Lessons Aspen Can Learn From Telluride

Our little mountain haven, heaven to many, is getting a whole lot of love from the main stream media these days. First Forbes, then Vogue, now Architectural Digest. Michael Goldberg, one-half of the new partnership that now owns the Telluride Gallery of Fine Art, sent a link to this article by Etta Meyer: “5 Valuable Lessons Aspen Can Learn from Telluride.” 

Photo, courtesy Telski, Aurelie Slegers

Photo, courtesy Telski, Aurelie Slegers

As far as North American ski towns go, Aspen, Colorado, is tough to beat. It has not one but four mountains and a historic yet glitzed-out downtown full of shopping, restaurants, luxury hotels, world-class art, music, and intellectual gatherings. Two hundred miles to the southwest lies a not unknown but more discreet, more remote, more hemmed-in ski hamlet perched some 900 feet higher in the sky. Telluride and Aspen are both mining towns turned ski resorts, but thanks to Telluride’s spectacular setting, wholesome attitude, and homegrown entrepreneurs, it may have a few things to teach its bigger, more famous Coloradan sister.

1. Make your location more inaccessible and dramatic.

A Google Image search of the term box canyon will quickly turn up a photo of Telluride. The town’s population of 2,300 is less than half the size of Aspen’s and is squeezed into an even smaller canyon accessed by a smaller airport (TEX). Most visitors choose to fly into Montrose, some 70 miles to the north. This bite-size valley makes the town feel somehow quainter and more jaw-dropping at the same time.

2. Scale down the architecture.

Downtown Telluride is six blocks wide by 12 blocks long, dotted with adorable pastel Victorian-style houses. The main street is dominated by the courthouse, built in 1886, the New Sheridan Hotel, and the Sheridan Opera House—designed by the same architect as Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House, but at a fraction of the size. The retail boutiques represented in Telluride’s downtown are more Patagonia than Gucci.

3. Less caviar, more tacos.

Taco del Gnar.
Taco del Gnar.

Photo: Courtesy of Taco del Gnar

Aspen has a slew of excellent, cosmopolitan dining options, from Matsuhisa to Chef’s Club at the St. Regis. But sometimes after a day of playing hard in the snow, all one craves is a bowl of piping hot, salty/carby ramen, like the dish served at There Bar, a cozy après-ski spot in one of Telluride’s charming Victorian cottages. Or a good taco like the ones at newly opened Taco del Gnar. At $4.50 a pop, try as many as you like; we recommend the lamb and the Korean short rib. Also try: Caravan (a Middle Eastern food truck), High Pie (pizza and “Telluride Mules”), Siam (for Thai staples), or Esperanza’s (a local favorite). Even the truffle French fries at Tomboy Tavern are toned down compared to Aspen’s Ajax Tavern’s over-the-top bouquet of Parmesan and truffle oil…

Continue reading the list here.

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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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