Travel notes: Tamarack retools and is ready for ski season

Tamarack Resort is near Donnelly, about 90 miles away from Boise.
Tamarack Resort is near Donnelly, about 90 miles away from Boise. Provided by Tamarack Resort

After seven years of uncertainty at Tamarack Resort, there’s a new management group at the on-again, off-again resort near Donnelly.

In May, the owner of Tamarack Resort, New TR Acquisitions Co. LLC (NEWTRAC), turned over the operational management responsibilities to the aptly named Replay Resorts, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company that manages resorts in the continental U.S., Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean.

Replay Resorts is primarily in charge of the day-to-day management of the mountain operations, marina (during the warmer months) and dining services.

“The food and beverage operations have been run by third-party operators for a long time, which left a gap for us in the food and beverage program,” says Brad Larsen, Replay’s general manager at Tamarack Resort.

“We’re looking to shore that up.”

Larsen, who came from Telluride Ski Resort in western Colorado, has many years of mountain resort management experience, dating back to his early days at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort in Maine.

He recently hired Chris Wisocki as the director of hospitality. Larsen and Wisocki previously worked together at Telluride.

“He’s a level-two sommelier with lots of food and beverage experience,” Larsen says.

Wisocki is directing the food and beverage program moving forward, which includes Canoe Grill and Vertical Bar, Seven Devils Pub and Hot Shots Coffee Bar — all located in the bubble-looking Sprung structures near the ski lifts.

Osprey Meadows Golf Course and Lodge are still hung up in a legal quagmire created by the resort’s 2008 bankruptcy and other changes of ownership and restructuring — we’ll have to wait to see what becomes of Morels, the resort’s fine-dining room that’s currently closed.

In July, Discovery Marketplace opened in the former Crane Creek Market spot at the base of the mountain. The market, which is not managed by Replay, offers grab-and-go deli goods, beverages and sundries (just in case people forget their sunscreen).

With snow about to fall in the west-central mountains, Tamarack Resort has some exciting plans for this ski season.

The resort recently announced it will be reopening the Wildwood trail system, a “hike-to” series of out-of-bounds trails in the northern section of the resort that have been closed since 2009.

Tamarack also unveiled some new wireless ticket technology designed to speed things up at the chairlift.

The state-of-the-art ticketing software features a pre-paid “Express Card” that allows skiers and snowboarders to skip the ticket window and go directly to the chairlift.

For more information about Tamarack Resort, visit

Brundage announces tubing hill upgrades

This will be the second year that Brundage Mountain Resort handles the management responsibilities at The Activity Barn, a longtime tubing operation a few miles south of McCall.

The resort recently announced a slew of expansion plans for the 6-acre recreational site designed to triple the capacity of tubers. This means more people will now be able to scream their lungs out while zooming down the five 800-foot tubing lanes.

Expect to see a new 600-foot “magic carpet” conveyor system that will easily whisk people to the top of the tubing hill in under three minutes.

Brundage also purchased another 100 tubes (that makes 250 now) to accommodate the influx of people on high-volume days.

In addition to the tubing upgrades, the resort also will be unveiling a new rail park at The Activity Barn this season. Here, skiers and snowboarders can work on their tricks without having to drive up to Brundage Mountain.

If all goes well, The Activity Barn should see enough snow to open by the time turkeys hit the table.

“We have a snow gun, so we can help things along if we don’t get much snowfall before Thanksgiving weekend,” says April Whitney, communication director at Brundage Mountain Resort.

For hours of operation and prices, visit

Sun Valley in the national news

Ski Magazine recently ranked Sun Valley Resort as the second best overall ski resort in the West for the 2016 season.

Sun Valley was barely edged out of the top spot by Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, yet the resort was tapped for first place in several categories, including lifts, grooming, character, family programs and overall guest satisfaction.

The rankings were culled from a survey of more than 700 avid skiers, whose comments range from “Sun Valley still retains a ski resort feeling” to “Sun Valley represents a nostalgic, but very updated ski resort.”

If you don’t like crowds, the fall “slack” period is a great time to visit Sun Valley. The resort offers several pre-holiday packages (starting at $94 per person a night, double occupancy) and four-day lodging and dining Thanksgiving packages ranging from $356 to $434.

For reservations, go to or call (800) 786-8259.

Winemaker’s dinner in Glenns Ferry

Shine up those cowboy boots and dust off your best cowboy hat because it’s almost time for Crossings Winery’s annual “Cowboy Formal” winemaker’s dinner on Nov. 7.

The event ($90 per person, tax and gratuity included) will be held in the barrel room at the winery in Glenns Ferry, starting with cocktails and wine cocktails at 5:30 p.m.

Expect to taste a six-course seasonal menu (put out by chef Hilda Reyes) paired with six select wines made by Neil Glancey. The menu will include orange crostini with roasted cranberries, a Bloody Mary-inspired soup, crab-stuffed beef tenderloin with balsamic glaze and pumpkin-gingersnap tiramisu.

To make reservations, call (208) 366-2313.


James Patrick Kelly, restaurant critic at the Idaho Statesman, is the author of the travel guidebooks “Moon Idaho” and “Spotlight Boise.” He also teaches journalism at Boise State University.