WHAT'S THAT WHITE STUFF ON THE GROUND
Weren't we just wearing shorts on the weekend? Wow. 27 years in Ontario and I still can't get used to it.
Anyway, it's time to put away the Titleists and get out the Rossignols. With the impending ski season in mind, the folks from British Columbia, where they apparently have a ski hill or three, were in Toronto the other day to chat about what’s new.
The biggest change, coming in December, is a mammoth gondola that will stretch a ridiculous 4.4 kilometres between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. Not surprisingly, it’s the longest unsupported span of its kind in the world, folks say.
Tabetha Boot of Whistler-Blackcomb tells the Star’s travel section that gondola passengers traversing the passage between the two mountains will be 436 meters above the ground; higher than the CN Tower. Two of the 28 gondolas will have a glass panel in the floor for photo-taking, and won't that be a popular shot for, oh, I don't know, the next 14 years.
As well as providing a thrill ride, the gondola will allow skiers to use both mountains in the same day. They can do that now, but it’s a pain to get from one hill to another and you more or less have to choose which mountain you want. Now, it’ll only take 11 minutes to make the journey, and you won’t have to drive or change into your shoes.
There’s plenty new in other parts of the province, where resorts like Red Mountain Resort and Fernie Alpine Resort in the Kootenay Rockies are garnering more and more attention.
Lest they get forgotten in the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic focus, the people over at Mt. Washington on Vancouver Island told reporters that they get more snow than any resort in the province (although they were quick to say it depends on how you measure it, which is a strange concept when you think of it, there being only one way to count snow depth that we’re aware of).
The night after the B.C. snow people treated the ski media, there was another event sponsored by the folks down in Vermont, home to noted resorts such as Stowe, Killington, Sugarbush and Jay Peak, which is the major resort closest to Toronto and one that is undergoing a major renovation. Stowe is getting a $400 million development with a new luxury hotel and spa, while Smugglers’ Notch has new lodgings to offer.
The p.r. battle between resorts is always fun to watch. It’s gentle enough, but each has its own way of suggesting it’s the one where Torontonians should be driving come winter. Jay Peak says it has the “most abundant natural snowfall in the East,” while Killington boasts that it’s “the largest ski and snowboard resort in the eastern United States.” Stowe talks about its new developments and also slyly mentions that such families as the Vanderbilts and Roosevelts have graced their resort over the years.
Then again, New York officials who met with the Star the other night say they have more ski resorts than any state in the U.S. I guess what it all means is there’s lots of hills out there. And judging by the sudden flurries in the air, it’s about that time again.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH
If you’re ever in Vermont for breakfast, ask if they have any maple syrup from New Hampshire and say it's because you’ve heard it’s just a little bit better than the Vermont variety. Then stand back. When your travel guy went for breakfast in Lincoln, New Hampshire last year and asked for Vermont maple syrup, he was told that the door to leave the restaurant was in close proximity to the table where he was sitting. The guy smiled when he said it, but there’s a definite rivalry between the two states.
Vermont seems fine enough, and I quite liked Burlington the last time I was there, but you can’t beat New Hampshire for license plate slogans. I mean, only in America would you have a saying like “Live Free or Die.”
DON’T STOP NOW
We’re still getting comments about your favourite places to see in Canada and Ontario. Only a few of them involve Tim Hortons outlets.
It’s good stuff, and some of it's pretty surprising. So check thestar.com/travel and send in more comments. We’ll soon publish some of your thoughts.
The Holiday Inn on King Street near the entertainment district is moving into the Hyatt family and being re-branded as a Hyatt Regency. It’s slated to open in January after a “top-to-bottom” renovation that includes 42-inch televisions, iHome clock radios, updated bathrooms and a new lobby.
“We are pleased to be expanding our presence in this important North American city, and expect to continue to seek opportunities to expand our select-service and full-service brands in the Toronto metropolitan area,” said David Tarr, senior vice president development, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts.
Word is the new hotel also will feature new “Hyatt Grand Beds,” and when did every hotel chain get its own line of beds, anyway? I don’t remember a Motel 6 mattress and frame set when I was a kid. We had the magic fingers massage for a quarter, but that was it. What a ripoff.