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US NEWS TRAVEL RANKS TELLURIDE #3 SKI DESTINATION

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FORBES | World’s Best Ski Resorts: Telluride Wows With Charm, Scenery & Great Skiing

Telluride Colorado

When it’s time to pick a ski vacation destination, there are tons of choices, and the industry’s big names immediately leap to mind: Vail, Jackson Hole, Park City, Aspen, Whistler, and so on. They all have great facilities, but Colorado’s Telluride often gets overlooked in this discussion. That’s a huge mistake: not only is it worthy of consideration, I could make a compelling argument that it is the single best ski vacation choice in the country. But no matter how you slice it, it’s near the top, with lots of strengths and very few weaknesses. In fact, in its 2016-2017 reader’s poll, industry leading publication Ski Magazine ranked it North America’s Best for Overall Satisfaction, and what do we want from our vacations if not the most Satisfaction? It also ranked Number One for both Scenery and Character.

While some ski resorts excel at one or two things, like cuisine, lodging, diversity, challenge, charm or convenience, Telluride excels across the board and is a near perfect gem. I say near perfect because it has two notable areas in which it is lacking, flaws to this diamond in the rough for certain customers, so I’ll get those out of the way up front. While Telluride has luxurious lodging options (Lumiere, Madeline, Hotel Telluride, Element 52), it has no true luxury hotel. If staying at a white glove 4-5 Star like a Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton or Fairmont is important to you, this is not your spot (though if swank luxury rental homes are your thing, you are in luck). It is also not a great choice for fans of retail therapy. It is arguably the best place in the country to buy both skis (Wagner Custom) and ski boots (BootDoctors), and there is no shortage of outdoor gear and Western stuff, but if your ski vacation must-do list includes the Prada or Moncler boutiques, scratch Telluride off your list. In general, pretension is not big here, and while the Kardashians are happily followed by cameras around Vail, the many A-list stars who favor Telluride come here to not be seen.

On the flipside, it blows many other resorts out of the water when it comes to what I consider the important stuff: quality of skiing, food, lack of crowds and just like Ski Magazine readers noted, scenery and unrivaled Charm – with a capital C.

Town of Telluride, CO

Ironically, in two decades of covering skiing and ski travel, the number one knock I hear over and over again is not lodging or shopping, it’s “Isn’t that hard to get to?” There seems to be a perception that Telluride is on a different planet than other Western ski resorts. This has always been a myth, and one that is especially odd in light of the three to four-hour traffic jams that routinely clog Colorado’s main ski thoroughfare for accessing other major resorts, I-70, every winter weekend. For years, getting to Telluride mainly meant flying into Montrose, which is considerably closer to the resort than many rivals are to their Denver gateway. But this winter commercial service reopened, albeit on a small scale, into the super convenient Telluride airport after a multi-year absence (on a United regional partner). If you are flying private, there’s no major ski resort other than maybe Aspen that’s easier to get to. Still, most visitors will continue to use Montrose, and as of this winter, it has more flights than ever, on all three major carriers from the largest cities coast to coast (including New York, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Atlanta, Denver and Chicago). On my most recent visit, I tried getting to Telluride from Denver in the middle of major winter storm across Colorado, and while I was rerouted into Durango, the next closest choice after Montrose, the flights to every other Colorado ski country airport I saw on the departures board, including Eagle/Vail, Aspen, Gunnison/Crested Butte, etc. were cancelled. Bottom line? Telluride has always been a great place to visit, but now it is easier than ever to do that.

What makes it so good? The town, the ski mountain and the food.

As a destination, the big differentiator it is its uniquely split personality. Telluride has one of the most singular layouts of any mountain destination in the world, with the ski resort linking two distinct enclaves, Mountain Village and Town. The former is a purpose built, contemporary and pedestrianized village, in the style of Beaver Creek or Whistler, set midway up the slopes, high above town. This is where the bigger resorts, spas, golf course and sprawling multi-million homes are located. Town has the Butch and Sundance vibe – Butch Cassidy robbed his very first bank here – with Victorian Old West architecture and the bulk of the bars, restaurants and stores. The landmark New Sheridan Hotel sits on Main Street and oozes cowboy charm – it’s so named because the old one burnt down and was replaced – eleven decades ago. Zoning and preservation has been so strict that you can walk a two block stretch of Oak Street and pass two of the most beloved restaurants and a new hotel without noticing any of them, all tucked into historic Victorians with minimal signage. Many other western ski towns have mining and cowboy heritage, but today are a hodgepodge of historic buildings and incongruous modern hotels or parking structures. At the other end of the spectrum are towns that have really preserved the charm, like Crested Butte, but are much smaller. Like the Goldilocks story, Telluride is not too big, not too small, just right, the perfect full blow ski town loaded with great bars, restaurants and shops, masquerading as a sleepy historic community. Locating new construction in Mountain Village was a brilliant touch that allowed the town to keep its amazing frozen in time vibe and character, all surrounded with the most stunning mountain views in the nation – you have to go to Canada’s Banff to find better ski resort vistas (though Idaho’s Sun Valley is a close rival). Pretty much all of Mountain Village lodging is ski-in/ski-pout, and so is town itself – I had to walk at least five steps after taking of my boots to have lunch at one of my favorite Telluride restaurants. and the last hotel I stayed at was half a block – half a short block – from the main gondola. By the way, this gondola, built 20 years ago, was and still is the first of its kind in American skiing, a free public transportation system that links the town of Telluride and Mountain Village until midnight – finish your ski day down in town, stay for après, stay for dinner, have a few drinks and be whisked back to your resort in Mountain Village. Or vice versa. You can’t beat it.

Heli-skiing

Just by way of reference, since I keep comparing American ski resorts, expressing opinions, and making personal judgments, it’s worth noting that I have been to every true destination ski resort in the country with the sole exception of Taos, NM, most of them multiple times. I have a pretty good working knowledge of the subject.

How about skiing? To put it bluntly, Telluride has the most balanced assortment of terrain I’ve seen. While most big resorts claim lots of terrain for all abilities,  they usually lack something – not Telluride. I love Vail, but despite the immensity of its terrain, it lacks true expert challenge. Deer Valley is great for beginners and intermediates – enough said. Alta has excellent terrain and exceptional powder – but doesn’t allow snowboarding, period, end of discussion for many families. Jackson Hole is justifiably world famous for its extreme terrain, and surprisingly, is also a great place to learn, but it’s missing something in between. The most extreme example is Aspen mountain (Ajax), which to the surprise of many visitors each winter, does not have a single green beginner run on it. In comparison, Telluride has it all, taking it even further than the usual array you’d expect to find at a big resort in the Rockies: bowls, chutes, cliffs, and glades. Advanced intermediates are often overlooked, but here there is a self-contained canyon area full of double blue trails, a self-contained Mecca for such skiers and riders, who happily lap the high-speed chair all day.  There is intermediate glade skiing, also uncommon. The resort wows for expert terrain, from in-bounds double blacks to chutes and hike-to terrain as challenging as any in the Rockies, accessed more easily thanks to permanent metal stairs and rails. Want to go really out of bounds? Telluride Heli-Trax offers daily beyond the resort heli-skiing. Bump fan? The resort is home to some of skiing’s best mogul runs, famous names like Spiral Staircase and Kant-Mak-M. Skiing for everyone? Yes.

Skiing Telluride

Here’s the ultimate example of Telluride’s impressive terrain: there is not one lift that bears the sign, otherwise common in Western skiing, “This lift serves only advanced terrain.” At Telluride not only do beginners not have to worry about what chair they ride – there is a groomed easier trail down for every single lift – but they also have plenty to choose from, and unlike most resorts, where they are relegated to the base area, novices can enjoy the stunning vistas from the highest spots with good options to ski down. After all, what’s the point of big mountain skiing if you never get to experience the big mountains? Yet that’s exactly the case for less skilled skiers at many, if not most, other top resorts. Beginner terrain includes a 4 ½ mile run down from just below the summit, a rarity.

I could go on and on about the most charming town in American skiing, the best views, and the immense variety of excellent terrain but I’m running out of room so I’ll cover the final major attraction many travelers seek on their ski vacation: food. For a town this size, locals are spoiled by great choices, and like the terrain, it covers all the bases, not just the fine dining many rivals focus on. In fact, when it comes to “normal” ski town and après grub, Telluride is off the charts and home to the single best pizzeria (Brown Dog), single best barbecue spot (Oak BBQ), and single best taco eatery (Taco del Gnar) in American skiing. That’s saying something. A small hole in the wall burger spot here (Steamies) was rated Number One in Colorado. The ski resort itself has some of the best on mountain dining (Alpino Vino, Allred’s, Bon Vivant) you will experience, and both town and Mountain Village are loaded with choices spanning the spectrum. Here’s something to consider: no less than three completely unrelated local eateries born in this tiny mountain town have become so popular that they spun off locations in Denver.

Oh, and did I mention that it is never crowded, with lift lines virtually non-existent? On every visit over the years I’ve been shocked by how empty the mountain is. I skied it on a recent powder day and never waited more than four chairs.

The town’s tourist board just opened a new state of the art Visitor’s Center on Main Street, where guests can do everything from find where to eat to take 3-D video walk-throughs of popular local hiking trails using touch screens displays with amazing interactive technology.  To help you plan a trip, the visitor’s bureau also has a fully featured website.

Pray for snow!

Forbes: Ski Resorts With Great Women’s Programs

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Telluride, Colorado

Last year I covered several major ski resorts, including Beaver Creek, Jackson Hole and Keystone that had notable special programs for women or families. Fortunately, this is a growing trend and this year there are more women-friendly ski and snowboard offerings than ever before. Here’s a sampling (by no means comprehensive) of some great options.

Telluride, CO: I’ve been to Telluride summer and winter and just love the resort and town. Telluride claims its Women’s Week was the first women-only ski program in Colorado, and over the years it has grown to include many extras. It is offered in three and five-day versions and in addition to expert ski instruction includes yoga, meditation, wellness speakers, equipment fitting and après fun. There is one session monthly from January through March and packages are independent of lodging, though the camps offer discounts at a variety of local hotels. Telluride also offers snowboarders one three-day women’s camp, SheRide, annually in March. It provides lessons to all levels, from never evers to advanced double black riders. This is an adult specific camp for women 18 years and older.

Crested Butte Mountain Resort, CO: Crested Butte just added its new Women’s Tips on Tuesdays ski clinics this season. These half-day, women-only ski school sessions are led by top female instructors, and are ideal for ladies looking for a guided group session with instruction and an informal, fun vibe. Each clinic concludes with a glass of wine at the resort’s new on-mountain Umbrella Bar. Sessions run from 1:30 -3:30. The Women’s Tips on Tuesdays clinic is available to female skiers levels 3-7.

Sun Valley, ID: The nation’s first destination ski resort celebrates its 80th birthday with several new programs, including the Women’s-only Weekend (WOW, February 3 – 5, 2017). WOW emphasizes camaraderie and skills improvement and maximizes learning in a supportive environment. Small groups focus on technique with Sun Valley’s leading female instructors, along with après ski events and video analysis. Locals can also access DIVAS, a women’s only all-mountain experience for intermediate to advanced skiers. Developed for women, by women, the DIVAS program includes a 2.5-hour group lesson one day per week for eight weeks with Sun Valley’s top female athletes and instructors.

Alta, Utah: One of the classic lodging spots in American skiing, the beloved Alta Lodge teams up with top instructors from Alta’s Alf Engen Ski School for its popular annual Women’s Intermediate-Advanced Ski Camps. These offer three days of skiing, four nights of lodging, great food and camaraderie. Each day includes morning and afternoon instruction in a supportive, ability-specific group environment. This is followed by video and analysis of your skiing and an evening presentation. Camps are open to intermediates and above who can consistently use parallels turns and confidently cruise blue groomed runs. Three camps are offered in January and March and include meals and high performance ski demos. The hotel also has one annual Women’s Advance Expert Ski Camp in February for skiers who are already comfortable on all black runs in most snow conditions and enjoy venturing off-piste, into steeps and moguls. Alta Lodge is a European-style full-board hotel that is ski-in, ski-out.

Beaver Creek, CO: There may be no resort in the nation so fixated on families as Beaver Creek – which also happens to be the most luxurious destination in skiing. Again, I wrote in detail about its offerings last year, but the highlight is an industry leading two-hour daily free tour/clinic, a social and learning experience run by female ski ambassadors. Beaver Creek is not the only member of the Vail Resorts family focusing on the ladies: both Vail and Breckenridge, CO have women only offerings.

T&C TRAVEL GUIDE: THE BEST OF TELLURIDE

Where to stay, eat, and drink at America’s top (secret) ski resort.

COURTESY OF VISIT TELLURIDE

WHERE TO STAY

LUMIERE

Looking for a hotel that feels more like a friend’s sumptuous vacation home? Check into this European-style residential boutique with high-touch personal service. Lumiere features apartments rather than rooms, most with enormous walk-in steam showers, Wolf and SubZero appliances, and wet bars. The hallways are filled with the scents of complimentary fresh baked afternoon sweets daily and delicious breakfasts are included. It’s also ski-in/ski-out. 118 Lost Creek Lane, 970-369-0400, lumieretelluride.com

MADELINE HOTEL & RESIDENCES

With an unbeatable location in the pedestrianized heart of contemporary Mountain Village, the Madeline is a small scale take on a full-service luxury resort, with spa, pool complex, and multiple bars and restaurants. It’s as close as understated Telluride comes to an après ski “scene.” It was also expanded and completely renovated for this season. 568 Mountain Village Boulevard, 970-369-0880, madelinetelluride.com

NEW SHERIDAN HOTEL

One of the few Colorado hotels dating to the mining era, the 125-year-old, four-diamond New Sheridan is just four years younger than Telluride itself. In the heart of the older village, two blocks from the slopes, this is where Butch and Sundance would stay, a historic cowboy hotel that doesn’t rest on its history. It’s got a classic “Chop House” and three bars for just 28 rooms–an enviable 1:8 après ratio–including an iconic watering hole that dates back to 1895. 231 West Colorado Avenue, 970-728-4351, newsheridan.com

DUNTON TOWN HOUSE

The newest accommodations in town just opened for the 2016-17 season. It’s a spin-off of ultra-luxury Dunton Hot Springs 70 miles away, a world-class Relais & Châteaux boutique resort created out of a ghost town. Both are owned by German billionaire Christoph Henkel, who also has the Four Seasons Santa Fe and Utah’s Amangiri. But while Dunton Hot Springs is living, breathing, over-the-top Old West, the Town House is Tyrolean chic, a historic 19th-century mining home converted into a five-room slice of Europe, celebrating the immigrants from the Austrian-Italian border region who moved here to work the mines. It is full of custom furnishings, Tyrolean antiques and fabrics, Austrian ceramics, and discreet elegance. 210 South Oak Street, 877-288-9922, duntontownhouse.com

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

221 SOUTH OAK

Telluride’s gourmet scene flies under the radar, with just one celebrity chef, but 221 owner Eliza Gavin was already running the local fave when she competed on Bravo’s Top Chef. She returned better for it, and in a charming Victorian townhouse in the old village offers a finessed game-rich menu teeming with boar, bison, elk, and local lamb. 221 S Oak Street, 970-728-9507, 221southoak.com

LA MARMOTTE

One of Telluride’s more upscale restaurants perfectly captures the ski vacation aesthetic with updated French alpine fare, and a menu featuring dishes such as coq au vin and beef tartare that are hard to come by on this side of the Atlantic. It has been so popular here for so long that it just spun off a sister restaurant in Denver to meet Coloradan demand. 150 West San Juan Avenue, 970-728-6232, lamarmotte.com

ALPINO VINO

A true hidden gem, this trailside chalet at 11,966 feet is perfect for a decadent Alpine-style lunch or an excuse to get an early jump start on après. It serves exquisite charcuterie and Italian alpine fare with great wines and great views, and is open for gondola-served dinners a few nights weekly. 12100 Camels’ Garden Road, 970-728-7560, tellurideskiresort.com

BROWN DOG PIZZA

Telluride has some of the finest “normal” food of any ski town in the country, and there is no better example than Brown Dog, quite simply the single best pizzeria in skiing. The sports bar feel belies the unexpected quality, with a menu anchored by its house specialty, the suddenly trendy Detroit-style pan pizza. Both the ambiance and cuisine are explained by the fact that the owner played college football with Tom Brady at Michigan. 110 East Colorado Avenue, 970-728-8046, browndogpizza.com

OAK, THE NEW FAT ALLEY BBQ

Not unlike Brown Dog is to pizza, Oak is the best barbecue joint in skiing, period. Its Alabama-born pit master does superlative slow smoked southern barbecue (especially ribs), plus winners like house cured bacon–try the deconstructed BLTs washed down with a bourbon from the restaurant’s extensive collection. 250 West San Juan Avenue, 970-728-3985, oakstelluride.com

NEW SHERIDAN BAR & CHOP HOUSE

Telluride excels at saloons, but it’s hard to top this straight-out-of-Westworld, 19th-century gem in the historic New Sheridan Hotel for cocktails. Follow drinks with red meat in the atmospheric Chop House, which also has a surprisingly long wine list with by the glass offerings carefully stored in a nitrogen preservation system. 231 West Colorado Avenue, 970-728-4351, newsheridan.com

WHERE TO SHOP

WAGNER CUSTOM SKIS

There is no more coveted winter sports hardware than a pair of Wagner skis. A decade ago, computer scientist Pete Wagner conceived a better way to make skis, and today his company is the world’s most renowned truly custom manufacturer. Many “custom” skis are merely variants on stock molds or fancy paint jobs, but every pair of Wagner skis is totally bespoke from the ground up to meet its user’s needs. For this season, Wagner, which was based 15 miles outside of town, opens its first Telluride showroom in pedestrianized Mountain Village. 970-728-0107, wagnerskis.com

BOOT DOCTORS

The biggest complaints among skiers are sore feet and cold toes, and both can be solved through custom fitting. Boot Doctors is perennially ranked among the nation’s best ski boot fitters, and is so popular that reservations come recommended–even though they have two Telluride locations, one in town and one in Mountain Village. 970-728-4525, bootdoctors.com

BLACK BEAR TRADING COMPANY

If you like cowboy boots as much as ski boots, there’s no better brand than Lucchese, and these are stocked, along with top outdoor apparel labels like Filson and Rand Hats, at Black Bear. 218 West Colorado Avenue, 970-728-6556

WHAT TO SKI

Just about every big resort sells itself as all things to all skiers, and while this is rarely true, Telluride is the happy exception. It has it all: bowls, chutes, cliffs, glades, cruisers and groomers. Advanced intermediate skiers—and there are a lot of them—are often the hardest customers to please, caught between too challenging and not enough. Here there is a mid-mountain canyon area full of double blue advanced intermediate trails, served by the Apex and Polar Queen Express chairs, a feature you would be hard pressed to find anyplace else. The Village Express serves a sea of single blue intermediate terrain, while beginners have plenty to choose from, and unlike most resorts, where they are relegated to the base area, novices can enjoy the stunning vistas from some of the highest spots with good options to ski down.

Telluride excels at the high end, with a ton for experts and beyond, from in-bounds blacks and double blacks (lifts 6, 9, and 14) to a vast array of chutes and hike-to terrain (lifts 12 and 15). If you cannot be challenged here you cannot be challenged anywhere, and in recent years Telluride has facilitated the growing big mountain crowd by installing permanent metal stairs and rails so the extremes can be accessed more easily. On top of all this, bump fans know the resort has long been home to some of the best and most infamous mogul runs in the world, like double blacks Spiral Staircase and Kant-Mak-M off of lift 9 (they even offer multi-day instructional “Making Friends With Moguls” camps).

If somehow you run out of things to ski (you won’t), or just want a different kind of adventure, it is one of the few U.S. resorts with a daily heli-skiing operation, accessing an additional 250 square miles of powder. If there is a type of terrain you like to ski or ride, Telluride has lots of it.

HOW TO GET HERE

The new service this season into Telluride is tempting, with regional jet connections on a United partner through Denver, making it a one stop from just about any U.S. city, with almost no driving. But don’t overlook Montrose, the old alternative, which was never nearly as bad as it was made out to be, offering more flights and better reliability in winter weather. Montrose also significantly increased its winter flights for the third straight year, with non-stops on all three big carriers from major cities coast-to-coast including New York, Atlanta, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Chicago, and Denver. Montrose is just 68 miles away, closer than the airports serving many other major Colorado resorts, and there is easy ground shuttle service—visitors don’t need or want a car in Telluride.

Telluride Ski Resort joins Mountain Collective for 2016-17 season

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The Telluride Ski Resort announced Tuesday that it would be joining the Mountain Collective alliance, a collaborative pass program providing access to some of North America’s best ski mountains. For $409 ($99 for children 12 and younger), Mountain Collective pass holders receive two-day lift tickets to each of the association’s 14 resorts, in addition to other benefits and discounts.

“Telluride is excited to join the Mountain Collective family of resorts,” Bill Jensen, CEO of Telluride Ski & Golf Resort, said in a press release. “Being a part of the Mountain Collective is an outstanding opportunity for passionate skiers and snowboarders to experience Telluride’s extensive terrain and benefit the resort community as Mountain Collective pass holders add Telluride to their list of destinations to experience this winter.”

As part of the Mountain Collective pass, skiers and riders can enjoy two days at 14 ski resorts, including Alta/Snowbird, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Taos, Whistler Blackcomb and others, with no blackout dates. Though Vail Resorts announced this week that it had purchased Whistler Blackcomb (see story on page 4), the resort will remain part of the Collective for the 2016-17 season, according to a Telski spokesperson.

Additional days at Collective destinations are available at a 50 percent discount, and pass holders are also eligible for Mountain Collective lodging specials.

“We are thrilled to welcome Telluride, one of the world’s truly iconic resorts to the most incredible lineup of destinations on one pass ever assembled. The Mountain Collective is made up of a collection of independently owned, big mountain, life list resorts and we couldn’t think of a better new addition than Telluride,” Christian Knapp, Aspen Skiing Company vice president of marketing, said. “With 14 destinations located around the globe, the Mountain Collective Pass is the perfect incentive for passionate skiers and riders to embark on the winter adventures they’ve long dreamed of.”

When visiting Telluride, Mountain Collective pass holders can take advantage of a lodging deal with The Peaks Resort & Spa, with 10 percent off lodging with a three-night minimum and a $150 Peaks Resort credit that can be used at the resort’s newest restaurant, Altezza at the Peaks, or The Spa at the Peaks.

The Mountain Collective pass is now available online at mountaincollective.com for $409 for adults and $99 for kids ages 12 and under. For a full list of participating resorts and pass benefits, visit the Mountain Collective website. For information on Telluride-specific benefits, or to plan a trip, visit tellurideskiresort.com.

Telski also released season pass information, including new PLUS upgrade passes, which give pass holders some but not all of the Mountain Collective benefits. With the PLUS upgrade, pass holders can get unlimited half-price lift tickets at Mountain Collective resorts.

Adult season passes are on sale online for $1,200 through Oct. 14. A $200 upgrade to a PLUS pass includes unlimited half price tickets at all Mountain Collective resorts with no blackout dates and four $74 friends and family lift tickets for Telluride, according to a resort spokesperson.

Child season passes (ages 6-12) are on sale for $375, with a $100 PLUS upgrade; junior passes (ages 13-18) are on sale for $400 with a $100 upgrade; young adult passes (ages 19-24) are on sale for $800 with a $100 upgrade; senior passes (ages 65-79) are on sale for $800 with a $100 upgrade; and Palmyra passes (ages 80 and older) are free, with a $100 upgrade. Only the $200 adult upgrade includes the ability to purchase discounted friends and family tickets. Those prices are available until Oct. 14.

Season pass prices are up slightly from the 2015-16 season. Last year, adult passes sold for $1,150, child passes for $279, junior passes for $369, young adult passes for $735 and senior passes for $735.

The walk-up lift ticket price this year for an adult will be $119 during the regular season and $129 during peak season. Last year during peak season, the average ticket was $119, and during the regular season, average tickets were $114, according to a resort spokesperson.

To visit Telluride Luxury Properties click here

Hotel Ajax secures construction financing

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Architect rendering of Hotel Ajax looking East towards Bridal Veil Falls.

Telluride Ajax Investment Partners announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with a construction lender that clears the way for construction to commence on the Hotel Ajax project this fall.

Groundbreaking on the $60-65 million development on the empty lot at the corner of East Colorado Avenue and Willow Street is expected in the next 45 to 60 days, according to lead developer Randy Edwards. Preliminary work on the foundation will start next week.

This project includes a 50-room luxury hotel with a chef-inspired restaurant, spa and fitness facility, rooftop bar, swimming pool and plaza area overlooking the river and Town Park.

Eleven luxury condominiums situated on the upper two floors will complement the hotel lodging below, according to a news release from the development team.

Edwards said the idea for the project was conceived about two years ago. Though the approval process was “arduous at times,” he said that residents and officials of Telluride should be pleased with the finished product.

“From the residents’ standpoint, we had very little opposition, because we’re on that last block of the commercial core,” he said. “It’s going to change the east end, giving the businesses down there an anchor, and I think it’s really going to bring some balance to main street.

“We’re really excited about it. It took us a little more than two years to get to this point,” Edwards added.

He estimated a construction phase of 21 to 24 months. Though the winter season can be hard on large-scale construction projects, he said the fall construction start was deliberately planned because of the relatively low water table in the months prior to winter.

Hall Structured Finance, a Dallas-based lender that specializes in construction loans for hotel properties throughout the U.S., has been engaged for the financing.

“We are very pleased to be working with this development team on such an exciting legacy development like Hotel Ajax in Telluride,” said Mike Jaynes, president of Hall Structured Finance, a subsidiary of Hall Financial Group, a real estate development and investment firm.

The project site at 300 East Colorado Ave. is formerly known as the Willow Post Office parking lot. It was purchased for development purposes in 2014.

BOKA Powell Architecture developed a streetscape that appears to be five separate buildings on Colorado Avenue, though it actually is a single structure. Flick Mars, a national hotel design firm, is planning the interiors.

The hotel will be operated under a license agreement from Starwood Hotels and Resorts and branded as a Luxury Collection Hotel. It will be managed by Harrell Hospitality Group, a Starwood and Marriott approved management company. Harrell Hospitality also is headquartered in Dallas.

Earlier this year, Starwood and Marriott announced they would be merging by the end of 2016, creating the largest hotel company in the world with more than 60 million frequent-stay members.

“We are excited to be a part of the Hotel Ajax development and management team, and to see the impact of this iconic international hotel in Telluride,” said Harrell Hospitality CEO Paul Barham. “With the combined marketing strength and prominence of the Starwood and Marriott systems, we should see a significant benefit to the market occupancies in Telluride.”

The news release said the 11 luxury residences on top of the hotel would be “blessed with epic scenic and solar qualities, in addition to the access to the amenities and services offered by the hotel.”

Unit demand has been strong, the development team said, with seven of the 11 homes already under reservation contracts. The homes, primarily one-level flats, will range in size from 1,700 to 4,000 square feet, with two to four bedrooms and “bonus flex rooms.” Prices range from $1.99 million to $6.99 million.

“Befitting the five-star qualities of the hotel, the sophisticated mountain modern designs will showcase some of the most elegant finish qualities in the Telluride market,” the release concluded.

For more information on the project, visit the website here: http://tellurideluxuryproperties.com/ajax-hotel/

Instagram – Telluride Ski Resort & 4th of July

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VIDEO: Telluride Ski Resort Winter 2015 Teaser!

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