Aspen: the iconic Colorado ski-resort town famous for its incredible scenery, glamorous hotels, world-class skiing terrain and its abundance of celebrity guests.
While the name Aspen has become synonymous with extravagance and a jet-setting, affluent crowd (flaunting in the latest European fashions), it surprisingly still manages to retain that quintessential, small town feel. Home to four world-class ski resorts (all accessible on the one lift ticket), it is one of the few ski and snowboard destinations that suits all abilities and demographics – appealing to experts, beginners, couples, singles and families alike. In Aspen, you can find everything – from that $30,000 designer jacket to a $10 pub meal.
If luxury is your thing, though, you can’t miss The Little Nell.
Set at the foot of Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax, this ski-in, ski-out resort is Aspen’s only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel; one of the most exclusive and luxurious properties that the glamorous address of Aspen has to offer. Wake up in one of the 78 guest rooms, eight suites or six luxury suites to your personal ski concierge and slope-side service; pull on your gear, which has been prepared for your arrival (boots warmed), and head out the door, with only a few metres to the base of the Silver Queen Gondola. If you feel like skiing one of the other three Aspen ski resorts, such as the colossal Snowmass, the famous Highlands Bowl at Aspen Highlands or the beginner-friendly Buttermilk, hop in a complimentary Audi A8 for a lift.
To celebrate its 20-year anniversary, The Little Nell Residences (next to The Little Nell and also available for nightly occupation) recently underwent a major renovation, swapping its wooden ski-lodge look for contemporary, luxurious interiors. The rooms have a modern chalet look; intended to emulate the feeling of walking into a private home rather than a hotel room, while maintaining all aspects of luxury you would expect in five-star accommodation. The cosmopolitan hues of metal, blue and silver are balanced out by the large stone-clad fireplaces, walnut tables, fur throws and plush, textured linens. The classic marble bathrooms, thick carpets and heated floors are given a contemporary edge by a Jean Michel Wilmotte dining table, or a Mark Albrecht bar stool. The modern artworks that decorate the walls add a fresh splash of colour. Many of the rooms are flooded with natural light; however if its spanning mountain views you’re after, you’ll have to upgrade to one of the premium guest rooms or luxury suites. Despite the opulence, all of the rooms and suites are family friendly.
The 52 guest rooms, 26 premium guest rooms and eight suites at The Little Nell itself will be refreshed in the Spring of 2017 by Champalimaud Design of New York known for their work on The Dorchester in London, Carlyle and Waldorf Astoria in New York, Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles and Island House in Nassau.
If staying at The Little Nell with children, you’ll find a stuffed animal on the bed, toddler shampoo and bubble bath in the bathroom and children’s robes and slippers waiting in the wardrobe. Like many North American ski hotels and resorts, pets are not only welcome but are looked after like any other guest at the hotel.
Night skiing in Aspen
The Little Nell is home to Element 47, touted as one of the best dining experiences in Aspen. The extensive wine cellar, headed by the hotel’s Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy (one of only 230 Master Sommeliers worldwide), is said to contain more than 20,000 wines. If silver service is not what you’re after, visit the ever-popular Ajax Tavern’s rooftop patio for some star-spotting, a nice après-ski cocktail, some fresh oysters and their famous truffle fries. Alternatively, visit one of the hotel’s several bars, including Oasis – the roving pop-up champagne bar that can be found serving Veuve Clicquot from a hidden location somewhere on Aspen Mountain (clues can be found on the hotel’s Twitter account). On the occasions you’d prefer to venture away from the resort, the town centre of Aspen is less than a minute’s walk. Aspen is rife with dining options, shopping and nightlife, with more than 100 restaurants, countless clubs and bars and activities to suit every age and price range.
The fun doesn’t simply come to an end once winter is over; Aspen’s roaring social calendar continues into the summer months. For some art and culture, visit one of the many galleries and museums (also operating during ski season), attend the ballet or check out one of Theatre Aspen’s summer performances in the park. The Aspen Music Festival and School puts on more than 300 events from June through August, and concert hotspot Belly Up has featured past acts such as Snoop Dogg and The Flaming Lips. Aspen is famous for its surrounding scenery, and many call it the gateway to Colorado’s best alpine hiking and walking trails. Visit the famous Maroon Bells, with its iconic peaks and picturesque valley lakes and streams, or take your pick from one of the many outdoor recreational activities on offer; from hot air ballooning and paragliding, to horseback riding, rock climbing, fishing, and mountain biking. The fresh air and stunning natural surroundings of Aspen can be enjoyed all year round.