Luxury Aspen VacationIn an Aspen State of Mind
Look under the definition of the good life, and you will certainly find Aspen. It lives up to its reputation as the celebrity and top of the food chain in affluence enclave, and more. What's unique though is Aspen achieves an authentic Colorado vibe while being chic, and it certainly has the best people watching of any ski resort in the U.S. With ski season coming to a close, there is time for just one last trip. After all, when getting too much champagne in your hair is an après ski hazard, this place should be on your list.
Good for: Couples, families, singles and groups of friends looking to tear it up on the slopes or just look like you did in head to toe Chanel ski gear.
Suggested stay: A long weekend or make a ski week out of it.
Why now: It's ski season, and finally the snow has arrived in Aspen. For those who are more into apres ski than hitting the slopes, there are more than enough diversions to keep you entertained.
Time of year: For skiers, (or après skiers which is a specialty in Aspen) anytime from mid-December to the first week of April. A number of the restaurants close the second week of April until May, so unless you are a die-hard, plan your trip in season. Insiders know though that you come for the winter and stay for the summer. June begins one of the best seasons in Aspen through the end of August when you can hike, bike and take in the fresh mountain air. This year, Aspen Food & Wine is June 16-18th where the top of the culinary food chain gathers for a feeding frenzy of epic proportions.
· The Town. We can’t reiterate enough that even for non-skiers, Aspen is a compelling destination because the town is so damned charming. Just a few blocks in any direction, Aspen is compact and made for lingering over a long breakfast, meandering through a dispensary or two (for medicinal purposes of course), and exploring the shops. Unlike other domestic ski resorts, Aspen has culture; it has a legit modern art museum including a rooftop café where you can watch skiers glide down the slopes.
· The Skiing. It’s impossible to tire of the skiing in Aspen, which is why the very fortunate spend their winters learning on Buttermilk, shredding it on Ajax, or for the more aggressive, going into the Highlands, hiking to the top and skiing the expert trails down.
· Après Ski. We weren’t kidding when we said you have a hazard of getting too much champagne in your hair from a magnum-fueled après ski. Cloud 9 is for those who are strong intermediate skiers and up, and it is indisputably the most raucous of scenes. Think of it as a dose of the St. Barths or St. Tropez in Colorado. For a more refined time, we like to watch the St. Regis saber a magnum of Moet each day around 5pm, or when we get right off the slopes, catch a fun afternoon at Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell.
· The Restaurants. We don’t actually know where to start, as the food in Aspen takes U.S. ski resort cuisine to the next level. Our list below is where we head when we fly in for short a 3-4 day weekend. For those staying longer, check out our summer Aspen issue which gives you the full download on where to eat in Aspen. The first night we arrive we always head to Matsuhisa or Casa Tua, to gently ease into the scene. We go to Matsuhisa when we’re in a king crab tempura and yellowtail jalapeno state of mind, or Casa Tua when we want a chill, super sexy vibe along with a big old glass of red wine.
The second night we head to Caribou Club, not only because it’s the epicenter of debauchery, but because insiders know that it is one of the best meals in town. Chef Miles Angelo hits our spot with his seasonal lobster rendition, or on our last visit, a Thai curry halibut that was inspired by his annual trips with the Caribou team around the world. We have to give major props to this guy; Chef Miles just has mad skills in the kitchen and he has been a major influence and mentor to many chefs, including superstar Marc Vetri.
And of course, we would be remiss not to make it to Jimmy’s, where admittedly we stop for one last drink almost every night we are in Aspen. Everyone, no matter where you go out, somehow ends up at Jimmy’s, for the lack of pretense bar scene and the best cocktails in town. We’re no strangers to fine dining, but sometimes you want food you can pronounce, and Jimmy’s is always executed at the highest level. We have been known to double down on his crab cake and mac and cheese. Don’t judge – we skied all day. Jimmy’s is also one of the few places in Aspen you can get actor Kurt Russell’s grass fed beef, so bring on that Tomahawk steak.
· The Shopping. Besides having Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton (stock up on your luggage here), Nuages is a local favorite. They have a solid collection of Alaia and Giambattista Valli, as well as other couture finds in an exquisitely edited store.
· The Hotels. Asking about our favorite hotel is like asking a Mum to choose her favorite child. When we want to go classic old school, The St. Regis is where we check in for the weekend. Rooms are plush and deeply comfortable, and their Remede Spa has an oxygen lounge, where we strongly suggest dedicating après ski time. Even if you’re not staying at The St. Regis, stop in the bar for a classic Bloody Mary or a straight up martini with a twist.
For contemporary chic with a crowd to match, The Little Nell is the place to be. The rooms are huge and you’ll be tempted to sleep in and hang by your fireplace all day for decadently lazy afternoons. This May, the rooms are getting a facelift so it’s another reason to come back for the summer to check it out. The Little Nell is often sold out in season, so don’t forget to check The Residences at The Little Nell, which is optimal for groups of friends traveling together.
Aspen is not easy to get to, but if you’re staying stateside for a getaway, it’s well worth your while.