There are few places I love more than mountain towns in the summer. They’re so quiet and peaceful; I often think if there is a heaven, it’s possibly located somewhere in the Grand Tetons or the Wasatch Valley. This summer, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time in three of my favorite winter spots—Mammoth, Jackson Hole and Aspen—under the cover of warm sunshine and surrounded by lush greenery.
My Jackson Hole weekend was a second reporting trip for my story on big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones. I spent two days watching video shot during his two years of filming for Deeper, as well viewing a rough-cut of the film, at the Teton Gravity Research HQ at the base of the mountain. I left inspired, ready to write and sad to leave such a beautiful town. Fortunately, I got one good morning run in before I left.
THE VIEW ON MY MORNING RUN. PRETTY …
This past weekend, I flew to Aspen for the first-annual Yoga Rocks the Mountains retreat at the Viceroy Snowmass, where I stayed for the weekend. (Man, there is just so much right with that sentence.) Because I plan to make this retreat an annual event on my personal calendar, I will now use this blog to convince you all why you must join me next year! Consider it an experiment in writing reviews.
First of all, the Viceroy is stunning. Built only three years ago, it anchors the base of Snowmass Village, which has undergone an incredible, and incredibly fast, renovation. The Viceroy is the calling card of the new village and is at once a monstrous mountain lodge, all wood panels and antler chandeliers, and a luxurious, indulgent sanctuary. Friday night, I met friends at Eight K, the hotel restaurant, for dinner. (Eight K signifies 8,000 feet, the altitude the hotel resides at.) Everything was memorable (I had the sea bass and a Moscow Mule cocktail) and the dessert, more than anything, lived up to the hype. The goat cheese cheesecake with blueberry fritters was unlike anything I’ve tasted. And the strawberry rhubarb pie with homemade ginger ice cream was less unique, but equally wonderful. I’m still talking about it, aren’t I?
Saturday and Sunday was the yoga retreat, and I went yoga crazy. I took three classes on Saturday, beginning with a relaxing Vinyasa flow. In the early afternoon, I experienced Yoga For Cyclists with Aspen instructor Aaron King, who owns King Yoga and recently spent three weeks working with Lance Armstrong. Loved that class. I ended the day with Yoga For Foodies, which was taught by my friend David Romanelli, an author and yogi who owns several studios in Arizona. He also runs a series of retreats around the country blending yoga, wine and chocolate. (I’ve been to his Napa retreat, which was fantastic fun.) Yes, I agree. He’s a genius. Nothing gets you through an hour and a half of yoga better than knowing there is food and wine waiting for you on the other side. I really wanted to take the Yoga For Runners class, but my bum hamstring just wouldn’t allow me a fourth class, so I opted to ice and sit by the pool for an hour instead.
Sunday, I took two classes: an outside class with Peter Avolio in the morning and an indoor class with his wife, Lisa, in the afternoon. The couple owns two studios in Seattle, called SHAKTI, and if I am ever in town, I will certainly look them up. I loved Lisa’s class. She has her own take on the Vinyasa style, blending multi-directional movement (there is no front of the room) and short, movement-infused holds. She also loves arm balances, hand stands and advanced leg balances, and so do I. It was a perfect fit.
Not as perfect as the Viceroy spa, though. I’d like to think I’ve been to enough spas to comment expertly on what makes one great. In my opinion, it’s a blend of atmosphere, staff, amenities, extra touches and quality of service. This spa gets an A+ in every category. I’ve had a lot of massages in my life, but the hot stone massage from Roxy was perhaps the best massage I’ve ever had. No kidding. Deep-tissue massages are my style, but I usually spend the hour gritting my teeth and trying not to cry, knowing it’s good for me. Relaxing messages are nice, but the effect lasts only as long as the massage. Somehow, this was a super-deep massage that was also intensely relaxing. I will dream about it for weeks.
To counteract the effects of the altitude, I also had an oxygen facial, which was wonderful. Elizabeth, the esthetician, taught me a lot about my skin and how to care for it now that I spend a considerable amount of time at altitude and, more importantly, “I’m not 16 anymore.” Afterward, I had a glass of complimentary Sauvignon Blanc, a cup of fruit-infused water, some dried fruit and nearly fell asleep in the Relaxation Room.
The next morning, I took Aaron’s class again, and then went on a hike up the Difficult Trail with my friends Tricia and Joanna, who live in Aspen. Then we drove to the Punch Bowl and jumped off a 35-foot cliff into the coldest water that has ever touched my body. It took my breath away, it was so cold. But, like most things in life, the jump was so worth it.
JOANNA AND ME, PRE-JUMP …