America’s Rocky Mountains and Her Hidden Secret: Aspen Is not just for Skiers
I have to give you a warning prior to discussing my short adventure in Aspen: no photos or description will quite do it justice.
Renowned for her ability to attract thrill seekers, Aspen’s mesmerising beauty stretches farther than her snow ridden peaks that effortlessly lures in avid winter skiers. Once home to an abundance of silver, venturing into Colorado’s highlands now offers more than what money used to put a price on; the picturesque views paired with the once-in-a-lifetime experiences, it is no wonder why people from near and far travel to America’s Rocky Mountains all year round, and return.
Now, an eager skier will know that Aspen has four unique peaks: Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highland and Buttermilk. With each showcasing their own personality, guests have the pleasure of choosing between staying at Snowmass – a resort welcoming families and the gregarious alike-, or Aspen, which hosts, perhaps, the secret city lovers and night owls, those in awe with contemporary art and jazzy music. Both home-away-from-home places to lay your head to rest at night, but with equally unique personalities.
A renowned winter playground and vibrant summer community just 9 miles from downtown Aspen, Snowmass consistently ranks as one of the best ski areas in the world and was listed by USA Today as one of the 25 fastest-growing vacation destinations in 2017. Snowmass offers guests incredible views of mountain vistas, in addition to 2.8 million adjacent acres, open for activities and exploration. Snowmass offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, over 30 restaurants, 95 percent on-slope lodging, world-class shopping, unique special events and music – all year round.
The adventure begins here, or at least mine did. After an easy flight with Norwegian Airlines, I arrive at the Westin after a comfortable drive up to the mountains.
With the sun gleaming into the Westin, it is still quite easy to picture the cosy, toe-tingling and heartwarming presence the lounge must wrap you in during the snowy winters. Famously chosen by winter guests for the ski-in and ski-out access to the mountain, there are many reasons to choose Marriott to look after you. In the summer, the lively après ski scene is replaced with afternoon Mimosas and much needed ‘you’ time in the outdoor jacuzzi; evenings are filled with live music, hearty food and an atmosphere which opens arms, so you could easily pop by to the Westin alone and leave making new friends.
Hopping on the Gondola, you can soak up the perfect, panoramic backdrop whilst being lifted up into, what seems like heaven.
With sun-kissed mornings greeted with pancakes and a cup of good ol’ Joe, met with afternoons packed with ventures to discover all the nooks and crannies of the hills elegantly flaunting wildflowers and shielding camera shy chipmunks, the evenings packed with jaw dropping stunts performed by enthralling acrobats at the family circus, soon roll by. And there is so much to do, for adults and children alike.
Summer is the perfect time to master a new hobby; from hiking to mountain biking and tennis and golf, there are an array of things to do to keep busy, and I decided to opt for finding the Lost Forest. Hopping on the Gondola, you can soak up the perfect, panoramic backdrop whilst being lifted up into, what seems like heaven. And for some, it is more than just that, as I stroll past newlyweds more captivated by each other than the view that surrounds them, as they take their vows… (what a place to get married!).
Whilst I hope they don’t mind me semi gate crashing their special day, I manage to find all the adventure which comes along with the Lost Forest. From zip lines to biking trails, ropes challenges and climbing walls – which, I unfortunately gave a miss thanks to my lungs not yet being fully accustomed to the high altitude -, this hidden forest offers an alternative thrilling experience: the alpine coaster, and if you are a rollercoaster fanatic, you may enjoy the ride, but if you are a wimp like me, I can assure you, the view is totally worth it.
And if physical activity is not where you feel most Zen, discover Aspen’s secret haven: the Anderson Art Center. Reveal a hidden talent you never knew you had; find peace when sculpting a new centrepiece or have a crack at ceramics. The centre not only hosts you so you can truly escape, but the breath-taking views leave little room for a lack of inspiration. A retreat which helps you recoup and rejuvenate.
Bored of Snowmass? I doubt it, but if you want to delve further into the art scene and explore more of the peak’s versatility, hop on a bus to Aspen.
Aspen is a world-class destination with outdoor adventures from skiing to biking, with a flair for arts and culture, but still maintains enough small-town charm for year-round residents to call it home. Aspen truly is a unique diamond nestled in the rough of the Rocky Mountains that has a knack for bringing big city features to you in a way that defies ordinary.
You will sense a slight shift in sophistication when you enter Aspen
In the late 1940s, skiing arrived in Aspen as did modern-day founders Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke. With a vision for the community that focused on Mind, Body and Spirit, the Paepckes helped Aspen begin a civic and cultural renaissance – one that continues to this day…they call it “The Aspen Idea.” That idea drives the internal energy of Aspen. Forget what you think you know about our mountain town, come and experience “The Aspen Idea” for yourself. Enjoy a day on the mountain in the winter or a bike ride along the Rio Grande Trail in the summer, fantastic food, incredible environment, but most of all great people…that’s what Aspen is all about.
Or, if a bus isn’t your style, get chauffeured across. You will sense a slight shift in sophistication when you enter Aspen: perhaps it’s your personal butler greeting you as you enter your room at the St Regis with cupcakes and coffee, promising to be your helping hand if you need.
Aspen handles her charisma and charm in such a way, that you are almost oblivious that you have been hypnotised; maybe it is in the fresh smoothie bowls you can pick up on your way to hiking at the Maroon Bells, or maybe it is the smooth jazz which echoes in the evening breeze as you take a stroll admiring the civilised hustle and bustle. Either way, I am struggling to type this up as I am stuck in my sheltered office, as I reminisce how I spent my mornings practising yoga on the Rocky Mountain’s peak. As I breathe the fresh, crisp air and transition from downward dog to lunge, nature’s beauty greets my eyes and I realise that there is nothing quite as relaxing and humbling as this, and how I dream to return.
As the afternoon creeps closer, soaking up the sun, – whether you are in the outdoor hot tub at the St Regis sipping on bubbly, or enjoying lunch at the top of Aspen Mountain -, is much needed for the Vitamin D deprived. This trip has taught me that there are many things which bring me solace in life, and one of them is ensuring a pale Brit like me catches some rays whilst unwinding to the solemn sound of talented classical musicians. With the Aspen Music Festival and School being regarded as one of the top classical music festivals in the United States, my trip has slowly revealed all how diverse Aspen Snowmass is; it is not simply for the avid skiers and bikers. It is for the art fanatics, jazz lovers and introverts who found serenity with their violin.
And this is Aspen’s hidden secret: her culture and artistic nature stretches farther than the postcard-worthy views.
With my final evening in Aspen involving me keeping up the Sabering tradition at the St Regis, I reflect on the misconception that America – albeit a diverse country with incomparable states – holds little tradition and culture; here I am, (rather clumsily…I got it on my fourth try) continuing a tradition started by an avid party-goer named John Jacob Astor IV, who when he founded the St Regis in 1900s, gathered his guests for a ceremonial champagne Sabering to celebrate the transition from the day into night.
And it was in this moment I began reflecting on how Aspen is more than just her wintery slopes and thrilling rides; from the display at the art institute displaying Bauhaus’ finest work and delving into the history which made Aspen an ‘Idea’ in itself, it is truly no surprise to why I heard a mother tell her eager child: ‘it’s okay, we will try kayaking when we return next Summer’, and was told by a relaxed businesswomen that she staying for an extra three months, because there is something special about Aspen and Snowmass in the glistening summer.
We are too busy being told the stories of skiers and snowboarders, when America’s Rocky Mountains offers so much more than that; you can find a new home in the heart of Colorado if you ever chose to visit this captivating haven, but alas my final warning to you before you set off: be prepared to have your breath taken away… quite literally, thanks to the high altitude, (but of course, it is worth it…especially when it only takes the one glass of wine to tuck you in at night. Thank God my St Regis butler offered to pack my belongings, hey!).
America As You Like It offer a 7-night package to Aspen & Snowmass from £1,820 per person. Including return international flights from London on Norwegian, car hire, 3 nights at The St Regis in Aspen and 3 nights at The Westin Snowmass. Price based on 2 people sharing. For more details contact 020 8742 8299, email@example.com or visit www.americaasyoulikeit.com
If you need more reason to visit Aspen Snowmass, it is an exciting time to visit in 2019.
At the base of Snowmass Ski Area in the heart of Snowmass Village, Colorado, Snowmass Base Village (SBV) is a $600 million mountain-resort development – the largest currently under construction in North America. This approximately 10-year project will add lodging, residences and amenities to the world-class mountain and resort. It will include the Limelight Snowmass, ski-in/ski-out residences, a public events plaza, and a community building. www.allinsnowmass.com. Fun, unfussy luxury with an energetic vibe, the Limelight Snowmass, opened late last year and features 99 hotel rooms, an indoor/outdoor lounge area, a five-story climbing wall that is open to the public – the largest of its kind in the state – a fitness centre, kids’ room and outdoor spas and deck. The development will also serve as the site for the Snowmass Mountain Club, an exclusive private club offering members parking, ski valet, lockers and a lounge area for convenient ski access, as well as social programming to enjoy all Snowmass’ mountain activities.
The public events Plaza serves as a gathering area for SBV and the entire community, with an ice skating rink in winter and events lawn in summer. Concerts and outdoor events will be held in this area, which also features seating areas around fire pits, children’s pop-up fountains and more.
Art lovers stay peeled, as 2019 will see the mission of the Bauhaus 100: Aspen. From January to August, there will be a series of events throughout Aspen to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the Bauhaus and to commemorate its influence on Aspen and illuminate the many ways in which it has impacted the city and continues to influence and inspire artists, designers, architects, landscape architects, and thinkers in the Roaring Fork Valley.