- The Washington Times - Monday, December 7, 2009

10 ski resorts with diversions for the rest of us

NEW YORK — Skiers want nothing but to be on the slopes this time of year. But what if they bring friends or family along who don’t ski?

Shermans Travel, a publisher of travel deals and destination advice, has come up with a list of 10 of the best ski resorts in the world for nonskiers, from the Alps to New England to the West. They are:

• Austria’s Bad Gastein, home to 18 natural hot springs in addition to challenging snow bowls and high-altitude views. Shermans Travel recommendation for value lodging: Haus Hirt Hotel & Spa.

• Megeve, France, where no one hits the slopes before 11 a.m. and lunch can take hours. Local Michelin-rated eateries include Flocons de Sel, La Ferme de Mon Pere and the hidden Domaine de la Sasse, reached by a 20-minute hike on snowshoes.

• Mont Tremblant, Quebec, where skiers love the wide runs and nonskiers love the pedestrian-friendly village with good food and great apres-ski. Value lodging recommendation from Shermans: Chateau Beauvallon.

• Park City, Utah, which has terrain for every skier and attractions for nonskiers such as the Kimball Art Center, shows at the Egyptian Theatre and the annual film festival at Sundance each January.

• Sierra Nevada — no, not the mountain range in California and Nevada, but the one in Spain. Yes, skiing is possible in a sunny, Mediterranean country. For activities off the slope, head to Grenada, an hour from the Pradollano ski village.

• Stowe, Vt., offers New England charm for skiers and nonskiers alike, including 50 restaurants, a half-dozen wellness centers and spas, and for those who are shy of the slopes but don’t mind cross-country, the Nordic Center at Trapp Family Lodge, with 90 scenic miles of trails.

• Sun Valley, Idaho, which offers sunny slopes on Mount Baldy for skiers and the Western charm of Ketchum for nonskiers. Pay your respects at the grave of Ernest Hemingway or spend the afternoon at galleries, spas and boutiques.

• Taos, N.M., with sun and steep slopes for skiers, plus 80 galleries, seven museums, A-list restaurants such as Joseph’s Table for everyone else. Shermans Travel value recommendation for lodging is the Historic Taos Inn.

• Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, where the Peak 2 Peak gondola will take you between the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb whether you’re skiing or just sightseeing. Shermans says the village is also known for its rowdy nightlife.

• Zermatt, Switzerland, a fantasyland in the shadow of the Matterhorn, where the streets are lined with glitzy shops and glam clubs but are otherwise quiet, thanks to the ban on gas-powered cars.

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Christmastime in Minneapolis means Holidazzle

MINNEAPOLIS — Christmastime in Minneapolis means the return of the Target Holidazzle parade.

The event, now in its 18th season, takes place every Thursday through Sunday until Dec. 20, starting at 6:30 p.m., with thousands of people gathering along Nicollet Mall between Fourth and 12th streets to watch.

Floats feature holiday and storybook characters in costume, and grand marshals include Andrew Zimmern, host of “Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre World”; Bullseye, the Target mascot; and Minnesota Vikings players Pat Williams and Ray Edwards, along with the team’s defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar.

The parade is free, but if you want to stay warm, for $9 a ticket you can get enclosed, heated grandstand seats, which come with complimentary hot cocoa and cider.

Details at https://www.holidazzle.com.

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SkiResorts.com advice for celebrating Christmas on a ski trip

NEW YORK — There’s a new Web site for skiers, and it offers a lot more than deals.

SkiResorts.com also has features on all aspects of the ski experience. Readers can check out profiles of resorts such Loon, N.H., or learn nicknames for various types of snow, from fluffy champagne powder to that heavy sticky stuff also known as concrete.

SkiResorts.com also is offering a couple of checklists for skiers who plan to spend the holidays away from home, with tips for decorating your hotel room and gift-giving on the slopes.

One recommendation: Ship a small faux Christmas tree ahead to your destination, unless you have confirmed and reserved a live tree in the town where you’ll be staying. SkiResorts.com says most resort towns run out of trees fast if they have them at all.

You’ll also want to ship some cheap ornaments — nothing breakable — or think of creative ways to decorate with simple items such as popcorn and cranberry strands that are easy to make.

SkiResorts.com points out that the local hardware store may be your best resource for inexpensive holiday items such as garlands. You even can hang your ornaments on a garland instead of a tree. But bring or ship stockings, along with tape to hang them.

The Web site says some rental companies provide decorating as a special concierge service; some will even set up and decorate a tree, but it will cost you.

SkiResorts.com also suggests shopping before you leave home and either shipping the gifts ahead or taking them with you. Shopping for gifts after you arrive can be expensive in a resort town, and there may not be the kind of selection you have at home. Plus, do you want to spend your ski vacation waiting on lines in stores? Just remember: Wrapped packages will be opened by security at the airport if you’re bringing them as carry-on, so either pack them unwrapped, or put them in checked bags.

Another option: Send them ahead, but be aware of the risks of theft and loss. Get insurance, and get the name of someone at the lodging who can arrange to have any packages that arrive for you placed safely inside your accommodations.

If you are ordering gifts online to be sent to your destination, be certain that they’ll arrive in time, and again, make arrangements for them to be held safely until you arrive.

Finally, SkiResorts.com says, pack a collapsible bag so that you have a way to lug all your goodies home when your trip is over.

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New resort in British Columbia for skiers: Revelstoke

ASPEN, Colo. — Ski.com has added Revelstoke Mountain Resort, a new ski destination in British Columbia, to its top 100 list.

Revelstoke, described by Ski.com as the newest resort in North America, also claims the continent’s biggest vertical, up to 720 inches of snow annually, 3,000 acres of lift-serviced terrain, and an additional half-million acres of helicopter and snowcat skiing.

It’s located in the Monashee and Selkirk mountains in southeastern British Columbia, with a 5,620-foot vertical rise and the longest ski run in North America, which goes for 9½ miles. Revelstoke also offers ski-in, ski-out accommodations at Nelsen Lodge at the base of Mount Mackenzie.

Ski.com’s deals include five nights at Nelsen in a two-bedroom and four-day lift tickets, from $890 per person on quadruple occupancy, available Jan. 5-23 (Package Code 10252). In town, Ski.com is offering accommodations at the Sandman Inn, Jan. 24-March 28, four nights in a hotel room and three-day lift tickets from $349 per person based on double occupancy (Package Code 10255).

Visit https://revelstoke.ski.com for more information about the resort and call 800/916-9463 to book through Ski.com.

• • •

Bon Appetit: Food specialty shops now offering in-store dining

NEW YORK — Food markets and specialty stores no longer are just places to buy supplies for making meals at home. Many now offer dining on the premises as well, according to Bon Appetit magazine’s December issue.

That’s good news for tourists, who may enjoy strolling through a famous food market but have no way to prepare or enjoy fresh produce or raw ingredients if they’re staying in a hotel.

Here are some of what Bon Appetit calls the best dining spots in stores around the United States:

• Surfas in Culver City, Calif., a restaurant supply store with an adjacent cafe.

• Oxbow Public Market in Napa, Calif., which has five restaurants, plus a microwinery, culinary bookstore and specialty tea store.

• Il Cane Rosso, an eatery in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace in the Embarcadero, where you’ll also find retailers such as Sur La Table and Culinaire antiques.

• B&G Oysters and the Butcher Shop, eateries that are among four foodie places in Boston, all at the intersection of Waltham and Tremont streets. The others are Stir, which offers cookbooks and a demonstration kitchen, and Plum Produce, a shop for specialty foods.

• Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis, which offers more than 40 locally owned shops under one roof, including Taqueria Los Ocampo.

• Despana in New York, a boutique in Soho specializing in the foods of Spain, but there’s also a hidden lunch counter serving tapas, sandwiches and small-plate appetizers.

• Bolsa in Dallas, which hosts a farmers market and a cafe with wine and local products such as chocolate, cookies and coffee.

• • •

Capitol Visitor Center sees 2.3 million visitors in first year

The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center has hosted 2.3 million people since opening a year ago, on Dec. 2, 2008.

That’s twice the number of people who visited the Capitol in the year before the visitor center existed. In the past, before the center’s Exhibition Hall and restaurant existed, people who visited the Capitol typically waited on line outside — sometimes for hours — for a tour. Now, visitors can make a reservation ahead of time for a tour, or they can even walk in and get on the next available tour.

The visitor center includes a 13-minute film about Congress and the building of the Capitol, and the 16,500-square-foot Exhibition Hall offers unusual artifacts and documents related to Congress and the Capitol.

The center premises include a 500-seat restaurant, gift shops and restrooms.

In December, the center introduced a new attraction: On Wednesdays at noon, curators, historians and educators from the Capitol, National Archives and the Library of Congress are giving 15-minute talks about Congress and the Capitol. Lectures are free; no reservations required. The center plans to continue the 15-minute talks in 2010.

Also new is an audio tour of the visitor center’s Exhibition Hall, available by using a cell phone, beginning at the plaster model of the Statue of Freedom, located directly in front of the entrance to the hall.

Details at https://www.visitthecapitol.gov.

• • •

Jersey Shore for winter visitors: Not like the MTV show

RED BANK, N.J. — It’s not summertime, and it’s nothing like the MTV reality show.

But the Jersey Shore does offer plenty to do for visitors this time of year: Main Street shopping, outlet malls and holiday activities.

Jersey Shore Premium Outlets in Tinton Falls and Jackson Premium Outlets in Jackson both have bus departures from Manhattan’s Port Authority and NJ Transit stops. For Main Street shopping, check out Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park and the downtowns of Ocean Grove, Toms River, Spring Lake and Red Bank. For antiques, hit Point Pleasant Beach for the Antique Emporium, Fond Memories Antiques and Canvas House Antiques.

To make a weekend out of it, boutique hotels include Blue Bay Inn in Atlantic Highlands, the Victorian style Majestic B&B in Ocean Grove, and the Oyster Point and Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank. The outlet malls also have shop and stay deals with more than two dozen area hotels; details at https://www.premiumoutlets.com. Hotels Unlimited is offering special holiday rates for corporate, military and leisure travelers at the Ramada of Toms River and the Holiday Inn of Toms River.

While you’re in the area, check out the Red Bank Gingerbread Walk, through Dec. 23, with gingerbread creations on display at 14 local businesses. The PNC Bank Arts Center Holiday Light Spectacular is a drive-through show with 225 displays. In Asbury Park, on Dec. 23, participating restaurants offer a 6:30 p.m. prix fixe dinner with a ticket to catch a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Paramount, or just come to the show and pay $5 at the door.

For more details, go to https://www.visitthejerseyshore.com.

• • •

Pacific War Museum in Texas expands gallery named for Bush

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas — The National Museum of the Pacific War has expanded its George H.W. Bush Gallery with new multimedia exhibits, testimonials and artifacts about the conflict in Asia during World War II.

In-depth exhibits include a look at the impact and destruction of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Among the artifacts on display is an HA-19, one of five Japanese two-man submarines that took part in the attack.

The opening of the new space was timed to coincide with the 68th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attacks on Dec. 7. The dedication was attended by the former president for whom the gallery is named. Mr. Bush, who lives in Houston, is a World War II naval aviator who survived being shot down by the Japanese over the Pacific. About 4,000 people attended the ceremony.

The museum is managed by the Nimitz Foundation, named for Fredericksburg native Adm. Chester Nimitz. He commanded American naval forces in the Pacific during the war.

The $15.5 million museum expansion had been planned for about a decade.

Details at https://www.nimitz-museum.org/. Fredericksburg is about 70 miles west of Austin.

• • •

Feds recommend more cave restrictions to stem bat disease

ALBANY, N.Y. — Federal wildlife officials hoping to check the spread of a disease killing hibernating bats in Eastern states are recommending steps that states farther west should take if “white-nose syndrome” strikes.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Dec. 4 sent recommendations to state and federal land management agencies in Ohio and several other states outlining precautions for hibernation caves or mines hit by white-nose. They recommend closing affected caves, with a possible exception for researchers. They also recommend research-only access for caves within 75 miles of an affected site.

White-nose is estimated to have killed more than a million bats in nine states since it was first noticed in New York in 2006. The syndrome is named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of affected bats.

• • •

Budget carrier easyJet pulls out of regional UK airport

LONDON — Low-cost airline easyJet PLC says it is closing its operations at a regional British airport and cutting capacity at its home base at London’s Luton Airport by 20 percent.

The airline will cease operations at East Midlands Airport on Jan. 5. The airline operated 10 routes from East Midlands — to Prague; Nice, France; Venice, Italy; Faro, Portugal; Barcelona, Alicante, Malaga, Ibiza and Palma, Spain; and Geneva.

Passengers booked to travel after Jan. 5 will be offered either a free transfer to another easyJet flight or a refund.

The 20 percent capacity reduction at Luton means the airline will cease to operate routes to Athens; Cagliari, Italy; and Vienna, Austria. The carrier will reduce frequencies on routes including Alicante, Spain; Dortmund, Germany; Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland; Geneva; Nice, France; and Paris.

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