The bright lights of Aspen
The lure of the slopes in Aspen Snowmass
keeps Neil and Sam Perry going back for more.
Iím not sure what it is about Aspen that
keeps us going back year after year.
Is it the beautiful snowy town filled
with fairy lights at night? Is it the great
restaurants? Is it the fantastic
shopping? Is it the fact that it has
sentimental value because Neil and I spent
our honeymoon there in 2003? Or is it the
incredible skiing on all four mountains?
Having taken the kids there for six years in a
row now, I think itís a bit of everything, and
every time we go back we discover
The power of four
Aspen is a great place for families. There are
four awesome mountains to ski on,
depending on ability, and the free bus
system makes it so easy to get around.
Buttermilk is known as the best place for
beginners to gain confidence, with gentle
slopes and lots of fun tree trails for the kids,
but there are also some harder black runs
over on the Tiehack side, which we really
love. For lunch, the Cliffhouse is fantastic.
The Mongolian grill is really delicious
(choose your own meat and vegetables and
they cook it for you on the grill like a stir fry),
and sitting outside on a beautiful sunny day
is just heaven. The incredible views of
Pyramid Peak and the Maroon Creek Valley
make the perfect backdrop for photos.
Snowmass, being the largest mountain of
the four (and also the furthest away from
Aspen township), offers something for
everyone. It has the widest range of terrain,
and you could seriously ski here for a few
days without doing the same run twice. It
has nice wide, open trails to give everyone
plenty of space. The ski school here is the
largest in Aspen, and the Treehouse Kidsí
Adventure Centre also offers childcare for
kids who are not yet old enough to ski.
There are plenty of great options for lunch
at Snowmass, however, Elk Camp
Restaurant has to be our favourite, as it
offers a range of healthy, organic options
such as salads, sandwiches, roast meat
and freshly made pizzas. After lunch, if the
kids donít feel like skiing any more, take
them tubing on the dedicated, lift-serviced
tubing hill. It is so much fun, and the adults
love it just as much as the kids. Although,
itís probably not something you would do
every day as it does cost money.
Gold medal skiing
Aspen Highlands is probably every localís
favourite mountain, as the skiing there is for
intermediates to experts, but not great for
less experienced kids. So if you really want
to ski at Highlands and your kids arenít that
confident on skis, then I would suggest
putting them in ski school close by at
Buttermilk, then catch the bus to Highlands
for a great day of skiing with friends.
The one thing that Highlands does offer
for kids is the Aspen Recreation Centre
(ARC), a great place to spend a few hours if
the weather isnít great, or you just want a
break from skiing. The ARC has an outdoor
ice skating pond, indoor ice skating rink,
indoor climbing wall and indoor swimming
pool complete with water slide, lazy river
and family swim area.
Aspen Mountain, or Ajax, is also more
suitable for more experienced skiers,
however, once your kids are good enough
you will love skiing with them here. We had
so much fun last January, and were very
happy to discover the NASTAR slalom race
course, which is open to the public. I was
quite nervous at first as I have never raced,
but soon learned that itís possible for
everyone to get a medal (love a handicap!)
and it is utterly addictive! We spent hours on
this course. Macy earned one gold, five
silver and two bronze medals, while Indy
won four silver and four bronze. We all
cannot wait to go back next year and see if
we can better our results.
The chefsí choice
Aspen town is so beautiful, and very easy to
walk around. If youíre staying in one of the
many great condos with a kitchen, then you
will love the variety of produce available at
the two supermarkets (City Market and
Clarks) and you can get great meat, bread
and cheese at both The Butcherís Block
and Meat & Cheese. The last few years we
have stayed at the Hyatt Grand Aspen, A
Hyatt Residence Club (at the foot of the
mountain, right behind the ice rink), but
there are other great condos to rent such as
North of Nell, Aspen Square and The
Gant, or beautiful hotels such as The Little
Nell and The St. Regis to name a few.
There is a great variety of restaurants to
choose from in Aspen. The White House
Tavern is one of our favourites for its burgers
and chicken noodle salads. Across the road
is Meat & Cheese, which is half gourmet
deli, half restaurant, where they serve a
variety of Ďboardsí such as whole roast
chicken, steak and, our new favourite, the
Bossam Korean Pork Board. So delicious.
La Creperie du Village serves the most
beautiful sweet crepes (we havenít tried the
savoury ones) in the most delightfully quaint,
cosy European-style setting. Matsuhisa and
Kenichi are both really good Japanese
restaurants, while LíHostaria and Campo
de Fiori are great if youíre feeling like Italian.
And of course for coffee you canít go past
Victoriaís, a popular Aussie hangout where
they know how to make a flat white!
One last piece of advice, if youíre renting
skis, then the team at Four Mountain
Sports are the people to see. Not only do
they provide great service and equipment,
but they offer free overnight storage at every
mountain, plus free mountain transfers if you
know where you want to ski the next day.
Saves lugging your skis back to your
accommodation every night! Anything to
make skiing with kids that little bit easier.