Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of taking part in a couple of the Winter Park and Fraser Chamber of Commerce’s Orientation Express tours, a program designed to introduce members of the community to local businesses and services as well as provide networking opportunities for both. Participating businesses in the towns of Winter Park and Fraser rolled out the red carpet, open house style, welcoming tour guests with special discount offers, free samples, libations and prizes.
With the guidance of the indomitable Maria Chavez, Chamber Membership Director, we were lead through south Winter Park businesses on Monday evening, and, through north Winter Park businesses on Tuesday evening.
On Monday, we started off by signing in at the Winter Park Information Center. The group was a mix of newly arrived, second homeowners and long-time local residents. There were business owners, marketing staff, an Uber driver, families with young children and some that had come in years past and have made it an annual event.
While at the Information Center, we were also introduced to our first business of the day: Snow Mountain Ranch. Marketing Manager Kristin Spronz filled us in on their new playground that opened over the summer as well as all the other activities and facilities. I was surprised to learn they rent yurts (with power), so you have an opportunity to go glamping just minutes away from home!
One of the goals of the Orientation Express is to introduce residents, new and long-time, to many of the features our community has to offer, so we next ventured out to experience the local Transportation system by catching the Red Line into Old Town. We were all encouraged to download the RideHop app to our phones, so we have real time bus schedules available anytime.
Our first stop was Alpine Sun Ski & Sport, where owner Gigi Dominguez described the rental and repair services they provide. They’ve been in business for 34 years, and, an interesting little known fact is that, when you rent snowshoes from them, you can hit the Fraser River Trail right out their back door!
We then headed next door to Adolf’s Event Center & Tavern where owner Frank Dominguez was tending bar and Gigi showed off the facility’s new wood floors, part of which were given to them by Janet Engel and Wendy Christensen, daughters of Winter Park Ski School founder, George Engel. The flooring came from the original ski shop. During ski season, Adolf’s is open daily for Happy Hour, from 3-6 pm, and they also host events year-round.
We boarded the Black Line and headed back into Winter Park to our next stop at Epic Mountain Sports. Owner Katherine Mowry showed
us their fleet of 18 different brands of demo skis and the shop’s diverse range of retail products, and, she also let us know that in the summer, their bike rental fleet is also extensive.
The Perk Coffee Shop was our next stop and we all got a taste of their coffee or hot apple cider. They offer ample parking in front and behind their shop and are also looking into roasting their own beans in small batches and perhaps taking at look at co-working options in the future.
Across Highway 40, we stopped next at Local Experience, with the largest assortment of shoes in the valley. They also have ski and snowboard boots and offer a variety of orthotics, from cut to fit all the way to custom.
The Viking Lodge has been operating since the 1940’s, and they offer simple, inexpensive lodging options to travelers. Owner Scott Sutcliffe gave us an opportunity to see one of their recently remodeled guest rooms which was two story, easily slept four, and, normally runs about $89 per night. They’re a great option for the light-walleted traveler.
Charlie’s Frozen Treat Shop offers a variety of frozen treats, from ice cream to gelato, pie and cookie sandwiches. All are sold at a single rate per ounce and the options change daily.
We traveled north to the new Eagle Wind Sound recording studio where we were greeted by owners Tony Rosacci and PJ Olsson and a host of musical instruments. The finishings were first class and equipment of the best quality. Tagged a “destination studio”, I am sure we can expect future visits from some great recording artists.
Next stop was Pepe Osaka’s Fishtacos and Tequila where co-owner Nanda Usseglio treated us to delicious food and drink samples. I was a bit relieved to learn that they don’t just serve fish tacos and their tequila collection is phenomenal.
We moved onward to Rudi’s Deli for some tasty sandwich samples. Rudi’s is a great stop for a more nutritious lunch or dinner option. During the winter months, they’re open from 10 am – 8 pm.
The last stop of night one was Idlewild Spirits Distillery where we sampled Moscow Mules, which turned out to be a very refreshing whiskey option. They’ve been in their space for a little over a year now and are starting to offer space for parties and events, working in tandem with Wild Horse Catering.
On night two, after registration at the Winter Park Information Center, we headed to our first stop at the Best Western Alpenglo Lodge, where a free hot breakfast is served every morning. We toured a newly remodeled room and got a look at their 15-person hot tub.
Next stop was Beaver’s Sports, where owner Keith Sanders showed us their customized rental boot fitting method, which results in less than 2% returned for exchange. He told us about their three locations (other locations inside the Winter Park Mountain Lodge and at Snow Mountain Ranch), providing visitors with great rental convenience.
We headed on to the Peak Bistro and Brewery next and enjoyed samples of their brews crafted on-site and tasty appetizers.
At Kopy Kat Office, we were treated to delicious homemade fudge and the owner described the many services they offer including FedEx and UPS package services as well as document handling and Notary services.
Onward to the Spot at Ullr’s Tavern we went. Previously set in a food truck, the food truck has now been incorporated into the basement structure where many tasty and affordable options are available to families and tavern guests alike. The Spot is open generally from 6 pm – 1:45 am, so it’s a great late night meal option.
Ullr’s Tavern is celebrating their 9th year of operation, hosting live music, DJ and Lip-sync parties, as well as working with local non-profits on their fundraising efforts. There’s always something going on at Ullr’s!
We then walked over to the new Fireside Market & Eatery where Store Manager Nathan Svoboda took us on a tour of the beautiful new store. Staff members were working hard to get shelves stocked and ready for opening.
We crossed Highway 40 and headed over to Fontenot’s Seafood & Grill where we found delicious appetizers and a broad array of drink options at the local favorite.
Downstairs, we toured Christina Russell’s Massage Therapy facility and everyone excitedly entered to win a free one-hour massage. Christina’s husband, Jeff, also gave a tour of the on-site Rehabilitation Service facility.
We crossed the street again and walked over to Strip and Tail where owners Steve and Rhonda Bromberg had laid out a variety of appetizer samplings. Strip and Tail has daily menu features including all you can eat prime rib and crab legs on certain days of the week.
Our last stop on night 2 was downstairs at The Basement, where it was Tune-up Tuesday. Everyone is encouraged to bring their skis and boards in on Tuesday nights where master tuner Chris Peters will tune them for you while you enjoy a beverage of choice and listen to music.
Due to prior commitments, I was regrettably unable to attend the Wednesday evening junket to the Village at Winter Park nor Thursday’s tour through Cooper Creek Square, but I am hoping to make the final night for a visit to Fraser businesses.
This was a very informative and fun event, and I found that, even though I have lived in Grand County for over 14 years, there’s always so much more to learn! To register for the Orientation Express, visit playwinterpark.com