Here is our first guest blog from Katie Quackenbush Spiegel on her spring ski getaway to the ever fashionable Aspen, Colorado:
Ah yes, spring skiing in Aspen: fresh corduroy under your flashy demo skis, the sun glinting off your polarized European sunglasses, and your face glistening with freshly applied organic sun block. Insulated goggles, neck warmer, and arctic thermal underwear are stored away at home for warmer months or the lesser East coast trails. You slice down long, picturesque runs and don’t see another skier for what feels like miles. No lift lines on the way back up. You begin to wonder why you bother skiing elsewhere, at any other time of year.
|Views from the top!|
And, best of all, the Rockies’ most exciting, glamorous town – a hedonist’s haven – is right at the base of the mountain, just waiting for you to pop out of your bindings and commencez le après.
First stop: the boutique Sky Hotel's outdoor après ski hot spot, 39 Degrees. After the last run of the day, tired skiers stow their skis at the base of the mountain and hobble in ski boots to this hip Kimpton property. We stretched out on the patio and satisfied our thirst with bubbly, imaginative cocktails, and pitchers of icy cold beer alongside the heated pool and elevated hot tub (into which, generally, a few skiers dip). Ajax, Aspen’s signature downtown mountain, looms behind the patio, and when the setting sun very suddenly dips behind the mountain crest each evening, the Sky staff ensures their guests remain toasty and warm, turning on the hidden heat lamps and igniting the stone-filled “mirage” fire pits. The Sky’s burger is the best in Aspen, and Ski Magazine calls 39 Degrees one of the “best celebrity spotting” hideaways in the country: We didn’t see any stars, but we felt pretty fabulous ourselves.
|Sky Hotel - 39 Degrees apres ski scene|
|Sky Hotel - 39 Degrees|
|"Mirage" fire pits at Sky Hotel|
At the crack of noon the next day, our skiers head out for a day (or, an afternoon) of fresh powder. Followed, of course, by another evening of après. Our trip happened to be timed with an historic event in Aspen: the notorious “townie” dive bar, Bad Billy’s on Cooper Street, was open for one last night before it closed for good. The iconic watering hole, not known for its grub, was always at least half full even on week nights. We enjoyed pitchers of brew and tested the array of hot sauces on our table. The most low-key local in town will be missed.
Next stop: The SKYY Vodka Infusions launch party at BB's Kitchen, where the distiller debuted its dragon fruit-infused vodka at a swank party on the roof deck. Revelers sporting long johns and savage sunglasses tans enjoyed straight shots of vodka off of an elaborate ice luge or shaken into tasty cocktails, including one with fresh jalapeno, lemon and lime slices, and simple syrup. Every so often a thunderous boom would startle the crowd – it’s the ski patrol, creating controlled avalanches with dynamite after the mountain is clear each evening.
|At the Skyy Lounge at BB's - an avalanche bomb goes off in the background|
On our last day in Aspen, we headed to Highlands, a beautiful peak known for its incredible snow and empty, fast trails. After cramming in a full morning of crushing the freshies, our crew headed up the Cloud Nine lift to the second seating at the world famous Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro, on top of the mountain. Cloud Nine is an absolute Aspen must-do, and it may be one of the most memorable meals of your life, but buyer beware: you will leave with wet socks. And you have to ski down the mountain to get home.
Every window in the tiny log cabin offers sweeping views, through red-checked curtains, of the surrounding 14,000 foot snow-capped Rockies. Snug in close-packed tables, groups of friends enjoy fondue, wild game, strudels, and the restau’s infamous raclette (which, we soon learned, is rarely on the table long enough for the potatoes to brown in bountiful butter), as well as an extensive and expertly selected wine list. Cloud Nine offers only two seatings per day, and you must make reservations well in advance. It is best to go with a group. Because shortly after the seating begins and the champagne corks have been popped, skiers unclip their boots and climb onto their chairs in sock feet. Some of the more experienced diners bring wild hats, head dresses, and boas. The music begins to pulse – European club hits – and the volume increases. And within minutes, everyone in the place is standing on their tables, spraying outlandishly expensive bubbly across the dining room, and dancing with abandon. We managed to grab a few quick bites of our raclettes before our server rushed the searing hot plates off of our tables – pear-infused balsamic vinegar had permeated the butter-browned potatoes, which paired perfectly with imported cured meats, and melted Swiss cheeses.
|Raclette trimmings at Cloud Nine|
|Dancing on tables at Cloud Nine|
After a few more hours of dancing on tables and an indoor snowball fight , the sun began to set on Aspen once again. Our crew made its way down the silent mountain, the last ones on the face that day. And when we all popped out of our bindings after the best run of the trip, we made an observation and a pact: Nothing beats spring skiing in Aspen, and we will be back.
|Preparing to ski home after the festivities at Cloud Nine|
|Our crew about to make the last run of the trip|