Friday, November 16, 2012

Mountain Town News


Banff biz up, and new flights may help more

BANFF, Alberta—Tourism in Banff and in Banff National Park rose last summer, although not to the banner year of 2007-2008. The number of guests visiting the park from April through September increased 2.3 percent compared to the previous year. 

With the ski areas from Lake Louise to Norquay now open or soon to open, winter tourism boosters also remain hopeful. Buoying their hope, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, is increased frequency of flights from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, and also flights from Tokyo to Calgary.


What is the new normal?

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo.–What will be the new normal? That’s been the question since the real estate boom deflated like a helium balloon pricked by a 10-penny nail.

The answer is still being decided in Snowmass Village in regards to a project called Base Village. Originally developed as a partnership between the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest, the project was to deliver 1 million square feet of condos, hotels and other bed base to allow Snowmass to compete with Beaver Creek, Whistler and Deer Valley. Snowmass is Aspen’s dominant skiing venue for the masses.

When the Great Recession occurred, the project had been sold to a development firm called Related Cos. It declared financial insolvency. At length, the lenders—mostly banks from Europe—sold the half-completed development to Related Cos. for $90 million, taking a significant loss. 

What comes next? Dwayne Romero, Related’s representative, tells the Aspen Daily News that he and his staff may go before the Snowmass Village Town Council early next year to talk about the immediate steps. The staff, he said, is talking about price points, the project’s residential and commercial composition, and visitor desires in the new economy, but gave no clear idea what Related sees.

Among the plans that vanished with the recession were a Little Nell, a companion to the five-star hotel that sits at the base of Aspen Mountain.

Romero told the Aspen Daily News that Related has staying power. But Related will have to earn the community trust through its deeds. 

“Right now we’re not asking for people to turn and trust us implicitly. We’re asking for them to give us a little bit of time and elbow room to achieve some progress.”

In all this, Snowmass town officials have been studiously careful to say very little, lest it be interpreted as indicating the town is thinking of reneging on what it had approved. 


Ski companies move dispute into court 

WHISTLER, B.C.—With a proposal for three new backcountry huts helping frame the issue, Whistlerites recently debated the merits of expanded access to the backcountry.

Several speakers at a recent forum said no, that too many people disrespect what they have. One of the complaints is specifically against snowmobilers. One speaker mentioned that he used to see grizzly bear tracks at the Pemberton Ice Cap, but now finds abandoned snowmobiles, gas cans and belts, reports Pique Newsmagazine

But it’s not just the motorheads. Granola types have done some trashing of their own: Beer cans, food wrappers and bags of salt were noted in one sidecountry area adjacent to the Blackcomb ski area where skiers and riders build jumps.

“I feel that we’ve already given lots of access to the backcountry and people aren’t respecting that,” said veteran ski patroller Wayne Flann.

The flip argument is that providing more access, combined with “education,” will result in a greater appreciation for the specialness of the backcountry.


2 Colorado dams make a Gogh of it

DILLON, Colo.–A pairing of dams in Colorado has yielded a beer.

The catalyst in this alchemy of brewing is an exhibition of paintings by Vincent Van Gogh now on display at the Denver Art Museum, which is often referred to by its acronym, DAM.

In Summit County, the Dam Brewery–so named because of its location near the base of the Dillon Dam—issued a T-shirt featuring one of the artist’s self-portraits and a tag line that said, “I’d Give My Left Ear for a Dam Beer.”

Why not craft a commemorative beer? asked DAM, the museum, of Dam, the brewery.

Brewmaster Cory Forester told the Summit Daily News that he studied Van Gogh and that he might have imbibed while traveling through and painting the French countryside. That French farmhouse-style ale is known as “bier de garde.”

Forester explained to the newspaper that getting the yeast just right was a challenge. Unlike the highly sterilized environments in which most contemporary beers are brewed, the farmers who brewed bier de garde exposed the barrels to the open air, to catch stray yeast.

The brewmaster also added a touch more carbonation, to draw out the individual flavors and make them more easily distinguishable.

Dam Brewery invited nominations for a name, and got 240. The winner, by an election landslide: “Dam Gogh.”


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