The Colorado Rocky Mountains are an ethereal snow globe this time of the year. Big storms yield lots of fluffy powder that glisten like diamonds when the high-altitude sun hits it. Snow junkies would all agree that there’s no better way to enjoy the snow then to play in it! The moment the flakes fly I call The Little Nell to book our favorite winter vacation in Aspen, Colorado.
Every year my partner Sean & I make the trek from Telluride to Aspen for a very memorable romantic winter getaway. The 4 1/2 hour drive is absolutely gorgeous as we weave through the McClure Pass topping out at 8770 feet of glorious alpine views. Tall snowy pines lead the way as we traverse along the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway in western Colorado, it’s like being in Narnia!
The Little Nell
Arrival in Aspen at last! From the moment we pull up to The Little Nell we sink into the carefree luxury lifestyle. We bid farewell to my Jeep & toast to the beginning of our long awaited holiday with a glass of chilled bubbly at check-in. Together we vow to savor every precious moment & experience that comes our way. The Nell always surprises us with its offerings, the creative team is genius at adding to the seasonal repertoire of events, experiences and menus.
Our large king room is large, comfy, quiet & very well appointed. A chilled bottle of Prosecco & a Charcuterie board await us on the desk….assuring us that work is to be set aside for a few days. We flip the switch on the fireplace, and nibble on a few of our favorite snacks. The Nell provides complimentary (re-stocked daily) gourmet snacks, each sealed in a lovely glass jar. My favorites are the Rosemary Crackers & Chocolate Covered Cranberries, there are however eight sweet & savory snacks to indulge in throughout the stay. After another toast on our balcony we enjoy a wonderful dinner at Ajax Tavern. Also located in the hotel, we opt for comfy slippers instead of boots. Check out my Instagram post to see the cocktails & dishes we greatly enjoyed at Ajax Tavern.
Returning to our room after the most delicious dinner…something very special sits on my nightstand. A box of four Ladurée French macarons that I immediately dive into. I share most things with Sean…but not these! If you crave more of these sweets, simply head just around the corner to the ASPENX Café located in the heart of the Gondola Plaza where you can delight in a rainbow of these Parisian treats.
Over the past few years it’s been a treat to see The Wine Bar lounge become a hopping spot for both hotel guests and long time locals. It’s a comfy space to people watch & listen to vinyl spinning DJ’s while enjoying flavors from The Nell’s award-winning wine program. Exclusive for hotel guests are the twice weekly Complimentary Wine Tastings offered from 3:30pm-4pm in The Wine Bar. There are also longer special event tastings with sommeliers from around the world. There’s so much going on inside the hotel it’s hard to go anywhere else, especially when the temps are super frosty outside.
The Little Nell is Aspen’s ONLY ski-in / ski-out property. This makes the entire ski experience so easy to navigate. The slope side ski concierge team make transferring your gear around seamless, they also offer overnight waxes. Before you click into those skis, be sure to reserve a breakfast table located in the hotel at Element 47 restaurant. You can choose the very well appointed brunch (we did!) or from the exceptional à la carte menu offerings. Not to be missed are The Nell’s famous homemade pop-tarts, the house cured smoked salmon, Nell Wagyu Enchiladas & the Lemon Soufflé Pancakes. Not to worry, you’ll burn those extra calories off skiing! I always enjoy their healthy freshly pressed juices with breakfast to jumpstart the day.
The Little Nell is so well known for their world-class culinary & wine experiences, get tempted to book some here.
The Aspen Experience
Everything you’ve likely heard about Aspen is true. It’s glam mixed with the great outdoors, abounding culture & super cool locals. We love the 5-star lifestyle mixed with world class skiing, après-ing, shopping, fine dining and the arts. Aspen has it all and then some. Through the years I’ve traveled extensively around the Alps and I’ve learned so much from alpine based cultures in Switzerland, Italy and France. Somehow Aspen has managed to capture this worldly vibe right here in Colorado.
ASPENX: Curated Mountain Experiences, Fashion & More!
In 2021 ASPENX was launched as a retail & experience brand by the Aspen Skiing Company. This has been a very exciting addition to the companies portfolio. The 5-star offerings add so much to the overall Aspen experience. From the unique fashion collaborations (the ASPENX x Prada collab can be found in the concept store) to the on- and off-mountain food & wine experiences ASPENX can make any Aspen vacation even more memorable. Their helpful team can design bespoke experiences that are unmatched anywhere else.
The ASPENX Beach Club
Where the beach meets the mountains….the ultimate on-mountain “beach” party can be found on the top of Aspen Mountain, located just steps away from the Silver Queen gondola. Red & white striped cabanas are perched in the snow overlooking the Highland Bowl and the Elk Range. This collaboration with photographer Gray Malin was launched last year and is back this winter (January 27 – April 16, 2023) ready to greet guests with cocktails, champagne, and an exciting rotation of DJ’s. It’s the most Instagram worthy snowy beach party at 11,200 feet!
For the coolest ski-in / ski-out lunch experience, the ASPENX Buckhorn Cabin 3-course Elevated Lunch from 12-2pm is a must. Invite all your best friends (up to 22 guests) or make new ones while toasting with the finest Champagnes & curated wines. Sean & I were so excited to ski to this al fresco gourmet gathering. We were greeted with a Veuve Cliquot toast and plentiful fondue and charcuterie. After catching up with friends, we sat down to the sun drenched lunch, starting with a gorgeous Truffle Risotto and a Creamy Leek Soup. The main course was the most expertly prepared Grilled Wild Salmon and Wagyu Steak with Herbed Potatoes. An assortment of homemade pastries (I fell in love with the little S’mores cookies) rounded it all out.
After this two hour feast we clicked into our skis & cruised down 3,000 vertical feet back to The Nell for après at The Wine Bar. If skiing back down the mountain isn’t your thing, booking the later Elevated Dining Après Lunch & Private Snowcat down is a great option as well.
Check out the ASPENX website for more info on their premium rentals, luxury ski fashion & seasonal experiences.
ASPENX Laps with a Legend
Feel like honing your skills with an Olympian? ASPENX can curate that experience too. This weekend, during the X Games (Jan 27-29) there’s a Shaun White snowboard experience for 6 lucky guests. During the FIS World Cup events (March 3-5) the one & only epic ski racer Lindsey Vonn will be skiing, cocktailing and watching the races from the VIP tent with 6 very lucky skiers.
FIS Ski World Cup
Aspen Snowmass is gearing up to host the FIS Ski World Cup America’s Downhill™ course on Aspen Mountain March 3-5th, 2023. The entire town is so excited for the return of this world renowned event to Aspen. Supercharged, exciting experiences will be going on in conjunction with the men’s super G and downhill races. I’ve been to this event in St. Moritz, but never stateside. With all the local buzz I couldn’t resist buying a VIP slope side ticket to take in all the fun. Stay tuned for more fun times in this Aspen winter playground.
~ Marla Meridith