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Alta states

Coming Home: Charlie Locke returns to his Rocky Mountain roots

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“You just have to let your eyes wander around these parts to realize just how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful country,” he says with all the zeal of the true believer. “To be able to offer my guests outdoor fun in such a unique mountain environment — to be able to encourage them to leave their 9-5 existences behind for a little high-quality snow play — well, to me that’s almost like a sacred trust.”

What I like most about Charlie is his absolute lack of pretension. For him, a spade will always be a shovel. At a prestigious ski gathering in New York City a few years ago we were standing together at the bar of the legendary Astoria Hotel when he turned to me and smiled. “Isn’t it funny,” he said completely out-of-the-blue. “These big-time resort consultants all speak like they know exactly what they’re talking about. Well, they don’t know crap.” And then he burst out laughing. “But I do. After all, I’m probably the only guy in this hotel with actual cow dung on his shoes.” And sure enough, there on his finely-tooled riding boots was a streak of yellow muck with undeniable manurish provenances. It was the kind of non sequitur that makes Locke such a great character.

“At the end of the day,” he says, “it’s all about the experience. It doesn’t matter how much money you make, or how good the numbers look on paper; if your customers leave thinking they had a lousy experience, you’re doing a lousy job.” One last smile. “I retired once. I’m not retiring again. I’m in this for good now…”