Vail stuns mainstream journalists

EAGLE, Colo. – The Kobe Bryant case unleashed what The Vail Trail (July 11) described as a “ravenous media beast.” A press conference in Eagle soon after Bryant’s arrest for investigation of sexual assault produced 29 print journalists, 9 television cameras and eight photojournalists. The DA’s press conference 10 days later produced 100.

And others were presumably out probing other nooks and crannies of what several described as a “sleepy” town. “Quiet doesn’t begin to describe Eagle,” reported one San Francisco journalist, who was astonished to learn that some residents never bothered to lock their doors.

More astonishing to one columnist from a Denver newspaper was that the Vail Daily had known Bryant was being investigated but did not report it – indeed, didn’t even report the arrest until two days after it happened. This was, said Mike Littwin of the Rocky Mountain News, sure evidence that Vail and the Eagle Valley coddled celebrities. The Vail Trail, a weekly, rifled a similar charge of softness against it daily rival.

Bryant incident may boost hotel

EDWARDS, Colo. – The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera has been mentioned in more than 300 newspapers in only nine days in July, usually as “posh,” “swanky” and “exclusive.” The reason? That’s where, depending upon your point of view, Kobe Bryant committed adultery or adultery/rape.

So, what does that do for the 56-room hotel where standard rooms rent for $325 a night? Marketing experts consulted by The Denver Post (July 16) mostly agreed that any news short of murder is good news. “It would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, even millions of dollars, to achieve that kind of notoriety, said one Denver-based marketing consultant. A Beverly Hills-based branding expert for spas agreed. “In the big picture, this little problem is worth its weight in gold,” she said.

However, a New York consultant who specializes in independent boutique hotels, said the case “will be a blip on the radar screen. Hotel reputations are built on other factors.”

5,000 expected at Utah reunion

PARK CITY, Utah – Ever get dragged to a family reunion where you didn’t recognize 90 percent of the people? Just imagine if you were among the 5,000 people expected for a reunion of descendents of Amasa Lyman on Aug. 2 in Fillmore, Utah.

A member of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Lyman settled in Utah in the 19th century. His eight wives, 37 grandchildren and 234 great-grandchildren may now have produced 25,000 descendents, reports The Park Record (July 9). If you wonder whether you’re part of the family tree, all the details are available at

Leadville joins Krispy Kreme craze

LEADVILLE, Colo. – The Krispy Kreme craze continues. In the 2-mile-high city of Leadville, a businessman has offered to import the doughnuts with a dawn run from Denver, 100 miles distant. Customers must pre-order their doughnuts, $8 a dozen, reports the Leadville Chronicle (July 10).

Something even more bizarre occurs at Jackson Hole, where a fresh batch of Krispy Kremes is trucked daily from Salt Lake City, several hours distant.

Could this be like Coors Beer? When the beer was sold only in the West, collegiates and others on skiing trips to the Rockies always hauled a few cases of the brew for resale back home. The beer gained a reputation as the nation’s premier brew. But when Coors expanded its distribution, the brew seemed to lose its special appeal.

Clouds seeded with founder’s ashes

VAIL, Colo. –At Vail founder Pete Seibert’s memorial service last year, his son, Pete Seibert Jr., told those gathered that his father’s ashes would be scattered by seeding them into clouds. Expect “one hell of a powder day,” he said.

And that’s exactly what happened, reports the Vail Daily (July 15). Seibert’s family distributed most of the ashes atop Vail Mountain on Christmas Day, saving the remainder to send skyward in a cloud-seeding generator. The chosen day was St. Patrick’s Day.

That storm produced only 12 inches of powder at Vail, but several feet of snow in Summit County and in Denver, one of the biggest storms of the last century.

Patriotic Wal-Mart opens in Avon

AVON, Colo. – Consumerism goes hand-in-hand with patriotism in the Vail Valley. There, in opening a “supercenter,” Wal-Mart had a VFW unit present the flag, a sales associate sing the national anthem, and to top it all off, recruited high school cheerleaders to lead the hurrahs.

The 187,000-square-foot store is located in Avon, along with a new Home Depot. The old Wal-Mart there is to be remodeled and expanded, creating space for three national chain stores: Gart Sports, Pier 1 Imports and Office Depot. In other words, instead of going to the city, consumers along the I-70 corridor are finding the city is coming to them.

Real estate hot with Jackson locals

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The strongest sector of the real estate market in Jackson Hole this year has been what David Viehman calls the “locals market of under $750,000.” Viehman, owner and broker of Jackson Hole Real Estate & Appraisal, LLC, largely credits this to low interest rates. He reports the number of homes sold up 14 percent but dollar volume of only 17 percent.

Through June, 21 homes were sold for $1 million or more. That compares with 26 last year. On the other hand, the condo-townhome sales is up 51 percent. Viehman told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that he sees the number of listings shrinking, perhaps a prelude to a seller’s market.

The report is available online at

Fast food battles to be healthy

SILVERTHORNE, Colo. – Travelers who turn off I-70 for fast-food in Silverthorne have their choice of Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonalds and Good Times.

While Wendy’s and Burger King battle over prices, both McDonalds and Good Times are now shooting for health consciousness. McDonalds, of course, recently announced it would begin converting to beef without antibiotics.

At Good Times Burgers, a Colorado-based chain of 35 stores, including one at the Winter Park ski area, a deal has just been struck with Coleman Natural Meats, a purveyor of beef free of antibiotics, growth hormones and other byproducts. Coleman, incidentally, is now owned by a conglomerate headed by George Gillett, one-time owner of Vail Associates and today still the owner of Wyoming’s Grand Targhee ski area.

Whistler explores geothermal power

WHISTLER, B.C. – A geothermal power plant being studied would generate 100 to 200 megawatts of electrical power, or enough to service a city of 500,000 people. The power would tie into the Bonneville grid, and hence be sold in California, reports the Whistler Question (June 26).

The geothermal area is found 43 miles northeast of Whistler, in the Meager Creek Valley. With an eruption 2,000 years ago, it is the site of Canada’s most recent volcanic activity. Water would be injected into fractures among the hot rocks and heated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, then drawn to the surface by a series of wells. Flashing to steam, it would drive turbines that generate electrical power.

Capital cost for the plant is estimated at $300 million (US). A feasibility study is expected to be complete in 18 months.

Couple finds missing ring at Keystone

KEYSTONE, Colo. – In February, a couple pledging their love atop Keystone’s Outback at 12,200 feet lost the engagement ring into a foot of fresh powder. Several hours of searching by metal detectors and even an avalanche rescue dog failed to produce the $6,500 diamond-and-platinum ring.

Returning in mid-July, the frustrated couple were about to give up after hours of fruitless searching when the groom finally glimpsed reflected sunlight from between two rocks. This time, he slipped it onto his fiance’s finger quickly. A September wedding in Iowa is planned.

Composters smell good news in Banff

BANFF, Alberta – When Canmore tried to compost its sewage, the result was 85 odiferous. Neighborhood residents created a stink of their own. Since then, it has spent $300,000 a year ($221,000 US) to haul the stuff to some distant place. Other communities closer at hand figure that if it’s too stinky for Canmore, they don’t want any part of it either.

But up-valley at Banff, a new $2 million biosolids composting facility is now on line, and municipal officials say it passes the sniff test. “It’s unbelievable,” Canmore Councilor Jon Frolick told the Rocky Mountain Outlook (June 11). “Standing 10 feet from the building, you don’t smell anything.” The plant uses a technology that is described as negative press in-vessel composting.

Meanwhile, Canmore officials have agreed to chip in for a study of a valley-wide organics composting facility. Both Canmore and Banff outlaw backyard composting, presumably because it attracts wildlife. Instead, they are trucked to a landfill at Calgary at enormous expense.

Aspen gets EPA award for commuting

ASPEN, Colo. – The EPA is giving Aspen its award for Best Workplaces for Commuters. This is the first time the award has been given to a municipality; normally it goes to organizations such as business parks.

The award doesn’t deny Aspen’s congestion, but it does recognize that people have options, including free in-town bus service, car-pool parking and a program to help car-poolers link, explains The Aspen Times (July 4). As well, the community offers a car-sharing program plus an outreach service to employers and visitors. “Aspen provides its commuter with big-city benefits to preserve its small-town appeal,” said an EPA representative.

Gunnison County cleans up roadways

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Gunnison County, which is where Crested Butte is located, is trying to gussy itself up for tourists. A new beautification committee is encouraging removal of junk cars and what not from along the major thoroughfares in the county. To encourage such efforts, the county landfill is offering reduced rates for disposal of appliances and trailer homes, reports the Crested Butte News (July 10).

-compiled by Allen Best





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