Recent Work



Real Estate





Tom Passavant About

A New Yorker for 23 years, Tom traded his subway pass for a lift ticket when he and his wife, Karen, moved to Aspen, Colorado, in 2001. (He had initially fallen in love with the mountain town in 1978 while writing a book about North America's top 25 ski resorts.) Fortunately, he was able to take much of his writing and editing work with him, and he continues to contribute to a wide range of publications.

After graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University with a Master's Degree in Journalism, Tom spent ten years on the editorial staff of Playboy, in both Chicago and New York, and 15 years as the editor-in-chief of Diversion magazine, a travel and lifestyle publication aimed at physicians. There he worked closely with the late Steve Birnbaum, and also served as editorial director for a number of single-sponsor publications and the Official Guides to Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Since moving to Colorado, Tom's writing has appeared in Aspen Sojourner magazine (where he is a Contributing Editor), the late-and-much-missed Gourmet, Town & Country, Four Seasons magazine, Aspen magazine, Edible Aspen, SKI, Country Living, Luxury Living, and many other places. On the web, he has written for Indagare, ForbesTraveler.com (where he was one of the board of experts for the Forbes 400 top hotels and resorts in the world), FourSeasons.com, and Everett Potter's Travel Report.

In addition to his writing and editing, Tom was for many years the president of Slow Food Roaring Fork/Aspen, the local chapter of Slow Food USA. He is an avid skier, biker, hiker, tennis player and bread baker. Recently he and Karen have been spending part of the year in Honolulu, and traveling to Italy as often as possible.

Tom's Superlatives
Most Memorable Trip: "It's tough to beat a safari in southern Africa, which has to be at the top of anyone's trips of a lifetime list. We recently visited South Africa and Botswana, and it's by far the most riveting, out-of-your-comfort zone experience you can possible have.

On a totally other level, a visit to my grandmother's home town in Italy's Abruzzo mountains was perhaps my most inspiring trip—is it any wonder I've been so involved with Slow Food, and helped built a wood-fired community oven?

More recently, we were totally smitten by Tokyo and Kyoto. The level of obsessiveness and pride in even the smallest undertaking really turned our heads. In terms of sheer beauty, Hawaii and Aspen are hard to beat. For a totally wonderful travel moment, order a lilikoi daiquiri at the Halekulani Hotel's House Without a Key, right on the ocean at Waikiki, at sunset, while the incomparable dancers perform traditional and modern hulas. Total chicken skin every time."

Most Harrowing Travel Experience: "I once was on an old turbo prop plane flying from Bogota to Quito when a cloud of white smoke filled the cabin. I looked down and saw nothing but endless green jungle. Uh oh. Turned out okay, though, as did that emergency landing at LAX with fire trucks lining the runway."

Favorite Chef: "That would be Nick Morfogen, who now has a couple of restaurants in Delray Beach, Florida. Nick was the opening chef at Aspen's Ajax Tavern; his food was so full of flavor and love and a passion for cooking, we'll never forget the sense of well-being it imparted. Nick fed our souls, not just our bellies--and that's been my standard for great cooking ever since. More recently, I think Frasca, in Boulder, Colorado, captures that same spirit, though the food is different. And if you want a great dinner in a romantic setting and be treated like a grownup, try Boulevard in San Francisco."

Favorite destination for food: "Italy, of course, and especially Rome, followed by Thailand. In the U.S., San Francisco and wine country are, without question, the best places to eat in America. Let's put it his way: I respect the restaurants of New York, but love the restaurants of northern California. Eating there is about pleasure, not suffering or showing off."

Most Overrated Food City:
"Okay, I've been to Hong Kong twice now, and I just don't get the food there. I've eaten high and low, but the restaurants leave me unmoved."

Most Questionable Meal: "At Narita airport in Tokyo, the shops have an array of packaged snacks that are so far from my comprehension, I just stare at them in wonder and apprehension. If you're changing planes on United, your choices come down to excellent sushi--assuming the little sushi bar in the concourse is open--or Mickey D's. Just pray that sushi bar is open."

Favorite Hotel: "Where to start? We stayed at Amandari, in Bali, right after it opened, and before it had so many imitators. It remains the gold standard for comfort, style, service, and a connection to the land on which it's built. We loved the Santa Caterina, in Amalfi, which isn't as famous as some others there, but sublime. And in Tokyo we splurged on three nights at the Park Hyatt, the famous setting for the movie "Lost in Translation." Talk about entering a kinder, gentler universe. No other urban hotel has come close to that experience.

Most Stunning Hotel View: "In the little village of Eze, on the French Riviera, is Chateau Eza, which must have the most extraordinary view on earth. At night, you can sit in the restaurant, hung over the cliff, and watch the planes take off from Nice airport--many miles away. Amazing."

Most Over the Top Hotel Experience: "A bungalow at Mauna Lani Bay, on the Big Island, is right up there. Same for Fleur de Lys, a private canal barge in Burgundy, complete with a swimming pool and a superb chef. "

Favorite travel film: Airplane!

Favorite travel book: A Traveler in Italy, by H.V. Morton. "Morton is deeply out of fashion these days, but I don't care--he's the model of the erudite traveler who takes the time to try to understand the world he's enveloped in. Totally different in voice and spirit, but equally moving for me is Edward Abbey's great Desert Solitaire. Understanding the desert Southwest, which at first seems merely empty, is about being patient and using all your senses to learn about a foreign place.

Favorite Travel Quote:
"Oliver Wendell Holmes said 'Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.' I think that's the whole point of travel--to have new experiences, and to be changed for the better by them."