1. Where to Stay
Take advantage of ski valets, slopeside waxing, and two outdoor whirlpools at the Viceroy Snowmass (from $425), which opened in December. Your room comes outfitted with a gas fireplace, private sundeck, deep-soaking tub, and a fully equipped kitchen.
Admire views of the World Cup racecourse from the courtyard hot tub at the Limelight Lodge (from $300), which was razed and rebuilt last year. Snack on complimentary wine and cheese in the lobby from 4 to 6 p.m.
Coast down empty slopes before they open for the day through the Little Nell’s ski concierge service for guests (from $810). All but the street-front rooms have views of the mountain.
2. Where to Eat
Make a reservation up to a month in advance at the subterranean Ellina, opened by Iron Chef America competitor Dena Marino in December. Named after Valtellina, a ski valley in Northern Italy, the spot makes its sausage in-house and shakes up ten varieties of specialty martinis.
Warm up with a made-from-scratch cocktail at Snowmass newcomer Eight K’s 88-foot-long fireside bar. Internationally inspired small plates cater to adventurous samplers, while meat dishes like the elk loin, beef porterhouse, and rack of lamb are sourced locally from the Roaring Fork Valley.
Eat at the bar in front of floor-to-ceiling windows at Ute City (308 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-925-2900; no website), an American bistro serving gussied-up meat entrées and seasonal seafood dishes. Ask the sommelier to help navigate the 450-varietal wine list, from $30 bottles to a 1982 Latour ($1,900).
3. What to Do
Attempt snowboarding tricks on the same terrain as greats like Shaun White at Buttermilk, host of the ESPN Winter X Games through 2012. The centerpiece is the 22-foot super-pipe, where experienced boarders flip and spin to the cheers of spectators. Cruise over more than 40 jumps and 25 rails on the mountain’s X Games slope-style course, or learn how to conquer the pipe with a one-day snowboarding class ($180).
Quit the slopes around 2 p.m. and trade tales over raclette—a Swiss fondue—near the fireplace at Cloud Nine, an intimate and often boozy mid-mountain European chalet on Aspen Highlands. The spot overlooks Aspen from 10,740 feet, offering views of pine-dotted mountains for 40 miles from the outdoor deck. Cook oozy cheeses, fried potatoes, and cured meats ($31 per person) on a mini-grill at your table, paired with steaming cups of mulled wine. Afterward, ride back down the mountain with an escort from the ski patrol.
Uncover a trove of designer castoffs in Aspen’s string of secondhand stores. Try on pristine fur coats ($2,500) and never-worn Anne Fontaine blouses ($54) at Uptown Exchange (517 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-925-9818), or scope out finery from the likes of Dries Van Noten and Fendi at Susie’s Limited (623 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-920-2376)—recent finds include a DVN skirt for $68 and $150 Fendi mules. There’s even a market for gently used skis and snowboards at Replay Sports (465 N. Mill St.; 970-925-2483), where you’ll find deals like hardly worn helmets for half-price.
4. Insider’s Tip
Outclimb the tourists to untouched powder by hiking to the top of the Highland Bowl, infamous for its unparalleled double-black ski trails. Ride the Exhibition up to the Loge Peak lift, which will take you to the top of the mountain. Then head up the slope—a steep 30- to 60-minute climb to the peak, where you can soak up a view of the Maroon Bells mountain from 12,392 feet. The rugged hike weeds out beginners, leaving 3,500 steep feet of open, backcountry ski runs down the bowl—even midday—for those who make the trek.
5. Oddball Day
Drive 45 minutes through the Roaring Fork Valley to the neighboring town of Glenwood Springs. Pick up an assortment of fresh-baked breakfast pastries at Rosi’s Little Bavarian Restaurant (141 W. 6th St.; 970-928-9186); you’ll dodge the hour-long lines if you order to go. Continue a few blocks down 6th Street to Glenwood Caverns, a natural formation in the Rocky Mountains nicknamed the Fairy Caves for its winglike rock structures. Adventurous explorers can don helmets and knee pads to shimmy among stalactites and stalagmites on the three-hour Wild Tour. (Less-enthusiastic visitors can opt for the undemanding walking tour.) After your excursion, walk a few blocks down 6th Street to Glenwood Hot Springs ($13.25), the nation’s largest spring-fed pool, where you can get tickled by bubbles on a submerged chaise lounge. Book an appointment at Yampah Spa, half a block down, for a session in the Vapor Caves ($12), mineral-water hot-steam baths contained in underground rock chambers. Cap your excursion at the Glenwood Canyon Brewing Company for a pint of the brewpub’s hoppy Vapor Cave IPA and a half-pound bacon-Cheddar burger.
Aspen Skiing Company offers snow reports, trail maps, event listings, and lodging packages on its website.
Check aspenchamber.org for festivals, special events, and suggested activities.
Browse aspeninstitute.org for author readings, book discussions, and lectures on current events.
Local bloggers post on topics ranging from the arts to skiing at aspenpost.net.