Any skier knows heading to Aspen is a must every winter. But aside from hitting the slopes, how else can you ensure a stellar vacation? From finding out about the hottest local gear to keep you warm while snowboarding to knowing where to go for the best après-ski scene, use these tips to make the most of your next Colorado snow excursion.
Where to stay
For a dash of stylish eccentricity in a building that may or may not be haunted, book a room at Hotel Jerome, a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star property. This lauded venue has been around since the 1880s, and the layers of history can be seen in the eclectic décor and smart luxury rooms.
You might also consider staying at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, a Four-Star hotel that boasts outdoor hot tubs overlooking the mountain and a lobby with a roaring fireplace, comfy chairs and expansive couches. The property is also located right next to the slopes.
Another option is nearby Viceroy Snowmass. This lavish hotel in the neighboring resort town of Snowmass offers ski-in/ski-out services, which means you can hit the slopes and then go right into the hotel — or even better, the spa — when you are ready for a break.
Where to ski
While this might seem obvious, there are actually four places to ski and snowboard between Aspen and Snowmass, all with unique attributes.
If you are a beginner or want to polish your skills, Aspen Skiing Company staffs skilled instructors who can help you at any level. New, young and unsteady skiers should head to Buttermilk, the smaller, gentler mountain. Funny enough, it’s also the place where the Winter X Games will be held January 26 to 29, 2017, illustrating just how good the hills are for freestyle skiers to play — away from the bunny slope, of course.
Snowmass Mountain boasts 150 miles of trails, as well as runs for experienced skiers and beginners. Not only that, but it has a great dining facility on top of the mountain, so even if you don’t feel like strapping on your skis, you can still people-watch while nibbling on gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Aspen Mountain is the big, beautiful structure that shadows the fancy ski town, and it’s good for those looking to ride a double-black or single-black diamond. As a bonus, you get to go on the same runs that will host the 2017 Audi FIS World Cup Finals on March 15 to 19.
If you are feeling thirsty, glide over to the snowcat-towed Oasis Champagne Bar, the fabulous pop-up lounge that Five-Star The Little Nell shares with skiers on weekends between President’s Day and the start of spring.
Finally, the Aspen Highlands is one of the lesser-traveled mountains in the area, but wow, is it beautiful. Any level of skier or snowboarder can find a place here, and as you travel the snowy terrain, make sure to take in the stunning views of the Centennial State.
Where to eat
One must-try restaurant in Aspen is the Pine Creek Cookhouse, a charming cabin in the woods that you reach via snowshoe. Yes, you can also take a sled to the spot, but snowshoeing provides a way to slowly traverse through nature while working up an appetite for a Colorado rack of lamb, Rocky Mountain elk chop or sautéed rainbow trout. Just make sure to occasionally look up from your plate; after all, you just might be brushing elbows with a celebrity or two.
In town, hunker down with a glass of wine and house-cured charcuterie at The Little Nell’s Five-Star Element 47. But since you’re already there, stay for another drink and partake in chef Patrick Dunn’s whole dinner menu.
For superb cocktails and warming comfort food, head to the cozy confines of Jimmy’s, a neighborhood hot spot that bubbles over with local liquors and ingredients.
What to wear
For the latest in chic ski gear that will keep you functioning all winter, head to Strafe, an Aspen company started by twin brothers John and Pete Gaston, who love the snow. The brand sells jackets, pants and even full suits for both men and women.
Under the waterproof pants, ladies can throw on a pair of whimsical, oh-so-soft leggings by local clothing designer Shredly. The colorful pieces are a great option for keeping warm and for showing off during a fireside wine session.
Of course, you can’t hit the slopes without the proper equipment, and the Colorado-made Meier Skis provides one of the sleekest boards around.
And though it’s not a local company, Smith Optics makes high-performance goggles that are a fantastic addition to the wardrobe. They prove to be a much-needed accessory to counteract the bright sun gleaming off the glittering white snow.