like a giant overturned egg carton on a nosebleed-inducing incline–that rival those at Jackson Hole.

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Snow Flurries: Exploring Slopes On A Snow Bike

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Snowbiking at Winter Park, CO

Snowbiking at Winter Park, CO

 

By Kim McHugh

Remember your first bike? Mine was a candy apple red Schwinn and I wish I could have ridden it year round. But I grew up in Illinois, where the long winters meant trading my bike for skis, ice skates or a Flexible Flyer. Had I been more imaginative, I would have invented the snow bike, the device that is now transporting me down the mountain in a “laugh-out-loud-fun” fashion.

Now in my AARP years, and after more than 40 seasons on skis, I thought I would try a new way during my visit to Telluride to go from point A to point B. A snow bike was just the ticket.

 

 

Sport Invented in the 1940s

Austrian Englebert Brenter is credited with designing the first snow bike in 1949 in his factory in Hallein, Austria. Fashioned in the spirit of a bicycle, a snow bike, instead of having two wheels, a chain and hand brakes, has a front and rear ski. Ridden similarly as a two-wheeler, it has the rider sitting on a seat and steering primarily by turning the handlebars, and assisted by short skis attached to each ski boot.

This gives you the ability to cruise the trails controlling your speed and direction by keeping your feet and the bike’s skis on the snow, leaning right or left to steer and stop. Resorts like Breckenridge, Telluride, Copper Mountain and Purgatory/Durango have been offering snowbiking for years, but Crested Butte is hopping on this season.

“We want our guests to have fun on our mountain, whether it is skiing, snowboarding or snow biking,” said Nick Herrin, Assistant General Manager, Crested Butte Mountain Resort. “Snow bikes allow you to get out on intermediate and beginner terrain and really have fun with the family.”

 

Telluride snowbiking class. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Telluride snowbiking class. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Easy As Riding A Bicycle

I started my day gripped equally by enthusiasm and trepidation, not convinced that my skiing expertise would translate into snowbiking mastery.

My instructor, who, equipped with identical gear, shared the basics of the sport with me as we walked to a virtually flat slope with a 500-yard face, soon vanquished my fears.

Having ridden a bike for more than fifty years, it seemed plausible that I could get the hang of this new sport pretty quickly throughout the course of my 45-minute lesson.

At first, every action felt foreign and I envisioned roaring toward the bottom and crashing like a bowling ball into the unsuspecting people below. But after 20 turns, the feelings passed, and I gained more confidence, slowing to a stop 100 feet from the lift.

What followed was what I feared would be the hardest acts of all; getting on and off the lift. Shuffling through the line was a little like walking on a tile floor in bare feet covered with olive oil.

Next, I had to hoist the 17-pound bike on to the lift, worried I might drop the darned thing. However, boarding went smoothly, and I was headed back up the mountain relieved. That changed as we approached the summit. Worried about a finger-pointing, laugh generating fall, I asked my instructor to review the departure instructions.

Her coaching paid off and I got off the lift without incident on my way to making my descent on Double Cabin. On this, the first top-to-bottom trail, it quickly became clear as to how snow biking was so easy.

 

Telluride snowbiking. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Telluride snowbiking. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Didn’t Want the Adventure to End

I leaned left; I leaned right, repeating these moves with increasing confidence, even picking up speed as I made my way to the bottom. My instructor and I made another six round trips, graduating to slightly steeper and longer runs with each journey.

Appreciating that I wasn’t yet skilled enough to tackle a black diamond, I stuck to the blue runs as I buzzed from side to side. With each turn, I sent long plumes of snow from under my skis as I snaked down the mountain chasing my instructor in a game of cat and mouse.

On Marmot, we took a side trail through the trees. About 30-feet wide, it was covered with small moguls and about five inches of new snow. The combination was just right to create the sensation of being a kernel of popcorn in a popper, as we bounced and floated along. I ended my inaugural snow bike riding morning with another run down Sundance, hesitating to return my newfound toy to the rental shop, but making a promise to myself to do it again. Laughing out loud all the way.

 

Telluride snowbiking group. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Telluride snowbiking group. Photo courtesy Telluride Ski & Golf.

Where to ride: Snow bikes are permitted at these resorts:

California

  • Heavenly*

Kirkwood*

Sierra-at-Tahoe*

Colorado

  • Arapahoe Basin*
  • Aspen*
  • Beaver Creek*
  • Breckenridge
  • Copper Mountain
  • Crested Butte
  • Durango
  • Eldora*
  • Keystone
  • Snowmass*
  • Steamboat
  • Telluride
  • Vail
  • Winter Park

Montana

  • Big Sky•
  • Whitefish*

New Mexico

  • Angel Fire*
  • Pajarito*
  • Sipapu

Oregon

  • Hoodoo

Utah

  • Brighton*
  • Sundance*

Vermont

  • Sugarbush*

Washington

  • Crystal Mountain

      *Snow bikes are not rented and lessons/certification aren’t offered at this resort; personal bikes and bikes rented elsewhere are allowed; the bike must have a leash and riders must adhere to resort guidelines for riding. If the resort you’re visiting isn’t listed, find out if it allows or disallows snow biking.

 

A Fat Bike at Telluride, CO

A Fat Bike at Telluride, CO

Note: At resorts like Sundance (UT), Sugar Bowl (CA), Boyne Highlands (MI), Telluride and Crested Butte (CO) and Giants Ridge (MN) you can go fat biking. Riders pedal what is basically a mountain bike with wider tires then generally ride on groomed XC trails.

 

Lessons/Certification: Depending on which resort you visit, you can take a lesson, get oriented or be certified. Crested Butte, for example, offers a two-hour certification starting at $110, plus bike rental and lift ticket, while Keystone’s lesson and rental costs $49, plus lift ticket. Once a guest is certified via the lesson, they can rent a bike for $40/day. Telluride’s two-hour certification costs $160 and includes a lift ticket, plus use of the bike for the day.

 

Intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders can enjoy riding at Vail’s Adventure Ridge. Cost is $70 for a full day rental, $50 for a half day; a lesson is included in the rental price. Guests can also do an evening guided snow bike tour at Vail’s Adventure Ridge; cost is $80 for the two-hour tour. A helmet, while not required, is recommended. www.skicb.com/snowbike. Rentals range from $35 to $89, depending on where you rent and whether it is a half-day or full-day rental.

 

Snowbiking at Keystone, CO. Photo courtesy Jordan Loyd.

Snowbiking at Keystone, CO. Photo courtesy Jordan Loyd.

Rental Sources: Breckenridge and Copper Mountain, www.rogerssnowbikerentals.com; A-Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, www.highcountryactivities.com; Purgatory/Durango, www.durangosnowbike.com; Denver Metro (serving most CO resorts), www.rentsnowbikes.com. Salt Lake City Metro (serving Brighton),  www.outlawunion.com

 

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Kim McHugh, a Lowell Thomas award-winning writer, has been skiing for 40+ seasons. His articles have appeared in SKI, Hemispheres, POWDER, Colorado AvidGolfer, Luxury Golf & Travel, RockyMountainGolfMag.com, The Washington Post, The Toronto Sun, The Denver Post and Tastes of Italia.

Breckenridge is Now Even Better

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Winter Views of the Town of Breckenridge.

 

By Larry Olmsted

American skiers and snowboarders are blessed with a wealth of great choices when it comes to planning a winter vacation, and there are plenty of excellent options – but Colorado’s Breckenridge should be near the top of any short list of finalists.

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Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Gifts for the Skier & Snowboarder

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ScarpaBoot

By Larry Olmsted

In this week’s holiday gift guide, I tackle two of my favorite sports, skiing and snowboarding. My picks range from high performance to comfort, at every price point. Unlike many magazine gift round-ups, I have either bought or tested a manufacturer sample, and personally tried and approved each product (unless otherwise indicated).

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Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

Award-winning travel journalist Larry Olmsted is a Contributing Editor to US Airways Magazine and Cigar Aficionado Magazine and “The Great Life” columnist for Forbes.com.

The Peak of Alpine Chic in Courchevel

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L'Apogee in Courchevel, France

L’Apogee in Courchevel, France

L’Apogée is the latest rarefied resort to open in Courchevel, that lair of ski-happy oligarchs in the French Alps that’s often dubbed Moscow-on-Snow. It’s situated in Courchevel 1850, the glamour-puss of the resort’s four villages (the number refers to the altitude in meters), an otherworldly locale where the sidewalks seem to sprout Parisian fashion designers and English celebrities, all jostling with those Russian magnates. This is the place, after all, that hired Karl Lagerfeld last year to give one of its cable cars a “makeover.”

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The Billionaire Who Bought Taos Ski Valley

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Hiking up Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley

Hiking up Kachina Peak at Taos Ski Valley

By Everett Potter

When hedge fund billionaire Louis Bacon bought northern New Mexico’s Taos Ski Valley (TSV) in December 2013, it baffled many in the ski world. Twenty miles outside the latter-day-hippie redoubt of Taos itself, TSV is arguably the least likely major U.S. ski resort to attract a highflier’s attention. It’s not a posh haven like Deer Valley or Beaver Creek but a none-too-chic outlier with an architectural hodgepodge of aging condos and ersatz alpine chalets. And its visitor base–it’s been drawing the same dedicated families for decades–likes it just the way it is.

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