Aspen Colorado Skiing & Snowboarding Travel Vail: Aspen Colorado Skiing & Snowboarding Travel Vail
How do you book travel? Do you go directly to websites such as Expedia.com to check out any alluring offers they’re showcasing? Or perhaps you’re more destination or theme oriented and and you sift through info. at sites such as Ski.com and On the Snow.com? Do you troll the Internet for stories from travel publications and blogs to read about places from a firsthand perspective? Or maybe you flash on video and photo postings your friends have put up on Facebook?
All the above are valid ways to research and book travel and it should come as no surprise that people are turning even more to the Internet and social media for all, including travel planning. This is some of what I gleaned last week from the Mountain Travel Symposium (MTS) I attended in Snowmass, Colorado. The largest gathering of mountain travel professionals in North America, MTS also marks the beginning of the sales cycle for the next ski season. Attendees come from around the world to conduct business and to learn about what’s new and happening in the snowsports industry. This year’s 38th annual MTS brought together leaders and innovators from the ski and travel tech industries to provoke conversation and solution-seeking ideas for the1,200 professionals gathered at this dynamic event.
That included moi and like many others, I forfeited one of the season’s best powder days last Wednesday morning to listen in a few exciting presentations. Rob Torres, managing director of travel for Google, and Erik Hawkins, industry manager for travel North America at Facebook, peppered the audience with facts and figures about the exponential growth both companies are seeing in travel. They also showcased some of their latest technology including Google glasses which look like conventional eyeglasses except for their small, voice-activated camera that allows the user to do hands-free recording of sensational travel experiences. Torres also talked about “Generation C,” a group defined by their passionate mindset for video and introduced Hangouts, a virtual photo log of places and destinations being posted and shared by hundreds of photographers.
Hawkins revealed that Facebook research confirms the influence of friends in choosing travel destinations; apparently travelers are eighty percent more likely to visit a destination recommended by a friend through social media messages, photos and video. And as a result, mobile bookings are increasing rapidly. “Exponential growth in social media sharing is doubling every two years.”
Both speakers emphasized the importance of connecting and engaging their customers, a theme reiterated by Hari Nair, Vice President of Expedia, Krista Parry, Senior Vice President at Powdr Enterprises and founder of Snowmamas and Anne Taylor Hartzell, founder of Hip Travel Mama, the headliners of a presentation on blogging. All emphasized the importance of doing more than just “pushing” information on potential travel planners.
How does that translate for you? It means you’re going to see more big travel suppliers and perhaps lodgers and other companies teaming up with bloggers to educate and inspire you about travel destinations and products. They’ve also started to encourage you, the consumer, to share your travel experiences on their sites as you can see at Expedia’s find yours. All stressed the importance of storytelling, something I’ve engaged in here at my blog, Bonjour Colorado, for almost five years. (That’s also been the approach I’ve used in my books, including the four guidebooks I wrote and my recent travel memoir, entitled A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France.)
So continue to be Internet savvy and see how that will point you in the direction of your next travel adventure. The world is a most alluring place and there are plenty of people out there—professionals and nonprofessionals alike—looking to tell you about the next destination you might want to visit. And it appears that big travel companies and other travel suppliers will be right there with them offering trip planning ease at the touch of your finger tips.
More MTS and Spring Skiing Scoop
They’re a fun crowd, all those MTS folk, as you can see from the images in this post. Most are snowsports enthusiasts, people that love to have a good time on and off the slopes. The MTS welcome reception at Elk Camp in Snowmass, sponsored by Snowmass Tourism and Aspen Skiing Company, elevated spirits higher than some of the nearby towering peaks. Just before loading the gondola with my boyfriend, Steve Togni, GM of Mountain Lodge Telluride and a guy that’s attended MTS for over a decade, we were served margaritas, concocted with habanero-infused tequila, delicious libations that made the ride to the mountaintop all the more merry. Once there, we mingled with ski industry aficionados, many of whom came dressed in retro ski attire. We bopped around sampling all kinds of tasty treats from the food and wine stations set up within this large on-mountain restaurant. We marveled at some of the spectacular fire and ice entertainment provided before heading back down the mountain.
All this took place during a super snowy week that offered some of the finest skiing of the season. Fortunately we did make it out onto the mountain a few times and even enjoyed some fine winter snow. How I love those big blue cruisers at Snowmass and the spectacular, sprawling vistas from up top at The Cirque!
Now here’s the good news for all of you: It has been snowing in the Aspen/Vail area all this week as well. Really dumping! So much so, in fact, that Aspen Highlands, which is to remain open through this Sunday, decided to reopen the weekend of April 27-28 as well. (Snowmass closed April 14.) Vail, which officially closed last Sunday, just decided to reopen this weekend. I skied Vail last weekend and had a stupendous time. I felt amazed by the amount of snow they had and the extent of their terrain. (Somehow I had forgotten that Vail is so huge and has so much to offer.) Wow, what a spring!
We’re having a big snowstorm here in Telluride as I write this. We closed the first Sunday of April, however, I’ve been having fun playing elsewhere and also catching up at my desk. (Snowy days are good for that, too.)
Happy spring! Happy travel planning!
Thank you to Aspen/Snowmass, Jeremy Swanson and Mountain Travel Symposium for the above images.
Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride The Rockies Vail: Aspen Beaver Creek Colorado Restaurants Shopping Telluride Vail
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Ski season might be winding down, although there’s little letting up on the wining and dining scene in Colorado’s top mountain destinations. To the contrary—with the window of prime skiing narrowed down during most spring days—it seems like visitors and locals alike allot even more time for socializing off the slopes during this fair weather season.
If you’re anywhere near Summit County, be sure to put Bagalis in Frisco at the top of your list. I love the warm, inviting decor of this chef-owned and operated restaurant. Chef Michal Ulehala and his wife, Joyce, opened this fine Italian restaurant two years ago and the accolades have been growing ever since. Copper-topped tables, subdued lighting, wood beams and lots of style-y touches such as rectangular white plates come together to create a look that feels like old mining town meets Euro lounge. A large communal table serves as center stage for diners looking to mix and mingle, however, you might want to tuck yourself into one of the more quiet corners of this handsome restaurant. Plan to while away a good amount of time here over beautifully prepared antipasti such as an olive and meat plate comprised of the finest products sourced with care. Indeed, Chef Michal and his team are proponents of the Slow Food Movement and here everything they serve—from shrimp polenta to artisan pizzas to housemade desserts—is made from the finest ingredients, many of which come from local purveyors. Expect an excellent price/quality relationship on all, including their wines by the glass and the bottle—all of which have been selected with great expertise. Bagalis also opens for lunch, offering the perfect time to enjoy their outdoor patio beneath sunny Colorado skies.
Anyone traveling anywhere near Vail, must plan a stop at eat! drink! Edwards and its sister restaurant, dish. Many know that eat! drink! has been on the scene in the Vail Valley for close to a decade. They’re well known for their finely curated selection of wines, cheeses and other sweet and savory gourmet items. Stop in for a glass of wine and a simple cheese plate or stock up on a week’s supply of provisions for your condo. Those looking to delve into more of a full-on drinking and dining experience must secure a table upstairs at dish restaurant & bar. Here, amid an abundance of votives, you can delve into a sultry evening where each tapas-styled dish and its accompanying drink (specialty cocktail or fine beer or wine) tantalizes your senses. Start with Spanish Serrano ham wrapped around artisan Manchego cheese that you dip in a glass of super dry sherry. Then try their crispy sprouts, brussels sprouts superbly prepared with Asian sweet and sour sauce and togarashi crisped rice (kind of like Kellogg’s Rice Krispies). If you’re not already a lover of this often misunderstood vegetable, you’re sure to become one with this dish. If you’ve skied or hiked hard, order the Vail steak, a shoulder tenderloin served with chimichurri and sweet potato fries. For dessert, I ordered the olive oil cake, an exquisite treat drenched in olive oil, a confection that I’ve been in search of ever since I had my first olive oil cake in the south of France many years ago. Thankfully there’s a six-course tasting menu offered here at a reasonable price that provides the opportunity to try many of the delectable dishes offered at dish.
Now that the days are longer and warmer, après ski is best enjoyed outdoors. The deck at Cima at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek offers the finest views and one of the most happening scenes in the whole Vail Valley. The festive ambiance builds throughout April in Vail/Beaver Creek, so there’s still plenty of fun to be had on and off the snow. As the air chills, head inside to experience Cima’s swanky decor and contemporary Latin cuisine. One of some thirty Richard Sandoval restaurants around the globe, Cima distinguishes itself with a unique menu that ranges from Latin-Asian to Pan-Latin to authentic and modern Mexican cuisine. Their bread service, composed of Spanish-styled corn muffins, Brazilian cheese bread and crispy crackers will woo you from the get-go. Specialties include seafood ceviche, flatbreads and entrées such as Bay of Fundy salmon, a salmon prepared with chile lime yams, kale, yuzu cured roe and black garlic. Rhythmic Latin music accompanies all this and more as smoothly as the wines amply poured by the glass. Many come to sample Cima’s innovative cocktails although their wine list is equally impressive, well-balanced, representating fine wines from all over the world. Sit back, relax and indulge. You can always spend the night in one of the upstairs rooms at this fashionable resort.
Here in Telluride, you might want to check out Flavor, one of the more recent additions to our vibrant dining scene. I like the fresh, clean look of this New Orleans-inspired bistrot; cream-colored walls serve as the backdrop for an array of famous music festival posters for which T-ride is famous and blond wood tables and chairs add to the light and airy feel of this intimate space. Chef-owner Eric Eckert offers a select menu representative of his Louisiana roots as well as his love for Colorado. Whether you choose fried oysters, Colorado lamb chops or poisson Provençal, you can bet that all will be skillfully prepared with the finest ingredients, many of which have been sourced regionally. Other specialties include P.E.I. mussels served up in a steamy broth of fennel, garlic, fines herbs, Pernod, a touch of cream and house-smoked tasso lardons (a Cajun-spiced pancetta), accompanied with grilled crostini-fabuleux! Beef lovers will enjoy the reasonably priced Kobe cheeseburger which consists of a half pound American kobe beef patty from a purveyor in Idaho. Be sure to save room for Flavor’s pumpkin chiffon pie, dressed with pumpkin seed brittle and homemade marshmallow brulé-yum. Good news, too: Flavor also serves breakfast and I can only imagine that it’s New Orleans-styled mighty fine.
Bagalis, 320 East Main Street, Frisco, 970-668-0601
eat! drink! dish, 56 Edwards Village Blvd., #104, Edwards, 970-926-1393
Cima at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, Avon, 970-790-5500
Flavor, 122 S. Oak Street, Telluride, 970-239-6047
Check out Great Rocky Mountain Decks: Spectacular Views Year-Round for more news on places to best enjoy spring in Colorado’s mountain resorts.
Keep in mind that off-season closings may occur at some locations mid to late April, so it’s best to call ahead to confirm opening times and/or to reserve.
Colorado Food & Wine Hotels Restaurants The Rockies: Aspen Colorado Food & Wine Hotels Restaurants The Rockies
- If you find yourself dining alone on your birthday, you better hope that you land in a lively place that serves up excellent food. I lucked out a month ago when I claimed a spot at the Chef’s Table at the oh-so style-y Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE at The St. Regis Aspen Resort. Although I had my back to most of the diners, six fastidious chefs held my attention throughout an evening filled with fabulous food and drink. Why, I didn’t feel alone at all and I didn’t even mention it was my b-day. (That was highly unusual, since I’m not one to shy away from a fuss.)
I luxuriated at the black marble bar that faces the open kitchen for almost three hours. At one point an elegant woman and her teenage daughter savored coffee and dessert a few seats away, but otherwise I had no interest in glancing around at the tony crowd around me—I was totally consumed by the scene in this bustling beehive of culinary savoir faire. Executive Chef Thomas Riordan, a young man (or am I just getting old), managed his team with nuance and grace. I picked up on a nod here, a word there, subtle directives that facilitated the quick and steady movements of preparing refined cuisine for a room full of diners. I watched as he drizzled extra virgin olive oil over my beef, a Grilled Prime Bistecca Fiorentina served with porcini mushrooms, arugula and fava bean. Chef then finished off this divine piece of meat with a squeeze of lemon. It was perfect.