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This week marks the launch of the Winter 2014/15 edition of SNOW Magazine, a sure sign winter is coming. isn’t she a beauty?

SNOW Magazine Winter 2014/15

SNOW Magazine
Winter 2014/15

On stands now, this edition is focused on all that’s warm and sumptuous and luxurious in the winter ski lifestyle. Lech’s lovely Chalet N–a luscious slopeside retreat for celebs–is profiled. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Shribman lends us a peek inside Dartmouth, his alma mater and the world’s only Ivy Ski League. Fashion photographer Daniela Federici has captured the bold colours of 2015 skiwear. Barbara Sanders, SNOW’s publisher, profiles a spa laden with Swarvoski crystals. And I, Lori Knowles, trace the rich history of Idaho’s Sun Valley, where Clarke Gable and Ingrid Bergman and Ernest Hemingway launched the first American Ski Resort, an iconic spot once known as the “American Shangri-la.”

The magazine is on stands now, as well as inside the rooms of the world’s best alpine hotels, in Air Canada lounges, and available for download on Zinio. See www.TheSnowMag.com and @SNOWmagazine for more information.

Once you’ve got it, curl up in front of a warm fire, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy your read. Lech, Park City, the Okanagan, Sun Valley, Courchevel, Aspen… Reading these pages is the next best thing to skiing in one of these fabulous places.

Lori Knowles is Editor-in-Chief of SNOW Magazine @LoriExploring

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Skiing the Aspen glades at Vail.

With the Canadian and US dollars still duking it out, this winter may be just the time to stretch your wings and fly south of the border for your ski vacation. For ease, value and variety, one of my picks would be the USA’s Vail, Colorado. Here are five good reasons, plus a bonus…

1) Location. While Vail has loads of competition when it comes to multi-talented Colorado ski resorts, its advantage may be its location: an easy 201 km west of Denver. With Air Canada’s daily direct Toronto-Denver flights, and United Airlines’ direct flight from Toronto to Vail’s Eagle airport, a skier can depart Toronto in the morning and be inside a Vail restaurant in time for lunch (mountain time), which leads me to No.2…

2) Dining. From authentic Mexican to Swiss, Japanese, Italian… you’ll find all types of food in Vail at varying price points. Sure, you can spend a fortune clinking your wine glass next to President Ford’s family. (I recommend at least one chi-chi experience during your vacation. Try La Bottega; the truffle gnocchi is fantastic.) But my all-time favourite is Vail’s down-home Bama-style, Southern BBQ joint called Moe’s, where kids eat free on Mondays and ribs are only a buck ($1) on Tuesdays. When you’re out on the mountain you can take advantage of the slopeside lodges’ Lunch for Less: $9.95 daily, including a main, side and drink… in the ski world, this price is unheard of.

3) Terrain. With all that pulled pork in your tummy you’ll need a workout and you’ll get it skiing Vail’s terrain. Yes, there are loads of corduroy-groomed, blue-square intermediate runs at Vail—with 193 of them it’s truly difficult to ski the same run twice, and most have fun, family-friendly names like Swingsville, Hunky Dory and Tourist Trap. But Vail’s x-rated moguls are prolific, too. Better yet, its back bowls are expansive and terrific. China Bowl, Siberia Bowl, Sun Up Bowl, Sun Down Bowl (my favourite) — beyond the views, these bowls’ tree, powder and steep skiing is as interesting as Whistler’s.

Vail powder in the sunshine.

4) Weather. Think of Vail as that sparkly, blonde cheerleader the girls loved to hate in high school—the one with the impossibly white teeth and shining personality. The sun beats brightly on Vail an average of 300 days per year—that’s a lot of blue sky. (No wonder they call some of its best terrain Blue Sky Basin.) And yes, at Vail there are a lot of white teeth and sunshiney smiles, especially in the liftlines.

5) Accommodation. You can spend a fortune shacking up in Vail… I will not mislead you. My favourite luxe haunt, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, will run you $600 per night easy. But its lodgy, fireside feel, cushy Euro bed, steamy rooftop pool and How-Can-I-Help-You staff is worth a serious splurge. The Four Seasons has opened a new hotel nearby (think: heated towels by the pool)… sign me up.

And while this quintessentially plush ski resort does luxury well, there’s value at Vail, too. Both the Lodge at Vail and the Austria Haus have third, fourth and fifth night free offers on varying weeks all season. Skican’s 2011 Vail deal starts at $1825 for airfare from Toronto, a six-day lift pass and seven nights’ lodging at a choice of good condo/hotels, including one I know and recommend: The Antlers.

A downside of Vail is its sprawl—there is no real town centre. That said, wherever you lay your head, you may not need a rental car at Vail… the airport shuttles and ski resort transit systems are fast and efficient.

Bonus: And now for the bonus: Vail-the-Unexpected. I am as guilty as the next ski writer for stereotyping resorts. When asked “Where should I go?” I’ve been known to answer: Whistler, B.C. for challenge, St. Anton, Austria for the Euro vibe, Big White, B.C. for family… and Colorado’s Aspen or Vail for luxury. But Vail can surprise you. Example: one of my best ski lunches ever was had not at swank, red-carpet spot, but at Blue Sky Basin’s Belle’s Camp, where there’s little more than some picnic tables and BBQs at an elevation of 3,527 metres. A friend marinated steak, veggies and chicken in a ziplock bag and toted it up there in a backpack… the meal was heaven.

Another surprise—and this one you’ll have to keep to yourselves—is Vail’s Minturn Mile. Meet locals at the “Top of Three at Three” (Chair No.3 at 3 p.m.) and head out of bounds for the ultimate glade-skiing adventure, which finishes about two hours later at a honky tonk in the village of Minturn. Warning: Make sure you’re an expert, and do not ski this alone or minus a guide. Tag along with a local… just don’t tell them who told you.

Follow Lori’s ski adventures this season on Twitter: @LoriExploring. This article was written originally for Lori’s Inside Edge ski travel column in the Toronto Sun. Copyright… all rights reserved. No part of the article may be reproduced without written consent of the author.

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An exerpt from The Globe and Mail

The Globe asked two of the country’s most prolific ski writers, Lori Knowles and Iain MacMillan, about the makings of a great ski trip and found old friends don’t always agree when it comes to planning a holiday on the slopes.

Lori Knowles kicking back at Snowmass.

Lori: This year I’m going to plan my ski trips even better. I’ve made a spreadsheet listing some of the more important aspects of a ski vacation.  Instead of ending the day at the spa, I think one should start at the spa (after dropping the kids off at ski school). On my list: the new Scandinave Spa Whistler—wood-burning Finish saunas, thermal waterfalls, hot stone and Thai yoga massages. And the hotel should be the ski-to-the-door variety, with heated floors, 600-threadcount sheets… perhaps even a butler, like the one at the new Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado, handing out warmed bathrobes by the outdoor pool.

Iain: Your spreadsheet has 600 what count? My spreadsheet (if I knew how to make one) would start with organising the level of skiers on the trip. If my buddies can’t all ski trees and steep chutes, or don’t mind hiking a little to find powder, there’s no point waiting for them at the bottom after the first run. We can all meet up for après ski when we crash your condo’s hot-tub. Or better yet, I’m thinking more about piling the gang into the back of snowcat at in the B.C. Interior, ripping huge lines through the untracked all day and grinning about it all night, then repeating the scenario the next day. And the next.

Lori: Oh sure, nothing like “roughing it” at a cat or heli-ski operation! I’m all for powder, but I prefer lift-served luxury. I hear there’s a new program for gals like me at Sun Peaks, B.C. The Ski Sisters are taking the backcountry back to basics—teaching women how to ski steep chutes or deep snow without scaring the stink out of them. (Or having their male partners breathing down their necks “encouraging” them to keep up with the group.) There’s a new lift at B.C’s Whitewater, too, opening up 303 new hectares of off-piste. Is that “rough” enough for you and the boys?

Iain: Now we’re talking! Nelson, Rossland, Fernie, Golden, Revelstoke…this is starting to sound like a ruthless roadtrip. Arrive for a late evening meal, ski hard the next day or two and then pile everything and everyone back into the rental or buddy from Calgary’s truck and move on to the next adventure. We can do our laundry and yoga when we get back to the city. (Except for the yoga part.)

Lori: Hold up, there. No road trips for me. Where’s the luxury? I’ll stay-put on this dream vacation. I’m thinking Banff’s Post Hotel. Their Gourmet Package includes a six-course dinner with wine pairings, a welcome wine and fruit package, plus a king-size bed and one of those fireplaces they’re so famous for. Travelling from Lake Louise to Sunshine and Norquay is about as much “road tripping” as I’m up for.

Iain: Mmmmm…pairings…like a pair of fat skis and skins—or an overnight storm and a cold, bluebird mid-week day to follow, or the Coast Mountains and the Rockies, the Alps and the Andes. Where were we again? Oh yeah, just how valid is a ski trip without some sweat and challenge, plenty of embarrassing moments and a few sphincter-tightening scary anecdotes?

Lori: Somehow, scary, sphincter-tightening anecdotes don’t fit anywhere into my relaxing luxury ski vacation. And your roadtrip plans seem a little unspecific to me… are you planning to just wing it? And with all this dreaming we’ve both forgotten about the kids. Now adding to my spreadsheet: family-friendly ski fun. How about Vermont’s Smuggler’s Notch? It’s got ski-in/ski-out condos, an indoor fun zone, snow tubing, dog sledding, and yes, even skiing… Three mountains of skiing, including one with some decent steeps. They’ve even got a Snow Sport University… judging by the way you ski, you could use a little schoolin’.

Iain: I’m the first to admit it’s getting bloody hard to find a ski area nowadays that will let you on the lift with a kid in your backpack let alone the family dog for last run but we’re talking apples and oranges here with a boys’ week west vs. Family Day Weekend. I’m going to do both. But where’s the romance of travel if all the details are planned in advance? It’s simply what guys do best. Head out onto the road with at least one vague plan, get lost and not ask for directions, lose stuff and spend hours looking for it until their girlfriends and wives point out it’s right in front of their noses…. As exciting as Vermont’s Von Trapp Family Lodge sounds, I’m going to tell the guys to fly into Cranbrook or Kelowna this winter and we’ll take it from there.

Lori: Okay, but just make sure that wherever you end up, your cell’s got service. Oops, forgot… you don’t have a cell. As for me, I’ll be by the pool in some swanky spot like Aspen or Park City. Relaxed and rested. Kids with that cute South American ski pro. Me sipping a mojito. Wait, let me add ‘mojitos’ to that spreadsheet…

Lori Knowles and Iain MacMillan don’t agree on much… except how much fun it is write about skiing. This article originally appered in the Travel section of The Globe and Mail.

 

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Spring skiing for the whole family.

Spring can serve up some of the season’s best — and cheapest — skiing, you’ve just got to know where to look. Here’s a list of some easy-to-reach-at-the-last-minute ski resorts that are both spring- and wallet-friendly:

Whistler, BC: With the close of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games came a ton of new snow for Whistler, BC as well as some deals on ski-and-stay packages… the ski town is keen to keep the Olympic spirit alive. Three-night, two-day packages start at…

For the remainder of the story, including deals from Killington, Vail, Aspen, Le Massif, Mont-Saint-Anne and Tremblant, visit:

http://www.torontosun.com/travel/2010/03/26/13369781-qmi.html

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