Walking past designer shops, tony eateries, and enough mink, ocelot, and lynx to fill the fur department of Neiman Marcus, it’s hard to imagine that Aspen was once a sleepy miner’s village. These days, it’s the American version of St. Moritz, where the rich and famous descend to shred bumps and partake of the village’s party-forward charms. This is where every day, twice a day, ski bums meet up with hedge fund masters of the universe at 11,000 feet for a rowdy, champagne-soaked lunch at Cloud Nine, followed by DJ-fueled table dancing. And while dinner parties like those at Element 47 can come with a $1,000-per-person price tag, Aspen still has its soul, thanks to a vibrant arts scene and its diehard year-round residents that maintain the local charm.
The Best Runs: Ridge of Bell on Aspen Mountain, the Bowl on the Highlands, or Sneaky's on Snowmass.
Coolest Offering: Through March, guests of The Little Nell and The Limelight Hotel can night ski the backside of Aspen Mountain guided by the moon, ski pros, and head lamps. You will travel up the slopes by snow cat and, between runs, stay energized with snacks and hot chocolate. Quaffs of champagne will be on tap for the return trip down the mountain. $500 per person.
Apres: “Boisterous” accurately describes Aspen’s post-ski scene, which generally starts about 2 p.m. and carries on well past midnight. Choices abound: Champagne sabering happens nightly at the St. Regis, Ajax Tavern serves up craft beers, jalapeño Margaritas, and its fair share of bubbly, and there is the epic (reservations only) party at Cloud Nine, the Euro-style cabin accessible only by ski or snowboard. After dinner, the party often moves over to the Caribou Club, the town’s chi chi lounge.
Where to Stay: The Little Nell, The St. Regis.