The town – and its commercial core, most especially – is gracefully easing into its newfound, more mature role, fulfilling the Zermatt-inspired, American ingenuity-engineered pedestrians-only high-alpine ski village it was, decades ago, set up to be.
No longer in thrall to the whims of Mother Nature, thanks to the latest in snowmaking technology, early-season snow is now something we can count on, year after year.
This year, the shopping is on par with the skiing, with the coaching, with Telski’s state-of-the-art ski mountain management, in a village core full of just the right kind of stores, all offering something for anyone who makes his or her way to this little piece of paradise, whether it is a diehard ski bum, a snowriding recreationalist, or a woman who spas or even a visiting child who needs some time off the slopes.
On Friday, as shoppers begin their Jingle Jam trek around the town’s center-circle – always a surprise, at least to this directionally challenged shopper, upon finding myself walking back into a store already visited, a few hours before – take heart, because a mountain of gifts, from the last-minute to the carefully planned, is available, and at a wide range of prices, to boot.
It's only fitting to begin at Bootdoctors, Bob and Penelope Gleason's more-than-a-decade-old labor of love – it's a rental shop! It's an expedition outfitter! – and Bob the Bootdoctor and his acolytes know the fine art of making those potentially torturous ski boots fit like kid gloves!
But it's also the only place I've ever found everything from honest-to-goodness sexy NILS long underwear tops ($59) to Never-Neverland dream-come-true pink Tinkerbelle Dynastars ($150) that will send even the wariest newbie young skier into raptures before she can say “Magic Carpet!”
For the further-along snowboarder, check out the royal-blue-and-black-checked Dakine bag ($110, with room for boots) and its matching backpack; for hydrating in style, there are “Design for Women” camelbacks in a lacey print pack ($88); for status-conscious teens, the Quadratic black-and-neon-lime-green cap ($38).
Once through the generously stocked store entrance – this store practically does, in the words of the Bootdoctor Bob Gleason, stretch “from Kansas to Utah” – and the racks of ski sweaters, it's time to check out undergarments. Capilene boxers, $32, sporting everything from Aztec-inspired sun symbols to glistening trout ($32); I/O BIO merino undergarments (overheard, between staffers: “Does anybody know what I/O BIO means?” – “Nope, it's just catchy marketing”); IBEX tops (prices vary).
But “what really moves,” says sales expert Trevor James, “is KJUS,” pronounced “tschuss,” and sounds just like that old-fashioned word for what we used to say we did on ski slopes.
“It's wildly beautiful, beautifully made,” says James, a small-interiors designer (think cabins measuring 400 square feet and space-conserving interiors on yachts) who appreciates details and fine points, of which KJUS has more than a few. “Once you ski in it, you'll never want to ski in anything else,” he says, of the waterproof yet breatheable ski jacket. “The fabric has four-way stretch,” he says, pulling hither and yon, “so when you stretch, it stretches, and all the seams stretch with it.
“It's like a second skin, with insulation.”
James pulls the women's jacket ($699) inside out. “How well-constructed is that?” he asks, pointing out the interior iPhone pocket, “thumb thongs” and pockets wearers can both warm their hands in and, at the same time, hold onto their poles while they’re waiting for the chairlift. And wait, there’s more! Pulling on a cord, James exhibits the waiting-to-be-used goggle-cleaning cloth, tied snugly in place the way children’s mittens sometimes are, after they’ve exhibited a tendency to lose them.
“It's very well thought-out,” James says of the KJUS line, now leading the way to snowrider pants from Westcomb – these too made with an exquisite eye to detail. “An inside ankle boot patch,” he says, pointing to tough fabric reinforcement just where boot friction inevitably causes all ski pants to fray.
For the pre-skier – think babies, something James is doing quite a bit of these days, with a firstborn due in the spring – he holds out the perfect lime-green Julbo sunglasses, complete with “high quality lenses,” a nose bridge constructed to work so there’s no right-side-up and a snug-yet-detachable strap ($30). For stocking stuffers, there’s everything from Skullcandy headsets (prices vary) to goggles to energy bars. Grab-bag discounts of ten to 50 percent.
Across the way from Bootdoctors is the Swanky Buckle, with an attitude befitting the new kid in town, and just the right mix of what saleswoman Jaymie Hummer describes as “natural colors” (in this shopper's book, that means lots of black) in prices ranging from well under $100 to – Hummer has to think about this, for a minute – a $645 rabbit fur vest and a $750 black leather jacket.
Part of one wall is devoted to jeans – “These are organic leggings, just perfect for tucking into boots” – Hummer says, inspecting the price tag on a Paper, Denim and Cloth pair. “Ninety-five dollars!” she exclaims. “In Telluride! That's unheard of.” Some more bargains: a Charlotte Tarantola black-and-white-striped top ($115); a C&C California sparkly tube-top ($92) and Zambos Vintage Couture clutch bags ($80), and an array of shoes from the recent marriage of Nike and Cole Haan (from $138 up), a smattering of purses and shoulder bags (a massive Vintage brown bag, $520, will hold everything you need for a weekend away) and Knitwit soy cashmere (the great thing about soy cashmere is that it doesn't pill,” Hummer explains). Check out the array of cashmere shawls, in subdued blues and greens; and the faux fur vest ($145) and a practical sweater-shawl from LINE (“Look – it's lined with cotton!”) for $340. Grab-bag discounts of ten to 30 percent.
The Suede Bar at Capella will be serving up Jingle Jam special $5 Hot Toddies, to shoppers, from 3-9 p.m.; to stock up on your own Hot Toddy fixings, visit Telluride Naturals (across from Capella, next door to the Crazy Elk) stocks everything from locally crafted jewelry, artisan foods and candles to Colorado-bred Sutcliffe Vineyards wines and Telluride Vodka; they open every day at 11 a.m., and will offer grab-bag discounts from ten to 40 percent (excluding sale items) all day long.
On Sunset Plaza, La Piazza is reopening just in time for Jingle Jam, with a special three-course menu, $28 per person, being served from 5:30-9:30 p.m. Call 970/728-8283 for reservations.
En route to the Peaks, it’s impossible not to step into the Telluride Ski Resort’s relatively new Eco Adventures center, lured by the stuffed bobcat standing atop the winter diorama that overlooks the facility's work-and-playroom. Here young adventurers get acquainted with everything from beaver, skunk, badger, fox and otter fox pelts to porcupine scat, owl pellets and paw prints, all culled from the wild they'll soon be heading into, in one of the many outdoor adventures offered here.
Heading back to the front of the shop, under the poster depicting a wonderfully unrealistic half-parrot half-eagle painted bird that hovers from the ceiling, there are stocking stuffers galore, including a bird caller ($5), mini-rope puzzles ($6.50), a glow-in-the-dark necklace ($2.50), and a Colorado Wildflower garden seed pack ($16.99).
“Kids burn out” on the mountain, says staffer Melanie Kent, and parents often find, a few days into a family vacation, that “they can't do ski school every day.” Eco Adventures fills that gap, for local and visiting children – and for their parents, too, who can book snowmobiling, ice-climbing, Nordic skiing, heli-skiing and snowshoeing day trips while they wait for their children to finish up the hot chocolate and snacks that mark the end of most of the center’s outdoor expeditions.
It’s finally winding-down time, and that brings us around to The Peaks and its well-appointed spa and exercise facility complete with a Spa Boutique featuring all things relaxing, from “b by Donna Layer-Lifestlye Line” yogawear to yoga mats to the I Am line (as in I Am Balance, I Am Peace, Naked, Me or Wild), featuring discounts up to 25 percent. Bring the spa home with its efficient-looking Clarsonic skin cleanser or tuck its memories in your purse with a spray bottle of PURE cocoa antioxidant mint or chocolate mist, $35-44). On the sexy front – a colorful selection of “the world's most comfortable thong” ($16), in a rainbow of colors, and jewelry from Energy Muse, $100 and up.
Products used in the treatment rooms are on sale here, as well, but be forewarned, should you be tempted to buy regional skin-and-nutrition guru Bunnie Gulick's ISUN Alive and Ageless Skincare “wildcrafted, organic and natural” product line, you might want to stock up. Gulick’s body cleansers and scrubs, mineral baths, gemstone body oils, Ayurveda balancing oils, hair oils, moisturizers, serums, masks and mists are addictive. On your way to the spa, where they’re hosting a Champagne Reception, don’t miss the hotel’s Lifesized Gingerbread House, with a 5 p.m. unveiling, or the 50 percent off standby ticket prices from Telluride Helitrax, just down the hall.
Out on Mountain Village Blvd., make it a point to stop in at East Meets West, at 567 MV Blvd., with its selection of holiday ornaments you’ll never find again, surrounded by elegant lamps, tables, and one-of-a-kind rugs, furniture and objets d’art, and discounts up to 30 percent.
And for everyone on foot, who’s heading back to the gondola station, stop in at the Hop Garden, down at the base of lift four, for $5 Bailey’s warmers, $3 Fat Tires and $2 PBRs, 5 p.m. to closing, and before you leave the warm and festive village, stop in at the Resort Store (in the gondola plaza) for last-minute safety gifts like baseball caps, stickers, pint glasses, travel mugs and corkscrews (grab-bag discounts ten-40 percent).