Skiing down the mountain to Telluride

Skiing down the mountain to Telluride

By Eileen Ogintz

TELLURIDE, CO (Day One) — What’s first: The quaint historic town, the vast choice of eateries, the world-class ski mountain in winter and festivals every weekend in summer?

Welcome to Telluride Ski Resort, about an hour from Montrose and 2.5 hours from Durango  (both of which have regional airports) in Southwest Colorado with just 2500 year-round residents who happily live in a box canyon 8750 feet above sea level.  Yes you feel that altitude.

You “commute” from the town to the ski mountain — where there is also lodging — on a free gondola.

We’re staying in the only ski-in, ski-out lodging that’s in town: the Auberge Residences Element52 and one of the nicest mountain condos I’ve seen—and I’ve seen a lot. Think steam showers, washer-driers, flat screens with AppleTV and NetFlix, two hot tubs — one hotter than the next — and a gourmet kitchen just begging for a family like mine to cook up a storm, as they like to do on vacation.

Inside Element52 residence in Telluride

Inside Element52 residence in Telluride

General Manager Jacqueline Glokler notes that just the fact that we’re 1,000-plus feet lower than the mountain village can make a difference to those feeling the altitude. Consider that you’re taking in 21 per cent less oxygen here than a sea level.

We’ve gotten our skis from Ski Butlers, a company that delivers them right to our unit — no waiting at a rental shop. All the better that we can leave them at the ski valet where we can also leave our boots to be dried overnight.  We load into a private funicular to go a bit up the mountain where we can then ski to the gondola or another lift.  Nice!

Private funicular at Element52

Private funicular at Element52

I like that this place is small  — just 33 units that range from two to five bedrooms with a staff that will do most anything you need — drive you wherever into town, arrange a private chef or dinner reservations, find baby sitters, arrange dog sledding, Nordic skiing… anything fun on the slopes and off.

I take a lessons with Fawnda Rogers, who coordinates Telluride’s women’s programs that are celebrating their 35th anniversary next year. Women  come from all over the world for the program, Rogers says, women in their 30s and women in their 70s all literally trying to carve out some fun in the snow — and time — for themselves.

We see lots of happy kiddos on the mountain with instructors, including those with special needs skiing with the adaptive program.

What should we have for dinner? We opt for pasta and pizza at Rustico, a decidedly kid friendly restaurant in town.  They’ve made a birthday cake for my daughter.  Yum!

We have our choice of food — Chinese or Thai, French or steaks. For lunch we go to Allred’s at the top of the gondola with stellar views and amazing truffle fries and skier buffet (loved the chicken chile!). There are something like 75 restaurants in the area — so many good ones that Telluride has been commended by Conde Nast Traveler as a top spot for foodies to visit—pretty good for such a small town.

But honestly, with such a comfortable condo, it’s hard to move from in front of the fire after skiing all day.  Who is cooking tonight?

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