The mountains were calling, so Dave Villali answered “yes” to a buyout from Intel and the opportunity to work as a ski instructor at Mount Hood Meadows in Oregon. After four years, he joined the food and beverage department at Timberline Lodge and became wine manager in 1992. 

Villali and his team have earned the lodge a reputation as one of the best places to sip and savor regional wines from Oregon and Washington. His interest started when Timberline staff went to nearby wine country to meet the winemakers, and Villali began assisting with wine orders. 

The timing was ideal as Richard L. Khonstamm, president and area operator of Timberline Lodge and Ski Area from 1955 to 1992, wanted the lodge to reflect a sense of place and that place was a location “between two growing and interesting wine regions,” Villali explains. Today, wines by the glass at all Timberline Lodge dining outlets are from the Northwest and of the 800 wines offered, less than 100 are from elsewhere. 

He also credits expanded involvement of staff as key to the wine program’s success. “I ended up putting the reps on a schedule so that our staff could sit down weekly and taste and talk about the wines,” he says. 

Winemakers in both states have introduced varietals new to the region as temperatures have become warmer and summers longer since the late 1980s and early 1990s. “There is an explosion of varietals we weren’t seeing in the early days,” Villali notes. “Oregon and Washington are producing Italian varietals that people would have never imagined.”

Timberline Lodge has held several wine dinners for corporate groups, and they can take part in scheduled Silcox Hut Winemakers Dinners, where 24 guests are transported by snowcat for a dinner and wine-tasting experience. Wine vault tours are another option for groups of 10-12, with Villali or staff sharing the Oregon and Washington wine story and leading a tasting. 

“We know about wines from Washington and Oregon and do that one thing really, really well,” he explains. “That has worked out for us.”

As travel comes returns in many parts of the world, Forbes Travel Guide unveiled its 2022 Star Award winners on April 26, 2022. The United States debuted 10 hotels, three restaurants and seven spas on the Five-Star list. In U.S. Mountain West towns with peaks, 12 hotels, one restaurant, and six spas landed a Five-Star nod. 

 

Brady Johnson, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team, now balances time between C Lazy U Ranch, Destination Colorado, his family and the ski slopes. 

While most people retire just once in their lifetime, C Lazy U Ranch’s Brady Johnson wants to retire three or four times. 

“I think that’s the fun part about life. Find something new, chase a goal and accomplish it, and then find something even more fun and exciting that aligns with what you’re doing with your life at the time,” says Johnson. 

 

League City CVB manager Stephanie Polk shares her career journey.

Originally from Kentwood, Louisiana, Stephanie Polk, TDM, CTE, first made her mark on the travel and tourism industry as director of marketing for the Beaumont Convention & Visitors Bureau. There, she helped to elevate the city as a destination for recreation travelers and business groups. Wowed by her accomplishments, in 2020, League City brought her on board to lead its marketing efforts. She shares with us highlights and advice from her experience in the industry.