Larry Olmsted

Correspondent

  • Vermont, USA

Larry Olmsted is an at-large Forbes Travel Guide correspondent who lives in Vermont but regularly treks around the world as an award-winning journalist who has covered travel for more than 15 years. He writes the “Great American Bites” column for USAToday.com, previously wrote the “Life on Vacation” column for USA Today, and is the longtime contributing travel editor to Cigar Aficionado magazine. He has contributed to numerous travel guides, including the Michelin Green Guide, and writes regularly for both US Airways’ and American Airlines’ magazines. He also writes “The Great Life” column for Forbes.com.

  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best places to stay in Telluride?

    What originally opened as the Capella Telluride is now the Forbes Travel Guide 4-Star Hotel Madeline, the town’s only star-rated accommodations, and very well located in the heart of Mountain Village, just steps from the lifts and gondola. The Madeline is fully featured, with a deluxe spa and the popular SMAK Bar, known for its signature Bloody Mary with slider burger on a stick, a unique pairing for sure. Another top choice in Mountain Village is the luxurious boutique Lumiere, with a very residential feel, large rooms, the fantastic Little Bar, and ski-in/ski-out access. It’s got a European flair and very welcoming, hands on management team, the kind of place where once you check in everyone knows your name and it always feels like you are coming home. Many visitors to Telluride come for the Old West flair, and for them, the historic New Sheridan – new in 1891, four years after Telluride was founded  –  is the clear winner, with its classic red brick building on Colorado Avenue where the stage once pulled up, its masculine steak house and central location. But it also has a rooftop hot tub, and two bars, a trendy wine and beer spot and the original watering hole from 1895.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best shopping in Telluride?

    Telluride is a small town, and its laid back aesthetic makes it much different from most other upscale ski towns – you won’t find any Prada store here. Shopping is limited to Mountain Village and the town’s main street, Colorado Avenue. In Mountain Village, the most unique offerings are the Swanky Buckle, an upscale women’s boutique with shoes and designer clothing, Telluride Naturals, which specializes in locally made art, jewelry, bath products and other made in Colorado items – you can even buy Telluride Vodka here. Telluride is home to one of the nation’s most acclaimed custom ski boot fitters, so a shocking number of visitors make a pair of ski boots their big purchase – you sometimes need an appointment even though Bootdoctors has three locations between Town and Mountain Village. On Colorado Avenue, Appaloosa Trading Company makes its own fine leather goods for men, women and children, with a Western flair, and has for over twenty years. This is the Old West after all, the town where Butch Cassidy robbed his very first bank, so get yourself outfitted with cowboys boots or hat at Black Bear Trading Company, which sells Lucchese, Stetson and other top labels. If you do need a special big ticket purchase while visiting, Elinoff & Co. is the leading fine jeweler.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best Telluride food experiences?

    On the mountain, the ski resort has made a big change in recent years, trying to carve out a niche as America’s most European ski dining experience, and it succeeded. Here we eat to ski, in Europe they ski to eat, and Telluride may change things with its excellent Alpino Vino, a chalet featuring amazing Italian charcuterie, gourmet grilled sandwiches and a huge wine list. Bon Vivant is another fun and lively Euro-centric on-mountain optin, this one specializing in French fare and outdoor joie de vivre. Both are not to be missed by skiers. Telluride is a very wealthy but very laid back town, and the scales here tip more to casual than fine dining, and even the fine dining is relaxed and unpretentious. But that does not mean the food is not excellent – two of the town’s most popular eateries are a pizzeria and a barbecue joint, but they happen to be the best pizzeria and best barbecue joint at any ski resort in the US. Brown Dog Pizza serves the very unique Detroit-style pizza, virtually impossible to find outside of Michigan, backed in a steel pan sort of like New York’s Sicilian but much less bready. What used to be Back Alley BBQ moved to a prominent new location next to the main gondola at the foot of the ski resort, and is now called Oak (The New Fat Alley) but has the same great Alabama owner and the same world-class ribs, better than most you would get in Memphis, plus a deep and curated bourbon list. Telluride also has some funky street carts, both in Mountain Village’s main plaza and on Main Street in town, serving everything from Swedish meatballs to savory popovers.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best things to do in Telluride?

    Best Things To Do

    In winter Telluride is all about skiing and snowboarding with one of the best arrays of diverse terrain for all abilities of any ski resort in North America, from the tamest greens to the perfectly groomed blues to some of the most challenging double black mogul runs on earth, and hike-to chutes and terrain rated Extreme, beyond double black. But there are many other fun options, the most popular of which are guided snowmobile excursions, a one day into to ice climbing, and unique guided “fat bike” tours on special mountain bikes with huge tires that work in the snow. If you haven’t done it, and few have, it is very fun experience and most tours conveniently end at the Telluride Brewing Company. In summer, Telluride switches to full on festival mode, with a special event pretty much every weekend, the biggest of which is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June, now in its 40th year, but others range from a horror film fest to a beer event in the fall. Mountain biking, hiking and fly fishing are all popular, and Telluride’s Mountain Village is home to an excellent golf course.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the most romantic restaurants in Las Vegas?

    The Forbes 5-Star, Michelin 3-Star Joel Robuchon in the MGM Grand may well be the most romantic restaurant in the world – it’s certainly tops in Vegas. The setting, the service the food, everything is impeccable and the intimate dining room makes you forget there is anyone else. But Robuchon is not the only Parisian 3-Michelin starred chef to come to Vegas and earn Forbes highest 5-Star rating - so did Guy Savoy (Caesars) and Pierre Gagniare at Twist (Mandarin Oriental) both of which are small and spectacular romantic choices in the classic French style. If you want views with your French flair, it is hard to beat Chef Joho’s Eiffel Tower Restaurant atop Paris with views so inspiring it has become THE place to propose in Las Vegas. For something more old school, the city’s hidden service gem is the wonderful Michael’s at the Southpoint resort. This was the city’s special occasion eatery before any celebrity chefs came to town, and still rules with its small number of deep banquettes, tuxedoes captain and waiters, and white glove service that made the Rat Pack happy and will certainly please you. It’s the kind of place almost extinct, where they do everything from Caesar salad to bananas foster tableside with great pomp and circumstance, and waiters put your water glass on a silver tray before refilling it.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best golf courses in Las Vegas?

    There is a lot of golf in Las Vegas but much of it is simply overpriced hype – the rest is largely still overpriced, but can be world class. Easily number one by a wide margin is Shadow Creek, currently ranked the 17th best course in the nation (it should be higher but doesn’t get the points others do for hosting pro tournaments). Owned my MGM Resorts, it is simply exquisite, with very limited play, caddies, and a King-for-the-day experience. It also has the most expensive green fees in the US at $500 but at least that includes round trip limo from your hotel – you have to stay at an MGM property to play. Caesars Entertainment has a similar deal with its Cascata, though it is open to outside play and doesn’t have the same elitist feel. Cascata is “only” $250-$350, but is an excellent golf course. The best of the courses right around the city are the three Pete Dye eighteens at the Las Vegas Paiute Resort (non-gaming) and the TPC Las Vegas in Summerlin. But if you are eager to tee it up it’s worth going just a bit further afield. The two Tom Fazio courses at the Primm Valley Golf Club, just under an hour from the Strip, are the best after Shadow Creek and Cascata, and are far cheaper, but you need a car.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best museums in Las Vegas?

    There has never been more going on the museum front than there is right now in Las Vegas. The Mob Museum (formally the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement), jumpstarted the entire resurgence of Downtown or “Old”  Las Vegas when it opened last February, drawing 220,000 guest in its first eleven months of operation. This was recently joined in Downtown by the unique open-air Neon Museum in November, which displays hundreds of vintage Vegas works of neon art in a setting landscaped to resemble an organized junkyard, with free guided tours. The brand new $55 million Lied Discovery Children’s Museum just opened in March, and is immediately the top family attraction in the city. The hidden gem in Vegas is the National Atomic Testing Museum, which few know exists but is a Smithsonian Institution affiliate that covers the long history of bomb testing in Nevada and all sorts of other quirky things – right now there’s an exhibit on mysterious Area 51.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best places for brunch in Las Vegas?

    For years the gold standard for Las Vegas Sunday Brunch has been the Sterling Buffet at Bally’s, over the top even by Las Vegas standards, with champagne flowing so fast you might have to beg off and even a caviar station. But the sharks have been circling and competition is fierce. The most intimate yet delicious is Jasmine at the Bellagio, a hidden gem. Jasmine is normally a fine dining Chinese restaurant but its Sunday Fountains Brunch is multi-cultural, with all the usual omelet and carving stations, lox and other smoked fish and meats, plus sushi and tons of dim sum, the best of all worlds. It’s a small, beautiful room overlooking the hotel’s fountain show. Besides Bally’s, the other top buffet choice is the massively revamped Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars which lives up to its billing with more than 500 choices, including many cooked by chefs before your eyes, and an extensive series of international stations including Mexican (they hand make the tortillas as you watch), Italian (made to order pastas), Chinese barbecue, separate dim sum area, sushi, raw bar and so on. They even cook soufflés to order. For a less expensive, more traditional sit down breakfast-style option, it is very hard to beat Hash House A Go Go in The Quad casino hotel, perennially voted the city’s favorite breakfast spot for its signature hashes and other farm fresh dishes.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the best kids’ activities in Las Vegas?

    For those with children in tow, it’s hard to beat the new Discovery Children’s Museum, which just opened in March, 2013 Downtown. In need of expansion and renovation, the former Lied Discovery Children’s Museum instead relocated to an all-new and much larger $55 million facility across the street from the Smith Performing Arts Center, and instantly became one of the premier Children’s Museums in country. Kids may also enjoy strolling through the very unique open-air Neon Museum in Downtown, which opened last November and is laid out sort of like a junkyard but with purpose. They will certainly enjoy the Adventuredome at Circus Circus, an indoor amusement park full of kid-friendly rides, and the Secret Garden of Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage, where they can see dolphins, panthers and rare white tigers. Shark Reef in Mandalay Bay is a full-blown aquarium that most cities would be proud to have, and very popular with kids. For something more offbeat, Las Vegas has KISS® By Monster Mini Golf®, the world’s only mini-golf course themed as a tribute to the rock band Kiss, complete with lots of glow in the dark effects.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Should visitors rent a car in Las Vegas?

    Visitors to Vegas should absolutely avoid renting a car if they do not plan to leave the city. Even if you are doing a day trip, it is probably better to rent at your hotel (most have rental car desks) for the day, not at the airport, which is very close to the Strip. Cars are handy for touring Hoover Dam, the number one out of town attraction, though not necessary. They are more necessary if you want to see Red Rock Canyon or the Grand Canyon. The other major reason to rent is if you are playing golf, since all Vegas courses with the exception of Wynn and Bali Hai are off the beaten track and expensive and cumbersome by car service. However if you are just staying in town, even if you want to see all of Vegas, including historic Downtown, do yourself a favor and take cabs or the bus or the monorail. Traffic is terrible, roads are very confusing, and it is especially difficult getting in and out of the large casino hotels. Valets take forever, fees are high, and self-parking can be in what feels like another country.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    Where is the best sake in Las Vegas?

    Shibuya in the MGM Grand introduced the first world-class sake program in Las Vegas at the tail end of the 20th Century and is still going strong. MGM partnered with renowned sake author, John Gauntner, also the founder of Sake World, a sake sommelier certification, to develop the program. One of his first disciples took over at Shibuya, which now has over 125 labels. A more recent addition is Bar Masa in Aria, a sibling of famed New York haute sushi parlor Masa, both by renowned Japanese chef Masa Takayama. The wine list includes 13 sakes by the carafe, four by the glass, and nearly 100 by the bottle. Social House in the Crystals Mall at CityCenter is more accessible, with sakes for every budget, and even sparkling sake. But Social House also offers several rare and one-of-a-kind labels such as Divine Droplets, the only sake brewed in an ice dome for purity, and the $2,500 Super 9, made in batches of 100 bottles annually. The new flagship world’s largest Nobu opened in Caesars Palace this year and carries a broad range, including chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s own private label sakes.
  • On March 27, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What’s new in Las Vegas?

    Vegas never slows down, and as usual, there are plenty of new happenings. On the hotel front, the Forbes 4-Star Four Seasons just finished a $30 million top to bottom room makeover and also added a lobby wine bar. The MGM Grand wrapped up the biggest renovation in Vegas history, $160 million that included remaking 4,200 rooms and adding a 5-story nightclub and restaurant spin off of London’s famous Hakkasan Cantonese eatery, the resort’s new showpiece. Nobu Hotel, a luxury boutique 181-room hotel within Caesars Palace, just opened in February (the official Grand Opening is April 28) and has the world’s largest Nobu restaurant. Mandalay Bay launches Michael Jackson One, the newest and eagerly anticipated Cirque du Soleil show, in May. Bellagio added a major new cocktail lounge cum nightclub, Hyde, designed by Philippe Stark, done up as a centuries old Tuscan villa spanning 12,000 square feet and overlooking the hotel’s famous fountain show. The 5-acre, $470 million Smith Center for the Performing Arts and the new $55 million Discovery Children’s Museum next door both opened in March.
  • On March 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What are the differences between Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run golf courses?

    The two courses at The American Club’s Whistling Straits facility are links courses built in the style of the great seaside courses of Scotland and Ireland. They are largely treeless and are constantly windswept, making play more challenging. They are both flanked with high sand dunes and thick rough, and each has an exceptionally large number of sand traps. The average for a course is 100 to 200, but the Straits has more than a thousand. And since they are open, there is a lot of room for errant shots. The courses at Blackwolf Run are parkland designs, carved through inland forests, so if you miss the fairways and rough, your ball is often lost in the trees. Also, the Blackwolf Run courses are crossed by streams and feature lakes. The water hazard at Whistling Straits is largely limited to Lake Michigan. The look and feel of the two facilities is very different — beach versus forest — and each offers unique challenges.
  • On March 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    What is the most memorable hole at The American Club’s golf courses?

    All the holes on all four courses at The American Club have individual names, and the seventh hole on the Straits Course at Whistling Straits is aptly named “Shipwreck.” It is a long and challenging par-3 along the shore of Lake Michigan, with the green perched on the edge of a cliff. There are three tiers of sand traps terraced into the slope down to the lake. These are very intimidating because, if you land in one, it requires a hike down the steep slope and a very difficult blind recovery shot back up to the green well above you. From the forward tees it plays just 132 yards, but from all four other sets it is quite long, from 182 for the whites all the way up to 221 from the black tees. Add in the strong winds off the lake and this hole is both unforgettable and unforgiving.
  • On March 21, 2013
    Larry Olmsted answered the question: Larry Olmsted

    How long is the golf season in Kohler?

    The golf season at Kohler is typically from the beginning of May through the end of October, though it varies by actual weather and can be open slightly earlier or later in mild weather. The most reliable weather is from early June to the end of September. Weather is largely unpredictable though, in July and August, it can be quite hot and humid, and it can rain at any time of year. There is a difference in climate between the two facilities, too. The courses at Whistling Straits are largely treeless and are positioned on the shore of Lake Michigan, so they can be quite cool and windy, as is the norm for links-style golf. The courses at Blackwolf Run are much more sheltered from wind and thus warmer, though they offer shade.