I’m fully aware that it’s not even Labor Day yet… and indeed I’m savoring the last days of summer, that’s for sure. But as the mornings grow cooler, I can’t help but look forward those first flakes of snow and the opening of the chair lifts for ski season at Aspen/Snowmass. I live 30 minutes from the slopes, my kids have mastered skiing at Buttermilk and Snowmass mountains. While my family may not be as die-hard as some folks who live around here (i.e. we don’t ski every Saturday and Sunday through the season; my husband doesn’t call in sick to work on powder days), we absolutely enjoy hitting the slopes with the kids on a crisp sunny day.
There’s lots of exciting news coming our way this ski season — restaurant and hotel developments that are piquing the interest of both locals and visitors alike. Here’s what’s new in Aspen and Snowmass this winter:
Hotel Jerome renovation: The historic Hotel Jerome — which dates back to 1889 — is in the midst of a multi-month, multi-million-dollar renovation, and will re-open on December 14, 2012, with a transformed hotel lobby, upgraded guest rooms and a brand-new Auberge Spa. This last bit is especially exciting to me, as downtown Aspen is home to only one other hotel spa, at the St. Regis Aspen. The Hotel Jerome’s spa will be a stylistic departure from the rest of the Victorian hotel, with clean lines and contemporary fixtures.
New Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass: Opening this season is a new mid-mountain restaurant just steps from the top of the Elk Camp Gondola with seating for up to 300 guests. The $13 million restaurant will have summer and evening event space and is projected to be the resort’s fifth LEED certified building. Look forward to yummy on-mountain lunch options at The Restaurant at Elk Camp: the new eatery calls for a rotisserie station, a custom-built pizza oven, a salad bar with all sorts of ready-to-eat grains, plus a soup station and artisan breads.
The Westin Snowmass Resort and Wildwood Snowmass: I am so excited that the Starwood hotel brand is coming to the Aspen area this winter! The old Silvertree Hotel has been totally gutted, and will reopen November 15, 2012 as the Westin Snowmas Resort. The property will feature 254 guest rooms, a three-meal restaurant called Snowmass Kitchen (offering ski-in/ski-out access), a Lobby Westin Wine Bar and, my favorite, a full-service spa. The next-door Wildwood Snowmass (formerly the Wildwood Lodge) is also now under the Starwood umbrella, and is also getting a huge upgrade. On site will be a New Belgium bar/restaurant called the Ranger Station, featuring its fabulous Colorado microbrews.
The Little Nell’s revamped restaurant: Montagna at The Little Nell closes its doors September 10 for a $2.5 million renovation that just might shock longtime locals and visitors who have grown accustomed to the Old World decor. Forget the traditional chandeliers, floral carpet and stuffy white-linen tablecloths. The vibe in the newly designed restaurant at the base of Aspen Mountain — set to open Thanksgiving Day — is hip, modern, light and airy, with square wooden tables, bright-red tumblers for water glasses and a 700-bottle “wine wall” stretching from the adjacent bar into the restaurant. The revamped, approachable menu encourages quick meals for sharing if you like (no more epic 3-hour, prix-fixe dinners), making it, I think, much more appealing to a younger, less-affluent crowd. (Three cheers from my house!) More big change: the restaurant will have a new name; it will be called Element 47, which is silver on the periodic table — a precious metal tied to Aspen’s mining history.
See you on the slopes!
This post was written in conjunction with my relationship with Mountain Reservations as one of its Mountain Ambassadors.