Taos Ski Valley Raises The Bar

 

Less than half an hour north of the town of Taos, a winding road through towering pines leads to Taos Ski Valley.

Known to serious skiers for its steep terrain, backcountry access and European vibe, the ski resort at Taos is truly an extension of the town itself — quirky, whimsical, full of history and charm.

These inherent qualities have largely informed the revamping of the ski area, initiated by Louis Bacon, the billionaire philanthropist who has long been invested in land and water conservation. Bacon purchased Taos Ski Valley from the Blake family in 2014. Ernie Blake, a German-Jewish émigré, founded the resort in the mid 1950s in the likeness of the resorts he’d skied in the Alps growing up.

At the center of Bacon’s massive renovation and restoration project is The Blake, an 80-room LEED-certified hotel at the base of the mountain which, through art and architecture, pays homage to the region’s historical and cultural influences.

The Blake, as I noted in Wednesday’s post, has an impressive, museum quality art collection that also serves as a de facto Taos history lesson. As Robert Mirabal, Grammy Award winning actor and musician from Taos Pueblo once remarked, “all roads lead to Taos.”

And it’s true; cultures come together in Taos where many roads end. It’s the end of the Santa Fe Trail and the El Camino Real. It’s the northernmost of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico. It’s the eastern edge of the Dine migration lands, the western edge of the Plains tribes’ migration lands, and the southern end of the Ute migration lands. Cultures have converged here for aeons.

Then you add into the mix the artists that began coming in the late 1800’s, creating a bona fide art colony here, followed by Mabel Dodge and her crowd, then Millicent Rogers, Ernie Blake and ski culture. The Blake tips its proverbial hat to them all. Guests at the hotel can also sign up for art tours of the hotel during their stay.

But even more important than the sophisticated yet elegantly understated, remodel of the resort, is the fact that Taos Ski Valley can claim it is the world’s first B Corp ski resort, committed to using their business as a force for good, and in doing so, creating a more sustainable way forward sounding their clarion call to “Ski the Change!”

Certified B Corporations are an innovative new business model that balances purpose and profit, with an obligation to consider workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment in everything they do.

As a company that depends on environmental sustainability and reverence for its local communities, B Corp status is a natural fit for Taos Ski Valley, and visitors vacationing here, can do so with the knowledge that they’re supporting sound ethical principles. The resort adheres to business practices that are not only environmentally friendly, but which promote a more resilient and robust community “that celebrates the rich, living cultures that are woven together in the region”. The cornerstone of this mission is the Taos Verde initiative, which includes five core areas of focus: energy efficiency, land stewardship, efficient water use, responsible waste management and community engagement.

Several partnerships with other organizations have been forged, including local schools and UNM. Taos Ski Valley also utilizes the local Centinel Bank, for its banking needs. They have built a strong relationship with Taos Pueblo and recognize the value and importance of this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site that is at the root of our community.

The resort has partnered with New Mexico Workforce Connection to recruit a local workforce and they have tapped into the local culture and history by commissioning artists and artisans to provide furnishings and amenities for The Blake, The Blake Penthouses, and expanding our scope throughout The Blake Residences. The renovations to the resort are ongoing, with much more to come, but we can be certain of one thing; they will continue to respect the existing spirit and vernacular, and most importantly, the genus of the land itself.

CEO, David Norden, is a signee of the Camber Outdoors CEO Pledge, ensuring that Taos will be an inclusive workplace where diversity of experience and people as a strategic business imperative will set the organization above the status quo. A great work culture is only one of the things that sets a B Corp company apart, but when you break it all down, it comes right back to the environment, and sustainable practices all around. Focused on waste management and recycling, water preservation and land conservation, TSV is walking its talk, right down to sourcing local products for the Spa & Wellness Center at the Blake.

The Blake at Taos Ski Valley elevates the Taos Ski Valley experience. This modern rustic alpine retreat features 24-hour hausmeister service, valet parking, ski valet, heated saltwater pool, and hot tubs, along with the aforementioned Spa & Wellness Center, making it the perfect (and low/carbon-neutral), location to host a big event, including a Winter Wedding!

Taos Ski Valley is now offering a completed redesigned mid-mountain wedding venue for up to 250 people. This new 6,334 sq ft venue includes the newly renovated Phoenix Lodge with dedicated reception space and two outdoor ceremony areas with 360 degree mountain views. 

The resort provides unique New Mexican accented menus for weddings of all sizes, featuring locally sourced ingredients from around the region. Farm to table and sustainable. 

When I met with Robin Naylor, (formerly at El Monte Sagrado), now Taos Ski Valley’s new Wedding and Social Events Sales Manager recently, she was excited about the upcoming season. “It’s all looking so beautiful up there,” she told me, “ and we are booking up fast, people really need to make reservations early. The secret is out.” She laughed. “Taos is hot.”  Not to mention, extremely Instagram friendly for your high altitude wedding photos!

So if the freak avalanche that happened here last year, is still giving you the jitters just thinking about skiing Taos this winter, let alone being married here, don’t be afraid! Yes, a terrible tragedy occured, and the ski patrol and first responders were heros that day, but we can’t live our lives in fear, and although we may be known for being a bit off beat (and off the beaten track), we are not generally known as “Avalanche Country.” 

“I can’t think of a more beautiful and romantic spot for a magical Winter Wedding!” Robin mused as our conversation drew to a close. “And with all of our sunny days, they can be married outdoors and take the party inside at nightfall.”

The resort has a shuttle service to transport you and your guests back and forth from venue to lodging.

Robin is also booking other major events besides weddings, and has a special offer in the cards if you host your Holiday Party at Taos Ski Valley this winter. For much more information and all the details, you can contact her at the site linked below.

 

skitaosgroupsandweddings

Taos Air makes getting here (from Dallas and Austin), a breeze. I’ve included that link also.

11/21/19 UPDATE: Taos Air has added flights to and from San Diego and L.A. For details visit the link below.

Ski smarter, ski the change!

skitaos

taosair

 

Editor’s Note:  I have edited and updated this post after a friend pointed out that the paragraph about last year’s avalanche tragedy, in which two skiers lost their lives, came off a bit glib. I apologize for that, and have clarified my comment.

 

 

All images of TSV, the Blake and the art (Georgia O’Keeffe litho), thanks to TSV.

Photo of Louis Bacon, Stock File.

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