BOISE, Idaho – What happens when your out-of-the-way secret vacation haunt winds up on a national talk show with almost three million viewers?
I’m waiting to find out, as are a lot of other interested parties.
If you live in Idaho, you know about McCall. The all-season resort town on Payette Lake is a quick getaway for those from Boise, 100 miles south. There’s hiking, biking, skiing and golf, with the 27-hole McCall muni; scenic Jug Mountain Ranch, also public; and Whitetail Club, a family-friendly golf-ski-fish-bike private vacation community whose 18-hole course meanders through pines and trout-filled ponds.
Nationally, though, McCall is still relatively unknown. Or it was. McCall, population 3,000, took a star turn in June when Late Show host Stephen Colbert and Idaho-born actor Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad) did a “McCall Community Calendar.”
“Personally, I can’t get enough of this town,” said Paul, who vacations in McCall with his wife. “In fact, I’m a McCall-holic.” The New York studio audience roared.
“Seriously,” Paul continued. “I have a problem.”
Sitting on a drab set with dated furniture and a large potted plant, making the Late Show look like public-access TV, Paul and Colbert went on to list community happenings that ranged from multiple Bingo-night opportunities, Girls Night Out Golf at Jug Mountain, the farmers’ market, and McCall Improvement Committee meetings.
“Items on the agenda to improve McCall include nothing, because McCall is perfect,” Colbert quipped.
Naturally, the bit played big in McCall, and throughout the state. In Boise, the daily Idaho Statesman and alternative Boise Weekly picked up the item, as did local TV outlets. At Jug Mountain, a gorgeous course amid meadows and wetland habitat, the women who attended the Girls Night Out event took a photo and posted it to social media, tagging actor Paul and the Late Show.
As for the effect of all this on McCall’s desirability as a golf and/or vacation home destination, the principals are still figuring it out.
“We shared the clip and the photo on our Facebook page, and we got a lot of comments,” says Jeremy Welch, an assistant pro at Jug Mountain who has been at the course for eight years. Has the exposure led to an uptick in business? He’s not sure.
“It’s been one of our busiest Junes we’ve ever had,” Welch says. “We have 130 people on the books today, and that’s a busy weekday for us.”
So the Colbert/Paul shout-out certainly hasn’t hurt.
At Whitetail, where cabins start at $995,000 and resident club membership runs $75,000, plus $650 in monthly dues, members and employees have heard from friends across the country. Dan Scott, president and general manager of Whitetail and the sumptuous, historic Shore Lodge, called the five-minute Late Show bit “hilarious” and “a natural endorsement” of McCall that was as unbeatable as it was unexpected.
Colbert is a golfer. He had Jordan Spieth on his show in March, during which the host hit a shot into a net and said, “I take so long to set up my shots that my friends back home call me Coma Colbert.” Could he visit McCall? Stranger things have happened.
Although there are 48 homes at Whitetail and five more under construction—home sites start at $225,000—McCall newbies looking to get the lay of the land can bunk down at Shore Lodge, where The Cove spa has excellent pre- and post-golf treatments. There’s also a pool, hot tub, private movie theater (with a vast library of titles) and a floating trampoline in the lake. Oh, and there’s an excellent bar, and s’mores for the kids. A lakefront clubhouse exclusive to members and owners will debut later this year.
After that, McCall really will be perfect.