Winter Rendezvous, the gay ski week, is now celebrating its 32nd year, beginning on Wednesday, January 20, and stretching until Sunday, January 24. The man responsible for the epic event, Michael Wilson, spoke with Get Out! about the events scheduled to take place, and it sounds like a blast!
Featured guest entertainer, Sandra Bernhard, is slated to perform Thursday at 9 p.m., and her rare brand of humor and blend of musical talent is just a sample of the anticipated festivities arranged for the 5 day event. There will be a Prince tribute band, an enormous pool party, a cozy bonfire, sleigh rides, wine tasting, drag ski parade (with heels of course), dog-pulled sled rides, champagne, kick-off party, reception and more. Oh, and there will be skiing as well, with plenty of snow available in Stowe, Vermont, we are assured!
So you’re getting ready for this huge event?
What exactly is your role in this winter party?
I’m the promoter.
And there are how many hotels involved in the event in Vermont?
The Golden Eagle Host hotel and 3 others
How many years have you been involved with this project, and as a promoter how do you get this all together?
Eight years. This has been going on for 32 years. Eight years ago the man organizing it didn’t want to do it any more. I had been helping him out with booking the entertainment and a couple of other things. Rather than let it go by the wayside, I agreed to take it over. We had 75 people that year, and now we’re up towards 400 people. But I also have a travel company. MJW Adventures, so I’m doing this sort of thing for 15 years – promoting LGBT adventures, travel, SCUBA diving, trips all around the world, white-water rafting…So this just happens to be our biggest event.
Will you be at the event?
Do you ski?
I do ski, yes. I’m too busy to ski during the event. But I have to tell you, it’s really a unique and diverse crowd. Some of the guys have been going ever since it started. We literally have the demographic from 22 to 75 and everything in between. It’s not your typical gay-themed event where you only have one type of genre, like bears or muscle. It’s just a really, really nice mix of people.
Are there a lot of women?
There aren’t a lot of women. We want more girls, but the majority are men.
So it was 61 degrees today in New York, the week before Christmas. If it remains warm, will there be snow?
And I have the answer for you: “There’s always snow in Stowe!”
It’s really funny though, because it’s out of sight, out of mind. I would like to have a storm, because anytime we had a snowstorm, 50 more people will sign up. If they don’t see snow in New York, they just assume there is no snow anywhere. But they have state-of-the-art snowmaking machines. A few winters ago we had a very mild winter, if you remember. They spent millions and millions of dollars invested in snow-making abilities. It’s pretty amazing. Every single trail will be opened when we get there, regardless of what we see down here.
Is there a favorite event that you enjoy or that is very popular?
There are so many, but the last two years one of the crowd favorites is the pool party at the Trapp Family Lodge. Downhill drag race – that goes over well too.
Do the queens ski in heels?
You’d be amazed at the creative outfits people show up with! Well, we call it a downhill drag/costume parade, not a race. I’m glad that Sandra is excited about coming.
She is excited. She has a gigantic gay male following; they just can’t get enough of her. So this weekend sounds like a really fun time.
It is a blast!
How does one register for this event?
The way it works is they register online. There are 4 packages to choose from: A Full Ski/Ride Pass, which allow them to ski and attend all events Wednesday through Sunday. A Weekend Ski/Ride Pass, for skiing Saturday and Sunday only and attend weekend events starting 5 pm Friday 5pm the pool party. We also offer two non-skier events only passes, a full and a weekend version. After registering online, they may call the hotel directly to book a room. All hotels listed on the website offer a discount to registered Winter Rendezvous participants. When guests check in at Winter Rendezvous registration desk they will be fitted with a wristband and given a discount voucher to redeem at the mountain. There are package deals starting at $499, for anyone coming to Stowe on Thursday, it includes three nights at host hotel, Full Ski/Ride/Party pass and ticket to Sandra. Price is per person, double occupancy.
That sounds cheap.
It is very cheap! The Winter Rendezvous packages offer great value! A full pass for $225 allows access to all events, parties and Sandra Bernhard as well as amazing discounts on lift tickets, rentals and lessons. Stowe Mountain offers skiing & riding for all ability levels. Intermediate and advanced skiers & riders can enjoy over 2,000 vertical feet of terrain, while beginner skiers & riders should take advantage of the excellent learning terrain open at Spruce Peak. Some other highlights are the bonfire, wine and champagne reception, open skate and the ice sculpture competition. Guests receive a wristband and a discount voucher to redeem at the mountain for discounts on lift tickets, rentals and lessons. Normally lift tickets at Stowe are $ 125 a day. Winter Rendezvous participants only pay $45 a day, less than half price. So yes you could call it cheap.
So one more time, the $499 includes Thursday to Sunday and entrance to all the events?
Yes It’s a package deal is 3 nights’ accommodations at the host hotel with breakfast, taxes, gratuities and a full ski/ride party pass, standard room, dbl/ocp. The other option is to purchase a full or weekend pass and book the hotel separately. People stay everywhere. Some guys like to rent big houses with friends. Normally it’s a two-step process: They register and then book their lodging. The $499 package deal is just a way of simplifying the process. People who stay at the host hotel get complimentary mimosas with breakfast courtesy of barefoot wine. That said, we also offer AA meetings for our friends in recovery.
People come from everywhere?
Yes, from everywhere!
How do the register?
They go to winterrendezvous.com. or call 617 504-3131