Blame it on Sun Valley, Idaho. When Averell Harriman opened his resort in 1936, he hired publicist Steve Hannagan to get the likes of Clark Gable, Errol Flynn and Claudette Colbert to snowy Idaho to drum up publicity for his chic winter getaway. To no one's surprise, Hollywood glamour fit the sport like a pair of the then-new Bogner stretch pants. Celebrities and skiing, it seemed, went hand in hand, and one of Tinseltown's rare enduring marriages was born.
Nowadays, a walk along The Sun Valley Lodge's long gallery of photos is proof enough of Hollywood's love affair with snow. But while Sun Valley still draws the likes of part-time residents Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Arnold Schwarzenegger, it has been joined by Aspen, Colo., and Whistler, B.C., as popular Hollywood mountain getaways.
Like Sun Valley, Aspen possesses two essential elements that celebrities favor: It's remote and upscale. Recent Aspen sightings include local Goldie Hawn browsing at Explorer Booksellers and the part-time Aspen resident Antonio Banderas skiing at Highlands and Snowmass with his instructor/guide. Don't be surprised if you spot Meg Ryan walking through the lobby of The St. Regis Aspen, headed for the spa in her bathrobe. Celebrities are part of the fabric of Aspen. And that's because no ski resort is more unflappable about their presence.
Lately, Whistler has been giving Aspen a run for its money. It attracts celebrities because Vancouver, two hours by car, has become Hollywood North for budget-minded TV and film producers. And many stars, such as Chad Lowe, Hillary Swank and Seal, check into the tony Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
Thanks to the Sundance Film Festival, the next sizable celebrity stash is at the resorts around Park City. Credit Robert Redford and friends for making Park City a hub for the Hollywood set all winter, not just during the January run of the festival. Some stars head to the Stein Eriksen Lodge in Deer Valley or to the Grand Summit at The Canyons, while others favor the privacy of a home in the hills at Redford's more remote Sundance Resort.
As for Telluride, Colo., it's isolated enough that it will never be Aspen-and that suits most stars just fine. Here, part-time resident Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, attired in a fringed buckskin jacket, can be spotted dining on Asian food at Honga's next to a table of tattooed boarders. It's also here that Tom Cruise rents the top floor of Sophio's for a little peace, quiet and Mexican food with his family.
In Vail, the famous are more corporate than Hollywood. But private aeries such as the Game Creek Chalet, nestled at 10,150 feet in Game Creek Bowl on Vail Mountain, are where Cameron Diaz and Jared Leto like to spend the holidays. Trapper's Cabin, high up in neighboring Beaver Creek, is where Matt Lauer honeymooned and where many other famous faces have hunkered down for a few private and privileged nights.
Other celebs prefer to fly under the radar at lesser-known mountains. At Snowshoe, W. Va., the sharp-eyed may spot Oliver North or Jerry Falwell. And if you're negotiating the steeps at Vermont's Mad River Glen, those dudes ahead of you might well be Jon Fishman and Trey Anastasio of Phish. Part-time Jackson, Wyo., resident Harrison Ford enjoys the powder and anonymity at Grand Targhee, Wyo.; part-timer Ted Turner likes to have his lunch at Moose River Hummers in Big Sky, Mont.; while Jimmy Carter and part-time resident Tom Skerritt may be hiding behind Bollés at Crested Butte, Colo.
And then there are those who don't mind making a splash: Take Kate Hudson, who hosted her bachelorette party at Whiskey Rocks in The St. Regis Aspen, where Will Smith has been known to hold his New Year's Eve party and where Ed Norton and Salma Hayek have dined at Olives with Danny DeVito.
Whether you want to emulate the lifestyles of the stars who ski, dine where Aspen part-timer Kevin Costner ate a buffalo burger last week, splurge on the same suite that Jewel likes to cozy up in or you're just curious about who goes where, here's the latest on where celebs sleep, eat and party. We can't promise that you'll see celebrities, but follow in the fresh tracks of Hollywood, and you just might.
Where can you rub elbows with luminaries such as Holly Hunter, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman and Mel Gibson all in one night? The Sundance Film Festival, held annually in Park City, Utah.