COEUR d'ALENE, IDAHO-Some windows to the world expose magnificence beyond the eloquence of words. You have to pinch yourself and say, "Yes, this is indeed real."
Window views from Canada's Chateau Lake Louise, Italy's Mergozzo Lake La Quartino Hotel, Crater Lake National Park's Lodge and Veracruz, Mexico's Emporio Hotel fit this description. Add one more: Coeur d'Alene, Idaho's Resort on the Lake.
This infant resort-opening in 1986 along Coeur d'Alene Lake's edge-has already received national and international praise. Conde Nast Traveler named it America's Top Mainland Resort and the Zagat Survey 2005 placed it as one of America's top 10 skit resorts.
Coeur d'Alene Resort
Skiing is what brought Amy Hartell and I here, joining fellow North American Snowsport Journalist Association members for a week experiencing the slope delights of Schweitzer and Silver Mountain (owned by the Klamath Falls company Jeld-Wen).
Had we not skied though, we would have been perfectly content to stay in our not so humble five-star room with the ten million dollar view. Room service, a few good books, red wine and plenty of digital camera compact flash cards would have worked quite well, thank you very much.
As it was we had the above along with many excursions into the great outdoors (and indoors of the Resort and Coeur d'Alene proper) of this enchanting zone of heavily forested mountains and deep lakes, located in Idaho's Panhandle, south of the Canadian border.
Coeur d'Alene, literally translated from French, means "Heart of the Awl." French fur traders opted for this name out of respect for the trading skills of the local Indian tribes. In the modern era, Coeur d'Alene has become a tourist-recreation mecca yet retains much of the flavor of the small town it once was.
The Wine Flows
Beverleys Restaurant View
Skiing Silver Mountain
"What I love about this area, " says local Dave Kilmer, "is the pleasures of a simple life along with the amenities of splurging if you desire." Kilmer likes to snowboard the deep powder of Schweitzer and Silver Mountain, yet he is also perfectly content to hike or mountain bike the lakeside trails that border Coeur d'Alene Resort. "I might finish the day with a good glass of wine at Beverly's (the Resorts renown restaurant that has one of the worlds top wine cellars with over 800 labels) while listening to jazz guitarist Robert Vaughn."
Kilmer and I settled in to a lively ski-snowboard-sailing conversation after a robust day skiing two feet of new Schweitzer powder.
SCHWEITZER AND SILVER MOUNTAIN
Schweitzer is north of Coeur d'Alene outside the charming village of Sandpoint. Schweitzer's views of 1150-foot-deep Lake Pend Oreille (second in depth to Crater Lake west of the Mississippi) are spectacular. Schweitzer's six-passenger high-speed chairlift named "Stella" is Idaho's first and only. A full day riding Stella and skiing Schweitzer will turn the best ski legs into rubber bands.
Jeld-Wen's Silver Mountain boasts the world's longest single-stage gondola-an epic 20-minute 3.1 mile ride to the Mountain Haus where 200 acres of skiing with 360-degree stellar views await. Ski Magazine recently named Silver Mountain 'One of Skiing's Biggest Secrets' and rated it 'One of the Best Mountains You've Never Skied.' The ski cats out of the hat so you had better get there quick!
Silver Mountain is in the mining town of Kellogg, a 30 minute drive from Coeur d'Alene and a mere one-quarter mile from Interstate 90. Silver Mountain's Gondola Village (where the gondola ride begins and ends) and Morning Star Lodge make for a unique entry into this new winter playground. The areas mining heritage is featured in the village's unique architecture.
Diane Gillespie, Nashville,TN Aboard Spirit
En route to Silver Mountain, do not miss stopping at Idaho's oldest standing building, the Cataldo Mission which was built with hand tools (no nails were used) in 1848 by Jesuit priests and members of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.
COEUR d'ALENE RESORT
Coeur d'Alene Resort reaches 18 stories high. The architecture features towers, steep copper roofs and copper peaked belfries. It is surrounded by the world's longest floating boardwalk that features a seasonal floating stage. Our room had private lanais, fireplace and a window view more like a movie screen that was constantly changing with the fickle weather patterns. The bed was set a tier above the living room, offering mesmerizing views of the lake's many moods. The lanais looked down at the harbor slips (mainly empty of boats in winter)-a study of abstract with the canopless slip frames, like bleached bones above the wooden gray docks and walks.
The Resort has a European Spa and six restaurants to choose from.
EVENING LAKE CRUISE
Our favorite evening was a bewitching two-hour dinner cruise aboard the Coeur d'Alene Cruise Boat named Spirit-an evening befitted for Robert Goulet and Andy Williams crooning love songs. We skirted secluded coves, crossed the main body of Coeur d'Alene Lake and returned under a romantic canopy of star and moonlight, a gentle breeze with a winter bite at our side. The food, drink and revelry made for a memorable evening.
Lake Coeur d'Alene has a vibrant landlocked salmon fishery, some weighing more than 20 pounds. I spent four hours on a charter boat one day with companions from Vermont, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Colorado. I, being the younger, let the elder fisher statesman get first crack at the catching. When it came to my turn, the Chinook went south, passing up this Oregon boy. We did witness ospreys-the lake has the largest population in the Western US-faring well on smaller fish. It is this lake where in the 1920s John Finney built and used the world's first water ski. But that is a summer story.
|Guess what's for dinner?||
Amy enjoying the night lights
Coeur d'Alene Visitor Bureau: www.coeurdalene.org/ phone 877-782-9232
Coeur d'Alene Resort: www.cdaresort.com/ phone 800-688-5253
Silver Mountain Resort: www.silvermt.com/ phone 800-305-7669
Schweitzer: www.schweitzer.com/ phone 800-831-8810
Sandpoint: www.sandpointchamber.com/ phone 800-800-2106
Nearest Airport: Spokane International Airport, Spokane, Washington
Prints may be purchased by contacting Larry at Skiturn789@yahoo.com.