With an I.D. tag that simply states his first name you would never know that Ben Abruzzo is a member of a pioneering southwestern ski family that operates Ski Santa Fe and Sandia Peak in New Mexico.
As mountain manager at Ski Santa Fe, situated 16 miles northeast from the city of Santa Fe, Ben not only drives snowcats, repairs and maintains lifts, glades trees and works on various other projects, he enjoys skiing with resort guests.
“We ski with everyone we can. I love to hear about their day while riding the lift,” says Ben, a father of two young children, married to his high school sweetheart. It’s this hands-on approach that makes Ski Santa Fe a congenial family resort with an outstanding children’s sport school (Chipmunk Corner) and progressive adaptive ski program. Attention to detail covers all aspects from providing top quality rentals and lessons to delicious cuisine and friendly staff.
“We care, plain and simple. This is our life and every detail is important to us,” says Ben, whose brother, Dane, is a paramedic and on ski patrol staff.
I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Ben (shown in top photo) and skiing with him on a recent ski trip to this delightful resort. He joined our group for lunch in the resort’s recently renovated La Casa Lodge, which offers an extensive menu featuring grilled food, New Mexican cuisine (try the pork tamales), sandwiches and salads. In addition to the spacious restaurant that seats more than 650 diners, this base lodge houses ticket sales, rental services, a sport shop (with the latest in apparel and accessories) and restrooms.
After lunch we hit the slopes, boarding a conveyer that scoots skiers onto a quad chairlift. Instead of gliding forward a few feet to wait for the chair, you stand on a conveyer that moves you forward.
Riding above snowy trees to the top of the mountain he pointed out trails, describing how he and his dad, Benny, glade trees under Forest Service Approval. Seven lifts and 77 scenic trails cater to every ski and rider level. From the summit elevation at 12, 075 feet, you get expansive mountain, desert and city views.
Several ski runs later we stopped for refreshments at Totemoff’s Bar & Grill, a cozy mid-mountain chalet with a sun deck. It’s a comfortable spot for families and friends to rendezvous and soak up sunshine as well as history. An old-school red chairlift sits on the deck, and inside the chalet are black and white photos depicting the history of the resort.
Full-day lift rates: $66 adults, $50 ages 13-20, $46 ages 12 and younger, and free for kids under 46 inches in ski boots. For more information, visit www.skisantafe.com.
Although lodging is not available at the resort, the city of Santa Fe makes a cozy home base. We stayed at El Dorado Hotel & Spa, in historic downtown. It’s a comfortable hotel with spacious rooms, balconies and a roof top pool with Jacuzzi. Catch a sunset view from the roof top! www.EldoradoHotel.com.
Il Piatto, an Italian farmhouse kitchen with a twist of New Mexican cuisine, is located in downtown Santa Fe. Chef Matt Yohalem is a cheerful (always smiling) chef who aims to please with creative dishes using fresh ingredients from farmers markets. For example, my parmigiano potato gnocci, broccoli and four cheese gratinee dinner was spiced up with green chili. www.ilpiattosantafe.com.
Los Angeles Traveling Mom Mimi Slawoff writes a monthly family travel column in L.A. Parent magazine and freelances for several publications and websites. Follow her on Twitter @mimitravelz