Those who aren’t heading to the sun-scorched shores of the Caribbean may find embracing the apres-ski lifestyle the best way to wait out the winter until spring. There is no finer socialite spot for embracing the snow and ice quite like Colorado’s crown jewel of Aspen. Think of it as the winter version of the Hamptons – and a staple cold-weather destination of North America. Every year the mountainside town pulls in a highly affluent crowd; from celebrities looking to swish down the slopes to international ski lovers and families wanting to experience America’s swankiest white powder playground. Our Aspen Destination Guide lays out our top suggestions on where to stay, dine and play off-piste in this wonderful winter wonderland.
Where to Stay
Despite Aspen’s first-class clientele, the mountain town still has a hint of its provincial roots mostly reflected in its slim pickings for five-star places to stay. Fortunately, Relais and Chateaux filled this need with their lovely oasis of The Little Nell. Sitting at the foot of Aspen Mountain, you can expect lavish luxury with bells on. Snow bunnies will adore the ski-in and ski-out access, and the concierge team are dab hands when it comes to pre-warming your boots in the morning.
The Little Nell takes the memory of a mountain lodge and gives it a welcome modern update. Stone walls feature originally inspired art-work from the likes of Michelle Grabner and rooms have log fires, heated marble floors in the decadent bathrooms, and private balconies for sunrise mountain views.
Where to Dine
From rich gooey fondue on top of a mountain to pearly oysters with Bloody Mary’s for brunch, Aspen knows how to serve up the kind of classy comfort food you want when it’s cold outside. Everyone in town adores Cloud Nine – perched at the top of the world and accessible only by braving the gorgeous glass gondolas. Once up the mountain, you can gorge on raclette, steak tartar, strudel, and lashings of champagne. Be warned, the atmosphere is ravishingly rowdy and when lunch ticks over into apres-ski time, it’s not unusual for an impromptu ski boot disco to strike up.
Back to The Little Nell and their in-house restaurant Element 47 knows how to pull a carefully curated crowd. Casual fine dining beneath twinkly soft lighting and grand artwork sets the scene for long dinners with fine wines and friends. The Hudson Valley Foie Gras with sweet roasted pears is a highlight, as is the wagyu with black trumpet mushrooms and the excellently executed cheese board.
What to Do
There are only two words that matter in Aspen – apres ski. The oldest bar in town may not be the classiest, but The Red Onion is a must for anyone looking for an alternative to caviar and champagne. Mexican bites and craft brews bring the town back to its cowboy roots. If you prefer to stick with the finery then the Aspen Mountain Club will see you sipping prosecco with captains of industry, and the Caribou Club is for members only, but a week’s pass will get you through the coveted doors to sip scotch in style.
When you aren’t skiing down Snowmass or Ajax, snowshoeing over the mountains, or hitting the gut-wrenching slopes around Highland Bowl, you can unwind all those kinks and knots at the Remede Spa. Not only can you rest easy with the usual spa menu, but the infused oxygen mask treatments, chocolate boxes and prosecco makes for an offbeat addition.