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The Peaks Resort and Spa

Telluride, Colorado

Although smaller than its celebrity obsessed sibling Aspen and known primarily as a ski mecca, Telluride has, in the past few decades, become a year round playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Telluride boasts many attractions for sports people: communication with nature in all seasons; golf and hiking in summer; and skiing, snow boarding and snow shoeing in winter.

The town, a historic old mining center, is in a valley at 8750-feet elevation, with the saw-toothed mountains of the San Juan Range rising up to 14,000 feet on three sides. Because most of the 19th-century buildings on its main street have been preserved, it has an authentic Western character. It is famous as the site of Butch Cassidy's first bank robbery and infamous for its former extensive red light district, much of which has been remodeled into cozy vacation homes and trendy cafes. If you want a lively and informative walking tour of the town, try to arrange for Australian-born sometime actor and guide Bunzy Bunworth to show you around.

The top-rated hostelry of the area, The Peaks Resort and Spa, is located at Mountain Village Station. This 177-room hotel provides an outpost of luxury at 9,500 feet. When Carefree Resorts acquired the property in 1993 it was completely renovated and redecorated in a Western/Southwestern motif with Native American art and old photographs of Indians in the halls. The main lobby, the Great Room, makes dramatic use of a huge stone fireplace with rough-hewed timber reaching two stories high. A huge glass window overlooks the snow capped mountains.

Carefree Resorts recently joined forces with another established hospitality company and is now part of the Grand Bay Hotels and Resorts collection.

Nearly one year ago The Spa at The Peaks launched a new program, Next Level Spa, so named because its goal is to help each guest reach his "next level" of fitness and health. A personal concierge is assigned to every guest. The spa seems to provide an endless variety of beauty services in its 44 treatment rooms including several adapted from East Indian health practices. Bindi balancing, spirulina kur, and Alpine strawberry rejuvenator are featured in addition to the traditional body treatments. There are, of course, saunas, steam rooms, Jacuzzis, an indoor pool and a heated indoor/outdoor pool entered most dramatically by a water slide carrying you from one floor to the next. Accommodations located in the spa area offer 24-hour access to these facilities. All the rooms in the spa section have foot vibrators to relax and rejuvenate tired feet and small fountains over rocks on tables next to the beds. The soft gurgle of water on stones carries a soporific effect. Four- or seven-day spa packages are available, but you can stay at the hotel and order individual treatments at the end of a long day of skiing or whatever has tired you out.

All of the Grand Bay Hotels & Resorts properties will open Golden Door spas in 1998, 1999 and 2000. The first one to welcome guests will be the Next Level, which is scheduled for conversion to a Golden Door Spa in the fall, 1998.

There are two restaurants at the Peaks serving traditional American and European fare, such as Maryland crab cakes and venison filet. For those who want it, the Peaks Spa Performance Cuisine is available at either restaurant. The spa cuisine is a product of careful collaboration between the chefs and the nutritionist, who obsessively measures out each calorie and gram of fat in every morsel of food, as well as testing it for flavor.

Even though the season does not begin until the end of November, one can not write about Telluride without describing the ski program because it is the primary activity for which the resort is known and because the instruction is so unique.

"If someone can walk he can learn to ski," said Harold Harb, former racer, world-renowned ski coach and head of Ski Science Systems. Harb decided to prove his conviction when he came to Colorado over a year ago with his team, Diana Rogers and Dick Oursler, with whom he had developed a new approach to skiing. He established a cooperative relationship with a local ski shop operated by Telluride Sports, where skiers rent or buy boots, bindings and shaped skis (sometimes called parabolic), which are aligned to fit each skier's unique anatomical structure. At the same time he also worked out an arrangement with Annie Savath, director of the Telluride Ski School, to train all instructors to teach his biomechanic system of skiing. In addition, instructors now work with the ski shop to recommend adjustments of alignment of equipment for their students.

Harb, whose Austrian father was a ski racer and instructor, raced with the National Canadian Ski Team. He spent over 20 years coaching racing skiers, including Olympic Medalists. For the past 10 years he has devoted himself to improving recreational skiing by applying some of the lessons he learned from the racing experience. He noted two areas of skiing that could be improved: the alignment of feet, boots, bindings and skis was often faulty; and that a new, simpler method of downhill skiing could replace the traditional Arlberg technique, which had changed little in the last 60 years. With the application of biomechanics to ski movements he recognized that the sport could be simplified by stressing balance rather than pushing. The recent introduction of shaped or parabolic skis (wider at the front and rear and narrower at the feet) fit in with his system, making it easier to learn to ski and to turn under control. Beginning skiers graduate to intermediate slopes sooner and older people are less tired when using this new technique.

Harb applied the principles of biomechanics to the problem of ski equipment. He studied the physique of each skier for posture, shape of foot, twist of leg, etc. and tailored the selection and adjustment of skis, boots and bindings to individual body alignment by a special process. He made "foot beds", casts of the skier's feet, which are then inserted into the boots to provide a better fit. He noted that some skiers would profit from "risers", light wedges under the binding of one or both feet. With the cooperation of the ski shop and instructors teaching a simpler system, a new era of enjoyable controlled skiing is emerging.

At the Peaks Resort you can buy or rent equipment on the lowest level and ski out the door of the hotel and down a short trail to the nearest lift. Mountain Village Station is a few miles from the town and is connected by a newly opened free gondola. Many lifts originate from here, as well as from the town itself, and close by the gondola are boutiques, shops and the Telluride Ski and Snowboard School. The Franz Klammer Lodge Ski Shop, housing the Harb Skier Alignment Facility, can also be found here.


The Peaks Resort and Spa, 565 Mountain Village Boulevard, P. O. Box 2702, Telluride, CO 81435. Tel. 800-789-2220, 970-728-6800. Rates per double room per night are $225-385 depending on time of year. Special five night packages available. Spa program priced differently. www.thepeaksresort.com


Continental Airlines (800-525-0280) flies from Newark Airport, through Houston, to Montrose Airport daily during ski season www.continental.com.

United Airlines (800-241-6922) flies from Chicago and Denver daily to both Montrose and Telluride Airports www.united.com.

America West (800-235-9292) flies from Phoenix to both Montrose and Telluride daily during ski season. Montrose is about an hour and a half from Telluride and you can arrange for a hotel shuttle to meet you, take a cab or rent a car. www.americawest.com/default.asp

Summer 1998