Newsflash: Aspen, Colorado is expensive. As many ski vacationers discover whiling planning an Aspen winter getaway, cheap places to bunk up in America's priciest and poshest ski town are few and far between. Most vacationers cope with this bittersweet reality long before touching down at the Pitkin County Airport, usually while booking hotel or airline reservations. Nonetheless, the savvy and penny wise ski traveler may be surprised by the diverse array of relatively affordable hotels, motels, condos, and ski lodges for a comfortable, warm, and restful slumber. Like finding a fistful of quarters between sofa cushions, one just has to know where to look and book.
For decades, travel and fashion writers have long dubbed sophisticated and stylish Buenos Aires as “The Paris of South America” for its broad avenues, au courant garment district, provocative evenings of tangoing until morning, strolls past plazas lining the Rio de la Plata, and lazy afternoon polo matches.
Learning to ski or snowboard is easy.
First, be under 21.Then slip, slide, tumble and bruise your way down the most difficult trail on the highest mountain you can find. Repeat eight hours a day, seven days a week until mommy and daddy’s money runs out or Christmas break is over.
Geographically, the 12,500-foot Aspen Highlands ski area is tucked into the heavenly clouds of the Elk Mountain Range. With a 3,635-foot vertical drop, over a thousand ski-able acres, five lifts, and one of the most pristine powder bowls in the country, Highlands is an almost mythical Xanadu, particularly to the scores of locals who love and frequent these expert slopes on a daily basis. While whisking down Highlands, take a minute to bask in the sweeping vistas of the 14,000 foot Maroon Bells, one of the most majestic peaks in Colorado. Maroon Bells is the Western Slope’s Mont Blanc, inspiring artists and photographers around the country.
The dizzying heights, moguls, and altitude of skiing Aspen Highlands will surely leave adventurers with the appetite of an athlete. However, lunching and dining options can be somewhat limited when surrounded by snow pack at 10,740 feet.
The Slow Food movement has a robust presence in Aspen, thanks to superstar chefs with industry pull utilizing farm fresh and local ingredients. The core philosophy of Slow Food is mindfully grown produce and livestock that is raised and cultivated with as little environmental impact as possible.
I’m enthralled by Alice in Wonderland; the lessons, the morals, the colors and the utterly random way that Tim Burton spins a yarn. Face your fears, dream the impossible (at least six times before breakfast), travel by hat and be true to yourself, no matter the era or dress code. I’m not sure I could have handled it all in 3-D; too much stimulation already.
Tucked into a quaint Victorian house on Main Street, Explore Bistro and Bookstore is a popular Aspen establishment frequented by residents and out-of-towners alike. As a well-stocked independent bookstore and a popular vegetarian bistro, Explore fuses a cozy ambiance of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves of literary and nonfiction classics with a delightful bistro, coffee shop, and dining room.
Here is a very realistic yet hypothetical Aspen ski vacation situation: You’ve spent a beautiful bluebird day with fresh powder skiing or riding Highlands, Buttermilk, or Snowmass. It’s vacation, after all, so you’ve milked as many daylight hours as possible on the mountain.
There was a day when the town of “Aspen” as we know it was known as Ute City and the silver dynamited out of the hills was much more valuable than a timber and stone McMansion-lodge with alpine-views, Jacuzzis, and a heated driveway on Red Mountain. Aspen’s ski and tourism-era building boom has resulted in a plethora of development up and down the Roaring Fork Valley.