Mention "The Mayor" in Utah and everyone knows who you're talking about. At 80-something, Bill Levitt has reigned over Alta (population 400) for 28 years. Since 1956, Levitt has owned and operated the 60-year-old Alta Lodge, where TVs don't exist, reservations are kept on a chalkboard and meals are served at communal dining tables. He has also proudly represented Utah skiing on more than 50 committees, including the Utah Ski Association.
Born "It's nobody's damn business. I don't like telling people my age because then they start treating me differently."
Passions Even after quintuple bypass surgery three years ago ("because I don't do things in small ways"), The Mayor still skis, golfs, hikes and "loves his 20-years-his-junior wife."
Love Struck As mayor, Levitt has performed more than 100 marriage ceremonies. Levitt teases he'll rename the town "Romantic Alta," because "when you see moonlight reflected off the snowy mountains or come here in summer and walk knee deep in wildflowers with light breezes wafting through your hair, it kind of turns you on."
It All Started... "I had a beautiful blonde ski instructor my first day in 1953. That made me realize skiing was a great sport. The next day I got an Austrian guy. It wasn't quite the same, but by then I was hooked."
The Good Old Days "I don't like the urbanization of ski areas from takeover mergers. Real estate development is making skiing secondary at many resorts." As for equipment: "I long for 7-foot-3-inch powder skis with leather boots you loosen at the ankle. Now you walk around in plastic boots like something from outer space."
On Snowboarding (banned at Alta) "I'll wait until my next life."
On Alta "Alta is the future. So many people are hungry for a place where they can sit around a lobby by the fire, talk, make friends, ski together, and where children are welcome. Most ski areas are carbon copies of one another. When you're in Alta, you know you're in a different place."
On Levitt "My goal is to die young at quite an advanced age."