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Steve Martin, “Tosca”, art shows and more: Tricia’s weekend picks for 7/12/19

Steve Martin and Martin Short at Whistle Pig Vail

Whistle Pig Vail returns this weekend for its second year, and will kick it off with a little comedy and music with Steve Martin and Martin Short.

The show is titled, “Now You See Them, Soon You Won’t,” and comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short will present new material in a variety of musical sketches as only those two can do, along with insights about their amazing careers in show business. Joining the comedic duo will be Grammy Award-winning bluegrass band The Steep Canyon Rangers. The tour also features renowned pianist and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” band member Jeff Babko.

Whistle Pig Vail is a summer-long music series that brings a new era of headliner music to the iconic Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail. Some of the other acts lined up to perform at Whistle Pig Vail include Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, Bon Iver and The Steve Miller Band. The series is booked in collaboration with AEG Presents, one of the largest live music companies in the world, and will bring well-known rock, pop, country and bluegrass icons to Vail for shows throughout the summer.

Expect to be fully entertained during this first show of the Whistle Pig Vail series. Tickets are $65 for lawn seating and range from $179.50-$299.50 for reserved seating. Go to www.grfavail.com for more information.

Bravo! Vail presents “Tosca”

The Philadelphia Orchestra is quickly winding down its stay in Vail, but before it goes, it has a big weekend that includes a premier opera production of Puccini’s “Tosca”.

In addition to the opera, which opens on Thursday and also runs on Saturday, Friday’s Bravo! Vail performance will feature the sounds of Mozart and Rachmaninoff. With conductor Yannick Nezet-Sequin conducting and Seong-Jin Cho on piano, listen to Mozart’s “Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor” and learn why Cho feels playing the piano is like singing and why he thinks Mozart is a genius. Read the program notes to get special insights on the performers and the pieces that are performed throughout the season.

Saturday night, sit back and be treated to Bravo! Vail’s most ambitious project to date. The Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater will be transformed as a fully staged production of Puccini’s “Tosca” debuts in Vail. “Tosca” is a thrilling melodrama set in Rome during the Napoleonic wars. Follow the twists and turns around this fatal love triangle in this must-see event.

There’s been a lot of attention surrounding this event. To get the audiences ready for this performance Bravo! Vail along with the Vail Symposium have hosted various talks including a conductor’s guide and an immersive look at this opera earlier this week. Take advantage of opportunities to meet the director and cast on Friday or attend the pre-performance talk on Saturday. For more information, visit www.bravovail.org.

FAC at Beaver Creek

Friday’s mean FAC (Friday Afternoon Club) and Beaver Creek invites you to wind down after a day of activities at Village Plaza. From 4:30-7:00 each Friday through Aug. 23, sip on an ice cold Stella Artois or Breckenridge Brewery beer, or cheers to the day’s events with a glass of wine with friends and family while enjoying live music.

While you sit back and relax, the kids can keep going with lawn games like giant Jenga, Connect Four and ice skating from 6 to 10 p.m. Local caricaturist Ken Carpenter will be on hand as well if you want a comical portrait created of your family through his eyes.

Jade Vases, a 5-person indie band out of Denver, will be playing tunes under the pergola and will fill the Plaza Pavilion with music to get your weekend started.

For more information and the musical line up for the rest of the summer, check out www.beavercreek.com/events.

Art on the Rockies

For nearly a decade, Art on the Rockies has brought in talented artists for a 3-day event showcasing their craft in Edwards. Art on the Rockies is an opportunity to see new art, talk to artists and attain artwork at all price points.

This juried show brings in artistic styles ranging from sculpture, painting, photography, ceramics, mixed metal, glass, jewelry and more. Over 130 artists from around the country converge near the Colorado Mountain College campus surrounded by a gorgeous backdrop of scenic views around Edwards.

Many of the participating artists also are known from renowned shows such as La Quinta Arts Festival in Palm Springs, CA, and Celebration for the Arts in Scottsdale, AZ.

On Friday, enjoy a little champagne during the opening reception at 4 p.m. On Sunday, the silent auction fundraiser closes at 3 p.m. All proceeds benefit free art programming for local youth.

In addition to meeting the artists and viewing the art, food and beverages will be available for purchase and a kids zone will be set up for aspiring youngsters who want to create some art at the event. For more information, visit www.artontherockies.org.

Eagle’s 2nd Friday ARTwalks and Sidewalk Sale

Speaking of art, Eagle has embraced the second Friday ARTwalks since they began in November, the event is growing to two days this weekend. Eagle’s 2nd Friday ARTwalk and Sidewalk Sale brings in local fine artist’s tents and exhibits, interactive art activities, plein air painters, food vendors, Quiet Kat demo rides, and a chance to meet local alpacas and goats.

There will also be live music at various businesses on Broadway including ARTSPaCE, Bonfire Brewery, Everyday Outfitters, and Petals of Provence.

“July’s ARTwalk will be our ninth consecutive 2nd Friday event. We started with three art gallery venues, including ARTSPaCE workshop+gallery, Vail Valley Art Guild gallery and Red Canyon Cafe,” said Tara Novak, artist and owner of ARTSPaCE workshop+gallery and founder of the event.

“This weekend we will have nine galleries and business venues exhibiting our talented local artists plus an Art Market Zone on Broadway with over a dozen local artists showcasing their work in tents on the street.”

It all starts on Friday at 4 p.m. and continues Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more details, please visit the Facebook page @eagleartscolorado.

Cotton & Co. Street Boutique brings fashions to you

It’s a beautiful thing when your talents and passion can lead you to a job you love. That’s what happened to Kailey Cotton Gorbold, the driving force –literally – behind Cotton & Co. Street Boutique, a mobile clothing store that brings styles to you.

You’ve probably seen the big pink truck parked outside the busy intersection at the Gashouse along Highway 6 in Edwards on Wednesdays or in downtown Eagle Ranch during lunchtime on Fridays. This new business allows Gorbold, who has been an assistant buyer at Base Mountain Sports and assistant manager at Beaver Creek Sports and a Sales Associate at Loro Piana in Vail, a chance to sell clothing while also managing a household with her husband and two small children.

“My husband and I brainstormed my passions and how I could incorporate that into our lives, allowing my time to be flexible with the kids and our lifestyle. He came up with a traveling boutique,” Gorbold said.

First Chair Designs created the bright look for this former linen truck while Gorbold’s husband and in-laws built out the inside of the truck. “My husband’s parents traveled from upstate New York and they all worked all day, every day for a month to get most of it completed. It turned out way better than I ever imagined,” Gorbold said.  

“When we designed it, I wanted it to be loud on the outside and light and airy on the inside. I didn’t want customers to feel like they were walking into a cave,” Gorbold said.

This small store packs in the goods. Gorbold carries about eight different lines of women’s clothing, handbags and jewelry. She’s proud to offer variety at a good price. “Most of us have many hobbies around here, and our dollars are spread thin, so it’s meant to be fun, bright and budget-friendly,” Gorbold said. 

Follow this traveling boutique on Instagram, Facebook or www.cottoncosb.com for a complete and updated schedule of where the truck will be. Cotton & Co. is also available for private parties and events.

EagleVail’s Hygge Life store just got a caffeinated upgrade

The Vail Valley’s most hygge couple opened a quaint cafe in EagleVail. Alexandra Gove and her husband, Koen van Renswoude, owner of the home goods shop Hygge Life, just expanded the store’s footprint to include a cafe. Hygge Life has a grand opening event for the cafe on Saturday, June 15. Guests can stop in to sip on a $1 cup of coffee or munch on a pastry any time of day.

Hygge Life started out of a van, the Hygge Bus, while Gove and van Renswoude traveled Europe in their early days as a couple. Almost 10 years later, they’ve since launched an extensive online store, hosted their own hygge-inspired wedding up at Tigiwon Community House, opened up a brick and mortar shop and now will offer the community a little more of the ultimate meaning behind their brand.

Hygge (pronounced HOO – gah) is the Danish word for cozy, and now there’s a perfect place to experience it without having to leave the mountains.

“Hygge is a verb in Danish,” van Renswoude, who is from Amsterdam, said. “So you can say ‘let’s hygge.’ Now you can practice it here.”

the inside of the hygge life cafe/store in eaglevail
The Hygge Life store opened in August 2017, but the couple is now expanding on their idea by adding a cafe for guests to sit and enjoy a beverage, chat with friends or just read the newspaper.
Dominique Taylor | Special to the Daily

The space has become a welcoming corner of the Hygge Life shop, and it isn’t designed for guests to hold business meetings or sit for hours on their laptop. In fact, the tables are purposely too low for working on a computer, so guests are invited to sit and chat with friends or spend some quiet time reading the newspaper.

“We were recently back in Copenhagen and Amsterdam and you just see that the culture there is so much more present around a cup of coffee,” Gove said. “They sit and chat and just enjoy the time.”

She also noticed on their recent trip overseas that the cafes use candles all day, every day, year-round.

“Even if the sun is glaring into the windows, the candles are still lit,” Gove said. “It really makes for this warm, comfortable atmosphere. And that is what we are going to do here — we are always going to have candles lit, in the summer and the winter. It’s coffee by candlelight.”

They have also created a south-facing patio to complement the cafe. Sheepskin-covered furniture sets the open-air scene, complete with a window into the cafe for ordering.

“We are sprucing up the patio this summer so that will be a really nice place to hang out and have a coffee. Even if you’re just biking though and you want to stop and get a drink, that’s perfect,” Gove said.

Van Renswoude said they will likely apply for a beer and wine license in the future and they are planning on offering events throughout the year.

Coffee drinks and tea will be served, along with fresh pastries from The Rose in Edwards, including their apple tart and shortbread. The cafe also has a kids’ specialty: the babyccino, a cup of steamed milk. Gove and van Renswoude sourced their beans from Huckleberry Roasters out of Denver, which they’ll pair with a rotating variety of some of their favorite European roasts.

“We have people who come in to the shop just to say hello and hang out for a bit. We really like that and we want people to feel like they can do that more often,” said Gove. “Our bigger dream is to have a hotel and a cafe and shop somewhere. That is the distant dream, so this is like another little stepping stone in that direction.”

If you go …

  • What: Hygge Life Cafe Grand Opening party.
  • Where: Hygge Life, EagleVail.
  • When: Saturday, June 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Cost: As little as $1 for a coffee.
  • More information: Visit hyggelife.com/pages/events.

Vail businesses see boost from Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships

VAIL — It was a busy week at the Manor Vail Lodge, and General Manager Bob McCleary couldn’t be happier.

The Manor Vail is across the street from Golden Peak, the site of the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships, which wrapped Saturday. Therefore, it was home base for company officials, media, athletes and others.

“Burton is a good, strong bump in our business,” McCleary said, adding that bump goes from rooms to the bar to the restaurant to catering at the lodge.

Those guests are more than welcome.

“They’re good people; they bring good energy to the property,” McCleary said. “The (other) guests that are here love it.”

Just to the west of Vail Village, the Evergreen Lodge also welcomed a number of people associated with the event.

Evergreen General Manager Brian Butts said about half of that lodge’s rooms had been reserved by Burton employees, sales representatives and others. Between those guests and others coming into town, Butts said the Evergreen had one room available for Thursday, one for Friday and none for Saturday, the last day of the event.

Looking at his own reservations and the action already in Vail, Butts proclaimed it a big visitor weekend. And people who stay in Vail dine and shop in town, too.

Snowboarding royalty in town

The big crowds weren’t limited to the hotels and the halfpipe. The Colorado Snowsports Museum on Wednesday hosted the Chill fundraiser party hosted by Jake and Donna Burton.

Museum director Jen Mason said the party packed the museum. And, she added, she’s seen some younger people taking daytime strolls around the facility.

Mason said the US Open event has continued a busy winter for the museum. But, she added, “it feels like it’s busy” in Vail Village.

Across Meadow Drive from the museum, Buzz Schleper, of Buzz’s Boards, said this year’s US Open crowds seemed more substantial than the past couple of years, adding that a good snow year has put a lot of people into Vail throughout the winter.

“People are in town, people are shopping, and it’s great,” Schleper said.

The US Open is a big venture, and the town of Vail supports it financially. For the 2019 event, the town put $490,000 into the event.

Mason, who’s also a member of the Vail Town Council, said the town gets a good return on its money.

“(The US Open) isn’t just an event,” Mason said, adding that some of the industry’s top buyers and salespeople are in town this week. That helps Vail’s international reputation as a snowboarding destination, she said. She added, people in the next generation of snowsports enthusiasts often ride. The US Open is a good way to introduce those people to Vail.

While the US Open is good for business, not everyone sees a direct benefit.

At the Claggett/Rey Gallery in Vail Village, Maggie Rey said that business doesn’t see an uptick from the snowboard crowd.

While the US Open tends to bring more people to Vail, not many of those people are shopping for fine art while they’re here.

“In general, it’s really kind of status quo,” Rey said. “But we enjoy it, we like to participate … it’s very fun to have here.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

Vail Valley commercial property is in pretty short supply

EAGLE COUNTY — We all know Vail is an economic powerhouse. If you need proof, just look at the retail vacancy rate in town: .45 percent.

That’s right, less than .5 percent of Vail’s retail space was vacant in 2018, according to a report from NAI Mountain Commercial. Vacancies are low in the rest of the valley as well: 2.6 percent for Eagle-Vail, Avon, Beaver Creek and Edwards and 2.2 percent for Eagle and Gypsum.

The rate in Denver was 5.2 percent in 2018.

The Vail vacancy rate is also driving rent increases in town. While commercial rent in the rest of the valley is still lower than the peaks seen in 2007, for the past few years rent in Vail has surpassed that high-water mark from the previous decade.

‘No vacancy’

“There’s virtually no vacancy (in Vail),” NAI Mountain Commercial Vice President and managing broker Erich Schmidt said.

In fact, he said, businesses rarely move out of prime spots in Vail. When that happens, someone new often comes in before anyone can hang a “for rent” sign.

Rental rates for prime space in Vail Village can approach $120 per square foot. In Lionshead Village, prime space can be as high as $65 per square foot.

The story is different in the rest of the valley. While vacancy rates are low, there are spaces lingering on the market.

Avon, in particular, has some significant spaces available, including the site of the former Montana’s and Outback restaurants, as well as the space formerly occupied by Office Depot.

Schmidt said those larger spaces will be hard to fill.

“When we get above 2,000 to 2,500 square feet … national retailers aren’t really expanding, and when they are, they’re expanding in metropolitan areas,” Schmidt said.

Smaller spaces are also difficult, due to factors including the changing retail environment, the cost of space and difficulty finding employees.

Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said members of the regional chamber of commerce are telling him that they’re mostly standing pat in the spaces they have now.

Leasing’s picking up

But, Schmidt said, his firm has seen an uptick in leasing interest and activity in the past few weeks.

“Leasing always picks up as we go to spring — especially in a strong ski year,” Schmidt said. “We’ve seen a pickup in activity, especially in Traer Creek Plaza (in Avon), both for retail and office space.”

Interest in Edwards continues to be strong, but Schmidt said there isn’t a lot of space available.

The other side of the retail coin is that UPS has expanded its operation in Gypsum, and now holds about 40,000 square feet of warehouse space near the Eagle County Regional Airport.

Other warehouse and commercial space is also being leased or sold in the western part of the valley.

Those businesses are often looking for space with tall garage doors. Some new building is taking place in those areas, but not a lot, Schmidt said.

The relative lack of available space, as well as the high cost of construction, also seems to be driving prices when a commercial property comes up for sale. Schmidt said another driver is businesses relocating from Denver or the Front Range to the Western Slope.

The biggest of those sales in 2018 was the sale of the West Vail Mall. That sale — for $14 million — closed in the fourth quarter of the year. A pair of sales — of the separately-sold A and B buildings of the Northstar Center in Edwards, also topped $14 million. Another sale, of a roughly 500 square foot retail space in the Lodge at Vail, topped $1 million. That’s about $2,000 per square foot. According to data from Land Title Guarantee Co., 2018’s highest price per square foot for residential property was a unit in Solaris that sold for $3,095 per square foot.

The cost to rent, buy or build, combined with an employee shortage, is crimping potential economic growth in the valley, Romer said.

“It’s a perfect storm of challenges in an economy that’s overall doing pretty well,” he said.

Vail Daily Business editor Scott Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

Vail Health buys two Edwards commercial buildings

EDWARDS — Vail Health spent more than $14 million to buy a pair of commercial buildings where it plans to make some of its vision a reality.

The local hospital bought both buildings that comprise the Northstar Center in Edwards — $8.85 million for one and $5.5 million for the other. In those buildings are several local businesses, including The Pet Spot, Inyodo Martial Arts, Subway, AT&T, Edwards Liquors, Mountain Man Nut & Fruit Co. and others.

The plan is to let those businesses’ leases run their course, along with any extensions to which they’re entitled, said Craig Cohn, Vail Health’s director of real estate development.

Since some of those businesses renewed the five-year options in their leases in the last couple of months, meaning it could be nine or 10 years before Vail Health makes any significant changes in the buildings.

“The leases of existing tenants will be honored in full. Our hope over time is to meet the complex health care needs of the people in our community through the investment in this site,” Cohn said.

The first change will see Inyodo Martial Arts move to a new location, said owner “Bobcat” Smith. Smith said he’ll announce the new location soon.

Vail Health was also a renter

Before buying the building, Vail Health was one of the Northstar Center’s tenants, renting the parking lot and storage space.

“For the past few years, we have been a substantial tenant of the Edwards Northstar Center to meet employee parking and storage needs,” Cohn said. “When the property was listed for sale, it was an opportunity to ensure ongoing access.”

Some of the Northstar Center is already vacant, especially after Crazy Mountain Brewing Co. was evicted. That may mean that the hospital can begin offering services before those tenant leases expire, Cohn said.

“A large portion of the north building is vacant, which may allow near-term opportunities for enhanced medical services in the middle of the valley,” Cohn said.

Subway looking to move, too

Carrington Pinner bought the Edwards Subway in January 2017 and extended the lease, but when this lease is done, so is the location’s Subway. Pinner said he hopes to buy space elsewhere.

“We are not up for a renewal after the five-year period,” Pinner said.

The Edwards store generates a half million a year in sales taxes for Eagle County, Pinner said.

The two buildings generate a total of $133,494.08 annual in property taxes, according to the Eagle County Clerk & Recorder office.

Vail Health did the deal through its Eagle Valley Real Estate Holdings.

The hospital is also expanding east and acquired a vacant site in Dillon for a surgery center and urgent care in Summit County.

Renowned artist Ron Hicks to display a new type of art in Vail

Ron Hicks will display his work at Vail International Gallery from Saturday, Feb. 16, to March 2.

Ron Hicks grew up in an artistic household. His mother attended art classes, and he’d spend time pouring over her textbooks, and once he got to school, his teacher took special note of his talent and encouraged him to enter contests, leading him to win scholarships to the Columbus College of Art and Design.

Hicks’ art would eventually become known for depicting realistic scenes, snapshots of everyday life — a couple kissing, chefs working in a kitchen, a conductor leading his orchestra.

However recently, Hicks has taken a more abstract approach to his art, which he’ll be displaying at Vail International Gallery beginning on Saturday, Feb. 16.

“I’m trying to sort of play with abstract, non-objective worlds and realism, to strike a harmonious balance between disciplines and place them on canvas or boards I paint on,” Hicks said. “I’m really concentrating on shape, texture and edges, more so than more tangible things in previous works.”

The new art style comes from Hicks’ desire to paint for himself. His previous work began as a collaboration, in which he’d pass a piece back and forth with another artist until they had a complete work of art. He continued to paint in the style of the project. Eventually, however, Hicks chose to take a turn and paint for himself.

Ron Hicks’ new body of work was inspired by his desire to create art for himself, rather than for the masses.

“I’m open and free to express myself in this way, and I hope to keep it as pure as I can,” Hicks said. “I’m doing it for myself as opposed the masses.”

Hicks has had a 12-year relationship with Vail International Gallery, displaying art since the gallery’s beginning, thanks to President and co-founder of the gallery Marc LeVarn’s affinity for his work.

“We knew going in that he was an artist that we wanted to feature,” LeVarn said.

Although the work that will be on display is different than what LeVarn has displayed before, he has no concern about the exhibit.

“We’re really excited about this new style for Ron,” said LeVarn. “He has succeeded in evolving in a way that’s really successful visually and artistically, the emotional content of the paintings is really powerful.”

Catch Hicks art at Vail International Gallery between Saturday, Feb. 16, and March 2. Hicks will be present to discuss his work from 5 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 16. His pieces will be for sale throughout the exhibition.

Arts & Entertainment Editor Nate Day can be reached at nday@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2932.

Tibetan refugee family landed in Vail and launched Blossom custom rug company

VAIL — Samten and Dechen Aungae look around their home, smile about their three beautiful children and recall briefly their childhood as Tibetan refugees.

Now they live in the Vail Valley and own Blossom Rug, where they make custom designed and hand-woven area rugs. Life is good; their children’s lives will be better.

Why Blossom blossoms

Samten and Dechen Aungae opened Blossom in the summer of 2009. Dechen’s family in Nepal has run a rug manufacturing company for 50 years.

Send them artwork, photographs or just about anything and they can make a high quality hand-woven rug from it.

“You can imagine the range of possibilities,” Samten Aungae said.

There’s one that depicts the aerial view of the Bahamas from Reed Design Group. Then there’s Up In the Air, based on a photo that local professional photographer Carla Aparicio took through her airplane window. A German customer threw a glass of water into the air, photographed it and ordered a rug based on that picture. It’s titled “Splash!” There’s “Folding The Sky,” for which a customer took a picture of the sky, folded it tightly and sent it to them to create a rug.

They take whatever the customer wants and send it to Nepal. Before long, a rug returns, hand-woven from silk, wool, cashmere … anything you want, even the occasional metal. Leftover yarn is used to make what they call Eco Rugs. Dechen Aungae’s sister in Nepal is a dye master and can create 1,200 colors.

They can do any rug, any size no matter how big, Samten Aungae said. Depending on the size, four or five people work on one rug, sometimes in two shifts. Music is playing, food and drink keeps coming and the conversation is lively as they work, Dechen Aungae says. It’s a cross between a job and a family reunion.

Because people in Colorado’s resort region, the U.S. and Europe keep buying these rugs, hundreds of people in Nepal have pretty good jobs. Samten and Dechen Aungae’s family facility employs 250 people. Other facilities around Nepal employ similar numbers.

Along with rugs, Blossom carries handmade jewelry, arts and crafts from Nepal, India and Tibet.

“We feel confident working directly with designers,” Samten Aungae said. “That creates direct communication. No middleman. Because we are a direct source, that also keeps our pricing competitive.”

Because they’re a family-owned business they also control the quality of the materials they use, Samten Aungae said.

From refugees to Americans

Samten and Dechen Aungae did not know each other growing up. Their families fled Tibet when the Chinese invaded in 1959, seeking refuge in Nepal. The Red Cross was one of the only agencies in Nepal at the time, and convinced refugee families to weave some rugs to sell to Europeans and Americans.

So they did.

“They lived for six months on the money they made from that rug,” Dechen Aungae said.

They taught some others to weave, and those people taught some others. Now it’s an international industry.

Dechen Aungae proudly says she was the first day care teacher in first child care centers her sister Dolma opened, teaching English.

Samten Aungae’s brother runs an orphanage, Phende Children’s Home in Nepal, home to 47 kids. For $35 a month, you can keep a kid safe, warm, fed and in school.

Buy a rug from them and help save some kids. Samten and Dechen Aungae are active supporters.

Samten and Dechen are the proud parents of three children, aged 11, 8 and 5.

Their 8-year old daughter did a slide presentation for her class’s Around The World Day, and trotted her parents out — sort of like smiling visual aids.

The Vail Mountain School is a far cry from the refugee schools Samten and Dechen Aungae attended for Tibetan refugee children. The goal was to educate kids and preserve Tibetan culture. The schools accomplished both. Along with Tibetan, students learned Hindi, English and Nepali.

Escape from Tibet

“So many sad stories,” Dechen said.

Escape means traversing rugged 17,000-foot mountain passes without the kind of gear they need to survive. Many don’t. When Dechen Aungae’s family escaped, two babies died.

Generally escapees make their run at night so Chinese soldiers won’t see them. The bodies of those who did not survive lie along the trails where they died. These days, improvements in surveillance technology make it easier for the Chinese to capture escapees, even at night.

Samten and Dechen Aungae have roots in Tibet, India, Nepal and the United States.

“Now we’re American citizens,” they said smiling.

They met in New York. Samten was living in Southern California and Dechen in Cape Cod. Dechen’s aunt knew him and told her that he’d be well advised to call her, so he did. They landed in Steamboat Springs together and soon migrated to Vail.

Every Sunday they drive their children to Boulder for Tibetan school, because it’s not only important to know where they are, but also where they’re from … and why so much in their lives is blossoming.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

New store in The Westin lobby offers unique clothing, gifts in Avon

The goal of White Sage is to offer products that can’t be found in malls or online.

Shopping is a popular pastime in the Vail Valley, and The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon is jumping head first into the market. The resort has opened White Sage, a boutique-style shop in its lobby.

The store focuses primarily on women’s clothes and accessories but also carries smaller gift items.

“Every year, we try and do something new,” said Kristen Pryor, the resort’s general manager. “We’re always looking at our spaces and thinking about what will keep us fresh and updated.”

The store was created to provide a strong, modern experience for visitors.

“As much as people shop online these days, they really like to have something to touch and feel,” Pryor noted. “They also want something to remember their trip by.”

The space that the store is in — located in the hotel’s lobby just behind the library near the front desk — has a storied history itself. The place started as a business center and then was repurposed into an enhancement of kid’s club before ultimately becoming a meeting space.

“It was never really lively or engaging,” Pryor said.

White Sage is located inside the lobby of the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon.

Carol Lundgaard, a mainstay in the valley’s retail industry, runs the store itself. Lundgaard previously served as a retail manager for Allegria for 20 years and created White Sage to be a standalone store. Gaye Steinke, vice president of health and wellness for East West Hospitality, is excited about Lundgaard’s vision.

“The products are basically made to order,” Steinke said. “We’ll negotiate with the vendor and they’ll send the order, and we don’t necessarily get to reorder because (the product) was only made once.”

Pryor shared those sentiments, also noting that Lundgaard has a knack for finding unique products that you can’t find at the mall or online. And they’ll be offered at approachable, reasonable pricing; sweaters costing between $100 and $200, jeans costing about $180, and tops being sold for between $50 and $70.

The process for creating White Sage began in the spring of 2018, the plans were finalized over the summer, construction began in mid-October and the store opened over the holidays after about an eight-week turnaround.

Pryor noted that the store is already seeing success and interests from the guests.

To celebrate the store opening, The Westin is, of course, throwing a party. The event will take place today from 3 to 8 p.m., and will consist of discounts at the store and a Champagne toast.

The grand opening party on Friday will coincide with Maya’s Friday Afternoon Club with live music and specials on food and drink.

The party will also coincide with the resort’s Friday Afternoon Club with food and drink specials, as well as live music from The Laughing Bones from 6 to 9 p.m.

Additionally, the town of Avon will be hosting July in January from 6 to 9 p.m., which will include a fireworks display.

Arts & Entertainment Editor Nate Day can be reached at nday@vaildaily.com or 970-748-2932.