Article by Justin Paul
Slide right up New lifts, no crowds, and endless terrain –
Big Sky dials in the skier’s ski vacation.
ON A BLUEBIRD DAY, from the top of Lone Peak you can see clear to Yellowstone and the Tetons to the south, Idaho to the west, and across who knows how many hundreds of square miles of Montana wilderness and ranchlands in other directions. But it’s not the horizon that draws my gaze: I can’t stop looking down; nearly 2,000 vertical feet of pillowy, wind-loaded snow spread out below me – and that’s before you hit the tree line. Wide-open Liberty Bowl beckons to the right, as do the more steeply pitched Lenin and Marx runs to the left, in a sort of geopolitical battle for some of the country’s preeminent high-alpine resort skiing.
“This look good to you?” my mountain guide asks on our second lap up to the top, nodding toward Lenin. With that, we’re off – and I mean off. A few hundred yards down the 11,000-foot peak, he smiles as I pull up beside him to catch my breath, grappling with the altitude. “We don’t turn as much up here as you do on Pacific Northwest slopes,” he says with a shrug. “Tires you out.”
GO Snow-sports specialist Alpine Adventures arranges custom ski vacations for groups of any size – from couples to entire ski clubs – at resorts in more than 22 countries. Sample Big Sky trips include six nights for two adults at Montage Big Sky or a condo for a family of four on the edge of Mountain Village – both are ski-in/ski-out and include five days of lift tickets, ski or snowboard rentals, and a rental car from Bozeman. From $18,989 and $11,979, respectively.
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Learn more about our special offer: PAY FOR 5 NIGHTS, STAY FOR 7 AT MONTAGE, BIG SKY
By Lindsay Cohn
This City in the Austrian Alps Is an All-seasons Destination With World-class Skiing, Beautiful Hikes, and a Charming Old Town
Here’s how to plan the perfect trip to Innsbruck, Austria.
Situated on the river, Hotel Innsbruck offers a convenient address near the Old Town landmarks as well as comfortable rooms and winter gear storage. Angelika Mair, a local Innsbrook guide with Alpine Adventures, favors the spa, which features an indoor pool, Finnish sauna, aromatherapy steam bath, and floating tub.
Continue reading on TRAVEL + LEISURE. CLICK HERE
While Lake Tahoe is gorgeous year-round, visiting in summer is especially wonderful, with perfect weather, great hiking options, crystal clear water, and lots of on-the-water activities..
Lake Tahoe’s extraordinary beauty provides the perfect backdrop for live music venues, and also attracts some legendary musicians. Each summer you can catch endless live shows outdoors.
Summertime in Lake Tahoe is filled with festivals and events you won’t want to miss. From the shores of Lake Tahoe to surrounding mountains and everywhere in between, summer is the perfect time to embrace culture, music, dance, art and so much more.
Epic Discovery, Heavenly Resorts on-mountain summertime activities hub for kids and family fun activities. Take part in many unique adventure experiences.
Lake Tahoe summer activities let you take advantage of what its mountain and beach environments offer. Stay active by trying some water sports like SUPing, Jet skiing, parasailing, boating and rafting in South Lake Tahoe. Or if you prefer sports that keep you (mostly) dry, things to do in Lake Tahoe in the summer include hiking, running, biking and triathlons.
Lake Tahoe summer activities, like bungee jumping or a hang-gliding excursion in Incline Village, let you experience a bird’s eye view of the area.
Explore arts and crafts centers in Truckee that feature the work of regional artists. Enjoy a relaxing game of golf, or get in touch with your spirit with the help of a yoga session in Squaw Valley. For the English, history or theater enthusiasts among you, a Shakespeare festival in Incline Village is a great way to celebrate the Bard and his work. With so much to enjoy, you can stay as active or inactive as you want with things to do in Lake Tahoe in the summer.
Upcoming music events on Lake Tahoe
- Crystal Bay Casino Concerts | June 29-Nov. 4
- Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival | June 30-Aug. 20
- Classical Tahoe | July 9-Aug. 17
- Gambler’s Run Music Festival | July 14-16
- Lake Tahoe Reggae Festival | July 22-23
- Lake Tahoe Dance Festival | July 26-29
- Brews, Jazz And Funk Fest | Aug. 12
- Tahoenalu Festival | Aug. 12-13
- Tahoe City Art By The Lake | Aug. 18-20
- Tahoe City Oktoberfest | Sept. 30
Beat the heat this summer!
Jackson Hole offers the ultimate family mountain summer vacation for young and old alike.
Families looking to spend quality time together won’t run out of things to do with Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park just down the road. Bring your loved ones out for a guided horseback tour or go whitewater rafting on the Snake River. The possibilities are truly endless when you visit Jackson Hole, so we narrowed down the top seven ways to get your summer vacation started.
Top 7 Summer Activities in Jackson Hole, WY
- 1. Yellowstone National Park
- 2. Grand Teton National Park
- 3. Rafting Trips
- 4. Horseback Riding
- 5. Covered Wagon Cookouts & Live Music
- 6. Fishing
- 7. Mountain Adventures
5 Best Reasons To Ski In Europe Next Season
The vast majority of Americans go to places like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Canada and Wyoming for their annual ski vacations. But there are good reasons to consider Europe, especially with the increasing popularity of the global ski passes, most notably the IKON and Epic passes. These have spurred pass owners to be more adventurous, visiting places where they can ski for free, and both cover multiple marquee European resorts.
The many excellent reasons why you should consider a European ski trip are detailed below. But there are also some challenges: the language, the massive scope of the trail networks, the different culture and attitudes, and the fact that there are virtually no integrated resorts as there are here. In Vail for instance, Vail Resorts owns the ski resort, all its bars and restaurants, the ski school, multiple hotels, and rental shops. In Europe all these elements are separate, and there are usually multiple independent ski schools and guide services at every destination, some better than others.
I highly recommend using an expert to help plan your trip. The company I’ve used and loved, generally considered the premier specialist in the industry and a member of the prestigious Virtuoso consortium of travel agents and tour operators, is Alpine Adventures. Alpine also covers the U.S. and Canada, but their skills are even more vital when skiing in Europe (or Japan!). They cover every price point from budget packages to 5-star luxury, can arrange multi-resort ski safaris, can add on things like heli-skiing, and as a full-service travel agency can even do your air and ground transfers.
Continue reading on forbes.com
May 30 – June 12, 2018
This spring I had the opportunity to visit South Africa for volunteer work, site visits and a little vacation. Even better, I met my colleague, Travis, in New York and we boarded the South African Airways non-stop flight from JFK to Johannesburg. This is one long haul! 16 hours and nearly 8,000 miles to the southern hemisphere; we were very happy to have two seats next to each other in business class.
This was my second visit to South Africa. Huge thanks to Ryan De Beer with Adventures Africa for the assistance in setting up the perfect mix of business with pleasure!
After landing and clearing customs, we hopped on the Gautrain from the Johannesburg airport and took it to the Hilton in Sandton. Gautrain tickets are sold as one way, roundtrip and multi-pass at the airport. The train is a convenient option, especially during rush hours in Johannesburg. We had less than 24 hours in the city and we spent our time shopping and dining in Mandela Square.
The following morning, we packed, met up with friends and drove 5 ½ hours from Johannesburg to SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary in Gravelotte, Limpopo. (There are also non-stop flights from Johannesburg to Hoedspruit and the flight time is approximately 1 hour.)
The SanWild Wildlife Sanctuary is a refuge for rescued and rehabilitated wild animals where they live under natural conditions in a fully functioning wildlife reserve. Animal species rescued include a wild variety from tree squirrels to African elephants. We met with the team at SanWild, participated in game drives, learned about the animals they have saved and their plans to open the sanctuary to the public.
During our time at SanWild, we interacted with the animals, learned the daily operations of the sanctuary and camped in tents. Some of my favorite animals were rhinos, wild dogs, hippos and lions… it’s difficult to choose just one!
Jennifer Viditz-Ward with Vail Resorts was a lead organizer for the volunteer work at SanWild. She’s pictured here with Reserve Manager, Andre Grobler, distributing bails of food for the rhinos.
Two of my favorite rescues, Aldo and Tongo, were once part of a circus and were unable to enjoy a natural habitat. They now enjoy their days hanging out in the water and roaming the sanctuary.
After saying goodbye to our friends at SanWild, we spent a day on a self-drive tour through Kruger National Park. Kruger National Park, in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes the Big 5: lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. Hundreds of other mammals make their home here, as do diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape.
Travis and I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Sanctuary, as well as the drive through Kruger, and we were ready for luxury lodging, exquisite meals and ultimate relaxation at Lion Sands Tinga Lodge. Lion Sands is located in the Mpumalanga province, and they offer four lodges in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve, and Kruger National Park.
Tinga Lodge is comprised of 9 luxury suites overlooking the Sabie River. Our suites had gorgeous baths, private plunge pools on the deck, air-conditioning and luxury amenities. We spent two nights here and simply put, it was not enough!
We participated in four game drives, two morning and two evening and we were excited we were able to see the Big Five at Lion Sands. My favorite animal that we tracked was a leopard that not been “spotted” at Lion Sands for months.
The prime safari areas in South Africa around Kruger National Park are best visited from June through September when the weather is cooler and dry.
Our final morning at Lion Sands ended with a beautiful breakfast and mimosas on the Sabie River. Huge thanks to the team at Lion Sands Tinga Lodge for all of their hospitality! Our guide at Tinga Lodge also escorted us to the Skukuza Airport – a quick and easy 25 minute trip and then we boarded our flight to Cape Town.
Our guide at Tinga Lodge also escorted us to the Skukuza Airport – a quick and easy 25 minute trip and then we boarded our flight to Cape Town. Two and a half hours later, we were enjoying stunning views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean! (Insert aerial shot of Cape Town)
Lots of fabulous information, and many people we’re thankful to for welcoming us with open arms, a big adventure in #Aspen . Nothing compares to experiencing firsthand this stunning ski resort, luxurious hotels, and warm professional staff that made our stay unforgettable.
Here are some photos from our big adventure in Aspen / Snowmass
6 Best Reasons To Ski Italy’s Dolomites
The Dolomites have long been a top destination for skiers traveling from the UK, and even draw lots of visitors from neighbors with their own great skiing, such as Switzerland and Austria, which is an impressive compliment, but only in recent years have Americans begun to discover the region in significant numbers. This is likely to greatly increase after the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Cortina, the “Queen of the Dolomites,” and a town that has already hosted the Olympics once (1956) but is better known for a fictional ski visit by James Bond, driving his winter equipped white Lotus Esprit Turbo here in the Spy Who Loved Me.
Alpine Adventures is a top U.S.-based ski vacation specialist that skews a little higher end, works with a lot of luxury travel agents, is a member of the prestigious global Virtuoso travel consortium. My husband has traveled with them to Japan and Switzerland and loves the company. Alpine Adventures is a very reliable and knowledgeable tour operator that has great package deals and some escorted group trips in other top ski regions across the world (including the U.S.), but in the Dolomites they do more custom itineraries. As a full-service travel agency, they can also do air and transfers and arrange for English-speaking ski instructors and guides, and basically handle everything from start to finish, while also offering a lot of rental chalet options in the region.
Continue reading on forbes.com
Zermatt, Switzerland’s Ultimate Summer—And Winter—Vacation Destination
…Looking for a quality stay at a lower price point…
I love(s) the Schweizerhof, but looking for a quality stay at a lower price point, I contacted Rick Reichsfeld, owner of Alpine Adventures, a top ski travel operator in this country that books a lot of Europe trips, and he recommended the hidden gem 4-star Hotel Albana Real. I stayed there for two nights, and you would never know from the outside that it houses a huge below ground wellness and spa facility, with vast marble clad indoor swimming pool complex plus sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, solarium and very well-equipped gym with the kinds of things most hotels lack, such as kettlebells, ropes and resistance bands.
Continue reading on forbes.com
Luxury Travel Insider INTRO:
We’re all searching to get more out of life, to experience our world in unexpected ways. Welcome to Luxury Travel Insider, where we bring the magic of iconic destinations to life. Our guests are the visionaries behind the experiences that have inspired travelers for generations. Let’s make your life the journey and the destination right here with the Luxury Travel Insider herself, Sarah Groen.
Sarah: Hey hey, Insiders! Welcome to a wintery episode of Luxury Travel Insider. Today, we’re going skiing, not just in Colorado, or Utah or California, but all over the world, from Chile to Japan to Italy and France. Our guests today are brother and sister team Rick Reichsfeld and Richelle Blanken. The duo grew up skiing competitively, both raced in college, and then Richelle even raced professionally. When Richelle left the national team, brother and sister teamed up to find a way to make a living by helping others experience the joy of skiing around the world. We discuss everything from their best tips for families to their favorite destinations, ski runs, and the craziest après ski parties. If you are a ski lover, this is an episode you do not want to miss.
Short Excerpts from the podcast
Richelle: “…knowing it’s lunch-time, and you’re in Italy, so you know you’re going to eat well, and just skiing down one of their great tree runs to a place we call Giacomo’s. That’s actually the name of the owner, it’s actually called Maison Vieille, but we call it Giacomo’s… you’re gonna get a hug usually from the owner Giacomo… and you end up staying there all afternoon…”
Rick: “…every day it snows except for two sunny days a year… the storms come across Siberia, hit the mountains of Japan, and just sit. It’s really super dry powder… when you ski through the trees if you’re gonna ski under a lift, you have to make sure you duck because you’re gonna hit somebody’s skis that’s on the lift. It’s truly about the snow…”
Richelle: “… when we go there it’s like going home. The same shop owners and restaurant owners are there and remember our clients and people leave there with making new friends that they keep in touch with… “
Rick: “… three thousand people show up at 2:30 in the afternoon, they have a band on the roof of the lodge playing, and people shooting champagne off, it’s dancing until like 6 o’clock in the evening then the ski patrol makes everybody leave… people falling down, trying to ski to the bottom, it’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen…”
Rick: “Richelle had a booking from a celebrity a few years back and they had teenage kids and they wanted a half-pipe built in the house’s backyard… we pulled it off, and they loved it so much they ended up extending their stay sixty days… Those are some of the things that we can pull off, you know “oh we want an ice sculpture tomorrow”, or… one time we had to fly in somebody to give a mani-pedi from California, we had to fly them in because they wanted the next day, you can’t get that in Utah on short notice… Lots of fun things and special requests… we can pull it off.”
01:42 – What Rick & Richelle favorite spots are
04:45 – How skiing can offer a unique perspective on life
06:37 – About some behind the scenes stories from the Olympics
08:55 – How they were inspired to continue their skiing journey
15:05 – What the most underrated skiing destination in Europe is
16:29 – About the best skiing experience for beginners and for party people
20:09 – How you can get your kids interested in this sport
21:24 – What the special places for advanced and adventurous people are
23:50 – Why you should hire a travel advisor to plan your next skiing trip
30:08 – About a special memory of a past guest
32:48 – How Rick & Richelle decide on their ski favorites & more
39:45 – What you will learn about the world after taking a ski trip
EXPERTS FOR HIRE
To navigate language differences, flight and airport options, ground transfers, ski passes, ryokan and restaurant bookings, and local transportation, use a ski travel specialist who is familiar with Japan such as Scout Ski (scoutski.com), a boutique custom ski trip planning consultancy, Alpine Adventures (alpineadventures.net), a full-service luxury ski travel agency, or Aspen-based Ski.com (ski.com), which has five decades of ski travel experience and offers à la carte trip planning. Ski.com also operates several annual Japan guided group trips….. (page 157)
Thank you Robert for joining our group and sharing these wonderful images
Circle Oregon Tour
October 3 – 9, 2021
OCTOBER 03, 2021
Fly into Portland from your home town.
Take train from Portland airport to downtown. The train will leave you walking distance to your hotel :the Embassy Suites Downtown Portland.
Evening reception/happy hour included.
Dinner on your own in countless restaurants around the hotel. Overnight
OCTOBER 04, 2021
Breakfast included at the hotel.
8:30AM – Pick-up at your hotel for city tour (3.5 hours)
Afternoon and evening at leisure but as always evening reception included at your hotel. Overnight
OCTOBER 05, 2021
After breakfast pick up at your hotel for a half day Multnomah Falls and Gorge waterfalls tour.
Evening reception as always at the Embassy suites.
Dinner on your own. Overnight
OCTOBER 06, 2021
After breakfast, full day tour of the stunning Oregon Coastal area.
OCTOBER 07, 2021
After breakfast, check-out from your Portland hotel and embark on a private full day tour to visit the vineyards and end in Eugene.
Check in our hotel for the next 2 the gorgeous hotel Graduate in Eugene.
OCTOBER 08, 2021
After breakfast (included) private full day tour of the Crater Lake National Park (it will be a pretty long day but well worth it)
Evening on your own in Eugene. Overnight.
OCTOBER 09, 2021
After breakfast transfer to the airport on your own for flight home.
All photos by: Robert Hendren
It is a redesigned world of travel. The internationally recognized winter and summer mountain adventure company, Alpine Adventures, has openings to add new members to our global family of travel consultants.
Alpine Adventures is a multi-cultural and multi-lingual enterprise that specializes in ski vacations but also offers customized trips to Africa, guided international city tours in Southeast Asia and Europe, white water rafting in Costa Rica, and summer skiing or winter wine country tours in South America. You must love to travel to work at Alpine Adventures. If exploring the world of ski and beyond is in your DNA, then Alpine Adventures should be your next career move.
Our company is still owned by the original founders, Rick Reichsfeld and Richelle Reichsfeld Blanken, and has been in the travel business for 28 years. We enjoy and support each other as travel consultants whether it is answering phones during travel season or finding adventures together after a session of company training on a beach somewhere. We are looking for the right fit in skills, in experience, in attitude, and in love of travel.
Our wish list for new agents includes:
- Someone who is energetic and is willing to commit (this is a solid career)
- Experience in travel sales is great, in other types of sales is a plus
- Are you good with computer programs and can you learn new ones easily?
- Do you enjoy providing efficient responses to phone calls, emails, or chat inquiries?
- Can you build and service that perfect and memorable vacation for a variety of customers and destinations?
- Do you value meaningful and long-term relationships with your customers and with company partners?
- Can you tactfully listen to and mediate customer service issues? (Important!)
- Are you organized and goal-and-success oriented?
- Do you believe that you communicate well, both verbally and in writing?
These are some of our key standards for new team members. Alpine offers complete training and support for our reservation system, guidelines for our sales and follow-up protocol, our CRS, and our company mission.
Please respond to Rick@alpineadventures.net if this opportunity can be a Win/Win for you and for Alpine Adventures. It is a company job with a family to welcome you.
Feedback from the trip leader
Swiss-Italy Trip 2021
Our trip began on September 5th as planned (or as replanned several times). It was the first Adventure trip undertaken in over two years. All members had to be vaccinated and complete additional forms for entry into Switzerland and Italy. But as daunting as it may have seemed at the time given the current pandemic, the trip was one of the more enjoyable trips the club has undertaken during my tenure as Trip Director.
Our journey began with two nights at the Birkenstock Palace hotel. A recent $500 million renovation made this 5-star resort located high over Lake Lucerne something to behold. It was a superb kickoff to the trip. I describe this trip as experiences in two different realms—from the snows of the Jung Frau summit and the Matterhorn in Switzerland to the lakes and boating on Lake Como, Italy. We rode Scenic trains, Cogwheel trains and Vernaculars. We hiked across a glacier at 11,000 feet at the Jung Frau, toured the ice cave, and dined at a mountain-side restaurant with stunning views of the Alps. Then we hiked down to Zermatt. We also e-biked along lake Interlaken with exciting view of the Alps in the background.
At Lake Como we toured by boat with views of centuries-old homes and palaces enjoying the warmth of Lake Como, some looking for George Clooney’s home. We stopped for lunch at Bellagio, one of the most famous towns on the Lake. The extremes in temperature from the 20’s and 30’s in Switzerland to 80 degrees at lake Como were certainly challenging for packing. But I don’t think any of us complained.
We did have one unplanned change to our plans. Italy decided, during our trip, we needed a negative COVID test prior to entry. Our travel Agent Pete Kovacevic simply rearranged our testing a day earlier in Zermatt rather than Lake Como as originally planned, which satisfied both the US and Italian requirements. Thanks Pete.
Our return to the states from Milan was uneventful except I think most of us slept on the plane, or certainly on the bus back to Roanoke. I certainly would like to thank all our members on this trip. Your patience as we worked through the details of the planning certainly made it easier on me and Shireen.
Day 1 – Burgenstock Resort ~ Welcome Dinner in Glasi Restaurant in Hergiswil
DAY 2-3: Walking tour of Lucerne ~ Mt. Rigi, Queen of the Mountains ~ Sightseeing Train ride on Interlaken Express ~ E-biking tour of Interlaken and Unterseen ~ Picnic by the lake Thun ~ Chocolate Tasting ~ Wengen
DAY 4: Wengen ~ Little Scheidegg ~ Jungfraujoch ~ Alpine Sensation ~ Ice Palace ~ Aletsch Glacier ~ Monchsjoch Hat ~ Wengen
DAY 5-6: Walking Tour of Zermatt ~ Matterhorn Museum ~ Gornergrat Gourmet Tour ~ Zooom the Matterhorn ~ Monte Rosa Glacier ~ Matterhorn ~ Lunch at the restaurant Dave-Tanja Alphitta ~ Hike through the forest
DAY 7-8: Zermatt ~ Stresa ~ Isola dei Pescatori (Fishermen’s island) ~ Isola Bella ~ Palazzo Borromeo ~ Como ~ Cernobbio ~ Laglio ~ Villa Oleandra/George Cloney ~ Nesso ~ Isola Comacina Lenno ~ Villa Balbianello/James Bond 007/Star Wars ~ Tremezzo ~ Bellagio ~ Varenna
Missed the winter ski season? Make u for it this year by hitting the summer slopes.
The last two winters haven’t been kind to skiers. In early 2020, most resorts shut down abruptly because of the onset of the pandemic; this past season, capacity restrictions made booking lift tickets so frustrating that many skiers simply passed altogether.
For half the world, however, this year’s ski season is just getting started. “This upcoming summer ski season should be a big one”, says Pete Kovacevic, an expert on South America for the tour operator Alpine Adventures. What’s more, since travel restrictions are still in flux, Kovacevic notes that many places are offering extremely flexible reservation policies.
Aside from the novelty of snow in July, alternate-season ski trips offer unusual fringe benefits, such as being able to combine warm-weather pursuits — golfing, cycling, even sunbathing — with time on the slopes. From the mountains of South America to the glaciers of Europe, here are the best places to carve out a summer ski vacation.
The number one summer destination for snow lovers, Chile is the choice of many national teams and World Cup racers for off-season training. The Andes are the second-highest mountain range on earth, with epic snowfalls, yet Chile’s top resorts are affordable and accessible — a little less than two hours’ drive from Santiago, which means you can mix world-class skiing with visits to vineyards, art museums, and, if you’re willing to go a tad farther, the beach.
Ski Portillo is a longtime favorite of legends such as Bode Miller and Chris Davenport, and the Portillo Hotel, at its base, operates like a landlocked cruise ship, with value-packed all-inclusive weeklong stays featuring great food, Chilean wine,. and even a disco. The country’s other big ski resort, Valle Nevado, mean while,. plans to open two of its three base hotels — the mid-range Hotel Puerta del Sol and the deluxe Hotel Valle Nevado — this reason. Chile is also rich in opportunities for those who want to try heli-skiing. Both major resorts offer on-site day-trip hell-skiing, and several tour oper-ators offer itineraries to various mountains throughout the country.
“Valle Nevado and Portillo are always hot ski destinations, and the most popular in South America,.” says Kovacevic, but he also recommends the up-and-coming resort Nevados de Chain, which has a new luxury hotel, tree skiing not found at its competitors, and thermal hot springs. Alpine Adventures also puts together trips to Ski Arpa, in the shadow of Aconcagua (the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere), and Corralalco Mountain Resort, in the Araucania region.
Chile may get more attention, but there are several notable ski resorts on the east side of the Andes, in Argentina. Bariloche, a Patagonian city with Swiss-style architecture, is the gateway to the nation’s largest resort, Cerro Catedral, which has around 3,000 acres of skiing and stunning views of the glacial lake Nahuel Huapi. While there are plenty of accommodations at the resort base, Bariloche, just 30 minutes away, offers a truer ski-town experience, and it has one of the best luxury hotels in South America, Llao Llao, where the Obamas vacationed in 2016. Hotel guests have access to free transfers to Cerro Catedral and a private club at the base of the mountain, plus backcountry and Nordic skiing at a nearby mountain reserve.
Argentina’s other major resort, Las Lenas, is farther north, in Mendoza Province. With 14 lifts, a nearly 4,000-foot vertical drop, plenty of hike-to expert terrain, and night skiing (plus the highest casino in the world), this is the preferred option for adrenaline junkies.
Nominate first responders for free Heroes To The Hills packages
Alpine Adventures is grateful to our Travel Industry partners who have agreed to help us recognize and honor our First Responder heroes who have sacrificed so much during this deadly pandemic. Every day we hear more stories of how these critical professionals isolate from their families so they can continue to serve, put their own lives on the line to help others, and suffer through the sorrow of the incredible number of souls lost to the Covid-19 virus. And though the Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality Industries have, understandably, been slowed to barely a crawl—we can give back to those who are doing so much for us as individuals.
If you know of doctors, nurses, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and first responders who could benefit from an escape to the mountains to rest and revive, please fill out the online form and return it to us.
All nominee information will remain with the travel agency and travel arrangements will flow through the agency as well. We will have free Heroes To The Hills packages to award to those nominees chosen. These packages will include:
– Free airfare for two
– 2-3 nights complimentary lodging in participating ski resorts like Limelight Lodges in Aspen, Snowmass, and Sun Valley, The Edgewood Lake Tahoe, and The Madeline Hotel, Telluride
– Complimentary lift tickets from participating ski resorts
– Free equipment rentals from our partners at Ski Butlers
Please click below to fill in the form and nominate doctors, nurses, firefighters, law enforcement officers, and first responders.
The Best Time To Plan A Ski Trip
By Lisa Medeiros
The week between Christmas and New Year’s is always the busiest time of the year to ski, regardless of which mountain you choose. It’s certainly a great way to enjoy the holiday season, but you’ll need to plan ahead. You should book your ski vacation a year in advance to secure the best accommodations and rates for this time of year, especially if you are planning to fly to your destination. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend in January and Presidents’ Day weekend in February are also popular ski travel times. It’s best to secure your travel arrangements by late summer, especially if booking at the larger resorts.
If your travel plans fall outside the holiday windows, the best time to book your ski trip is in September or October. “Keep in mind [flights] into small regional airports like Aspen and Vail sell out quickly on Saturday and Sunday,” advised Richelle Blanken, owner and vice president of Alpine Adventures, a global travel agency specializing in ski and winter getaways. “Book early or consider midweek arrivals or larger airports like Denver or Salt Lake City.”
Booking early isn’t only a good idea for lodging and airfare. Reserving your ski rentals in advance ensures the rental company will have the equipment you need in stock and will make your arrival hassle-free. For those skiing with kids, be sure to reserve their spot in daycare or ski school prior to your arrival as space is limited and can book up quickly, especially during prime ski travel times.
Although planning in advance is generally the wise thing to do, booking late does have its advantages. Travelers interested in hitting the slopes towards the end of the season, when the sun is bright and the temperatures are mild, should wait to book until February to take advantage of bluebird rates. Not only can springtime skiers score late-season deals and maybe even a few added perks, but booking late provides the luxury of gauging weather patterns and maybe even benefiting from an end-of-season snowstorm.
Easy 2 1/2 hour drive from Geneva to Courchevel, French ski resort.
I spent my trip touring the five-star luxury hotels located at 1850. They all offer true ski in ski out access, beautiful lobby lounges with comfy seating arrangements surrounding roaring fires, spas with indoor swimming pools and hammams, ski valets who will actually help you put on your boots and carry your skis to the slope, fantastic children’s rooms with daily programs, and of course amazing food prepared by some of the best chefs in all of France. Several have Michelin star ratings as well.
Guests will receive 5-star service throughout the hotel with excellent concierges to arrange any activity or whim.
Courchevel is also known for its many large chalets and apartments to rent by the week. The VIP chalets come complete with full board prepared by your own chef for the week and private transportation.
For those who do not have the luxury budget, the resort does offer wonderful three and four-star lodging. Many are also ski in/out or have close access. They will offer spa areas, ski rooms, cozy lobby lounges, and restaurants. My favorite is the K2 Djola a 4 star included in the famous K2 collection.
The ski terrain is an intermediate skiers heaven. You will find long wide open runs with a medium pitch. Great for beginners as well.
To enhance the ski experience I would recommend hiring one of the guide services.
On a recent stopover in Dubai, I had the opportunity to get out of the airport and explore a little of this magnificent city.
As you can see it was a very quick trip, but we did see a few of the highlights the city is known for.
Booking Emirates business or first class comes with some perks that come in very handy when you have a layover in Dubai.
Not only is it access to lounges with them, but it also includes airport transportation and a hotel room if your stay is long enough to qualify. We arrived into Dubai at about 8 pm and were whisked away compliments of Emirates Airlines to a nearby airport hotel. We got checked in, washed our face, and hit the town.
Due to the timing of the day, we rushed over to see the Spice market and the gold market just off Dubai Creek. This market gives you some of what Old Dubai was known for as a port for trading spices from the east, and pearls from right in Dubai. In fact, Pearls were the largest source of wealth to this small country, prior to the discovery of oil in 1966. After walking the markets, we then proceeded to the Dubai Mall. This mall has everything you could want or need in a mall, shops restaurants, and even The Dubai Fountain. The fountain, 275 meters in length and shooting water to heights that are equal to a 50 story building, it is quite a sight to behold. Even at 50 stories, this fountain has a backdrop that makes the fountains look small. The Burj Khalifa towering in the background is over 828 meters and 200 + stories, has an observation deck at the 122nd floor. Here are some pictures of Dubai.
After this fun evening, it was time to rush to the hotel, get cleaned up, have a quick $15.50 Budweiser and head back to the airport.
The first month of the year is a prime time to visit.
The star event of the month is the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival (January 11-19, 2019), which brings top culinary talent from around the world and turns the town into a foodie hotspot.
Nine critically acclaimed chefs will take over the kitchens of nine of the grandest hotels in St. Moritz and the Upper Engadin region (including Badrutt’s Palace, the Carlton Hotel, Suvretta House, and the Kulm Hotel) for nightly gourmet dinners, while each hotel also hosts a slew of tastings and parties.
How do you recover from nine days of gluttony? Easy—hit the slopes. Hundreds of miles of the most beautiful powdered snow are practically at your doorstep. The winter sport experts at Alpine Adventures will impart their wisdom on the best trails, routes, itineraries, and, most importantly, après-ski boîtes. They will also find the right hotel for you, though the #verytandc thing to do would be to book a room at Badrutt’s Palace, the grande dame of St. Moritz.
While St. Moritz is one of many snow-covered destinations favored by the world’s elite for their Christmas to New Year holiday (along with places like Gstaad, Verbier, and Courcheval), it’s really the month of January when the alpine town starts to show its true colors. It’s much quieter this time of year than it is at the end of December, but isn’t that a blessing? The village is tiny and quaint, just the way it should be. No fighting for tables at King’s Club (the hottest nightclub in the Alps), for the last slice of truffle pizza at Chesa Veglia, or for the last cashmere throw at Cabana. And that’s not to say you would ever get bored. …
Continue reading in TOWN&COUNTRY Magazine
Caldera House – Jackson Hole
Though just 8 keys, Caldera House makes a bold statement on the Jackson Hole scene
Each is a sprawling villa ranging from two to four bedrooms and offers full private staff including chef, wait staff, maid, house butler, and even a ski butler and concierge, making it a perfect home for multi-gen families.
A luxurious boutique hotel nestled at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Teton Village, Wyoming.
Caldera House is ideally situated in the heart of Teton Village, just a few feet from the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram and a short drive to Grand Teton National Park. Summer or winter, The House offers unparalleled access to adventure in a setting to die for.
Summer or winter, take advantage of all Jackson Hole has to offer with the help of your dedicated concierge. From dog sledding and snow trekking to whitewater rafting and fly fishing, we customize every adventure to suit your seasonal tastes.
Spa & Fitness
Guests of Caldera House have 24-hour access to our well-equipped fitness studio, heated outdoor infinity plunge, and cedar dry sauna. A number of relaxing massages and treatments are available at the spa or in-room, if desired.
Eat & Drink
Nestled at the base of the mountain, ski straight to Southcable Café for a quick bite or beer, or cozy up with a warm meal at the iconic Old Yellowstone Garage.
Operated year-round by local aficionado Gov Carrigan, our Mudroom and Nomad pro shops provide high-quality gear rental, retail, expert tuning and more.
Caldera House can easily accommodate a variety of functions, be it a group retreat, holiday party, rehearsal dinner, reception, or buyout. Our Member’s Lounge—equipped with full bar, large slopeside-facing outdoor patio, and fire pits—is available for parties and events accommodating up to 80 guests.
Upcoming: Winter, 2019
Le Massif: The Most memorable Vacation
Situated on the slopes of Mont Blanc, near the Via Roma shopping area in the center of Courmayeur, the eco-friendly Le Massif offers guests a unique modern-Alpine aesthetic with spectacular views and full ski concierge and ski butler service.
A new concept of hospitality
Unique moments of perfection. When passion and Italian style come together, they create a new concept of hospitality. An elegant hotel and spectacular chalet on the slopes of Mont Blanc that will make your family vacation one to remember.
The best location
Le Massif hotel is just a three minute walk from the ski lifts taking you to Plan Checrouit.
Everything you need for a family vacation
From connecting rooms to our All Inclusive packages for kids up to 12 years.
They’ll take care of your ski equipment, from hiring it to transporting it to the slopeside chalet at Plan Checrouit so you can focus on enjoying the slopes.
Ski room at La Loge du Massif
A ski room on the slopes where you can keep all your equipment dry and at the right temperature in your very own heated locker. Ready and waiting for your next descent.
Ski pass at reception
Get your day on the slopes off to the right start. Collect your ski pass from the hotel reception and then get skiing on over 200km of slopes, including La Thuile, depending on the type of pass you’ve purchased.
Transfer service from the hotel to the slopes for kids
The staff will take your children to the slopes for their skiing lessons and back again after. Giving you total peace of mind.
The most respected ski schools in Courmayeur
Ski Concierge will help you book the best classes from the hotel.
La Loge du Massif
Your very own chalet and restaurant on the slopes. Complete with Ski Butler and Ski Room to make every moment you spend on the slopes – or relaxing – absolutely perfect. La Loge du Massif also offers a number of eateries inspired by Italian tradition: a restaurant, bar with terrace and PA-NI-NO, a great place to devour a gourmet sandwich
Fabulous option for ski enthusiasts traveling with wellness-focused companions
The sleek Lefay spa retreat on Lake Garda debuts an 84 suite sister hotel in the heart of the Dolomites just outside Pinzolo’s Modonna di Compiglio ski resort. With contemporary-styles suites starting at 575 sft and a whopping 50,000 sft spa, Lefay offers a fabulous option for ski enthusiasts traveling with wellness-focused companions. Summertime promises endless fitness experiences such as hiking, mountain biking and climbing.
Lefay Wellness Residences
The first holiday homes with service levels of the highest possible standard
To create places of our dreams, where silence, space, light and nature harmoniously co-exist. A Lefay branded stay provides an experience in which holistic wellbeing merges with the concept of new luxury, characterized by Italian style and respect for the environment. With the launch of Wellness Residences, Lefay has extended its wellness offering to include holiday homes where Guests can live in their own space with service levels of the highest possible standard. Lefay Wellness Residences introduce a new holiday experience. Choosing a Lefay residence in the Dolomites means owning a place to stay that encapsulates contemporary luxury and exclusive five-star services. The management of the unit by Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti ensures that the Residence is optimally managed allowing the owner to enjoy all the comforts of home without the worry of keeping it in perfect condition.
Where silence, light, nature and luxury harmoniously co-exist.
Set in the woods and perfectly in harmony with its surrounding landscape, Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti is consistent with the Brand’s philosophy of reinterpreting the traditional architecture of the place and taking style inspiration from the local mountain buildings. All the materials chosen, from the wood, stone and the rigorous simplicity of the finishes, reflect the natural perfection of the Dolomites. The property accommodates 23 Residences and 86 Suites featuring Lefay’s signature luxury elements of light, nature, silence and open spaces. It’s just a few minutes from the Resort to Pinzolo, a lively town offering local activities throughout the year.
Upcoming: May, 2019
Explore the American West
Set outside of Salt Lake City’s pristine mountains, Blue Sky will be a game changer in offering a luxury ranch and tented camp experience within easy reach of a hub city. Its luxury yurts will be among the largest glamping options in the country while its bespoke approach to outdoor adventures, let by ex-Aman visionary Stuart Campbell, will redefine the way people explore the American West. Guests will have exclusive access to heli-skiing landing directly at Blue Sky for incredibly private off-piste adventures with over 1 million acres of private back-country skiing within a 10 minute flight.
Auberge Blue Sky: Luxury as nature intended
From horseback riding through private trails that wind through fields of alpine sagebrush, fly fishing on the premier Blue Ribbon Provo River, and shooting our 18-stand sporting clay course, the unique pleasures of our Wild West ranch beckon. In winter, cross-country ski miles of groomed trails, and take in backcountry skiing, cat skiing and full heli-ski experiences directly on our 3,500 estate. For guests headed out to Park City Mountain Resort, only 20 minutes away, our exclusive Blue Sky Ski Lounge is conveniently located at the base of the mountain.
Listen to the flow of a nearby spring-fed creek. Hear the footfall of horses over hard packed trails. And spot a herd of wild elk grazing on the horizon. Near Salt Lake City but a world away, our 3,500-acre ranch in the Wasatch Mountain Range is where you’ll leave the cares of the modern world behind and reconnect with nature, from downhill skiing at nearby Park City Mountain Resort in winter to fly fishing and clay shooting any time of year. You’ll feel right at home with our relaxed Western lifestyle—and with the Blue Sky family.
May 23 – 31, 2018
We are a group of 27 heading to Lake Como to spend our first 4 nights there followed by 4 nights in the lovely Italian Riviera.
We fly into Milan and embark on a panoramic tour of Milan’s main landmarks stopping at sights such as the Sforza Castle, the former dwellings of the powerful Sforza family, a beautiful fortification with many museums within its walls. We then continue on to the famous Duomo Di Milano. The cathedral is a masterpiece in architectural design and detail which took thousands of workers, a new canal system and over six centuries to complete and its construction is still continuing with routine restorations. We admire the duomo from the outside as the lines to get in can be very long in excess of an hour. We also spend a little time in the square wandering around the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, a magnificent shopping arcade in Milan, built in 1860, covered with a glass and iron roof. The interior of the impressive five story structure is decorated with patriotic mosaics and statues and it is full of upscale stores and various restaurants and cafes.
We then drive a couple of hours to the village of Varenna, a quaint village on the eastern shore of Lake Como, looking over the central part of the lake towards Bellagio. Varenna’s picturesque lanes and old fishermen’s houses are unpretentiously appealing, and some visitors prefer the town to its grander neighbors. Although Varenna is a tourist destination, and its pretty waterfront and tiny stone beach fill up with vacationers, it has somehow a more authentic air than the other hotel-packed villages. The main tourist activities in Varenna are relaxing by the lake, and visiting the gardens of two villas, Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi. I have chosen a lake front hotel called Royal Victoria Hotel, a 4-star property set in a building dating back to the 19th century. This property features lush gardens, a swimming pool and a wellness center with a sauna and a steam bath, 2 restaurants and a private dock. The views of Lake Como from anywhere within the hotel are breath-taking!
From this home base, we spend the next 4 days visiting the different villages around the lake. Our first visit is to the most important town on the lake, Como. As we sail across the lake in our own private boat, we admire the beautiful villas perched on the cliff sides of all the lake side villages. Once we dock in Como, we walk through its lively streets and nice waterfront and take the funicular up to Brunate, a picturesque village 700 meters above sea level. This excursion allows us to enjoy enchanting views over Lake Como and the Alps. The next day we visit the village of Bellagio but first we stop at Villa Carlotta, this beautiful villa was built at the end of 17th century by the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici in a natural basin between lake and mountains, facing the dolomite Grignas and the peninsula of Bellagio. It also houses the most spectacular botanical garden of the area with over 8 hectares of lush greenery with old varieties of camellias, century old cedars and sequoias, huge planes and tropical plants, the Rock garden and the Ferns valley, the Rhododendrons wood and the Bamboos garden among many other beautiful settings.
On our last day in Lake Como, we drive over to Lake Maggiore, the second largest lake in Italy in size (the biggest is Lake Garda) but the largest of the lakes closest to the Alps. Since the 19th century, the lake has been one of the top vacation and weekend destinations for wealthy families from big cities, who built some of northern Italy’s most stunning villas on its shores. Anyone who has seen a postcard of Lake Maggiore is bound to be familiar with The Borromean Islands outline. The archipelago is one of the biggest attractions for travelers enticed by the charm of yesteryear—and Isola Bella, Isola Madre and Isola dei Pescatori have plenty of charm. The archipelago is named after the Borromeo family, which acquired the islands in the 14th century and still owns two of them. The noble palaces on the islands, with their rooms filled with antique furniture, paintings and priceless porcelain, and the enchanting gardens are open to visitors and are a must on your list of things to see.
On our 5th day, we depart Varenna and make our long way over to Santa Margherita Ligure, a picture-perfect seaside resort town with a busy promenade, where elegant hotels with Liberty facades overlook yachts in this fishing-village-turned-retirement-spot. Santa Margherita is a good base for daytrips to Portofino, the picturesque San Fruttuoso monastery, the resorts of Camogli and Rapallo, Genoa and the Cinque Terre (around an hour by train, or an all-day boat excursion).
We break up the long journey mid-way at Villa Sparina Wine Estate, located in the Gavi wine region. The history of Villa Sparina goes back to the 1700s when it was part of a grand colonial complex immersed in the vineyards of Monterotondo in Piedmont, the heart of Gavi territory. In Villa Sparina, visitors can enjoy fine dining at La Gallina Restaurant where the cuisine balances creativity and southern Piedmontese culinary traditions. Villa Sparina also houses the four-star L’Ostelliere hotel, where guests can have a unique and unforgettable stay in Piedmont. After a delicious banquet of cured meats, cheeses, vegetables and cheese risotto paired with 4 different wines, we embark on our final stretch to the riviera.
We arrive at Grand Hotel Miramare, our hotel for the next 4 nights; this hotel is the epitome of classic Italian elegance. Situated in the heart of the Italian Riviera, the art nouveau-style building overlooks the beautiful Golfo del Tigullio. Palms, camellias and lavender are among the aromatic plants growing in the hotel’s large Mediterranean garden. The spa and choice of restaurants and bars add to the sense of luxury. Built in 1903, Grand Hotel Miramare was one of the first luxury hotels on the Italian Riviera. You feel like you are following in the footsteps of Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, who spent their honeymoon here in the 1940s!
The next day, our first day excursion is to Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the pesto sauce! Known as “the proud one” due to its glorious past and impressive landmarks, Genoa is the capital city of the Liguria region. Part of the old town is inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List. After a two-hour long city tour among its labyrinth of narrow, medieval alleyways, we have built enough appetite to make our way to Il Genovese, a 1912 establishment featuring genuine Genovese dishes such as of course, the pesto. With lots of wine and pasta to last for days, we head back to Santa Margherita.
On our 7th day, the crew heads over to Cinque Terre by bus first to La Spezia, where we embark in a ferry that takes us to our first stop Portoverene. Perched on the dreamy Golfo dei Poeti’s western promontory, this historic fishing port’s sinuous seven- and eight-story harbor front houses form an almost impregnable citadel around the muscular Castello Doria. Later we continue our boat trip and reach Monterosso which has the best beaches of the Cinque Terre villages and the most wine shops, artisan shops, hotels and restaurants. In Monterosso we visit the Enoteca Internazionale wine shop and taste 2 different Cinque Terre Doc white wines and a glass of sciacchetra’ (local sweet wine with very limited production) in addition to a mixture of cured meats and cheeses. It takes about an hour to return back to Grand Miramare hotel early afternoon.
Our last day in the riviera couldn’t be more marvelous. We board our private boat towards Portofino, a charming Italian fishing village and vacation resort famous for its picturesque harbor and historical association with celebrity and artistic visitors. The “Piazzetta,” meeting-up point for the international jet-set, is the symbol of Portofino, while the port, with its characteristic, brightly-colored houses, is the icon of this borgo’s maritime traditions, whose inhabitants were called “delfini” (dolphins) by the Greeks and Romans. Next, we stop in San Fruttuoso, one of the most unique and special places in all of Liguria with two powerful attractions: the ancient One Benedictine monastery and the Christ of the Abyss statue. Our boat tour finishes in Camogli, a cozy medieval fishing village with an old port and a very distinctive character. Here we find authentic fishermen and old boats, boutique shops and restaurants. We all break into smaller groups and head to different restaurants to taste the local cuisine. I decide to try the famous and only offered locally, cheese focaccia, paired with some delicious local wine.
Our trip comes to a closure by having a spectacular farewell dinner at the Grand Hotel Miramare where the chef has prepared the most sumptuous and succulent 5 course meal for us paired with several white, red and sparkling wine. As we all cheer and reminisce about the last week, everyone is already asking: Where are you taking us next?
Wonderful Mountain Villages, Superb Skiing, Obligatory Cheese Fondue
I flew into Zurich Airport for my time in Switzerland, which sets expectations for what guests can anticipate from the overall experience in the country. The airport is efficient, well-planned, and very easy to navigate for travelers.
Hotel Atlantis by Giardino picked us up from the airport, and a brief commute through Zurich’s city streets took us to the urban oasis that is Atlantis. Situated on a hill above Zurich, the hotel offers sweeping vistas of the city below, while still being a quick train ride from the city center. An expansive spa, Michelin starred restaurant, and bar with nightly piano music await guests looking to recharge.
From Zurich, we took the train up to St Moritz. After a three hour journey from the city through picturesque rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains, we were welcomed by our transfers from Giardino Mountain Hotel. Giardino boasts a location just minutes from the glitz and glam of St Moritz, while guests can enjoy the charming local village of Champfer. While in St Moritz, we had the opportunity to experience a few different facets of the area. There was extensive skiing with long groomers and powder stashes, a private on-mountain lounge at one of the après hot spots, courtesy of Giardino, and a village tour to complete our stay.
I wrapped up my Switzerland tour with a final night in Zurich. A trip to Europe in winter wouldn’t be complete with visiting Christmas markets, so I explored the best that Zurich has to offer. From a market with rows of vendors and an oversized Swarovski tree in the main train station, to a choir off the Bahnhofstrasse, and a market with locals undeterred by the rain, Zurich definitely lived up to expectations.
Hotel Atlantis by Giardino
Giardino Mountain Hotel
Eleven Experience has ten properties around the globe, and Taylor River Lodge is one of them. At each destination, comfortable lodging and delicious, seasonal food are combined with guided outdoor adventures on mountains, in the backcountry, and on the water for guests of all ages and skill levels. No matter how remote, every lodge has custom, well designed accommodations, talented chefs, enticing spas, and world-class guides who will show you new dimensions of life, friendship, family, and adventure. Whether heli-skiing near the Arctic Circle in Iceland or casting for bonefish on a remote flat in the Bahamas, Eleven experiences are a different kind of escape.
A perfectly remodeled historic building located in the heart of Crested Butte
There are 5 king rooms with en-suite bathrooms and a bunkroom with 7 bunks and connecting nanny room. There is also a lot of public space for people to hang out with each other including a saltwater pool, 2 hot tubs, work out facility and kids game room.
There is a button in each room you press and it puts more oxygen in the room. Great for guests who get altitude sickness.
They only do buyouts in the winter but can sell by the room during the summer months.
Breakfast each morning as well as a bar in the house. Each room also has a mini bar with drinks (non-alcoholic) and snacks that they replenish each day at no additional charge.
They have a private mountain above Lake Irwin for cat skiing. They will pick the guests up at the lodge each morning in a luxury cat (leather seats & TVs) take them to the private mountain on whichever run they would like to do. The guest skis down and by the time they are at the bottom, the cat will arrive to take them back up. There is a private lodge where they can arrange for lunch as well. Or if they want to ski Crested Butte they will shuttle them there each morning and pick them up as needed.
Book your vacation at Scarp Ridge Lodge
Eleven is not just about their properties; they’re about really experiencing a destination.
After booking, an Experience Manager reaches out to find out likes and dislikes with food and activities. This is not a superficial inquiry, they strive to get thorough information on clients to provide a really customized stay. Your trip begins when you’re welcomed at the airport by one of their team members, who provides an SUV fully stocked with snacks and drinks for the ride to the property. Once you arrive, another team member gives you a tour of the property and all of its amenities, which are plentiful. With both properties, your rooms are stocked with a complimentary mini-bar, which contains unique beverages and a lot of locally made snacks–not your typical minibar. If you’re staying at Taylor River Lodge, this includes wine and PBR, just to give you some options.
The Eleven team has an elevated level of guest service, and they really try to go above and beyond with guest requests. We had a hiking/whitewater rafting guide (same person) that also does ski in the winter, and is both entertaining and knowledgeable. Our fly fishing guides were incredible as well; offering tips on technique, and making sure everyone has a good time.
Taylor River Lodge offers buyouts, but they aren’t required. Even if some family members aren’t into fly fishing, there are plenty of other activities for them so they can explore and enjoy the area. The property feels rustic chic, and is definitely a place that is like summer camp for any age. In addition to their pool and hot tub, which have a glass garage door that fully open them up to nature, the property has games for adults and kids. Foosball, a pool table, in addition to lawn games (corn hole, etc), and a well stocked pond where guests can learn to fish set this property apart. They have a teepee on site where kids like to play (and can sleep there as well if they choose), as well as axe and knife throwing, bb guns, and archery.
Scarp Ridge would be a great option for multi-gen families or any type of small group. This property feels even more high end than Taylor River Lodge, and would be the perfect fit for discerning guests. Since it’s right off Elk Avenue, guests can walk or bike anywhere they’d like to go in town within minutes. For skiers in the winter, the cat skiing is for any ability level. For more timid skiers, they can stick to the freshly groomed cat track that goes down the mountain, while more advanced and expert skiers can be taken to couloirs by the guide. The options are endless.
Eleven Experience has ten properties around the globe, and Taylor River Lodge is one of them. At each destination, comfortable lodging and delicious, seasonal food are combined with guided outdoor adventures on mountains, in the backcountry, and on the water for guests of all ages and skill levels. No matter how remote, every lodge has custom, well designed accommodations, talented chefs, enticing spas, and world-class guides who will show you new dimensions of life, friendship, family, and adventure. Whether heli-skiing near the Arctic Circle in Iceland or casting for bonefish on a remote flat in the Bahamas, Eleven experiences are a different kind of escape.
WHERE TO GO IN 2019
Visit the gorillas in the mist, cruise the Mekong in a boat built for four, or just bask again in the Caribbean sun for starters. Here, all the places to see and be seen this year.
By Klan Glowczewska
Figuring out how best to spend your travel dollars is the most delicious dilemma of a life well lived. On the pages that follow are our suggestions, based on intelligence collected, insiders consulted, and cultural, gastronomic, and geopolitical trends considered. Want to bathe in wellness? Try the Berkshires—or Bhutan. Want to leave the world behind? Head for Namibia—or Norway. Fancy some time travel? Get thee to Romania—or a secret bit of paradise off Panama. Our 25 destinations include places near and far, hot and cold, laid-back and anything but. They all have noteworthy new hotels, and we provide the names of travel specialists who can help you book. Nothing like starting the New Year spoiled for choice. Contributors: fen Morphs Kevin Forbes, Lena Kim, Graham Boynton, Sarah Khan.
PARK CITY, UTAH A BECAUSE THERE’S A WHOLE NEW WAY TO WIN THE WEST.
There arc few ski areas in North America where a morning flight an have you floating on dry champagne powder by early afternoon. That accessibility has long made Park City a favorite winter playground. Auberge Resorts’ Lodge at Blue Sky, on a 3,500-acre ranch, will bring the mountains even closer: A helicopter can pick you up at the airport and have you skiing on untouched terrain before check-in. The 46-suite lodge debuts in May, and it will have daylong “teaser heli-ski packages, which include meals in a fire-warmed yurt. Once open, it will have Amangiri-level service and warm and cold weather activities (for kids, too) and a range of lodgings. Our favorite: the 500- square-foot tents. Park City’s High West Distillery already has a tasting room and restaurant on-site, so you can toast your achievements. TO BOON Direct or through Rick Reichsfeld, who an also organize a custom ski vacation for you, mixing Blue Sky with ski experiences elsewhere. RICK@ALPINEADVENTURES.NET
There is a lot to love about five-star hotels, deep powder, gourmet food, and entertaining apres activities in top ski towns like Aspen, Vail, and Jackson. But here are two invigorating alternatives that offer something different without any sacrifices.
The British Way
… “Alpine hotels had a reputation for being expensive, formal—and helmed by forbidding, non-English-speaking managers,” says Tom Robbins, longtime travel editor of London’s Financial Times and an avid expert who has skied all over the world. “But renting a chalet created a house-party atmosphere, and while nations with mountains on their doorsteps have always tended to ski for day trips or weekends, for the British, skiing has been done on weeklong holidays and usually in extended groups of family or friends. A ski holiday has always been an excuse for a party, and the chalet provided the perfect venue.”
To the English, the words chalet holiday have a very specific meaning far beyond the American notion of a home rental. A chalet ski trip is a weeklong stay in a fully staffed home that at a minimum includes a private chef, servers, and housekeeping, usually a chauffeur, and often private ski guides and masseuses as well. It’s an all-inclusive concept that leaves you a night or two to explore the town’s restaurants but includes gourmet meals and free-flowing wine, spirits, and Champagne, often served while you enjoy your hot tub and private pool, increasingly common features.
The model basically replicates the best elements of a luxury resort but privatizes them, and it is common for top chalets to have full gyms, spas, home theaters, and even features like bowling alleys, billiard rooms, climbing walls, or indoor golf simulators, along with 8, ’10, or ’12 bedrooms, all with private bathrooms. “You have more rooms than your family would in a hotel, it’s more personalized, and the staff members work just for you,” says Rick Reichsfeld, president of Alpine Adventures (alpineadventures.net), America’s leading luxury ski travel specialist, which often arranges chalet trips. “Many send a driver to pick you up at the airport The experience starts right away, and they take you around town, you never have to deal with driving. But the best thing is that everyone who goes skiing has essentially the same schedule, and no matter how nice a hotel is, they can’t give everyone spa appointments at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., but that’s when everyone wants them. Here you go back to your house and take turns getting massages from your therapist while sitting in your hot tub.” And when you do return from the slopes, you are greeted with trays of canapes, cocktails, and an already roaring fire.
Skiing in Europe can be logistically challenging, but this concept makes it a turnkey, hassle-free vacation from the moment you get off the plane. There are British-run chalet firms in almost every major European ski resort; chalet staff members are English-speaking, while private guides, sometimes included and always available, take the mystery out of navigation. Even lunch is better, as Reichsfeld notes. “European resorts have amazing on-mountain restaurants, it’s a big reason to go, but some of the better ones really require advance reservations, and Americans are not great about planning that The better chalets have prebooked tables at different places daily.” They are also usually ski-in/ski-out, which few European hotels are. …
Continue reading at LuxuryMagaxine.com (page 120)
By LARRY OLMSTED | SPECIAL TO USA TODAY
Nov. 30, 2018
If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere.
Every winter, more skiers and snowboarders pick Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb than any other resort in North America. It is stunningly large, with the most skiable terrain (8,171 acres) and highest vertical rise (5,280 feet) on the continent, and each of its two interconnected mountains is bigger than other top-tier destination resorts. The result is virtually every snow condition, level of challenge, and type of terrain you could imagine.
“If you can’t find your favorite terrain here, you can’t find it anywhere,” wrote the editors at Ski Magazine, who ranked it North America’s best for 2017 – for the third year in a row. Conde Nast Traveler, Global Traveler and Travel Weekly are some of the many other publications rating it North America’s best, while London’s skiing-obsessed Telegraph awarded it best in the entire world status.
So what’s the big deal?
Whistler Blackcomb claims 8,171 acres of designated in-bounds skiing, including more than 200 marked trails, plus expansive bowl and glade zones, with even more available to experts hiking its ridges (it is also one of the few resorts that operates on-site heli-skiing, with access to another 430,000-plus acres).
This terrain is served by a vast network of three dozen lifts, including three new ones for the coming season. The highlight is a 10-passenger gondola that replaces two chairs previously required to get from the bottom of Blackcomb to the top, now a much faster single-ride ascent – for 4,000 skiers per hour, the greatest capacity of any lift in the U.S. or Canada. …
Continue reading on usatoday.com
My Own Recent For-Real Adventure
I took an adventure trip last month and I’m still processing everything that happened.
As a life-long skier, I truly believe that every trip to the top of a mountain sets up an adventure to get down, whether you are skiing America’s northeast or riding in the high peaks of Colorado, Europe, South America, or Japan. Remember—our business name is Alpine Adventures. But my trip in October to Tanzania was about conquering a different type of mountain. I trekked up to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.
My decision to do this started in a bar in Las Vegas this past August. I was there with two travel industry friends and they were signed up to go with a group trek in six weeks. Something about that experience, at that moment, seemed like a must-do for me. I called to see if there was still space available, then checked for flights. It all came together seamlessly.
In the following weeks I did try to train for this very physical event, but in hindsight, I would encourage anyone who is interested in doing it to find a way to train at altitude. Working from my company headquarters in South Florida did not have the same effect. I jogged, I walked, I used (and I recommend) the stairclimber at the gym. But in the blink of an eye, it was time to get on a plane and fly to the other side the world. It was wise to arrive early in Tanzania to begin to get acclimated, but it was unwise to spend a week diving off the coast of Zanzibar first. Don’t do that, I’ll just tell you right now.
A big thing that I did get right was to have the best gear for the endeavor. It gets cold, and I mean very cold. Take what you need to stay comfortable for the weather extremes. Our trip leader was a man named Dismas. He has summited Kilimanjaro 250+ times. The day before our trek began, he went to every person in his group to personally go through our gear. Some had to go out and buy different gear to get his approval to make the climb—it’s that important. It takes 5 days to go up and 2 days to get down. There is no running to the outfitter store 3 days into the climb.
Understand that you are required to have a guide and porters for your trek up and down, and that there are degrees of comfort you can sign up for depending on your budget. There are basic group trips where trekkers carry more of their own gear and they sleep on the ground rather than on cots. Some prefer their Mt. Kilimanjaro experience to be this way. There were 20 people in our group, and we had several porters to help carry our gear, and to port and set up sleeping tents, cots, the mess tent, shower tents, etc. Many prefer to do it that way also.
This journey starts at around 5500 feet above sea level, and in the first day you will climb to over 10,000 feet. You continue uphill for the next 4 days. For me, that first day was one of the hardest, but it’s the last day of this trek that is certainly the most dramatic. You go to sleep around 6pm the day before you summit. You wake for breakfast at 11pm. Then you finish your climb in the dead dark of night, with a headlamp for illumination. It’s steep. Remember that: dark and steep. The sun is rising when you reach the summit, and it’s recommended that you stay there only 6 minutes before you start your descent. That’s enough time to take your picture with the sign. Don’t look down until after you take that photo. When you realized by the light of day what you just attempted in the dead of night, it’s a good thing to be in motion going down as the enormity of your accomplishment sets in.
If you aspire to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, let me advise you to focus on the aspects you can control: what kind of shape you are in, how good your mountaineering gear is, and how much help you will accept. Don’t spend time fretting over things you can’t control like the weather, and the timeless majesty and dominance that is the mountain itself. September and October, by the way, are the best months for this lifetime experience.
This Adventure Doesn’t Have To End On The Last Day Of The Climb
When we were done with the trek, several of us went straight on safari, and I recommend that or moving into any activity that keeps you on a schedule of regular sleeping and waking times like you just had on your trek. Get up early and engage in something interesting. Sleep—you will be tired already. Stay at least moderately active and ease out of the intensity of your previous 7 days of bouldering in the thin air. Your body will take some time to readjust, and I can’t even guess how long it will take to get a handle on the mental challenge of this adventure. Now that it’s over, I think I am proudest of how I responded, inside my head, to the mental challenge. My body, of course, complained for days after about what it was put through.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you put together such a trip, at Alpine Adventures and Adventures Africa we are happy to talk to you about any kind of travel to Africa. Whether you want to see the continent from the top of Kilimanjaro or you want to know the wildlife from game drives and river trips, I can promise you that Africa will stay in your heart forever.
“Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and is said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai ‘Ngaje Ngai’, the House of God. Close to the western summit there is a dried and frozen carcas of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Rick Reichsfeld is the founder and owner of the global travel companies Alpine Adventures, Adventures Africa, and Anywhere Adventures. These specialty travel companies offer soft adventures ranging from snow sport trips in North America, Europe, Japan, and South America, witnessing firsthand the Big 5 of lion, rhino, buffalo, leopard and elephant in southern and eastern Africa, group cultural and culinary trips in Asia and Europe, and adventures like whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, tango-learning intensives in Argentina, horseback expeditions through Patagonia, and any other life experience you can dream of.
When it is time for our annual group trip to Club Med, the anticipation and excitement are the same! We simply know our clients will have a great time! GUARANTEED
In fact, most of them are returning G.M (Gentils Membres) year after year!
This year we chose Club Med Cancun for our 4-night getaway. We used to make it a 3-night getaway but people complained that it was too short.
This recently renovated property (and still getting a “facelift” at the main buffet restaurant and boutique) is beautifully located at the tip of Cancun peninsular and is known for its coral reef. It is secluded from the hustle and bustle of the main strip and therefore extremely safe but also quieter.
On the first day and after a perfectly coordinated and personalized check-in we wasted no time enjoying the brand new infinity pool at the Aquamarina building. Gorgeous! Although this area is more dedicated to families everyone can certainly enjoy the view and the bar from this new pool.
We then met by the main bar for our one-hour private cocktail party arranged by Club Med Groups before enjoying our first dinner at the Taco Arte Buffet. Then we all headed to the show as this is an important part of your stay at Club Med and G.O’s (Gentils Organisateurs) talents never stop to impress me. Next day was jammed packed of water sports activities (snorkeling, kayaking, sailing) but also our group met up for a great initiation to archery. Fair to say we all enjoyed it!
And for the less active clients, “farniente” on the beach was the day’s theme! We were up for a treat when dinner came as our group had pre-arranged reservations at the Argentinean steakhouse of the resort “La Estancia”. Gorgeous setting and great food including for clients who prefer a vegetarian option.
Saturday part of our group headed to the beautiful Mayan ruins in Tulum for a private visit that included some free time to pick up a few local souvenirs.
While the rest of the group continued enjoying the village and its numerous activities. We all met for an introduction to salsa and got our groove on!
Sundowners were served at Taco Arte followed by our buffet dinner.
Sunday was another busy day: after burning off some calories at the gym we all participated in a fun ping pong tournament. Although a tropical storm was going through our area it didn’t stop our group from having some fun under the rain and enjoying our farewell dinner at La Estancia.
Soon enough it was time to say goodbye but not before reminiscing about our fun these 4 days had been and starting planning for our next year’s getaway! Club Med Turks & Caicos it will be and we hope to see all of you there.
Alpine Adventures , a global travel company, takes great pride in a portfolio of exotic and unforgettable places for travelers to visit. Telluride, Colorado ranks right up there for those who prefer the adventure-side of a destination. This small and enchanting mountain town sits at the end of a box canyon in the dramatically wild and ragged San Juan Mountains near Colorado’s southwestern corner. Winter or summer, there is only one way in and one way out. The highway brings visitors right into town on the main street, Colorado Avenue, and a first look is not vastly different from the former mining community that began its heyday in the late 1800s. The Tomboy Mine was one of the world’s largest gold producers at the time, and more millionaires (per capita) were living in Telluride in the day than were living in New York City.
Fast-forward to 2018-2019, and you have a main street with many original historical buildings and many new ones built in the Victorian style of its original founding. But today’s commodity is not mined and hauled away—it’s the beauty of the landscape itself.
Today’s Telluride (pronounced Tell’-you-ride, by the way) is a resort town sought out for both winter and summer seasons. Situated at 8,750 feet above sea level, this locale will receive significant snow in the winter. In the summer, the altitude provides ideal warm days for hiking, climbing, camping, rafting, and other outdoor sports and festivals, with cool, crisp evenings after the sun goes down behind the high mountains.
Above the original (and only recently paved) streets of the Town of Telluride is the more recently-built Mountain Village. Mountain Village offers luxurious condos and hotel rooms, unique and tempting restaurants and shops, and quick access to the more intermediate and beginner runs for skiing.
It’s Your Year For Telluride—Let Us Get You There
We are excited about the new direct flights from Denver International Airport into Telluride Regional Airport. This destination is not right off the Interstate to anywhere, so we’re happy to walk through the different ways to get to this memorable hideaway. Stay tuned for more!
Alpine Adventures is a global travel company that knows and loves those special places all travelers should visit. We specialize in custom ski travel to resorts in North America, Europe, South America and Japan, and soft adventure travel anywhere there will be memories to make. We provide both group and individual trips, and these can be cultural, culinary, sun, water, cities, and our new specialty: ski to safari. Finish your skiing in Europe, then fly directly to game-drive in South or East Africa with our sister company, Adventures Africa. For more information, call 888.281.5565, ext. 4007
OCTOBER 5, 2017
By LARRY OLMSTED
Chalet Sagarmata, Verbier, Switzerland
Chalet Sagarmata comes with one of Verbier’s largest indoor pools, measuring 75 feet long and featuring floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning views of the snow-covered region. The property also includes seven bedrooms (for up to 13 guests), a full spa (including a sauna, steam room, plunge pool, and treatment room), and a ski room. Priced from $64,000 per week during peak ski season, the chalet comes with two days of private ski instruction, daily housekeeping, a stocked bar, equipment rental delivery and fittings, and most meals. Book with Rick Reichsfeld, founder of the luxury ski travel outfitter Alpine Adventures….
Continue reading on robbreport.com
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (PRWEB) July 06, 2017
Alpine Adventures has expanded its already-global destination network and now offers customized safari and cultural trips to Africa. It’s meaningful travel that can include daily game drives, South Africa wine country tours, and other combinations of life experiences.
Alpine Adventures, a global travel company that focuses on cultural and active travel, has announced their new division, Adventures Africa. Adventures Africa is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is directed by the Alpine Adventures tour operation’s owner, Rick Reichsfeld. “I first visited in South Africa five years ago, and was absolutely enchanted,” recounts Reichsfeld. “Since then I have been back at least twice every year, and I have now traveled in six African countries. Our goal is to make this lifetime travel experience easy to customize for each traveler’s expectations. Once you’ve seen the land and the wildlife, you are somehow changed and you understand the importance of conservation.” Adventures Africa works with travel agencies and with consumers directly.
To facilitate both agent training and creative booking, Reichsfeld brought in consulting expert, Ryan de Beer. De Beer is a native South African who has been a safari guide and lodge manager for over a decade. He has worked at such major private game preserves as Ngala and Sabi Sabi. “Because I have lived in the African bush for so long and because I’ve seen so much of the native wildlife close-up, I am passionate about conserving those natural lands and the native species who have lived on them for millennia,” says de Beer. “I am delighted to be working with Adventures Africa to get people traveling there and to see for themselves the incredible beauty and majesty of this still-wild continent.”…
Continue reading on benzinga.com
By JANEEN CHRISTOFF
JANUARY 03, 2017, 2005
“[Reichsfeld] saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible…” writes Olmsted.
“Unlike cruises or safaris or complex itineraries, many never consider using a travel agent or specialist when planning a ski trip. That’s a big mistake, especially if you are headed someplace like Europe or Japan – skiing’s hottest destination – but it also applies if you are doing your annual trip to a place you think you “know,” like Vail or Aspen,” writes Larry Olmsted.
Travel agents can save travelers a significant amount of money on ski trips.
“[Reichsfeld] saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible – like booking a dozen rooms at the swank Montage in Deer Valley for Matt Damon at the worst possible time, during the height of the Sundance Film Festival,” writes Olmsted. …
Continue reading on travelpulse.com
For The Best Ski Trip At Any Price, Use A Ski Travel Expert
If you could get a better version of the same vacation without spending more, you’d be silly not to.
Yet when it comes to skiing, thousands of American travelers do just that. Unlike cruises or safaris or complex itineraries, many never consider using a travel agent or specialist when planning a ski trip. That’s a big mistake, especially if you are headed someplace like Europe or Japan – skiing’s hottest destination – but it also applies if you are doing your annual trip to a place you think you “know,” like Vail or Aspen.
“In general you save 8-10% over what you would pay doing it yourself,” said Rick Reichsfeld, co-owner of Alpine Adventures. And just to be clear, Rick isn’t in the bargain vacation business – his company is the official ski travel supplier for the Virtuoso network of the nation’s best luxury travel agents. He saves money for people who don’t need to save money, but many also choose him because he can also do the seemingly impossible – like booking a dozen rooms at the swank Montage in Deer Valley for Matt Damon at the worst possible time, during the height of the Sundance Film Festival…
Continue reading on forbes.com
Boots and All
Whistler Blackcomb elevates the family ski vacation.
By Justin Paul
GO Alpine Adventures plans ski trips for groups of any size. As an example, a getaway for a family of four in Whistler might include five nights in a 1,100-square-foot suite at the Four Seasons, with four days of lift tickets and ski rentals, and round-trip transfers from Vancouver Airport. “We don’t recommend car rentals,” says Alpine president Rick Reichsfeld. “The airport companies don’t provide snow tires, and you don’t need a car in the village.”
At the risk of rousing the Nutrition Police, I’d like to advocate for a steady diet of pizza and french fries. It’s a binge program – let’s call it the Peak Plan – one that’s best administered in multiday bursts. And when introduced at an early age, it results in increased coordination, enhanced confidence, and lifelong family fun.
Five out of five Whistler Blackcomb ski school instructors agree – or so I learned after dropping my daughter off for her first time on skis and hearing their code words to form snowplows (Pizza!) and parallel skis (French fries!). “See you at the end of the day,” one said, waving my wife and me off as a handful of puffballs weeble-wobbled around him. Though it was hard to picture the bunny-slope buffet ending in anything but an unsightly mash, who could argue? The previous night had brought a fresh dusting of snow, and skiers with more advanced palates were carving arcs like strands of angel-hair pasta high above.
Rising from the Coast Mountains about 75 miles north of Vancouver, Whistler sits directly in British Columbia’s winter storm track and averages 450-plus inches of snow per season – not the fluffiest powder, but nearly five feet more than the big Colorado resorts. Sizewise, the two-mountain behemoth bests its closest North American peer, Utah’s recently merged Park City/Canyons Resort, by almost 900 acres. Whistler earned fame with seasoned skiers and snowboarders drawn to its exposed faces, free-skiing terrain, and some of the more thrilling intermediate runs around. (Peel down big-mountain-style “Saddle,” and, once the butterflies settle, tell me you don’t agree.) But since hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics, the resort has focused on its family appeal, with expanded beginner and family ski areas and terrain parks for skill levels ranging from “just learning to jump” to “now seeking sponsorships” – some lift etiquette signs even read “Please Don’t Curse in Line.”…
Continue reading on virtuoso.com
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A STRONG DOLLAR and a host of new hotels are driving interest in Europe this ski season, but there’s plenty to do stateside as well.
“We’ve definitely been seeing a rise in international bookings,” says Richelle Blanken, vice president of Alpine Adventures. “The dollar is strong against the Euro and the Swiss Franc, so we’ve had a lot of inquiries for Europe.”
Millennial travelers, too, are increasingly taking ski vacations in Europe as the strong dollar has led to lowers costs, says Blanken.
“If they’re on the East Coast near a major airport, they can fly over in winter for about the same price as Colorado or Utah,” explains Blanken. “A lot of Millennials haven’t gone to Europe, so they can stay a couple of extra nights in a gateway city — we’re definitely seeing a rise in that.”
For clients traveling with their family, Blanken recommends booking early, particularly for popular holiday periods like Christmas and New Year. Another good tip for families is to consider a private home rental. “For example, we can do a six-bed-room ski-in / ski-out house in Deer Valley or Park City, Utah, and if people don’t want to deal with cleaning or cooking, we can hire a private chef for one to three meals a day,” says Blanken. “It ends up being more affordable than doing rooms at a five-star hotel, and it gives everyone a lot of space.”
New Hotels on the Horizon
Guests headed to Europe this season will have their pick of a host of new and freshly renovated hotels. This December, for example, the new Hotel Barriere Les Neiges is set to make its debut in Courchevel. The luxury property will have 42 guestrooms and suites, some with connecting doors for families, as well as direct access to the Courchevel ski area. All suites come with butler service. For dining, guests can check out the Le Fouquet brasserie, as well as a south-facing outdoor terrace and lounge. Other amenities include a cinema room and the Spa Diane Barriere, which offers an aquatic circuit, swimming pool, hammam, sauna, outdoor Jacuzzi, fitness center and seven treatment rooms with a treatment menu developed specifically for winter sports.
In Val Thorens, the new Hotel Pashmina offers ski-in / ski-out access from its 50 rooms and suites as well as concierge service, according to Dan Sherman, vice president of marketing for Ski.com. Chef Romuald Fassenet, winner of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France prize, leads the property’s two restaurants.The bar has a unique design with chairlift benches and a dining alcove in the shape of a cable car. For another offbeat experience, there is an igloo on site in which guests can spend the night. Another added incentive is an on-site spa offering wellness and beauty treatments by L’Occitane.
Also at Val Thorens, Fahrenheit 7 has renovated all 107 of its guestrooms and suites in a design that’s meant to be modern yet cozy.There are four restaurants on the property: Seven, for breakfast; the Terrace, for lunch; and La Rotisserie or Le Zinc for dinner. La Rotisserie serves a variety of roasted meats, fish and other dishes, as well as kid-friendly options, while Le Zinc specializes in fondues and other local dishes, sometimes with live music.
Val d’Isere is getting two new hotels this season: La Mourra Hotel Village and Chalet Skadi. La Mourra is a series of luxury private chalets, a restaurant and a lounge bar arranged in a mountain hamlet at the entrance of the old vil-lage and a short walk from the center village, which has a variety of shops and restaurants.The property is held by the same family from the famous Hotel Le Blizzard, says Sherman.
Chalet Skadi is a new four- to 10-person unit opening December 17. In addition to chalet-style services, guests also get access to the Les Bains du Montana spa, which has an indoor swimming pool, sauna and hammam, as well as beauty treatments by 5 Mondes.
Club Med, which has 20 all-inclusive ski resorts in the Alps and beyond, is offering an all-new Ski Expert program for graduates of the Club Med Expert Agents program. Perks include advance notification of exclusive webinars, personal invitations to FAM trips, one free night for every 14 nights booked and much more. For program details, visit clubmedexpertagent.corn or travel agent university.com. For your clients, Club Med is currently offering all-inclusive ski vacations from $169 per person, per night, if booked by August 30.
Eye on the U.S.
Meanwhile, major resorts across in the Rocky Mountains are also rolling out new hotels and slope side upgrades.
The new Limelight Hotel Ketchum is on track for a December opening. When complete, the hotel will have 99 rooms, 14 condos for sale with 12 lock-off units and a new restaurant and lobby lounge. Modeled after Lime-light’s existing Aspen hotel, the new property will be close to downtown shops and restaurants and the Sun Valley River Run base area. Guests can also enjoy expanded continental breakfast, apres ski deals in the lobby lounge and pet-friendly rooms.
Speaking of apres, this season will also see the winter debut of the new LBC Apres, located mid-mountain on Snowmass in the Lynn Britt Cabin, serving $6 gin and juice cocktails and apres food specials starting at $5.The Cabin also has DJ entertainment, a fire pit and outdoor lounge seating.
In Vail, the ski-in / ski-out Vail Cascade Resort and Spa will reopen as a newly minted member of The Luxury
Collection following a $35 million renovation that included a complete redesign of guestrooms and amenities, such as a new fine-dining concept, a lounge with live music overlooking Gore Creek, and a gourmet market and cafe. Destination Hotels will continue to manage and operate the property.
The Arrabelle at Vail Square, A Rock-Resort is also fresh off the June debut of its own renovations, which included updates to soft seating and carpeting in all 36 hotel rooms.The project also entailed a full revamping of the hotel’s workout facility along with addition of new and expanded cardio equipment, HD TV integration, high impact flooring, a separate core / stretch zone and a new hydrotherapy facial machine at the Rock Resorts Spa.
In Utah, Park City Mountain Resort is fresh off its 2015 debut as the largest ski and snowboard resort in the United States after a $50 million capital improvement project connected the former Park City and Canyons Resorts. This year, Park City will begin its season on November 18, with Canyons following suit the day before Thanksgiving — both earlier than their traditional opening dates. Snowbird is set to open its newly renovated and expanded Creekside Lodge at the beginning of the 2016-2017 season, nearly doubling the size of the existing building and adding new dining and ticketing options.
Text by ADAM LEPOSA
They got snow today in Jackson Hole!
Mother Nature brought us some snow in July
It’s never too early to start thinking about winter, especially with these hot temps! To help cool us down, Mother Nature brought Jackson Hole Mountain Resort snow…in July!
Just a reminder:
Now is the best time to let the Alpine Adventures experts find you the best deal for your ski vacation for the 2016/2017 season.
Take advantage of those Early Booking Promotions and give us a call today!
Jackson Hole is an exclusive mountain resort with limitless heliskiing.
The majestic Tetons of northwest Wyoming provide a spectacular backdrop for your Jackson Hole ski vacation. Far from the crowds and close to nature with terrain so vast it appears uncharted, Jackson Hole is indeed a rare breed. With 2,500 acres of legendary inbounds terrain, a 4,139′ vertical rise, 459″ of average snowfall each winter, and unparalleled backcountry access, Jackson Hole offers a truly unique winter experience.
Two distinct mountains in the heart of the Tetons – Rendezvous and Apres Vous – make up Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and have been home to incredible skiing and snowboarding for the past 40 years.
The deep, fluffy snow that skiers and snowboarders crave.
Fewer crowds, shorter lift lines and more runs. Wyoming is the least populated state in the country. Which leaves a lot more room for the animals. In the western part of the state, you’ll find all of the animals you remember from your childhood storybooks.
The views from the tops of the slopes are picturesque and beautiful. All of the natural wonders in Yellowstone National Park are just a hop, skip, and a jump away. And the area is filled with more wildlife than you can shake a ski pole at.
Nothing will put a smile on your face quite as fast as when you start up a snowmobile. And there’s no better place to be if you want to romp around in deep powder, or execute big, wide donuts than Wyoming. Wyoming is so snowy and spacious, snowmobiles were made for this place.
A Ski Vacation in South America
Summer Skiing in Chile
Red Wine and Powder Snow are my two favorite things. Why not enjoy both of them in the midst of our hot summer? Chile’s ski season is just beginning with record breaking snowfall in the Andes. Portillo just received 9 feel of snow just before their opening day and the Tres Valles region saw over 4 feet! Combine spectacular powder skiing in the middle of summer with a glass of delicious Chilean wine and you got yourself a perfect day…
Whether you’d like to enjoy the Ski & Wine program at Portillo August 6-14th or perhaps discover the new hot spot Corralco Mountain & Ski Resort for only $252 per person/per night- Alpine Adventures has you covered.
Valle Nevado, the largest and most modern ski resort of Chile’s Three Valleys – Valle Nevado, La Parva, and El Colorado.
Exclusive mountain resort with limitless heliskiing.
Valle Nevado is the gateway to the Three Valleys of the Andes, which includes El Colorado and La Parva. Valle Nevado is Chile’s newest and most modern resort, located just 37 miles from Santiago’s international airport amid breathtaking landscapes in the Andes Mountains. The three interconnected ski resorts offer 65 miles of ski runs and 24,000 acres of skiing, accessible by 43 lifts— all above the tree line at 10,000 feet. It’s the largest skiable acreage in the Southern Hemisphere with an abundance of sun and quality snow. Enjoy Summer Skiing in Chile!
Variously described as a “boutique resort”, a “luxury cruise ship in a sea of mountains”, or just “heavenly”, Portillo is a resort unique in the world.
International ski resort in a majestic Andean setting.
Portillo has been South America’s premier destination ski resort for more than 50 years. Located high in the majestic Andes at the edge of the Lake of the Incas, Portillo is known for spectacular scenery, extrordinary terrain and superb hotel ambiance. Just two hours from Santiago via a modern highway, Portillo has just one grand hotel and feels almost like a private club. The resort has a capacity of 450 guests offering ski-in/ski-out facilities, uncrowded slopes and no lift lines. The terrain surrounding Portillo is unsurpassed for heliskiing. Summer Skiing in Chile
Spring Skiing in the Mountains
The season that has it all
Is it too early to start thinking about spring skiing? I think that with parts of the country plunged into the frigid depths of winter, now is actually the perfect time to daydream about the mountains in one of the most underrated seasons. Spring skiing is a not so well-kept secret among avid skiers and riders.
The days start to lengthen, leading to extended operating hours for the lifts and more time to make those extra turns. The weather has a tendency to waver between bluebird days and the skies opening up and dropping copious amounts of snow. You can have one day where you’ll see people skiing in t-shirts working on their goggle tans, and the next they’ll be getting fresh tracks in waist deep powder.
Spring in the mountains is about what happens off the slopes as much as on.
There’s nothing better than getting face shots on a powder day, except maybe by wrapping it up with après ski outdoors, basking in the sun and recapping your runs with friends. With the warmer weather also comes spring concerts, and catching a free show with the mountains in the background is a definite must-do this time of year. If you plan right, you can make it to the resort when they have pond skimming, when the adventurous don their best onesie or most creative costume, and attempt to ski or ride across a pond. It’s not always successful, but it is always entertaining.
Now, I have to ask…is it really too early to think about spring skiing?
The word ‘epic’ gets thrown around a lot these days. It gets attached to ordinary, day-to-day things, which is remarkably far from epic. My use of epic is generally mountain related, although I still probably say it a lot more than I should.
Epic was the day I made it to Vail right before the pass closed because of the weather. This same storm dropped a foot of powder that I got to ski for a couple of hours before the pass opened and it got tracked out.
It was epic in Steamboat after they had gone a couple of weeks with very little new snow, only to have three feet come down in one night.
I’ve actually lost count of how many epic days I had when living in Utah; I got to the point where I required at least six inches of fresh snow to motivate me out of bed in the morning.
We offer a couple of days skiing with instructors to familiarize yourself with the mountain, and then if you want to explore on your own, go for it! Our groups are led by Leo Demelbauer, PSIA level 3 ski instructor and Alpine team member. He knows the mountains like the back of his hand, and his love of skiing is infectious.
I don’t want to discount non-powder days…some of my most memorable times have been with my Alpine family skiing in the sun, making some leisurely runs before heading to après or taking a wander through the village.
Skiing Val d’Isere, before finishing up at La Folie Douce, surrounded by hundreds of revelers–many of whom were dressed in full costume –is one I will not forget anytime soon. Everyone dancing in their ski boots at Mooserwirt in St Anton, while watching people attempt to ski the run to the bottom was yet another amazing day.
When it comes down to it, whether you’re skiing freshies right after a storm, groomers on a bluebird day, or even just taking a couple of laps with friends and heading to après and absorbing the mountain atmosphere, shouldn’t any time you get to spend on the mountain be considered epic?
The Best Days on the Mountain Have Yet to Come
As I travelled back to Florida from Reno/Tahoe a couple of weeks ago, I chatted with a few people in the airports. Everyone had the same response: “Reno, isn’t that like a little Vegas?”
Six months ago, that probably would have been my response. In reality, the area is nothing like Las Vegas, except they are in the same state. I see Reno and Lake Tahoe as a wonderland for all seasons. The skiing around the lake with the larger well-known resorts such as Squaw Valley to the west and Heavenly to the South are great choices for winter and summer mountain destinations. Today I wanted to say a little about the lesser knowns. Mt Rose is the highest with a base at 8260 feet above sea level and 1300 acres, which makes this a nice choice for a few days of skiing. Mount Rose is just 20 miles from Reno. This is a great choice to stay and play in Reno, and still ski while on your trip.
Crossing over the divide from Mt Rose you will find Incline Village. This is home to the beautiful Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino. This property is located on the north shore of Lake Tahoe and is one of the only resorts with their own private beach. I was there in the fall and it was still a great place to go to relax by the water or even take a sail on the catamaran operating out of the hotel.
Another place to check out while in Incline Village is the CalNeva Resort. If famous names like Frank, Marilyn, and Kennedy ring a bell, the history of the CalNeva resort is for you. This property has been closed and will reopen after a major remodel in 2016 under a Starwood brand, according to what I can find. I will definitely need to go back and see the history of the property. Diamond Peak is a quaint little ski area closest to the Hyatt on the north side of the lake. This ski area does something a little different than most. I have paid for “First Tracks” to go up on many ski mountains, but have never seen “Last Tracks” This is a wine and beer tasting on mountain at the end of the day. Dates and times are limited to parts of the year, but the locals were all chatting about it still in October.
Our trip to the area also took us to the small mining town of Virginia City. Bonanza fans will remember this Old West town mentioned throughout the years of the TV series. In the late 1800s this thriving town had over 30,000 residents. There is still a steam train that will take you from Carson City to this historic mining town. All the history of the area is quite an interesting read.
We have now come full circle and back to Reno, a city on the grow. This city is also home to Tesla. This electric car icon is adding around 10 million square feet to its plant here in coming years. Other notable contributors to the 50,000 jobs coming to Reno are Microsoft, Amazon, and some in the air industry. The Riverwalk located downtown is a must-see with many renowned restaurants in the area. Other things to do while in the area include the 50+ golf courses, the expansion of the Truckee river whitewater park system, and the 13 breweries in the area. Being a person from North Dakota, I have to mention the world’s largest all-sports store, Scheels. Probably the most noticeable item you will see in Reno, however, is the millions of dollars in upgrades being done in the hotels from the lavish spa and pool area at the Peppermill, to the many restaurants, bars and clubs of the tri properties: The Eldorado, Silver Legacy, and Circus Circus. The Atlantis, The Grand Sierra, The Nugget and Harrah’s Reno, Bill Harrah’s original Bingo Hall, are all making improvements and making Reno a destination worth looking into.
A special thanks to Reno Tahoe USA, The Eldorado, The Peppermill and to our other Reno Tahoe partners for making this trip a memorable one.
Ah, November. The month when Mother Nature can’t decide if it’s a balmy fall day in the 70s, or the heart of winter. November is when one by one, the resorts finally start opening for the skiers and snowboarders who have been eagerly waiting those first turns.
It’s a month when weather reports are obsessed over, and everyone becomes an amateur meteorologist. The Farmer’s Almanac becomes a staple in conversations, and a source of elation or despair, depending on its snow predictions for the upcoming season.
November didn’t get off to a roaring start in Colorado. While there was a picturesque dusting on the Rocky Mountains from previous snow, it wasn’t enough to give people visions of powder days in the immediate future. Resorts have been making snow, and there will be plenty of runs open to get some nice early season cruising in, but no one had expectations of needing their powder skis on opening day. After this most recent storm, however, attitudes have changed a bit. The excitement in the air is palpable, as snow reports get totaled, and the realization sinks in that it is about time to start bringing out the equipment and planning weekends around weather systems. Resorts in Colorado received up to 13 inches of snow in this last storm, and it is officially time to get stoked.
Winter is coming. And so are the powder days.
Team Alpine in the Land of the Rising Sun! “JAPAN”
Plenty of destinations around the world claim to be unique, but Japan can be fully confident of this assertion. The centuries which Japan spent closed off from the outside world have left it with an exotic and highly individual culture, making it an appealing destination for all curious travelers.
Team Alpine was invited to participate at Japanese Travel Mart which took place in Tokyo for three days in late September. Two of our team members, Lilly and Pete, had an opportunity to attend the trade show where they had meetings with the suppliers from our ski travel industry and beyond. They also took part of the studying trip organized by the host of the expo and were taken to explore the famous ‘Golden Route’. When the FAM trip was ended, they didn’t miss an opportunity to visit Hakuba and Shiga Kogen in order to strengthen relationships with the vendors at these ski resorts and do site inspections of several properties at each place. We are sharing with you their experiences and adventures so you know what to expect when travelling to Japan for your first time.
Tokyo, for all its chaotic blur of activity, is a remarkably efficient city. Getting from A to B is generally quick and straightforward, unless – as in our case – you’re on your first visit and keep stopping to stare at everything. How long did it take to put all that neon in place? What are those teenagers wearing? And what is that coming out of the vending machine? As a city to wander through, it’s utterly fascinating: from the Manga comic megastores of Akihabara to the capsule hotels and fashion stores of Ginza.
It was in the more traditional quarters of the city, however, that we lingered the longest. It’s a fantastic city – and not just a modern one. For the little time we had between schedules, we decided to wander around and explore the city ourselves.Getting on the train was easy once we figured out the metro/subway/train lines.
Shibuya was one of the first town areas where we experienced full energy and excitement. Shibuya is one of Tokyo’s most colorful and busy districts, packed with shopping, dining and nightclubs serving swarms of visitors that come to the district everyday. Shibuya’s large intersection gets flooded by pedestrians each time the crossing light turns green, making it a popular photo and movie filming spot.
As night fell, we were getting into the city vibe more and more. Being on the west side of the city, we used it to move towards Shinjuku. Shinjuku town begins at the world’s busiest train station. People from all walks of life and ethnic groups crowd together on streets lined with places popular with both locals and tourists!
Being eager for a deeper understanding and experience of the unique Japanese world and culture , we decided to visit the traditional Asakusa area where you can find the oldest and most significant Japanese Buddhist temple – Sensō-ji. As we approached the temple through Nakamise shopping street we found a variety of traditional, local snacks and tourist souvenirs.
A twenty minute walk across the Sumida River from Asakusa sits Tokyo Sky Tree, the biggest broadcasting tower in the world.It is amazing how an ancient spiritual site stands next to one that is so modern.
We had an amazing opportunity to run into traditional dance performance of Aomori Nebuta band that was performing in front of the Tokyo Station plaza. The sounds of the drums, the pair of gongs and the flutes carried our imagination out to an ancient time of Samurai era.
After leaving Tokyo and making our way along the scenic freeways, we found ourselves at Kawaguchiko Station in Yamanashi and made our way to the 5th Step of Mt. Fuji, which is almost near the top of the famous cone that has become a symbol of Japan. As the clouds broke briefly here and there, we ended up seeing the summit. It was a magical and fascinating look at the peak of the ‘Japanese Holy Mountain’. The journey we had on Mt. Fuji was amazing! Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, stands 12,389 feet and is the highest mountain in Japan. Just 62 miles from Tokyo, the mountain is within view of Japan’s capitol on a clear day. Fuji became a symbol of the country after about 1500 when the capitol moved to Edo or Tokyo. Mount Fuji is also considered an active volcano, though it has not erupted since 1708.
On the way back to Tokyo, we made a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘Oshino Hakkai (Pond)’. The Oshino Hakkai (eight seas of Oshino) is located at the Oshino village of Yamanashi Prefecture, which is comprised of eight ponds (The ponds of Deguchi-ike, Okama-ike, Sokonuke-ike, Choshi-ike, Waku-ike, Nigori-ike, Kagami-ike and Shobu-ike) as its name described. The area is filled with many tourist spots such as Japanese folk homes with straw-thatched roof, the old temples, Museum of History and Folklore which can be traced back to 1800s, as well as many gift shops and restaurants. The water source of these eight ponds are from the underground water of Mt. Fuji, there are ponds in different geological states such as the swamp-like ponds and the ponds with transparent water. Oshino Hakkai was chosen as one of the Natural Monuments of Japan, as well as one of the 100 selections of Water of Japan and the 100 selections of new Fugaku of the prefecture.
In an early evening we arrived at our next destination ‘Tokyo Skytree’. Boasting a height of 2080 ft, making it the world’s highest stand-alone communication tower, Tokyo SkyTree opened in May 2012 and has already become a major symbol of Tokyo, forming the center of Tokyo Skytree Town, which also encompasses Tokyo Solamachi, a complex that includes many shops and restaurants, as well as an aquarium and planetarium. The appeal of Tokyo Skytree lies in the fact that although it is a hi-tech structure, it also evokes a sense of traditional beauty.
After having a lavish buffet breakfast at Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo and walking few minutes to Shinagawa train station, we boarded the famous bullet train ‘Shinkansen’ and headed to Osaka. The legendary train is not just a 200 mph train that rockets across the island of Japan. These trains are stopping and going with New York subway regularity.
Each Bullet Train has 16 cars, holds at least 1300 people, and rockets out of Tokyo Station every 5 minutes. This is not a luxury cruise liner or a vehicle with space shuttle like exclusivity. The Shinkansen is the definition of a workhorse. There are 323 bullet trains in operation every day just for the route between Japan’s two largest cities; Tokyo and Osaka. They have a yearly average speed of about 170 mph yet a yearly delay time that is measured in seconds.
Another image we could not quite wrap our heads around was going 200 miles per hour. Or even 150 for that matter. The truth is, the train is so smooth that you never even know that you are traveling so fast. The only time you can feel the speed is when you look out the window and see buildings and trees whipping by so fast that your brain has trouble processing it.
The Shinkansen is simply a marvel of planning and engineering that you should experience yourself when you come to Japan.
Upon arrival at Osaka train station, we were met by our transfer provider who took us to the must-see attraction in Osaka, which is called Umeda Sky Building.
The Umeda Sky Building is an architectural highlight in the city centre of Osaka. At the upper floor, you have a good view at the city of Osaka. Planes flying to Osaka airport fly at the same height as the building. Inside, there is an exhibition about floating gardens. When the tour was over, we departed for a lunch at Dotonbori area.
Dotonbori, the symbol of Osaka, the epitome of kuidaore, is nestled along the canal of the Umezu river. If there was ever a place to simultaneously exhibit both traditional and modern Japan, it would be here. An area loved by both tourists and locals alike, Dotonbori seems to have something for everyone.
If you’re going for a more traditional trip you can catch a Bunraku (traditional puppet theater) performance nearby or visit Hozen-ji Temple for a quieter atmosphere. Dotonbori is filled with exciting shops, restaurants, bars, and boat rides down the canal. It’s no wonder this area has been famous since its establishment in the early 1600s. If you’re not hungry enough for a full meal, just grab a nice snack at one of the many food vendors lining the streets. Be sure to try either takoyaki or okonomiyaki—both regional specialties of Osaka.
Our last visit for today was Osaka-jo Castle.
Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) was built by the hegemon Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan in the latter half of the 16th century, on the site of a temple called Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The construction work began in 1583 and most buildings such as the castle tower were completed in 1585. Its gross area is over 3,300,000 square meters and tens of thousands of people were daily mobilized in its construction. The donjon is five-tiered and nine-storied, and has large golden sea creature ornaments shining on the rooftop. It is claimed that pure gold chasings were set in the corridors. One of the charms of this castle is the beauty of its stone wall. Reportedly, there are 40,000 rocks in the wall. Legend has it that powerful daimyo from all parts of Japan competed in carrying the large rocks to display their loyalty to the Toyotomi hegemon. The existing castle tower was built in 1931. It has five tiers and is approximately 40 m high. It is the symbol of Osaka.
We left Osaka in the early evening and took off to the cultural heart and soul of Japan: Kyoto. This was it! All the images that wide-eyed foreigners picture when the country’s name were evoked: centuries-old temples set against perfectly manicured gardens, lantern-lined quaint alleys, white-faced geishas shuffling along in clogs.This is what greeted us when we arrived in Kyoto, another ancient capital of Japan, and culturally its most important.
We checked in at Kyoto Hot Spring Hatoya Zuihokaku Hotel. The hotel is very conveniently located right next to the train station. The rooms were spacious with everything you needed in them, including very nice gowns. The traditional Japanese breakfast was very interesting to explore and tasted good. The Onsen bath on the top floor was nice, big, and clean. An excellent experience which shouldn’t be missed.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for over 1000 years, beginning in 794, when Emperor Kammu made the city the seat of his imperial court and the center of Japan’s political world. Having escaped the ravages of World War II, the city is a treasure trove of important cultural properties. Kyoto is dotted with over 2000 shrines and temples, which contain about 20% of Japan’s National Treasures. Many aspects of traditional culture have been carefully preserved since the Heian period. Kyoto people are justifiably proud of their traditions, including omotenashi, or traditional hospitality, as well as kaiseki ryori, food beautiful enough to be called art, and many others.
The geisha and maiko of Kyoto are famous for their skill in traditional Japanese arts. Resplendent in beautiful kimono and lavish makeup, they are considered the very essence of Japanese beauty and refinement.
The next morning we were off to the nearby city of Fushimi, one of the largest sake producing regions of Japan. Here we visited the Fushimi Inari shrine. This Shinto shrine, established in the 8th century, is famous for the long tunnels of vermilion torii gates straddling a network of trails leading to the top of the heavily forested Mt. Inari. With seemingly endless arcades of vermilion torii (shrine gates) spread across a thickly wooded mountain, this vast shrine complex is a world unto its own. It is, quite simply, one of the most impressive and memorable sights in all of Kyoto.
The entire complex, consisting of five shrines, sprawls across the wooded slopes of Inari-san. A pathway wanders two miles up the mountain and is lined with dozens of atmospheric sub-shrines.
Fushimi Inari was dedicated to the gods of rice and sake by the Hata family in the 8th century. As the role of agriculture diminished, deities were enrolled to ensure prosperity in business. Nowadays, the shrine is one of Japan’s most popular, and is the head shrine for some 40,000 Inari shrines scattered the length and breadth of the country.
Not far from Fushimi Inari Shrine is Kyoto’s traditional brewing area. The brewers originally set up shop here in the the 1600s, primarily because of local springs–famed for their delicious water–and the Horikawa River and canal that offered quick access north into central Kyoto and south to Osaka. We came here to visit Gekkeikan Okura Sake Museum. There are over 6,000 tools and implements related to sake brewing and production at the Gekkeikan Sake Brewery. The buildings on the campus are fascinating as well, and include a reproduction of the original Gekkeikan office. Also on display are photographs of the brewery in times gone past. We also learned about the sake brewing process in a mini-brewer,y and of course when the visit was over, we bought sake and sake-related products in the shop including sake cups and flasks.
After lunch, we headed back to Kyoto and stopped by Kinkaku-ji Temple.
Kinkaku-ji, also known as the Golden Pavilion, is one of Kyoto’s, as well as Japan’s, most recognizable attractions. The gleaming building covered in gold leaf seems to float on the aptly named Mirror Pond, especially on a sunny day.
The highlight of the day was definitely our Kimono experience! The entire group was dressed in Kimono clothing in the local store and we were taken for a leisurely stroll in Nijo-jo castle!
Built in 1603, it was the Kyoto home of Tokugawa leayasu, the first Tokugawa Shogun. The ostentatious style of construction was intended as a demonstration of leayasu’s prestige, and to signal the demise of the emperor’s power. The finest artists of the day filled the castle with delicate transom woodcarvings and paintings by the Kano School on sliding doors. One of the castle’s most intriguing features is the so-called ‘nightingale’ floors. To protect the Shogun from real or imagined enemies, these floorboards creak when stepped on.
Our last day in this marvelous city! We wished we could stay longer and explore Kyoto on our own as there are so much to see and do.
The final morning, we left our hotel and continued our journey to Kiyomizu-dera temple before we headed to the Itami airport in Osaka for our return flight to Haneda AP in Tokyo.
Kiyomizu-dera is one of the most famous temples in Kyoto and was built at the end of the 8th century. The main hall was constructed in the 17th century, and is famous for its location overhanging a cliff. The platform of the main hall, which is supported by 139 giant pillars, affords a spectacular view of the town of Kyoto. It is designated a National Treasure. The three-storied pagoda in the temple precinct, which was rebuilt during the 17th century, is designated by the national government as an Important Cultural Property.
The expansive site, with an area of 130,000 square meters, contains many Important Cultural Properties, including buildings and Buddhist images. Along the ravine to the south of the main hall grow cherry and maple trees. This site is known for its cherry blossoms in the spring, and its red leaves during the fall.
We made it back to Tokyo again and even though we were a little bit tired, we were ready for another bullet train experience to Nagano. We boarded the train in late afternoon and arrived in Nagano. We took a rental car, and continued our journey to Hakuba.
The Hakuba Valley is surrounded by the Japanese Alps and became well known through the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics. It has become a popular location for winter sports fans, with all levels of skiers able to enjoy the 11 resorts. All 11 resorts can be accessed by the circulating shuttle buses. The valley is also blessed with abundant powder, making the backcountry tours very popular among visitors!
The next day, we drove back to Nagano, dropped off our car and met our friends Kobi and Yuki who were our hosts during the stay in Shiga Kogen.
Shiga Kogen is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and National Park of spectacular mountain scenery. It was host to the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympic Giant Slalom, and is now a popular destination for skiers and boarders with 19 resorts and plenty of fresh Japow! Shiga Kogen is located at an altitude of over 5000 feet and is renowned for its panoramic views.
The most popular attraction in this area are Japanese snow monkeys! Seeing Jigokudani Monkey Park’s wild monkeys bathe in Jigokudani ‘s hot springs was a fantastic experience. The area was successfully made into a monkey park in 1962. There are about 200 monkeys that regularly make the trip down the mountain to use the hot springs.
A visit to the Nagano area would not be complete without seeing the famous Zenkō-ji Temple in Nagano City, said to have been built in the early 7th century. It consists of 39 buildings including Dai-hongan and Dai-kanjin and is the main tourist spot in Nagano. Since Zenkoji Temple is not affiliated with any one particular sect of Buddhism, it is open to everyone regardless of their beliefs, and it is believed that a visit there once in a lifetime will ensure a passage into the Land of Happiness.
The temple has grown on the basis of this popular belief from ancient times and therefore been popular amongst a great variety of people throughout its history. The front entry to the main hall of the temple is paved with flagstones. The stores lining the approach sell a usual plethora of gifts, knickknacks and local products. These include Buddhist family altars, pickled vegetables and traditional toys.
And so with that, after almost 10 days, we came to the end of our stay here in the Land of the Rising Sun. Not wanting to sound cliched, but it really seemed like only yesterday when left the US. This being our first visit, we think we’ve seen a lot of what the country has to offer, from the uniquely Japanese quotidian minutiae (capsule hotels, meal ticket vending machines, public baths, bum-washing toilets) to the broader aspects like its contentious military history, and imperial and spiritual past.
The people’s famed courtesy, politeness and efficiency was certainly not lost on us, and we saw what a civilized place can really look like, and how well its people can behave. Nihon, you have been inspiring, and we hope to be back again before long!
More than anywhere else I’ve been, I feel like Japan is the kind of destination that every traveler must experience at least once in their lifetime. I loved my ten days there and I can’t wait to return.
Want to hit the Alps this winter, but don’t know where to begin?
Or maybe you want to travel solo without being alone?
Some people have the misconception that group trips involve being herded from one place to another like cattle; no free time, no experiencing the destination on your own. With our trips, you spend as much or as little time as you’d like with the other travelers. Our groups usually consist of friends and strangers united by a love of travel, and desire to experience a new resort.
We offer a couple of days skiing with instructors to familiarize yourself with the mountain, and then if you want to explore on your own, go for it! Our groups are led by Leo Demelbauer, PSIA level 3 ski instructor and Alpine team member. He knows the mountains like the back of his hand, and his love of skiing is infectious.
Spend your days with your newfound friends on the mountain, or take a day off and hit the spa. Reunite with the group over traditional Austrian fare and trade tales over a local lager.
The Alps are calling…are you ready to answer?
If you’re ready to hit the slopes,
get in touch with Holly Gagnon
for more information.
Kitzbuhel, Austria: March 5-12
Lech, Austria: March 12-19
Things To Know About When Skiing In Europe
What It’s Really Like To Ski In Europe
Skiing in Europe isn’t just about clicking into your skis and schussing down some of the most famous slopes in the world. It’s part of an experience that can check every box of a dream trip.
Dancing the afternoon away on a sunny deck in ski boots during après ski, glühwein flowing and music bumping. Staying in a hotel that has been owned by one family for generations, and feeling like one of their long- lost relatives by the time you leave. Having delectable local dishes on the mountain that will make you reevaluate what on-mountain dining should be.
This is all before you even talk about the skiing. There’s a reason the Alps have provided the backdrop for numerous movies. The iconic mountains reach skyward above the villages below, the peaks breaking through the clouds above. Once you get to the top of the mountain after taking the gondola, tram, funicular, lift, or even train up, you get to see what the skiing is all about. Most of the resorts lie above tree line, which means the entire mountain is free rein. You won’t see the big fences that reinforce boundaries at other resorts. You go where your skis can take you; whether it’s an untouched powder field, or a cruiser that can take you to a neighboring town or even crossing country borders.
Skiing in Europe is an experience unlike any other. While you can have days on the mountain that can only be classified as epic, it’s the people, the food, and the culture that will make it a ski trip you will never forget.
Early season in the ski resorts
Why I love an Early Season Ski Trip
One of the most underrated times of year to hit the slopes is nearly upon us: early season in the ski resorts. These are the few precious weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas where you can find the amazing combination of uncrowded slopes and killer deals. Resorts will be starting to gear up for the holiday crowds, but the only people you will be sharing the slopes with prior to the holidays are locals and some in-the-know tourists looking to get their first turns of the year.
Since the properties aren’t as busy, you can score some unbelievable bargains coming to the mountains before Christmas. Anything from budget hotels and condos to the luxury resorts not only offer rates that are a fraction of the price you’ll find later in the year, but many of them will throw in a free night or additional discount to really sweeten the deal.
If you’ve never been skiing before because you think it’s too expensive, December beckons. Everything from lodging and lift tickets to ski rentals drop in price, and make that winter wonderland for you and your family within reach. There is no better way to prepare for winter than to spend your days surrounded by snow, and your nights curled up by a fireplace, hot drink in hand.
For those that love the five star experience, but would rather spend their money on living the dream with spa treatments, fine dining, and the famous mountain nightlife than all on lodging, the early season lets you have it all. Stay in a high end hotel where the service levels and ski access mean that the hardest thing you’ll have to do is decide where to après.
Whoever said you can’t have it all?
Who is ready for fall?
Team Alpine visiting the Ranch at Rock Creek
Fall makes many people think of changing leaves, crisp temperatures, and finally having an excuse to occasionally sidle up to a fireplace. There is no better place to fully embrace everything about fall than by visiting the Ranch at Rock Creek, an all-inclusive luxury ranch in Montana that has something special to offer throughout the year. The Ranch is ringing in the season by throwing Autumn Harvest festivities the weekend of October 15-18.
If the thought of scenery so picturesque that it looks photoshopped isn’t enough to entice you, the Ranch does have a few other tricks up its sleeve. Fine dining with a Montana twist can satiate any foodie’s palate, and they have wine and cocktails aplenty to find just the perfect pairing. For the upcoming weekend festivities, the chef has concocted a special menu to celebrate the season with local purveyors supplying the ingredients. Montana breweries and a local distillery will each have a night to showcase their wares, which will supplement wines brought in from the Pacific Northwest.
When you’re not embarking on a culinary journey with Chef Josh Drage, fill your days with outdoor adventures; everything you can imagine doing in Montana is at your fingertips. Horseback riding, target shooting, and mountain biking are just a few activities offered up for the adventurous, and of course, if you need to relax, the spa can cure what ails. Just to take the weekend to another level, the Ranch is wrapping up the festivities with an intimate acoustic performance by Grammy winner LeAnn Rimes the final night.
Now tell me…who is ready for fall?
By Anne Z. Cooke
Globe Correspondent / January 16, 2005
“Most of our staff come from the ski industry — resort employees, former ski instructors, snowboarders, people like that,” said spokeswoman Martina Reichsfeld. “They’ve visited the hotels and the resorts we represent. What we’re selling is knowledge and service.”
If you look at a trail map of Mribel and its neighbors, you’ll see that the Three Valleys, connected by a network of gondolas and lifts, are pitched north to south and divided by parallel mountain ridges.
Mribel is in the middle valley, tony Courchevel is eastward, and Val Thorens and Les Menuires are to the west. You might think people have always skied here, but the resorts were built specifically for recreational skiers on holiday.
The hotels and lodges, climbing the hillsides beside the slopes, look like traditional chalets, each with chestnut-brown siding, sun-facing balconies, and gingerbread trim, though the newer hotels are built of well-disguised cement.
The ski slopes, too, were planned for holiday visitors; death drops are in plentiful supply, but here they are often found beside alternate, and easier, ways to the bottom.
Though we originally asked Alpine Adventures for their lowest prices, we soon realized that some features were worth the extra cost. Alpine’s cheapest Mribel package, for example, was about $999 per person, but was limited to the basics: air fare from East Coast airports, bus transfers, trip cancellation insurance, seven nights in a comfortable but ordinary three-star hotel, ski lockers, and breakfast…
Continue reading on boston.com
Jan 18, 2004
By DEVLIN BARRETT – Associated Press Writer
COURMAYEUR, Italy — A thumping helicopter hauled us up alongside the menacingly close stone cliff. Suddenly, the rock face dropped away, and the chopper perched lightly on a snowy peak in the Italian Alps.
‘‘Go!” the guide Gianni screamed over the din, and our dazed group of six flopped out the door into white, blinding wind, grabbing our skis from the leg of the helicopter as we went.
Dizzy from the altitude, I thought first of the fireplace-toasty ristorante back at our regular mountain, where they served penne bolognese and an array of red wines to shame most gourmets.
But the adrenaline surged as a day of heli-skiing stretched before us in miles of deep, untouched powder. We stood gawking at the startlingly still and inviting terrain, the engine’s roar fading over a far mountain.
As a lifelong Northeast skier who worked a couple seasons as a ski instructor in high school, I was chomping at the bit to take the plunge.
So I plunged. And plunged. And plunged.
The great thing about a ski vacation in Italy is that no matter how much powder you carve or choke on, there is always a wonderful meal waiting for you, and you need not wait until the end of the day to enjoy it.
In Courmayeur, a small ski town near the French border, the restaurants on the top, middle, and sides of the mountain are very good, very Italian, and very easy on the wallet.
The mountain I’m most familiar with in the states offers hamburgers, fries, and hot chocolate at the base lodge. Courmayeur served up fettuccine and merlot on a hilltop terrace. And charged less for it. …
Continue reading on helenair.com
By DEVLIN BARRETT THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted Jan 18, 2004
“Once you get out there, the price of things like lift tickets, food, even a beer in a bar, is about half of what you would pay at a lot of resorts in the (American) West,” said Rick Reichsfeld, who has been running tours to Courmayeur for years, and married a local.
The picturesque Italian village offers visitors a gondola within easy walking distance of most of the hotels, and well-kept cobblestone streets lined with restaurants, shops and more gelato vendors than one small town should rightly need.
Courmayeur is reached by flying into Milan, then arranging a bus or van ride of a couple hours into the mountains. With the right driver to point out nearby landmarks, jet-lagged visitors can also catch a glimpse of medieval castles scattered along the route.
Lift tickets are good for the entire valley, so you can use the same pass to try out a number of mountains like nearby Cervinia, where you can ski Switzerland and Italy in one day under the shadow of the world-famous Matterhorn, or take a quick side trip to France.
Exiting the gondola at Cervinia’s peak, skiers immediately cross a yellow line in the stone walkway indicating they have entered Switzerland. As two bored Swiss policemen watch, each skier must choose: turn right, toward the Italian side, or left into Switzerland. Or just ski down, then climb in a car for a quick drive to Chamonix or another French mountain….
Continue reading on heraldtribune.com