VAIL, Colo. - No, it's not a Denver, a Vancouver or even a Salt Lake City. But for a ski town, Vail in the last few years became much taller and bulkier in its buildings.
Several new buildings - the Solaris, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Four Seasons - are all coming on line this year. Lodges that just a few years ago looked big in Vail now are dwarfed. But is it good?
The Vail Daily asked that question of various citizens. One of the developers, Peter Nobel, insists that big isn't bad if the architecture has integrity. In his case, he believes it does.
Sheika Gramshammer, one of the town's original residents and hoteliers, sees the changes as too drastic. "We're bringing the city into the mountains," she said.
Kerry Donovan, the daughter of original residents, concedes that she doesn't like what she sees. "But once they're up, they're up and you can only learn from them and move on from there."
The task now, says Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Homeowners Association, is to figure out how to develop an international clientele to take advantage of this new and much bigger infrastructure. "To sit back and think we can relax and all we have to do is throw open the doors and wait for people to come again - think again," he said.
Park City taking stock
PARK CITY, UTAH - As has Mt. Crested Butte and other communities, Park City now wonders about half-baked buildings and those not even in the oven. The Park Record reports 36 projects that have received approvals and some of which began building before the recession caused work to stop. Now, there are complaints of "eyesores."
Scary fire quelled this time
FRASER, Colo. - Wildlife destroyed several hundred homes west of Boulder, Colo., in September. In early October, similar visions of destruction flashed in the minds of Winter Park-Fraser exurbanites, located about 30 miles west of Boulder but across the Continental Divide.
The fire cackled and roared across 500 acres, throwing a good scare into residents of the large lots near Sheep Mountain. The flames underscored the need for preparation.
One couple with a home two miles from the fire had compiled an evacuation plan even while trying to create what foresters call "defensible space" around the house by removing trees. Still, they had vacillated about whether to remove the last few trees near the house.
With smoke in the air, they hesitated no more. In a blink, the trees were gone and the wood dragged to a distant location.