Aspen Lives Up to the Hype

Hit the slopes then hit the towns. It’s Colorado’s ultimate one-two punch.

Colorado’s capital of snow is world renowned for a reason: Nowhere else in the U.S. will you find such a vast selection of downhill terrain fused with the nightlife of a white-hot metropolis. The town tiptoes between rowdy and refined; you’re as likely to see mink-adorned women slinking into boutiques as A-listers raging at the après haunts. And the place is seated by four mountains that offer 5,547 acres and more fresh lines than a ’74 Fleetwood Mac tour bus. Here’s how to attack the unique type of upscale downhill.

Ski: A single lift ticket opens the gates to the area’s four resorts—Ajax, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass—all easily accessible by ski bus. Spend a day getting your mountain legs at Buttermilk, which has a slew of beginner trails as well as a 100-feature terrain park (including the X-Games’ 22-foot Superpipe). Day two, hit up Snowmass, the largest local hill, and play around its famous sunny western patches. Day three? Attack Ajax’s screaming blue runs and then test your mettle at the 12,392-foot Highlands Bowl.

Crash: A snowball’s throw from all the late-night action, the Limelight Hotel recently underwent a $1.1 million face-lift that saw each of its 126 rooms fitted with additional space and a modern, shabby- chic aesthetic. It’s as luxurious as an Aspen resort should be, but the crowd is athletic, good-looking, and way below retirement age.

Eat: At Element 47 executive chef Bryan Moscatello serves soulful American cuisine. Order the braised Colorado lamb loin, but first, ask to be escorted to the 20,000-bottle wine cellar, where one of the world’s youngest master sommeliers, Carlton McCoy, 29, will uncork the bottle of your choice.

Drink: Wheeler Opera House was Aspen’s first bank and library; now it’s home to Justice Snow’s and one of America’s largest cocktail menus. Any drink will do you right, but don’t leave without ordering the King Over Waters: an off-menu mix of Grand Marnier, Ardbeg Ten Years Old scotch, cranberry liquor, chocolate-molé bitters, lemon juice, and five-spice honey.