Consider a ski resort town in the Sierras built on local pride – a bevy of locally-owned restaurants and bars intermixed with a couple imported chain restaurants and brand shops. A couple. Though not close by any sane standards – a minimum 5-hour road travel or 1-hour flight – Mammoth is to Southern California what Lake Tahoe is to Northern (that is, with a 1-resort monopoly). One thing is for certain, however, and that would be the recent strong push to make Mammoth Village a legitimate…well, village. Plagued by vacancies within its Intrawest-managed store fronts until recently, Mammoth Village and its dwellers can now rejoice at the recent opening of Starbucks, for example – joining the ranks of Ben & Jerry’s, Pita Pit, Ye Ole Dubliner, Lakanuki, Sushi Rei, Quicksilver and more. The Village would go where Hennessey’s (closed) could not.
Enter Sam Nazarian’s SBE – the conglomerate with the backing of Hollywood scenesters (Area, Hyde) and Los Angeles foodies (The Bazaar at SLS Hotel) alike. While Hyde in Hollywood may be on Sunset Strip, Hyde Lounge, Mammoth is across from the Village gondola and opened last Friday to much hurrah and hubbub – what with the entire space packed shoulder-to-shoulder with skiiers and snowboarders. So I heard. I waited to visit until its second day of operation with a 2nd round of aprÃ©s-ski; my 1st round would be spent at White Bark inside The Westin, which is also fitting to mention. The Westin is another Intrawest property that opened recently and it, along with the Ritz Carlton, indicate the resort area’s move towards increasingly upscale accommodations. Fewer such options are available at SoCal’s local mountains, which are increasingly known for their “youngster” scenes populated with “park rats” and more time on runs spent dodging others than actually riding. (Full disclosure: I learned to snowboard in college at these local resorts and am grateful that that was an option at that time. My love for snowboarding would have never developed to where it is now without the vicinity of Snow Summit and affordability of a college pass.)