Taos, New Mexico, keeps popping up on my radar here in Los Angeles. One friend spent Thanksgiving there with family, another is looking at real estate for a vacation home, and my regular crew of ski buddies is pushing for Taos this year for our annual bro-snow-cation.
Honestly, I didn’t know much about the town in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, so I checked in with Tania McCormack, Director of Marketing for Taos Ski Valley, to find out what’s new, what’s changing and why it’s worth rethinking my tried-and-true ski escapes from L.A. (I’m looking at you, Beaver Creek and Deer Valley) for something a bit new and different.
L.A. skiers like me typically think of Mammoth and Big Bear and then Lake Tahoe. If we go further afield, it’s usually to Park City or Vail. How tough is it to break the mindset and get people to Taos?
Tania McCormack: Actually, Taos has a strong and loyal contingent of visitors from southern California for a couple of reasons: Taos Air, our 100 percent carbon offset airline, is a fast and convenient way to get from L.A. or San Diego to Taos. In fact, when flying Taos Air, Californians can leave in the morning and be skiing by the afternoon. Also, Taos is a member of both the IKON and Mountain Collective passes, which many Californians have.
Interesting. Taos Air has been running twice weekly flights this year from Hawthorne airport to Taos. The perks make the quick 30-person flights feel almost like flying private. What’s your quick pitch to people who might be toying with the idea for a winter or spring trip?
Tania McCormack: Taos Air is the easiest route to the Rockies and flying out of Hawthorne, like you said, is a charter plane experience at a commercial flight price. Taos Air is extremely convenient and simple: no TSA, no airport hassles, and excellent customer service. Again, you can leave in the morning and be on the slopes in the afternoon with top-of-the-line complimentary rentals, and door-to-door service from the plane to the award-winning Blake hotel in Taos Ski Valley. And it’s all for a price comparable to flying a major commercial airline.
What if I need specific convincing? As a ski destination, what’s different about Taos compared to, say, Utah or Colorado?
Tania McCormack: Taos Ski Valley is fiercely independent, and it shows the second you arrive. In an industry where ski towns have become ‘ski cities’ Taos remains true to its roots, and offers guests the intimate, personal and authentic ski vacation they’ve been craving. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Taos has some of the best terrain in North America. There’s a reason the World Pro Ski Tour and Freeride tours happen here. It’s friendly at an intimate scale, with personal attention, and most of all, a unique vibe once you get into town. Some people call it the Taos Mystique.
SKI Magazine touts it as a top 10 ski resort in the entire Rockies, and the experts there also herald the value,its unique sense of place, and guest experience at Taos. That’s partly about the culture and community aspect. Taos has a confluence of Native American, Hispanic and European cultures and those are reflected by the people, the cuisine, the art, and atmosphere. In addition to skiing, visitors can tour a UNESCO World Heritage site (The 1,000-year old Taos Pueblo), eat German Spätzle at the award-winning Bavarian restaurant, enjoy world-renowned works of art by famous artists, and be trained by the experts in the world-renowned Ernie Blake Snowsports School. All this is to say is: there is no ski destination like Taos Ski Valley and once you know, you know.
I’m getting that. Some friends I know bought vacation homes in Taos during the pandemic. For people who haven’t been there, what are your favorite spots in town to eat, drink and be merry?
Tania McCormack: Well, one place you won’t eat is at chain restaurants or mass-produced, overpriced dining. Taos prides itself on being home to only independently owned, unique restaurants and dining. The Bavarian is an award-winning restaurant well-known for its après ski and lunch on its deck that features stunning mountain views. You can take a cozy sleigh ride for a three-course dinner at the ‘Bav,’ as the locals call it. 192 at The Blake serves shareable dishes and carefully curated wines, and is centered around a communal fireplace. Picture: European alpine architecture folded into colorful New Mexican design. On the casual end, the Mucho Gusto donut shack is my personal favorite and serves up warm mini donuts and hot cocoa, coffee and tea. And for a special night out, Medley, in the nearby town of El Prado, offers award-winning wines, and thoughtful, season fare. Pastry Chef and co-owner Colleen Medley makes every bite worth the calories! Oh, and The Love Apple is a can’t-miss destination touted by international food writers for its local, organic fare inside an old adobe church.
You make a compelling case. Any big plans for Taos for summer 2022 or even looking ahead to next winter?
Tania McCormack: Taos is one of the most beautiful spots to visit in the summer and is growing as a summer season destination. It has one of North America’s few Via Ferratas [a climbing route with ladders and metal cables to clip into] and it continues to expand its mountain biking trails, scenic chair lift rides, and summer activities.
Thanks Tania. Let me go talk to the snow bros!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.