Skiing is fine, but let's talk about après -ski

  • Article by: ELLISE PIERCE , Fort Worth Star-Telegram
  • Updated: December 13, 2013 - 2:21 PM

There's a lot to choose from when you get back to the lodge.


The Bell Tower Bar at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, N.M.

Photo: Courtesy Ryan Heffernan Photography,

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Ski season isn’t all about the powder. Sure, I like a day on the moguls as much as any other Type-A skier, but it’s the other stuff — the big dinners, the lunches, the après-ski activities — I like most. So call me shallow if you want. I’ll be in the spa or in the bar.

But which bar and what spa treatment? And where to dine après that? Here’s a roundup of some of the newest off-mountain things to do, experience, eat and drink this ski season. Bottoms up!

Santa Fe and Taos, N.M.

Santa Fe’s most historic hotel, La Fonda on the Plaza, has just undergone a face-lift, giving a new look to its 164 guest rooms and suites. Actually, the makeover is a throwback with original painted concrete floors, folk art headboards and hand-carved furniture by local artists, some dating to 1922, when the hotel was built.

The Bell Tower Bar has had a makeover, too, with more seating and a kitchen, in case you’re in the mood for, say, a few green chile cheeseburger sliders. The fifth-story Bell Tower overlooks the city and faces west for a perfect sunset view. We suggest the bell ringer margarita, with Tanteo jalapeño-infused tequila, jalapeño juice, Patron Citronge liqueur, and lemon and lime juice. It’s served in a salted-rim glass with a slice of jalapeño. Yowza.


About an hour from Santa Fe or Taos, Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa is celebrating its 145th year with a special “Ski & Soak” package for lift ticket and season pass holders from any New Mexico ski resort. For $14.40 weekdays and $22.40 weekends and holidays (that’s 20 percent off), skiers can dip into any one of Ojo’s 10 geothermal mineral pools — filled with lithium, iron, soda and arsenic — that come steaming to the surface at 100,000 gallons per day.

Plus, there’s the messy, must-do mud pool, along with steam and sauna. Deemed sacred by the northern New Mexico American Indians, Ojo is one of the nation’s oldest natural health resorts, with a range of American Indian and East Indian-inspired therapies.


Jackson Hole, Wyo.

It’s still Western, but with a new, contemporary aesthetic. Spur Restaurant & Bar at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa has a whole new look, with recycled corral board wood, burnished steel and antiqued mirrors, and table tops made from reclaimed Douglas fir beams.

The menu — “elevated mountain cuisine” — includes signature buffalo short ribs braised in Zonker Stout and dry-aged buffalo sliders by executive chef Kevin Humphreys, who likes to source his kitchen locally around a seasonal menu.

But it’s not all Billy Buffalo here. There’s also a $4 menu that includes croquettes made with Teton Valley Creamery Yellowstone cheese and speck, elk-stuffed peppers, and Devils on Horseback, dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in bacon. At that price, you can order all three.


Vail, Colo.

Because a day on the slopes can work up an appetite, Four Seasons Resort & Residences Vail has introduced the TJW (That’s Just Wrong) Dog, made of 100 percent Kobe beef, with house-cured applewood bacon, blue cheese coleslaw and house-made ketchup on a locally baked soft roll. Wrong? What’s wrong about that?

For those who can’t leave the mountain for a minute, not even to eat, they can “ski with the chef,” who’ll ski along, then set up an outdoor grill for lunch. We’re talking dry-aged Colorado lamb sliders, Wagyu beef over white cheddar mac and cheese with black pepper relish, and elk bratwurst. Sounds a little better than that granola bar in your pocket, doesn’t it?


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