There's more than just skiing to keep you busy in these Rocky Mountain towns
by Darrell Hartman | December 25, 2015 1:50 pm
Crested Butte, Colorado, is often called the last great Rocky Mountain ski town: It’s got an Old West charm that Vail, which sprung up out of nothing half a century ago, never had. Best of all, tour-and-lodge company Eleven Experience is making it very, very easy to enjoy this unsung powder haven to the fullest.
It offers, for starters, guided skiing in your own private mountain domain. The company, which works internationally but is based in Crested Butte, affords exclusive access to more than 1,000 acres in Gunnison National Forest, and bring guests in via souped-up Sno-Cat. Given the variety of available grades and surfaces, you can warm up on groomed trails then brave backcountry glades and bowls in the afternoon—or, if you like, vice versa.
There’s a restored cabin on the mountain for cocoa breaks and après-ski and a pair of deluxe lodging options in town. One is Scarp Ridge Lodge, a seven-bedroom former brothel; the other is four-bedroom Sopris House. (It can be rented on its own or in conjunction with its more spacious neighbor.) Also available is Eleven’s private saloon—three blocks off the town’s main drag and complete with jukebox and custom-made pool table.
Included in every booking are Wagner skis that have been made specifically with this terrain in mind, a perk Eleven offers at its other ski locations as well. (One of those is Iceland, where the company opened a farmhouse property; the other is the French Alps hamlet of Le Miroir, where guests can traverse or helicopter into Italy then ski back across the border.) With gear provided and a mini-mart at each lodge offering skiwear from the likes of Patagonia and Icebreaker, you can literally arrive with nothing more than a change of clothes—and perhaps a swimsuit, for the saltwater swimming pool or steam room at Scarp Ridge or the copper hot tub at Sopris House. (Both properties come with a sauna.) In other words, get yourself to Crested Butte, and it’ll be all downhill from there.
NEXT: Where to eat, drink and shop in Aspen…
Wake up at the Dancing Bear Residence Club
Located just blocks from Ajax Mountain in the heart of downtown, Timbers Resorts’ Dancing Bear is the year-round destination of choice for in-the-know travelers. A fractional ownership starting at $735,000, gets you the use of one of the property’s nine three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom residences for six weeks. While you’re there, take advantage of the screening room, wine cellar, game room and rooftop lounge outfitted with hot tubs. There is a concierge service if you want to go out and a delicious brasserie on the ground floor for eating in. Amenities like heated bathroom floors, daily maid service, a breakfast buffet and a popular happy hour add to the luxe offerings. “With its excellent location, this truly intimate mountain retreat is a private escape that feels very exclusive and relaxed at the same time,” Timbers Resorts’ Amy Anderson says. 411 South Monarch Street, dancingbearaspen.com
Take a hike down valley
Boulder-based Newton Running footwear company launched its first trail running shoe, built for variable surfaces and challenging weather conditions. Take advantage of a thaw and head to Carbondale to test run the cult-favorite brand’s brightly colored footwear. BoCo AT shoes, $129, NEWTON RUNNING, newtonrunning.com
Lunch at the Aspen Mountain Club
Accessible by gondola on the top of Ajax Mountain, the members-only Aspen Mountain Club is the place to see and be seen. The homey David Easton–designed clubhouse, which boasts members like Jack Nicholson, Kevin Costner and Domenico De Sole, offers panoramic views and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace for warming up. 970-920-6333
Explore the retail options
Aspen plays host to major retail brands from Ralph Lauren to Brunello Cucinelli. If Alaïa and Stella McCartney are what you crave, check out Nuages and Distractions. For casual sportswear, Gorsuch and Pitkin County Dry Goods are local favorites. Hostess presents or last-minute holiday shopping mean a trip to Fendi’s South Mill Street boutique. Leather and fox-fur key fob, $600, FENDI, 970-920-3100
Apres-ski at Ajax Tavern
Whether you ski, snowboard or shop, you can be sure everyone will want to meet up for drinks. The must-have spirit is Reserve Vodka, an offering from local craft distillery Woody Creek, which is made from Polish Stobrawa potatoes. Vodka, $130, WOODY CREEK, woodycreekdistillers.com
Dinner at David Burke Kitchen
Chef David Burke’s signature flair comes to town at David Burke Kitchen. Try the chef’s trademark dishes, like pretzel-crusted crab cakes and duck and foie gras in a jar. 515 Hopkins Avenue, davidburke.com
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