Forbes Hearts Telluride

On January 13, Larry Olmsted published a featured in Forbes entitled “World’s Best Ski Resorts: Telluride Wows With Charm, Scenery and Great Skiing.” Need we say much more? The piece amounted to an early Valentine for the region. Among the shout-outs were Wagner Skis and BootDoctors. Madeline Hotel & Residences and the Telluride Tourism Board. Guaranteed to put a breakfast cereal smile on your face.

Skiing’s most charming Old West town combines stunning scenery and an awesome mountain for a near perfect ski destination. Caption, Forbes & Olmsted. Photo: Telluride Tourism Board/Ryan Bonneau.

Skiing’s most charming Old West town combines stunning scenery and an awesome mountain for a near perfect ski destination. Caption, Forbes & Olmsted. Photo: Telluride Tourism Board/Ryan Bonneau.

When it’s time to pick a ski vacation destination, there are tons of choices, and the industry’s big names immediately leap to mind: Vail, Jackson Hole, Park City, Aspen, Whistler, and so on. They all have great facilities, but Colorado’s Telluride often gets overlooked in this discussion. That’s a huge mistake: not only is it worthy of consideration, I could make a compelling argument that it is the single best ski vacation choice in the country. But no matter how you slice it, it’s near the top, with lots of strengths and very few weaknesses. In fact, in its 2016-2017 reader’s poll, industry leading publication Ski Magazine ranked it North America’s Best for Overall Satisfaction, and what do we want from our vacations if not the most Satisfaction? It also ranked Number One for both Scenery and Character.

While some ski resorts excel at one or two things, like cuisine, lodging, diversity, challenge, charm or convenience, Telluride excels across the board and is a near perfect gem. I say near perfect because it has two notable areas in which it is lacking, flaws to this diamond in the rough for certain customers, so I’ll get those out of the way up front. While Telluride has luxurious lodging options (Lumiere, Madeline, Hotel Telluride, Element 52), it has no true luxury hotel. If staying at a white glove 4-5 Star like a Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton or Fairmont is important to you, this is not your spot (though if swank luxury rental homes are your thing, you are in luck). It is also not a great choice for fans of retail therapy. It is arguably the best place in the country to buy both skis (Wagner Custom) and ski boots (BootDoctors), and there is no shortage of outdoor gear and Western stuff, but if your ski vacation must-do list includes the Prada or Moncler boutiques, scratch Telluride off your list. In general, pretension is not big here, and while the Kardashians are happily followed by cameras around Vail, the many A-list stars who favor Telluride come here to not be seen.

Ski Magazine rated Telluride Number One in North America for Charm, and it is easy to understand why. Photo: Telluride Tourism Board/Ryan Bonneau.

Ski Magazine rated Telluride Number One in North America for Charm, and it is easy to understand why. Photo: Telluride Tourism Board/Ryan Bonneau.

 On the flipside, it blows many other resorts out of the water when it comes to what I consider the important stuff: quality of skiing, food, lack of crowds and just like Ski Magazine readers noted, scenery and unrivaled Charm – with a capital C.
Ironically, in two decades of covering skiing and ski travel, the number one knock I hear over and over again is not lodging or shopping, it’s “Isn’t that hard to get to?” There seems to be a perception that Telluride is on a different planet than other Western ski resorts. This has always been a myth, and one that is especially odd in light of the three to four-hour traffic jams that routinely clog Colorado’s main ski thoroughfare for accessing other major resorts, I-70, every winter weekend. For years, getting to Telluride mainly meant flying into Montrose, which is considerably closer to the resort than many rivals are to their Denver gateway…
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Susan Viebrock

Susan Viebrock

Susan is Telluride Inside… and Out’s founder and editor-in-chief, the visionary on the team, in charge of content, concept and development. For 19+ years, Susan has covered Telluride’s cultural economy, which includes non-profits and special events. Much of her writing features high-profile individuals in the arts, entertainment, business, and politics. She is a former Citibank executive specializing in strategic planning and new business development, and a certified Viniyoga instructor.

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