Aspen: Summer In A Ski Town
Sunny summer days are the perfect time to explore Aspen’s verdant mountains sans snow. There’s a sophisticated international crowd milling about and temperatures reach the 80s on the reg. Outdoor activities are endless and music, art and food festivals keep things lively all season long.
Where to Stay: The St. Regis Aspen Resort is the largest hotel in town, with 179 rooms, and Gilded Age grandiosity greets you in the lobby. Guestrooms have a modern mountain feel, with light grey abstract forest-scape wallpaper and warm wood and leather furnishings. The pool here is a popular gathering place during summer and the St. Regis signature butler service can’t be beat.
Groups should consider booking an up to three-bedroom condominium at The Gant for major savings and the convenience of a full kitchen and in-unit washer and dryer. The apartment-style resort doesn’t have full-service amenities, but the small staff is warm and friendly and their complimentary shuttle will drop you off anywhere around town. Plus, all guests can take free yoga and fitness classes at Shakti Shala down the street.
Where to Spa: Remède Aspen Spa at The St. Regis Aspen Resort is the grandest spa in town. Arrive early to enjoy the steam caves and plunge pools before your treatment. All of the snacks in the relaxation lounge, including addictive dark chocolate covered coconut chips, are vegan.
New for summer is a lavender honey pedicure, where you can soak tired toes in a lemon infused bath while sipping a lemony gin cocktail. But it’s the signature Rocky Mountain Ritual that celebrities keep coming back for. Begin with a salt scrub customized with your preferred ESPA essential oil, followed by a meditative bathtub soak, allowing the nourishing oils to seep into every pore. A masque incorporating omega oils and turmeric is then applied and a reflexology foot massage and rich scalp treatment ensure you are taken care of head-to-toe. Afterwards, relax with a glass of champagne and burst of oxygen in the oxygen lounge. The oxygen cancels out the alcohol, right?
Where to Sweat: Take the bus up from Aspen Highlands to Maroon Bells (pictured above) and learn a little local history along the way before hiking around Maroon Lake or up the more strenuous rocky trail to Crater Laker. You might see moose drinking water from ponds and lazy marmots sunning themselves along with grouse, deer, elk and pika. These 14ers (a nickname for Colorado’s 58 peaks above 14,000 feet) are not skiing mountains and many people have died climbing them, but the hiking trails are well-marked and safe.
Stand-up paddleboarding is another favorite summer activity. The rivers here are a nice challenge for those who’ve learned to paddle on lakes. If it’s your first time SUPing on the river, the Northstar Nature Preserve is a gentle introduction to get used to the currents. Take a half-day lesson with Aspen Kayak & SUP and you’ll be outfitted with a board, paddle, helmet and wetsuit – these chilly rivers are a far cry from warm Caribbean or Hawaiian waters!
Where to Wine & Dine: Healthy eating is around every corner. Start your day with a hearty egg scramble or tasty acai bowl at Spring Café. After an invigorating hike, refuel with “nutritarian” cuisine at Pyramid Bistro, a cozy restaurant serving three meals a day right above Explore Booksellers, the only bookstore in town. Vegetarians will love the galangal vegetable and quinoa curry or Indian spiced red lentil sliders and the wild salmon is a bestseller too. Portions are huge but everything is so fresh and nourishing it won’t weigh you down.
Where to Play: If you’re staying at The Gant, book the Elevated Libations package for discounts on a self-guided tour to up to nine breweries and distilleries between Aspen and Vail. Get your craft beer fix at Aspen Brewing Company right downtown before biking or driving to Woody Creek Distillers for a distillery tour and potato vodka so good it is smooth and sweet even when served warm and neat. Marble Distilling Company will offer you a tasting flight of their vodka, gingercello and Good Food Award-winning Moonlight EXpresso.
The Aspen Art Museum has some fun exhibits this summer too including sculptures by John Outterbridge made from found and discarded materials and The Revolution Will Not Be Gray, presenting a selection of works from many artists examining social protest and revolution. Start your journey at the roof deck sculpture garden, now featuring Lynda Benglis’ vibrant pink ladies fountain, and grab a light bite to eat from SO Cafe.
Nature lovers can learn more about the surrounding wilderness with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Some of their more unique programs include sunset beaver walks, soundwalks examining the Hallam Lake soundscape and a medicinal plant hike with an herbalist guide.