Queer Lift: Telluride's Gay Ski Week
By Ari Bendersky
From February 24 to March 4, Telluride, the unspoiled gem of the San Juan Mountains, will attract a gaggle of gays for the town's fourth annual Gay Ski Week. Packed with activities, the week plays host to gay ski enthusiasts in search of an alternative to the circuit scene of other ski weeks, like Whistler and Aspen. This isn't to say the Calvin Klein Underwear White Party and Blue Ball Pool Party won't attract some debauchery, but the focus is definitely on the powder.
Telluride has been rated one of the toughest ski resorts in North America, and for good reason. The vast number of diamond and double diamond runs offer extreme challenges, but for those a little less seasoned, easier runs abound. And when you tire of the moguls, fall back on plenty of non-ski activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, fly-fishing and, of course, hitting the hot tub.
This cozy mountain enclave is anything but fussy. Dressing up means donning your cool denim and hitting the town's hot offerings. Dining options'both upscale and on the cheap'dot the rustic streets of downtown Telluride. Try internationally seasoned American cuisine and sweeping views at Allred's 's atop the San Sophia Gondola (970.728.7474), prime surf and turf at the http://www.newsheridan.com/Telluride_Dining_at_The_Chop_House/Menu.nsh " target="_blank">New Sheridan Chop House (at the New Sheridan Hotel; 970.728.9100), Asian fusion'including fresh sushi flown in daily'at Honga's Lotus Petal & Tea Room (133 S. Oak St.; 970-728-5134), and the romantic 221 South Oak set in an old Victorian home steps from the gondola (970-728-9507).
For lodging, you have two main options: downtown or Mountain Village. The appeal of a ski-in/ski-out option may draw you to the world-renowned The Peaks Resort and Golden Door Spa (136 Country Club Drive; 866.282.4557) or the Mountain Lodge (457 Mountain Village Boulevard; 866.368.6867), one of the festival's host locales. If you desire more activity and bustling nightlife, camp out at the top-rated Hotel Telluride (190 Cornet Street; 970.369.1188) or 32-room boutique Inn at Lost Creek (119 Lost Creek Lane; 888.601.LOST), both in the heart of downtown. Most spots feature Old West charm, fireplaces and hot tubs, so where you land depends on what you want close by. Keep in mind that Telluride is small, and the two areas are connected via a free gondola, a 15-minute ride from one end to the other.
Whether you plan to ski all week or take side trips to the old mining town of Durango (two hours) or Ouray (one hour), dubbed the 'Switzerland of America,' you'll want to return for the week's crowning event: the 14th Annual Telluride AIDS Benefit and Fashion Show, featuring models strutting the catwalk in the likes Diane Von Furstenberg, Kenneth Cole, Theory, and Ginch Gonch (hot guys in skimpy underwear!).
For a full rundown on the week's activities, including links to lodging, head to TellurideGaySkiWeek.com.
Telluride is 360 miles southwest of Denver, but driving, especially in winter, can take up to seven hours. Fly into the Telluride or Montrose airports. American, United, Continental, USAir and Delta all serve these airports, but many flights connect through Denver from most major cities. American Airlines is an official sponsor and is offering discounted fares by booking through http://www.aa.com/rainbow and using the code A8827AS.