Cartier Jewels Dazzle at the Denver Art Museum

Exclusive exhibition of treasures from Parisian jeweler.

DenverArtMuseum-logoI don’t generally wear much jewelry: my wedding ring, my late mother’s wedding ring, my birthstone in a simple setting on a thin gold chain around my neck and cheap earrings that I bought somewhere on my travels. My few good pieces reside in the safe deposit box, taken out only for the rare dressy occasional in ultra-casual Boulder. But I love to look at bling. At the Tower of London, I ride the moving walkway along the Crown Jewels several times. On tours of stately homes, palaces and museums, I am also entranced by the precious jewels. So “Brilliant: Cartier in the 20th Century” at the Denver Art Museum through March 15 has my name all over it.

Here I am. Does the drool show? I love seeing grandiose bling.

Here I am near the entrance to “Brilliant.” Does the drool show? I love seeing grandiose bling.

Some 250 items, mostly from the Cartier Collection in Paris, are on dazzling display at the museum. The earliest pieces before World War I belonged largely to European royalty and nobility — and to the occasional American heiress who married a titled European. Later, even as the world plunged from Jazz Age prosperity and imped through the Depression and World War II, Cartier kept designing jewelry, decorative accessories and fashion accessories. The exhibition, which snakes its way through several gallery pods, includes “Aristocracy and Aspiration,” “Art Deco: New Outlook,” “Art Deco: Foreign Fascination,” “Masculine View,” “Age of Glamour” and “Icons of Style” (this last being Cartier jewels that belonged to Daisy Fellowes, the Duchess of Windsor, Princess Grace of Monaco, Elizabeth Taylor and Mexican film star Maria Félix. Be awestruck:




One room contains such man-pleasing objects as aircraft and space commemorative items.

One room contains such man-pleasing objects as aircraft and space commemorative items.

After the opening of King Tut's tomb in 1922, Egyptian design themes were all the rage.

After the opening of King Tut’s tomb in 1922, Egyptian design themes were all the rage.

Even stars and other celebs kept scrapbooks.

Even stars and other celebs kept scrapbooks.


Wow Fare on WOW Air

Ultra-cheap airline to offer $99 fare to Iceland

WOWAirThe latest à la carte airline offering super-cheap base fares is WOW Air, an Iceland-based carrier that I never herd of — even when I was in Iceland. It recently announced that this coming March, it will begin non-stop service from both Boston and Baltimore to Reykjavik for introductory fares as low as $99 one-way and one-stop flights onward to London and Copenhagen starting at $228 round-trip. The airline will begin offering the flights next March.

Like every other deep-discount carrier, a ticket on WOW Air will buy a seat, a mini-tray table and an 11-pound carry-on limit. Everything else will cost extra. A carry-on heavier than 11 pounds will be $29 additional when booked online or $48 at the airport. Checked luggage will be even more expensive,  each piece  adds an extra $48 online or $67 at check-in. And extra leg room, pre-assigned seats and food will add to the total cost of a the journey. Flying round-trip? Multiply by 2.

WOW Air says that it will be able to cross the Atlantic for so little thanks to some built-in efficiencies. Online sales and marketing enabletit to avoid paying booking engines or travel agents. This is similar to other low-fare carriers and even Southwest. It currently a mini-fleet of only four aircraft. In theory, by refueling in Iceland, WOW can fly smaller planes, which is fuel-saving. Another fuel benefit is that planes don’t need to carry sufficient fuel for the entire transatlantic flight.

In addition to intra-European and US, Norwegian Air started flying cheap London-New York flights over the summer, but flights were reportedly plagued with delays, which could be a real issue for small-fleet WOW. Once a small-fleet airline’s flights get off schedule, there’s little redundancy and therefore difficult to get back on track again.  Discount airlines currently control nearly 0ne-third of the Noth American market (that must include Southwest) and more than one-third of it in Europe, but only Norwegian on the transatlantic.

There’s room for growth but also for miscalculation.


It’s Sweet to Sleep in Steamboat Springs

Walkable downtown is great base for a visit to Ski Town USA.

Olympian-logoI’ve visited Steamboat Springs, Colorado, innumerable times over the years — usually to ski (with luck, at the same time as the Steamboat Winter Carnival) but occasionally for special events like the Steamboat Wine Festival, to hike, to dip in thermal waters or to otherwise enjoy this northern Colorado ranching town turned winter resort that tenaciously holds onto its down-to-earth Western roots despite its growing sophistication. Over many visits, I’ve stayed at the Sheraton at the base of the lifts when if was the only lodging property at the ski area, the Steamboat Grand when it was new, assorted motels and condos scattered below the ski area and at fabulous guest ranches up in the Elk River Valley, but until this weekend, when my husband and I joined a group of serious eaters chomping our way through Steamboat Springs, I had never actually stayed downtown.

We spent two nights in a spacious apartment — or “residence” in real estate parlance — in The Olympian at 5th and Yampa. We live a few blocks from downtown Boulder, and also as a once-upon-a-time New Yorker, I really value places that are within walking distance of restaurants, entertainment, stores, places to walk and so on. We had a view of the Yampa River, the rodeo grounds and the ski jumps and slalom hill at Howelsen Hill ski area. There were short windows between meals to hike, bike or shop just minutes from our door. I especially enjoyed a late-afternoon stroll along the Yampa River Core Trail with a return along eponymous Yampa Street, and am sharing some images from that walk:

Stand-up paddling on the Yampa -- in late October.

The Yampa River is tranquil in late October. In spring and summer, its roiling whitewater is prime for rafting and kayaking.

Late-season stand-up paddleboarders.

Late-season stand-up paddleboarders.

Silver seedheads in the foreground with golden foliage behind.

Silver seedheads in the foreground with golden foliage behind.

Squirrel with a treasure, probably scavenged from a kid's birthday party at the little skatepark.

Chipmunk nibbling on a treasure, probably scavenged from a kid’s birthday party at the town’s little bike and skatepark.

A bench with a view is unoccupied late on an autumn afternoon.

A bench with a view is unoccupied late on an autumn afternoon.

There's no shortage of old skis in Ski Town USA. These cut-offs contain a recycling bin.

There’s no shortage of old skis in Ski Town USA. These cut-offs contain a recycling bin.

Yampa Street is becoming increasingly gentrified with new condos and more good places to eat, but some properties , like this bike shop exterior, retain their mountain town funkiness. I'm hoping a balance remains.

Yampa Street is becoming increasingly gentrified with new condos and more good places to eat, but some properties, like this bike shop window with old license plates on wood, retain their mountain town funkiness. I’m hoping a balance remains and that Steamboat Springs never becomes TOO precious.

Sculpture made of old wheels.

Sculpture made of old wheels against a new stockade fence.

Morning view of Howelson Hill's jumps from our terrace. Time to leave, alas.

Morning view of Howelsen Hill’s jumps from our terrace. Time to leave, alas.



Free (& Other) Factory Tours in Colorado

From breweries to ski-makers, visitors see how stuff is make in Colorado.

ColoradoFlagThe Colorado Tourism Office released a list to remind Coloradans and visitors about the one-of-a-kind products made within the state. From the smaller stores and factories such as Honeyville Honey and SunCrest Orchards Alpacas, to  such household names as Celestial Seasonings and Coors Brewery, Colorado is full of interesting factory tours. Below are a some places to see firsthand what’s behind the brands. After a tour, and learn what is involved, you’ll never take local products for granted again:

  • Celestial Seasonings, Boulder. This was a pioneering and still remains one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America. During free daily tours, visitors see where the teas are sourced and how the teas are made, packaged and distributed all over the world. A highlight: “The Mint Room.” In addition to the tour, guests can try free samples of teas, see original artwork for the boxes and purchase tea-related stuff from the gift shop.
  • Coors Brewery Tour, Golden. Board a van in the visitors’ parking lot, parking lot, take a short ride through Golden to the world’s largest brewery for a free tour that includes a brief history of the business, the brewery process and some free samples of beer for those of legal age.
  •  EnstromGrand Junction. This family-owned candy store and factory began in 1929 and  is famous for its almond toffee, made with the finest, freshest ingredients. Enstrom’s toffee, with their toffee popcorn, truffles and gourmet chocolate are now sold internationally, but the mother ship where visitors can they still hand-make their candy is at their store in Grand Junction.
  • Fiesty Spirits, Fort Collins. The city’s first distillery was opened in 2012 by a team that remains committed to developing  new and creative flavors using natural, organic ingredient. Take a free tour of the facility with one of the founders or the head distiller to get a truly behind-the-scenes look, sample something that is “in progress” during the tour and purchase a mixed cocktail in the tasting room to enjoy the finished product.
  •  Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Longmont. The Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, Colorado’s first artisanal cheesery, offers a creamery tour showing how cheese is made. Spend an hour on the tour and cheese tasting. This one is not free but costs $10 per person.
  • Honeyville, Durango. What began just north of Durango in the 1920s when a man was transferring his honey to town in a pickup has grown into now a company with beehives all across the Rocky Mountains. Honeyville not only makes some of the best honey in the state, but also uses the honey to enhance jams, jellies and its famous Cinnamon Whipped Honey. Visit the Honeyville Factory Store and country kitchen to see their live glass beehive and watch how the honey. With increased pesticide use causing worldwide colony collapse, it is especially important to see what’s involved in the bee biz.
  • Infinite Monkey Thereom, Denver.This urban winery does not have a vineyard, but does have a great tour for visitors wanting to see how wine is made. The winery sources the majority of its grapes from the Western Slope and ships them to Denver to ferment, refine and bottle these award-winning Colorado wines. For $25, spend an hour with the tour guide learning about the winery and tasting plenty of quality wine, including their famous canned wine. Hang out in their Wine Lab after to continue tasting the wines.
  • Meier Skis, Glenwood Springs.  Meier Skis is the only ski manufacturer that utilizes 100% Colorado grown wood including High Alpine Aspen and Beetle Kill Pine (blue stain). Still completely handmade, Meier utilizes the highest quality materials and ski technology. This award- winning company has grown from the garage to their current factory in a mere five years. The factory tour includes a walk-through of the 3,000-square-foot factory with one of the crew who provides a detailed description of sourcing materials and ski-making.  For those captivated by the concept and the process, there is an opportunity to purchase to purchase hand-made skis or other Meier gear on location.
  •  Moots Cycles Factory TourSteamboat Springs. Moots Cycles  makes hand-crafted, high-performance titanium road, mountain and cyclocross bicycle frames. Free one-hour tours are offered every week so that guests can meet the crew and see how these high-quality bikes — or take a YouTube tour any time you wish.
  • SunCrest Orchard Alpacas and Fiber Works, Palisade. Alpaca fiber is softer than cashmere and warmer than wool. SunCrest Orchard offers tours to show how yarn from alpaca fiber is spun into yarn at their mini-mill. Stop in the farm store afterwards to shop a wide array of products made on-site.

Heli-Skiing Pioneer Debuts Day Trips

New CMH day trip out of Revelstoke during the holiday season.

CMH-logoThe late Hans Gmoser, founder of Canadian Mountain Holidays, wrote the book heli-skiing in the Canadian Rockies nearly half a century ago. A week of skiing (and then snowboarding too) in the snow-blessed mountains of British Columbia. Lodging, meals and socializing in on-mountain lodges reached by helicopter. Days of plowing through powder with a well-trained guide. A  pricey adventure, but heaven on earth for those who could afford it.

I’ve read so many glowing articles about CMH that I feel as if I really have spent a week in the Monashees or the Bugaboos or other ranges. In truth, I have actually never done that, but I have heli-hiked with CMH, cat-skied in various places and day heli-skied for a day with an operator out of Canmore, Alberta, whose name I can’t recall. Now, for the first time, a day of heli-skiing is on CMH’s schedule.

The new three- and five-run packages will enable powder enthusiasts to experience deep snow with big, open alpine runs, glacier terrain and stellar tree skiing in the Monashees and Selkirks from December 27 through January 3, a wonderful opportunity for holiday vacationers — both first-time heli skiers and riders and veterans of previous heli-trip to experience expansive terrain removed from a resort setting.

Prices: 3 run package, CDN $799; 5 run package, CDN $959 and additional runs $89 each, all plus applicable taxes — and a tip for the guide, who earns every cent. The package includes helicopter safety briefing, backcountry safety training; use of avalanche transceivers, shovel, probe and radio; powder skis and poles, or snowboard (bring your own ski or snowboard boots); transportation from and return to Revelstoke’s Regent Hotel to and from the heli-pad; professionally certified and experienced ACMG and/or IFMGA Guide, and gourmet mountain lunch and après ski snacks. FoMoInfo or to book: 800-661-0252.

Chihuly After Dark: Magic in the Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens’ blockbuster dazzles at night.

010Glass artist Dale Chihuly first entered by consciousness during a visit to Tacoma, Washington, were the Museum of Glass had recently opened. I can’t recall the year, but my fascination with art glass in general and with Dale Chihuly in particular stems from that visit. I was awestruck fantastic forest of brilliant blown glass stalagmites by Chihuly in one large, dazzling gallery. Since then, I’ve seen his works in museums, lobbies of hotels and performing arts venues and at Pismo Glass, the Colorado galleries that carry his work. I went to the opening of the “Chihuly in the Gardens” exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens last June. It was, of course, wonderful, as I wrote here. Now that days are shorter and nights are longer, “Chihuly Nights” is on view beginning at 5:30 p.m. we were there until nearly 8:30 p.m., and no one was yet hustling us out.

Hard to believe, but the glass is even more stunning and magical during the day. In summer daylight, the glass is counterpointed with the floral. After dark, nothing really competes. This exhibition continues through November 30. Don’t miss it. Click here for tickets, but hurry. They are selling fast. Here are a few after-dark dazzlers (captions not needed):

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The Stanley & Other Old Haunted Hotels

Historic Hotels of America issues Halloween season list.

HistoricHotels-logoColoradans and visitors to Estes Park alike know the story of the Stanley — its ghosts that inspired The Shining — book, movie, TV movie. It’s one of the places on Historic Hotels of America’s short list of the country’s most haunted hotels. These are not creeky, creepy old places but beautiful, luxurious hotels that happen to have a spirit or two in residence. Time for a fall getaway to a spirited place?


Admiral Fell Inn (1770) Baltimore, Maryland. The Fells Point neighborhood in Baltimore has changed since the time when it was filled with crime-ridden saloons, brothels, and shipyards, but that doesn’t mean the spirits of the time have left. The Admiral Fell Inn is no stranger to ghost stories. Guests have often reported seeing floating sailors and disappearing butlers knocking on their doors. A hotel manager is also said to have heard a loud party after the hotel was evacuated during a hurricane. This comes as no surprise as parts of the eight buildings comprising the hotel date back to the 1770s when it was a theater and boarding house where seamen, immigrants and “ladies of the night” would pass through. To book your fall getaway click here.


1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa (1886) Eureka Springs, Arkansas. The 1886 Crescent Hotel & Spa is host to a wide variety of spirits, hence the moniker “America’s Most Haunted Hotel.” It is said that after the skeleton frame of hotel had been constructed in the 1880s that one of the Irish stone masons plunged to his death in what is now guestroom 218. This room proves to be the most spiritually active room in the hotel and has attracted television film crews for decades because of the quantity and quality of the ghost sightings reported. Throughout the history of the hotel, employees have referred to this entity at “Michael,” a classified poltergeist due to the nature of the unexplained activity. Guests have witnessed hands coming out of the bathroom mirror, cries of a falling man in the ceiling, the door opening then slamming shut, unable to be opened again. The intrigue of this activity had drawn guests to specifically request the historic accommodations of guestroom 218 for the chance of experiencing something.

To book your fall getaway click here.

Continue reading “The Stanley & Other Old Haunted Hotels”

Is the Stanley Colorado’s ‘Coolest Hotel’?

Website tags “coolest hotels” in all 50 states pus DC.

Thrillist-logoWhen I clicked on’s post listing of the coolest hotels in each of the 50 states plus Washington, DC, I expected the Colorado choice to be something like The Crawford atop Denver’s fabulously repurposed Union Station or Aspen’s ultra-hip Sky Hotel.  I was surprised by the site’s pick of the spooky Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. Not that I don’t like the Stanley for a whole bunch of reasons, but the coolest in the state? Here’s what wrote about the Stanley:

The Stanley Hotel

Estes Park, CO
Colorado’s got plenty of luxurious mountain resorts, but there’s only one so awesome it inspired Stephen King to write 200,000 words about it. This spot (named for the same guy who founded Stanley Steamer) is the hotel from The Shining, and while you might not run into a bartender who tells you to kill your family, there are enough rumored ghost stories in this place to make it a bonafide haunted landmark.

New Book on Old Ski Areas

Lost Colorado ski areas in words and pictures.

LostSkiAreas-doverI have a framed “Colorado’s Lost Resorts” poster on my office wall. I enjoy looking at this Colorado Ski Country USA promotional item, because I do love ski trivia. There are 117 spots on the map, starting with Inspiration Point in Arvada and a couple of others that operated for a single winter before World War I to some that existed into the 1980s. Curiously missing are Berthoud Pass, Ski Broadmoor or Ski Hidden Valley/Ski Estes in Rocky Mountain National Park, which was still operating when I moved here in 1988.

Now I have another source that is more comprehensive than a poster could possibly be. A new book called Lost ski Areas of Colorado’s Front Range and Northern Mountains by Caryn and Peter Boddie, both enthusiasts for Colorado skiing and Colorado ski history too. Printed on quality paper, it includes historic photos (both black and white and four-color), it is organized by county, with as much information as the authors could assemble about each ski venue. Sources include not only printed and online material, but also E-mail correspondence, personal interviews and reminiscences. When possible, they included GPS coordinates which help anyone who wants to locate a particular lost ski area. Some are easy to spot if you know where to look either for ghost trails or even building remains. Others are overgrown and exist primarily as dim memories.

The book is $19.99 and can be ordered online. The authors plan an additional volume covering the rest of the state. I’m already looking forward.

Berlin’s Festival of Lights Kicks Off

Germany’s capital’s landmarks bathed in multi-colored creativity & splendor.

VisitBerlin-logoMove over, Paris. The 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights transforms it into a city of lights for 10 days, from October 10-19 — if not the City of Lights. Such landmarks as the Brandenburg Gate, the TV Tower, the Berliner Dom Cathedral, the Funkturm Radio tower, the Olympic stadium and many other buildings and squares dazzle with the colorful light projections each night as German and foreign artists use building façades as canvases for light installations and projections. The result is an extraordinary cityscape during the Festival of Lights. Locals and visitors enjoy special tours by bus, bicycle, carriage, limousine, boat or hot air balloon to view as many of the illuminated buildings as possible.

A tapestry of lights blankets the city during the 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights.

A tapestry of lights blankets the city during the 10th annual Berlin Festival of Lights.

Art functions and events will also take place during the Festival. For example, during the Open Door Night, light is shed on what goes on behind the scenes in the buildings lit up for the Festival. And the Jazz in den Ministergärten music festival will put the state liaison offices for Brandenburg, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland and Schleswig-Holstein in an unfamiliar light. Berlin Cathedral is the venue for Lumissimo,  concert and laser show. An event calendar lays it out day by day. Visit Berlin provides overall visitor information.