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Aspen Ski Review: Finding Pampering & Powder

Buckhorn Warming Hut

There's nothing quite like a powder day in Aspen. For pure exhilaration, views and aprés fun, it can't be beat. The Aspen/Snowmass team knows how to go big--they run four mountains with massive verticals and plenty of double black terrain, but they also know how to do small--to take care of the little details that keep families coming back again and again and again.

On my recent press trip out West for the #PassThePuffs campaign I got to sneak in a few extra days to cover the skiing scene--it would've been irresponsible of me NOT to ski while I was there!

Aspen is geared more towards intermediate and advanced skiers, in fact there aren't any greens on this mountain. Aspen/Snowmass runs shuttles to the other three mountains. We've skied both Buttermilk and Snowmass before (click for our family review of Snowmass)--and those are excellent beginner mountains.

base of aspen mountain

If your family has skied out West before and can handle long runs and steeper pitches, you won't want to miss Aspen. Is it fair to write a glowing review after a mountain gets 18" of fresh powder on your trip? Yes, it is because Aspen is known for reliable snow. My snow days were not out of the ordinary for Aspen, but for me they were exceptional.

Start your day with the Silver Queen Gondola ride--it covers 3,267 ft in 14-minutes, plus you get to be sheltered from the wind and cold as you soak in the views. From the top, you've got loads of choices, the mountains is a blast to explore. My favorite runs were Copper Bowl and Buckhorn, but it's all good. Ajax Express is the fastest way to get up and down if you want to do laps one you're up top.

Bell Mountain is home to some of the easier black's (aka advanced runs) and just my speed. However the Bell Mountain lift (aka the "couch) is a painfully slow. Sit back and enjoy the 13-minute ride! Well, if it's going to be slow at least you get some great views!

Ruthie's Run Aspen

Ruthie's Run also has tons of blues and easier blacks and zips along at 5 minutes. The eponymous run is a long, winding trail that was one of my favorites, and you can take it past the lift and zigzag all the way down to the base. Definitely the preferred way to end the day.

Racers love Aspen. While I was there they were hosting town races. And everyone can get in the fun. Head over to the NASTAR course on Silver Dip. Test your speed against the kids. Prices start at $14 for 3 runs per adult. A steal for the amount of fun!

It's the most fashionable resort I've ever seen. There are tons of Europeans and South Americans zipping around in furs and heels--many of them looked like they were there for the scene not the skiing!

Bonnie's Restaurant Aspen

For a lunch break, it's really easy to head into town to one of the fabulous restaurants (more on those below), but I didn't want to waste time so I joined my friend Tucker for a bowl of white chili on mountain at Bonnie's. Located right off Percy, the restaurant has hearty soups, fresh and healthy salads and if you've earned it, some amazing desserts.

yoga in aspen
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Aspen knows how to deliver on all fronts--to keep skiers in shape they offer yoga at the top of the gondola at the Sundeck. Yoga starts at 9:30 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. It's the details like yoga that make a mountain stand out. Oh, and don't miss the free hot chocolate in Gondola Square!

aspen gondola square

Here are the stats:

Elevation: 11,212
Vertical 3267
Skiable terrain 675 acres
Lifts: 8
Average annula snowfall: 300"
Easiest runs: 0%
More Difficult: 48%
Most Difficult: 26%
Expert Train: 26%

Now let's talk location: Aspen Mountain is located right smack-dab in the middle of town. The gondola is near both the Sky Hotel and The Little Nell. I stayed at the lovely Limelight hotel--it was about a 5 minute walk to the gondola.

Limelight hotel

A note about lodging. Limelight is a roomy, luxurious spot. While it isn't ski-in/ski-out it is full of amenities like a well-lit gym, two glorious outdoor hot tubs and an excellent breakfast--just the thing to fuel your ski day. Load up on smoked salmon, eggs, granola and loads of baked goods. There were plenty of families at this hotel--the rooms were spacious and quite clean.

aspen skating rink

Families love visiting Aspen because when you're off mountain there is so much to do and all of it is luxe! Take the kiddos skiing at the outdoor rink in town, my girls are going to love the fairy lights!

When if comes to food, Aspen offers world-class options. Any meat-lovers out there? Try Jimmy's, my sirloin was out of this world. The Hotel Jerome has a hip bar, though I'm not sure I was cool enough, I did score a bar stool with friends and noshed on tacos and amazing fries along with some great wine. The J Bar is definitely a spot to people watch and catch up on sports. 

Our last dinner was at Ajax Tavern at The Little Nell. The wine list was fabulous and as we sipped we watch the torch procession as skier made their way down the hill in the dark down Upper Little Nell. Following the procession...fireworks! Because in Aspen they go big! Dinner was bustling as folks made the rounds at tables (it's a see and be seen kind of place). My mussels and frites were just what I wanted after a big day on the hill. Reservations are highly recommended at this popular spot.

Shoppers can score some chic finds in Aspen. While you'll see plenty of the designer outposts--Ralph Lauren, Dior, etc--don't miss the local boutiques. I got great service and a super-cute outfit at A La Mode.

While it's impossible to do Aspen on a budget, it is a great place to get pampered and ski powder. I'll definitely be back with kids in tow.

Want more skiing? Check out our 2015/2016 Ultimate Family Ski & Snowboard Guide.

This is not a sponsored post. 

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