by Lauren Mote
When I got off the plane in Denver, i was dying to run outside and breathe the frosty air.. but I could only run for about 30 seconds – the pressure and the elevation are pretty high (Denver is called the “mile high city” because it’s elevation is 5,280 ft above sea-level or roughly one mile); here’s some perspective for the Vancouver dweller – Grouse Mountain’s top sits at 4,039 ft!
I was outside and could finally see my breath. Denver kind of looks like Calgary – it’s flat and wintry, but not snowy. Just brisk, and bright. Like Calgary on a clear day, peering to the west you can see snowy mountains – welcome to ski country. The mountains over yonder are home to famous ski towns’ Aspen, Silverthorne, Dillon and Vail, the latter of which I would visit momentarily.
After registering with the Grand Marnier Summit crew at the Denver International Airport, I waited for the shuttle to scoop me up, and take me on the long 2 and a bit hours drive into the mountains. Vail – 100 miles west Denver, and 8120 ft base elevation (double the elevation of Vancouver’s Grouse).
It was like driving through a movie – the old west. I expected to see cowboys’ John Wayne and Clint Eastwood hanging out on the dry, grassy ridge overlooking the “valley”. Deeper into the mountains, the pressure seemed to change every couple of minutes. I was getting more and more dehydrated, and visibility was getting worse and worse. We had entered our first blizzard. Boo-ya.
Welcome to the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa – where guests have access to their own ski lifts and hills, and one of the most sought after spas in North America. Sign me up.
The first night was off the hook – I met with the rest of the Canadian Team (4 mixologists including me + 2 brand ambassadors + 1 publicist + 1 Canadian chairman), and we went over to the Pavilion that would open their loving arms and feed us Grand Marnier until the wee hours of the blistering cold morning approached.
In the centre of the grand ballroom, and square bar, housing many of the mixologists from around North America, that we invited as guests of spirit-speaker-extraordinaire Steve Olson’s company Aka Wine Geek to work with Grand Marnier with original concoctions – to be made in large quantities over 3 days! Each side of the square had 2 bartenders aching to show off their stuff.
In perfect form (as all of you would) Toronto’s Rob of Vertical and Frankie of Bar Chef, with Montreal’s Brynley of Rosalie, and yours truly from Vancouver’s Chow Restaurant, effectively got the party started, and danced for 4 hours straight, turning around every so often to see Canadian Chairman Jean-Christophe with a tray-full of Grand Marnier shots. Toronto’s ambassador Nadia and Montreal’s Veronique helped prove that Canadians, under the influence of alcohol, can dance, and dance well. Oh, and the publicist? Let’s just say that Sherri knows how to shake it.
The greatest memory of the evening was dancing-out-of-control-like to Tequila with Grand Marnier’s Cyril, and President Alexandra Lapostolle-Marnier.
The following morning, we all missed brunch.