| VailDaily.com

New Legacy Hut invites skiers to peruse Vail’s history while they warm up

Vail Mountain has transformed a forgotten shack atop Chair 4 into its new Legacy Hut, a warm-up area designed to celebrate the mountain’s history.

Guests are welcome to visit the shack as a break from skiing or snowboarding. Inside, they can enjoy dozens of photographs and a few artifacts of a bygone era — Vail’s early days as a small ski area.

“We created this Legacy Hut to keep our history alive,” said Kim Rider, who hosts Legacy Tours of the hut on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12:30 p.m. “Because the guys that came who started this were unbelievable … their desire and their vision was so great, and their willingness to go through with everything that they set themselves up to do, is remarkable, and so this is here to honor them, their legacy.”

In addition to pictures of Vail’s finders, founders and funders, the building contains pictures of the Gore Creek Valley from before Vail existed, pictures from the early days of Vail and Lionshead, pictures of celebrities who have visited Vail over the years, pictures of 10th Mountain Division soldiers and battlegrounds from World War II, and pictures of memorable events like the 1989 Alpine World Ski Championships.

Old photos recovered from Vail’s sign shop begin to decorate the walls at the new Legacy Hut in Vail.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

The hut also contains the outfit that 10th Mountain Division veteran Bill “Sarge” Brown, a Vail legend, wore at the ‘89 Championships, which is still in perfect condition, along with an original 10th Mountain Division soldier’s uniform. In a bit of self-referential humor, guests may also be drawn to a framed copy of lift tickets and receipts from Vail’s first year of operation, when a day pass was a mere $200 cheaper than it is today.

Two Elk fires legacy

The building itself has quite a legacy, as well.

It was a restroom, it was a safety center, and before that it was a boot fitting location and a ski demo center before commercial activity was put to a halt in that building due to Forest Service agreements, said Jeff Wiles with Vail Mountain.

But Wiles said the building’s most interesting bit of trivia is connected to one of the most newsworthy events in Vail’s history, the 1998 arson fires which claimed Two Elk lodge. Two witnesses to the event were sleeping in the building when the fires were being lit, Wiles said.

An original 10th Mountain Division solider uniform is on display at the Legacy Hut in Vail. Legacy Days has events throughout the weekend in Vail.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

“There were two brothers sleeping in the bathrooms here who were up here hunting,” Wiles said from the Legacy Hut on Wednesday. “They heard noise and they walked out and Chair 5 lifthouse was on fire, (Ski Patrol headquarters) was on fire, and these people who were up here were trying to light Chair 4 on fire as these guys came out and freaked them out, these people saw them and ran off … those guys came out, they had their hunting rifles.”

Legacy weekend

Vail opened the Legacy Hut to correspond with Vail Legacy Weekend, which starts Friday and extends into the President’s Day holiday on Monday.

Bill “Sarge” Brown’s original jacket is another invaluable piece at the Legacy Hut in Vail. The hut’s displays are still a work in progress.

Legacy Weekend will kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. at the Colorado Snowsports Museum where acclaimed historians and authors tell fascinating stories of the 10th Mountain Division. Reserve seats by calling (970) 476-1876 in advance. At 6 p.m., a 10th Mountain Legacy Parade will take place at Base of Gondola One in Vail Village, where skiers dressed in traditional 10th Mountain Division Ski Trooper uniforms perform a Torchlight Ski Down, followed by a parade of military veterans, also in traditional uniform, marching from Gondola One down Bridge Street. The Colorado Snowsports Museum will stay open until 8 p.m. after the parade for guests to visit and learn more about Colorado’s ski history through the new 10th Mountain Division exhibit and a special guest speaker.

On Saturday, Sunday and Monday, guests can meet the Colorado National Guard at the base of Gondola One, where troops will be stationed from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and at 10:30 a.m., you can ski with a soldier as you learn about the history of Vail. Meet at the top of the Lionshead Gondola, no reservations required.

On Saturday, a Black Hawk helicopter landing is scheduled to take place between 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on Eagle’s Nest Ridge, where guests will be permitted to take photos, mingle with the Colorado National Guard and visit with Ski Patrol dogs.

On Sunday at 11 a.m., a ski trooper race is scheduled to take place at the base of Gondola One, where modern-day Ski Troopers from the Colorado Army National Guard will compete in three-person teams on the black diamond runs in the area.

Vail Valley education philanthropist to serve as CMU trustee

EDWARDS — One of the Vail Valley’s most beloved philanthropists is extending his embrace west to Grand Junction as a new member of the board of trustees for Colorado Mesa University.

Ron Davis launched Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways, education philanthropies that focus on mentoring first-generation students and others through high school and college. He has worked closely with CMU.

“CMU takes their commitment to serving first-generation and minority students seriously, and this seriousness was a decision point in my desire to serve as a CMU trustee,” Davis said.

Their own cheering section

Davis is no stranger to Colorado Mesa University’s commencement ceremonies. The Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways programs help put so many students through CMU that they have their own seating section.

Along with scholarships, the Vail Valley-based nonprofits often act like a family for their students. It sometimes starts when they’re in middle school and high school, and continues as they work their way through college.

“Using family references to describe our kids isn’t an accident,” Davis said. “When students feel they have the kind of support behind them that goes beyond money, it gives these kids a sense of security to take risks and grow by challenging themselves.”

My Future Pathways and Guardian Scholars do not supplant families, they support families, Davis said.

“The greatest gift any individual can have is loving, supportive and caring parents. Many are not so fortunate,” Davis said. “Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways can never replace parents, but it does provide the love, encouragement and support in collaboration with parents.”

College was Davis’ catalyst

Davis said college was the catalyst for changing his life. The Guardian Scholar and My Future Pathways programs are some of the ways he tries to pay that forward, he said. The lives of scholarship recipients improve, they help improve people’s lives and the world improves.

Davis and his wife Lucy live in the Vail Valley and serve alongside the people they call “Guardian Angels.” The angels are fellow philanthropists who serve with the Davis family as program donors and mentors to Guardian Scholarship recipients.

Right now there are nearly 40 local high school graduates being served by the programs, many who attend CMU. Of specific interest to Davis are those who have returned to the Vail Valley to begin their post-college life and careers.

“They return home with the skills and talents they acquire from CMU, and this trend enhances the lives of their families as well as the communities they are returning to,” CMU Foundation CEO Liz Meyer said. “This trend is one that I know Mr. Davis is proud of as the program has evolved through the years.”

Davis rose to the upper echelons of American business. He founded the program in 1998 at Cal State Fullerton and expanded it into Eagle County several years ago. Guardian Scholars is now at 70 colleges across America. Because of his experience as a CEO and investor, Davis is a results-oriented philanthropist.

“My affinity for CMU is that the campus is one of results,” Davis said. “Measurable, seeable, knowable results that serve students is why I wanted to join the CMU family as a trustee.”

CMU President Tim Foster said he’s thrilled to have Davis on the CMU board.

“The addition of Davis to the CMU board is a nice capstone to his years of championing first-generation students who are also a primary focus of CMU,” Foster said. “The Guardian Scholars program has helped shape the values of CMU in relation to students who are first in their families to attend college. Ron’s role on CMU’s governing board will continue to help us serve first-generation college students and their families.”

Eagle Valley’s Wish Week will help make a local boy’s wish come true

GYPSUM — A tumor in the right eye of 4-year old Rehan Fernandez did not obscure the vision of his wish.

The young cancer survivor wants to go to Universal Studios theme park in Florida. Eagle Valley High School students are working with Make-A-Wish Colorado to make Rehan’s wish come true.

“Our goal is to be involved in something bigger than ourselves. All the student organizations are involved. This is something we love to do,” said Amy Macias, a student at the high school.

Hundreds of loud, enthusiastic students kicked off their school’s Wish Week Thursday morning. EVHS students had raised $7,000 by Thursday, which will make one wish come true. Their goal is to grant three wishes — the same as your fairy godmother or the genie in the lamp. That’ll cost $21,000 and they have a week to raise it. Last year they raised $20,000, according to Greg Doan, the school’s principal.

Sarah Murphy, a communications manager for Make-A-Wish Colorado, said wishes cost an average of $7,500,

“What these high school students can do for these kids is incredible,” Murphy said.

Colorado Make A Wish high school programs raise more money than any other state, Murphy said. They work with 175 student groups that raised $1.2 million last year.

“We’re proud of that. All that money grants Colorado wishes,” Murphy said.

Eagle Valley students have taken on these causes before. Two years ago an Eagle Valley student’s sister had leukemia, Macias said.

First Followers and fundraising

Students do most of the heavy lifting and fundraising, but people do the dandiest things for love. Take Eagle Valley High School’s staff, for instance.

Teachers and staffers are what are called “First Followers.” Faculty and staff offer themselves to the highest bidders, to do things like have their heads shaved, or get a pie in the face, or get a tattoo, or have their hair dyed blue or frosted and spiked with blue tips.

English teacher Kristina Aden offered to take a pie in the face, but said her students will still have to read “Great Expectations.”

Social studies teacher Doug Little doffed off his cap, displayed his bald spot and offered to cut his hair into the world’s “most embarrassing blue mohawk.”

Spanish teacher Barbara Navarro said she’d dye her hair blue for two weeks. She made her offer in Spanish.

Wrestling coach Ron Beard will be positively resplendent with his hair spiked and dyed blue. Rehan’s plight strikes a personal chord for Beard, whose brother was diagnosed with cancer and died three months later.

When physical education teacher Kylan Kottenstette’s son was born, doctors could not guarantee the boy would live longer than five days.

“I understand how precious life is,” Kottenstette told the hundreds of Eagle Valley students assembled to kick off Wish Week.

“The wishes are not the important thing, hope is … hope that they’ll get their treatment,” Macias told Thursday morning’s assembly.

At the end of Thursday’s kickoff assembly, students rushed to the middle of the gym floor to drop money into large plastic bins. Rehan smacked a piñata with a lacrosse stuck. When it broke — with a little help from an EVHS student — money poured out. When it was all gathered, Little had to crunch down the cash to make it fit in the bins — a good problem for a fundraiser to have.

Rehan and retinoblastoma

Meanwhile, as hundreds of Eagle Valley students and staffers launched Wish Week, Rehan bounced around like the boy he is, playing soccer with balloons and smiling like he has his decades in front of him. He’s healthy, and will hopefully stay that way.

Rehan is recovering from retinoblastoma. The Mayo Clinic says it’s an eye cancer that begins in the retina — the sensitive lining on the inside of your eye.

Retinoblastoma most commonly affects young children but can occur in adults.

Rehan’s was in his right eye and it landed him in Children’s Hospital in Denver, his mother, Isabel, said.

“He’s fine,” Isabel said. “He has lots of checkups to make sure the chemotherapy worked and to make sure it isn’t coming back.”

So far, so good.

The Children’s Hospital folks connected his family with Make-A-Wish Colorado, who is helping arrange Rehan’s wish trip to Universal Studios in Florida.

To be eligible, kids between the ages of 2 and 18 must be suffering from a critical illness. The kids then meet with Make-A-Wish staffers who help them decide what their wish might be.

Make-A-Wish Colorado has granted more than 5,500 wishes since it launched in 1983. It’s one of 62 chapters in the United States and 40 international affiliates serving 50 countries.

Vail Valley post offices gearing up for holiday rush

While it will be postmaster Elizabeth Turner’s first busy season in Avon, it’s far from her first holiday-shipping crunch. 

Turner started with the U.S. Postal Service during a holiday season in 1997 and has lived through the online revolution, both a worker sorting packages and a customer living in the mountains and ordering items via the internet.

Turner said earlier this week that the online shopping spree known as “Cyber Monday” kicked off a barrage of package shipping that won’t stop until mid-January. 

“(Cyber Monday) has definitely increased our volume,” Turner said. “How we handle it is fed from the leadership … being positive about the whole thing is key in getting it done. Instead of saying, Oh my gosh, we’re going to get slammed with parcels because of this, we’re saying, Look at this, we’re making our customers happy.”

‘On-time this holiday season’

New for this year, dozens of area post offices have extended Saturday hours though the holiday season. 

“As more and more customers shop online the Postal Service is moving to accommodate the customer’s needs,” said USPS Communication Specialist James Boxrud. “Customers can count on the Postal Service and our more than 620,000 dedicated employees to deliver their holiday gifts, cards and letters on time this holiday season.”

But the holiday season will also require some understanding from the customer, especially in Avon where no home delivery is offered. Turner says the most important point to understand is that local customers won’t receive UPS and FedEx packages until the day after those packages are dropped off at the Avon post office. 

“The commitment from UPS and FedEx is the day after it’s dropped to the postal service,” Turner said. 

Plan in place

While the Avon post office is short-staffed heading into the holiday season, Turner says they’re ready for the onslaught. 

“We have a strong plan in place here, as a team,” Turner said. “We have strategically placed people.”

Over the next few weeks, you might see Turner herself working the main window while her team readies packages behind the scenes. 

“I’ll be on the front lines,” Turner said. 

With help from management at the district level in extended hours (Avon will be open until 2 p.m. every Saturday until Christmas, Vail until 3 p.m.), Turner said a positive tone has been set from the top down. 

“It’s all about customer convenience,” said Colorado/Wyoming District Manager Junior Trujillo. “As we count down to the holidays, we know how demanding the season can be as we rush to get everything done on time. Staying open later on the four remaining Saturdays before Christmas will help our customer’s check holiday mailing off their to-do list.”

Turner said, through her experience, she’s trying to show the younger generation of postal workers that with a positive attitude, the online shopping explosion around the holiday season can remain well within their control. 

“I try to feed them with my background, my history, so they can look and see that what we have right now really isn’t that bad,” Turner said. “Because what we did have was a lot of grandmothers shipping things across the counter, now it’s just people ordering online.”

Vail Valley’s ‘Shop With a Cop’ shares holiday spirit with officers, kids

Santa’s “good” list just got better.

The fifth annual Shop with a Cop puts dozens of kids together with local law enforcement for Christmas shopping, present wrapping and a little quality time with Santa Claus.

The first four Shop With a Cop events were so successful in the Vail Valley that the program is expanding this year to the Roaring Fork Valley.

We are grateful to share this holiday tradition with at least 40 families,” the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said in a media announcement for the event.

Shop With a Cop is the evening of Dec. 4.

Santa’s very best helpers

Children are selected from local public elementary schools and paired with someone from law enforcement. The kids get $100 to shop for holiday gifts at Walmart in Avon. If they have any money left they get to spend it on themselves. Most don’t, though. In fact, one of the best quick-draws you’ll ever see a police officer perform is when they reach for their wallet to slip their kid a few extra bucks.

When they’re done shopping, ECO Transit hauls the kids, their gifts and new first responder friends to 4-Eagle Ranch for an evening of gift wrapping, dinner and a visit from Santa.

The selected families also get a holiday meal basket and goodies from donations by local businesses and the Salvation Army Vail Valley.

They still need gender-neutral, kid-friendly toys, books, games and other gift items for the children and their families.

If you can’t make a monetary donation, the Sheriff’s Office suggests a child-friendly or family-friendly product or service that can be added to the holiday meal baskets.

Denver International Airport getting direct Norwegian Air flight to Rome in 2020

Put on a stylish sunglasses-scarf combo and start practicing saying “Ciao” into the mirror, Denver. Come springtime, there will be a direct flight from DIA to Rome.

Norwegian Air will launch seasonal service between DIA and the Italian capital on March 31, the low-cost international carrier announced Tuesday.

The flight will be flown on Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners with room for 344 passengers. One-way fares in Norwegian’s economy class seating will start at $249.90, taxes included, airline officials said. At the price, flyers are entitled to use the free, on-board WiFi (provided the plane has it), access to streaming in-flight movies and TV and one carry-on bag; everything else has additional fees attached. Premium class seats can be had for $999.90 one way.

Norwegian will start flying the route twice a week but ramp up to three times per week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays — between late April and early October. The first year’s flights will wrap up on Oct. 23, 2020, according to the airline.

Read more via The Denver Post.

Arapahoe Basin joins Mountain Collective

Arapahoe Basin wasn’t done making news last week with the announcement that it will be joining the Ikon Pass roster of resorts this coming season after leaving the Epic Pass.

On Tuesday, A-Basin chief operating officer Alan Henceroth announced that “The Legend” will join The Mountain Collective as well. The Mountain Collective is an international alliance of 18 resorts, including the four mountains of Aspen Snowmass. Its season pass of $489 is considerably cheaper than Ikon passes ($1,049 and $749) and Epic passes ($939 and $699).

With this deal, Arapahoe Basin season-pass-holders will be able to ski at other Mountain Collective mountains for 50 percent off the ticket window price. Mountain Collective pass-holders will get two free days at Arapahoe, along with the other 17 resorts in the alliance.

“Arapahoe Basin is pleased to partner with The Mountain Collective,” Henceroth said in a news release. “Skiers and snowboarders who are looking for a taste of adventure at some of the world’s most challenging resorts will love the high-alpine, big-mountain experience and laid-back vibe that A-Basin has to offer.”

The Mountain Collective includes Alta and Snowbird in Utah, Lake Louise and Banff Sunshine in Canada, Jackson Hole in Wyoming, and Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain in California.

Read more via The Denver Post.

Arapahoe Basin joins Ikon Pass

The Ikon Pass will now be good at six Colorado destinations with the Friday announcement that Arapahoe Basin Ski Area in Summit County has joined the lineup.

With Arapahoe Basin, Ikon Pass holders will have access to 40 global destinations, including six in Colorado, according to a news release announcing the addition.

Arapahoe Basin is certainly a nice addition to the Ikon Pass, as the ski area is always one of the first to open and last to close in the state and boasts having the longest in Colorado. Arapahoe Basin also recently severed ties with the Ikon Pass’s competitor, the Epic Pass, offered by Vail Resorts.

The release says Ikon Pass holders will get seven-day access to Arapahoe Basin on the Ikon Pass with no blackout dates and five-day access with the Ikon Base Pass, with selected blackout dates.

“Arapahoe Basin is a beloved brand among skiers and riders and we are proud that the destination has joined the Ikon Pass community,” said Erik Forsell, chief marketing officer of Alterra Mountain Company. “We can feel winter around the corner as we offer skiers and riders another iconic reason to hit the slopes in Colorado.”

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to open terrain park for skiing, riding this weekend

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area again will open a terrain park on its snow-covered slopes this weekend for skiing and riding after trying out the idea last weekend.

The Summit County ski area at the Continental Divide will open the terrain park from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The park will be at the top of the High Noon run and will be accessible via a ride on the Black Mountain Express chairlift followed by a short walk.

The last download down from the park is at 3 p.m. No skiing or riding to the base of the mountain’s front-side will be available.

Season passes, including A-Basin or Epic passes, are not valid at the terrain park, and everyone must purchase a $25 terrain park ticket in the A-Basin guest services office in Mountain Goat Plaza.

Last weekend, A-Basin provided seven features in the terrain park. Outside of the terrain park, A-Basin closed skiing and riding for the season Thursday, July 4.

Hotel Talisa will become Grand Hyatt Vail

VAIL — Hotel Talisa in Vail will be rebranded as Grand Hyatt Vail as of July 24, Hyatt officials said Wednesday.

“We are excited to bring the luxury Grand Hyatt brand to the iconic community of Vail, Colorado, and see great potential to set a new standard for luxury hospitality in the area with Grand Hyatt Vail,” said Mark Hickey, senior vice president of Hyatt.

The 285-room hotel was just rebranded as the Hotel Talisa in December 2016. It was previously the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa.

As the hotel transformed from the Cascade to the Talisa, it underwent a $65 million renovation, with construction starting in April 2016. The hotel celebrated its grand reopening in November 2017. The renovation was originally slated to take about six months with a price tag of $35 million.

Officials said the renovation aimed to elevate the hotel to a higher level, on par with the Four Seasons or Sonnenalp.

Goodbye, Marriott

The Grand Hyatt Vail will be operated by Hyatt. It will no longer be affiliated with Marriott.

Hotel Talisa had joined Marriott’s Luxury Collection as of September.

All reservations, including Marriott Bonvoy member redemptions, will be honored for future dates, Hickey said in a statement.

In October, Hyatt Hotel Corp. announced that it was buying Two Roads Hospitality, the company that managed Hotel Talisa, as well as other properties, including the Manor Vail Lodge.

As of January, the Hotel Talisa was managed by CoralTree Hospitality Group, a group led by several former Two Roads executives.

The hotel is owned by Vail Hotel Partners LLC, which shares an office address with Laurus Corp. in Los Angeles. Laurus announced the acquisition of the Cascade in 2016. It later announced the rebranding to Hotel Talisa.

Change at the top

Hickey said he had no information to share regarding future renovations at the hotel.

Asked how current employees would be affected, Hickey said Hyatt is “working closely with the hotel’s owner in an effort to ensure a smooth transition for colleagues.”

Hickey said he was unable to comment on how the hotel’s existing leadership team will be affected. Contacted via text, John Garth, managing director for the hotel, said his last day with the hotel is July 23.

Normal business operations will continue through the transition, Hickey said.

“We are working closely with the hotel’s management team to ensure a smooth transition for all,” the statement said.

Second Hyatt in valley

The hotel has a ski lift that connects to Vail Mountain, plus 40,000 square feet of meeting space, a ballroom that can hold 900 people, a spa, and a restaurant called Gessner. It also has a 58,000-square-foot adjoining athletic club, The Aria Club, which will also be managed by the Grand Hyatt Vail.

Summer room rates at the Grand Hyatt will start at $199. Ski-season rates for January through March will start at $699.

Hyatt has another hotel in Eagle County, the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. Hickey said that Hyatt does not plan to share services or employees between the two hotels.