Colorado: peak experiences
The resort towns of Vail, Aspen and Beaver Creek are the places in Colorado to ski and be seen. Whether it's hopping on a chairlift with your favourite celeb or cashing in on the pristine ski conditions, you'll be spoiled for choice. Here's the lowdown on these ski resorts.
Vertical Rise: 1,050 m
Perk: Streets never have to be shovelled; they're heated!
Celebrity locals: Goldie Hawn, Melanie Griffith, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are just a few of the stars who keep homes here.
Favourite hotel: The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera lies just outside of the village on a privately owned mountain amid the “starter mansions” of the superrich. The plush and elegant rooms feature their own fireplaces and vaulted ceilings.
Favourite Restaurant: Chap's Grill and Chophouse prides itself on well-aged Angus steak and the freshest of seafood, which it flies in daily. The herb- and pepper-crusted Hawaiian big-eye tuna loin is larger than life.
Après-ski: The crowds are dense and the drinks are stiff at the Red Lion, an always-raucous bar well known for its idiosyncratic entertainment. The chap on the guitar segueing from James Taylor to the Goo Goo Dolls is probably Phil Long, one of the bar owners.
The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, 2205 Cordillera Way, 1-866-650-ROCK or 970-926-2200
Chap's Grill and Chophouse, 1300 Westhaven Dr., 970-479-7014
Red Lion, 304 Bridge St., 970-476-7676
Aspen village services four mountains:
Snowmass vertical rise: 1,343 m
Aspen Mountain vertical rise: 996 m
Aspen Highlands vertical rise: 1,108 m
Buttermilk vertical rise: 699 m
Perk: Wrap up in a plush robe and a warm blanket with a cucumber-infused oxygen mask at the Remède Spa at St. Regis Resort.
Celebrity locals: Jack Nicholson owns a place nearby, as does tennis star Martina Navratilova, who lives here part-time.
Favourite hotel: Hotel Jerome, opened in 1889, still retains its Victorian ambience, but valet parking and a heated outdoor pool/Jacuzzi keep guests in touch with modern comforts.
Favourite restaurant: Elevation's modern American bistro fare, like corn-stuffed porcini raviolis with cipollini onions and an apple-hazelnut compote, is irresistible.
Après-ski: Filled with a glittering crowd of beautiful locals and visiting celebrities, the urbane lounge 39 Degrees is just off the lobby of the Sky Hotel and overlooks the slopes of Aspen.
Remède Spa at St. Regis Resort, 315 E. Dean St., 970-920-6783
Hotel Jerome, 330 E. Main St., 1-800-331-7213 or 970-920-1000
Elevation, 304 E. Hopkins Ave., 970-544-5166
39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, 709 E. Durant Ave., 1-800-882-2582
Vertical rise: 1,231 m
Perk: Covered escalators from the main village up to the chairlifts whisk riders to the slopes.
Celebrity locals: Kelsey Grammer keeps a place in Beaver Creek, as does Tom Hanks.
Favourite hotel: Grab a coffee at Rocks on the Run in Beaver Creek Lodge while the ski valet arranges your equipment, and then ski directly out the door and onto the mountain.
Favourite restaurant: Toscanini has the feel of a welcoming and rambunctious dinner party. Don't miss the Dungeness crab with blue corn/fried green tomatoes, fresh chervil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Après-ski: The lobby bar at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch serves a mean martini and, with its massive stone fireplace, is a veritable cathedral of Western grand lodge architecture.
Beaver Creek Lodge, 26 Avondale Lane, 1-800-525-7280
Toscanini, Market Sq., 970-845-5590
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, 0130 Daybreak Ridge, 970-748-6200
(Chris Johns writes about food and travel for a variety of English, French and Spanish publications. He wrote about Canada's best hotel beds in the November issue.)
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TOP PHOTO: JACK AFFLECK / VAIL RESORTS
ASPEN: DANIEL BAYER
BEAVER CREEK: BEAVER CREEK / VAIL RESORTS