Seeking a European-Style Valentine's Day Stateside?

Choose Taos Ski Valley

From its towering snow-capped peaks to Bavarian-style lodges, where beer steins are served al fresco, visiting Taos Ski Valley feels as though you’ve been transported to the Alps. But this resort town is distinctly New Mexican. It’s home to Native and Hispanic influences visible in the unique décor and plates of local cuisine swimming in the state’s famed chile sauces.

Hailing from Germany and Switzerland, Ernie Blake founded Taos Ski Valley in 1954 after spotting the big snow basin near Wheeler Peak during a flight over the southern range of the Rocky Mountains. He moved his wife, Rhoda, and children here and they created what would become a world-class ski area infused with European culture.

Like the European villages it was styled after, Taos Ski Valley boasts lodging, shopping, and dining within easy walking distance. Breathe in crisp mountain air on the patio of the Hotel St. Bernard (known as the "St. B") while watching skiers tucking into a German apple strudel. Belly up to the St. B's Rathskeller Bar, or The Blonde Bear Tavern at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, for a wide selection of international wines, beers, and cocktails. Or, make a reservation for the St. B’s indulgent four-course, French-influenced evening meal served family-style.

Wander the aptly named Alpine Village for some shopping. It looks fresh off a postcard from the Alps, with its colorful buildings and wood-trimmed decks, yet its stores sell the latest sports gear and globally sourced clothing and accessories. Stop into BootDoctors to get a tune-up on your boots or skis as well as to browse the racks. Right across the way you'll find another option, Cottam’s Ski Shop, which since 1976 has offered gear and clothing for hitting the slopes or sipping hot chocolate at the lodge. 

Restaurants in Taos Ski Valley and the surrounding area also reflect global influences.The Blake's 192 serves upscale New Mexican dishes slope side. A short drive downhill, Pizaños specializes in New York-style pizza and other Italian treats, all with a Taos twist.Common Fire in El Prado deploys three menus a year, all featuring rustic meat dishes—like roast chicken—and hearty-yet-refined sides. For dishes with bistro flare, visit medley, which boasts an expansive wine shop with bottles from around the world.

European Culture
The Blake hotel in Taos Ski Valley sits near the spot where the Blake family lived in a camper while building the ski area. A far cry from the family’s sparse beginnings, the well-appointed hotel offers cozy guest rooms that invoke a ski-chalet feel with embroidered, snowflake-patterned pillows and wrought-iron beds.

The Blakes weren’t the only ones to influence Taos Ski Valley’s unique culture. Ernie Blake invited French-born Jean Mayer, a former service member in the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, to the valley to help run the ski school. In 1960, Mayer founded the Hotel St. Bernard, named after the patron saint of skiing, and later expanded it to include condos. His children continue his legacy of hospitality.

You’ll also get a taste of the Alps at The Bavarian, a boutique lodge and restaurant known for its authentic German dishes, including brats and schnitzel, as well as its authentic antiques and ceiling murals painted by Swiss artist Reto Messmer. A similar alpine ambiance prevails at the Edelweiss Lodge and Spa, which has ski-in/ski-out access, and the newly remodeled Austing Haus Bed & Breakfast.

Visitors from Europe often opt for the family feel of the Brownell Chalet, a charming guest house whose owner, Elisabeth Brownell, is one of the earliest fellow Europeans to follow Ernie Blake to Taos.

New Mexican Spice
These European influences are enlivened by spicy New Mexican culture that simmers in the food,
shops, and warm, welcoming smiles. Start the day with a breakfast burrito—a tortilla full-to-bursting with eggs, potatoes, cheese, meat, smothered in green chile—at Café Naranja. For lunch, grab a made-to-order burrito to go at Bumps Market & Burrito Bar. Go three-for-three on New Mexican meals with a plate full of green-chile chicken enchiladas or bowl of chili accompanied by a "fresh-squeezed" margarita—the state’s unofficial signature cocktail—during lunch or dinner at the 
Stray Dog Cantina.

Back at your lodging, you’ll spot more New-Mexican influences. At The Blake, guest room doors are adorned with Native symbols as a nod to Taos Pueblo influences and artwork displayed in the lodge pays homage to the Taos art colony founded in the 1920s. At the Alpine Village Suites, Native rug patterns and Spanish Colonial furniture decorate the guest rooms.

Present and Future
Even with its Old-World ambiance, Taos Ski Valley continues to evolve. In recent years, the ski area installed the Kachina Peak Lift, which gives skiers and snowboarders access to the 12,450-foot peak. It’s the nation’s fourth-highest lift-served summit and the highest in New Mexico.

In 2017, Taos Ski Valley Inc. opened a completely renovated Rio Hondo Learning Center with new play spaces and a re-graded beginner area. The Children’s Center is reached via a pedestrian gondola that transports families effortlessly from the resort plaza to the facility and back. In the summer of 2018, the resort installed a new, high-speed quad chairlift to get skiers and snowboarders on the mountain faster than ever.

Even amid these innovations, Taos Ski Valley remains authentic. It retains a sort of Old-World vibe with its European-style buildings, fresh cuisine, and cozy shops. With its unique history and heritage, it seems like a throwback, an ideal village—exactly the kind of place Ernie Blake envisioned as he peered down through window of his plane—a charming, romantic destination for Valentine's or any other day, no matter the occasion or season.

Check out the ski valley's "Hot Deals" and know that it's not too late to book a Feb. 14 surprise for your sweetheart... whether it's a ski-and-soak day in one of several Taos Ski Valley spas or a relaxing overnight stay!