Aspen and Telluride: Two Ski Destinations That Fit All Seasons
Ski Destinations are often overlooked during the rest of the year. An event brought my girlfriend Lisa and me to check out two of Colorado’s best, and we were not disappointed in the landscape, activities or food.
It was the Aspen Food & Wine Classic that had me to Colorado this summer. Cocktails and Joints asked me to do some stories and since I’d never been to the event (or the city), I jumped at the chance. Lisa had the awful job (!) of accompanying me so I wouldn’t have to attend the parties alone. We mingled with Marcus Samuelsson, Andrew Zimmern and even John Oates, a favorite of ours from the popular Hall & Oates duo.
The week was pretty filled with the Food & Wine Classic’s events (I even got Lisa to run the 5K with Bobby Flay), but they were spread out enough that I got to see plenty of Aspen. I hadn’t realized just how beautiful mountains could look in the summertime and also clearly saw why this was the city the stars fled to. Winding roads lead to mansions with breathtaking views, rooftop restaurants overlook designer shops and pedestrian walks.
We stayed in a small bed and breakfast in Aspen, but got to attend events at the beautiful Hotel Jerome and the St. Regis Hotel. We also got to see a bit of Dancing Bear, where the incredible residences are often used as vacation homes for avid skiers, and grab a muffin from the Paradise Bakery one morning.
Before we left town we also took a trip to the Viceroy Hotel in nearby Snowmass. Their restaurant, Eight K, is modern and comfortable, with some of the best views we had seen all week. This chic spot offers a $75 margarita (yes, it’s smooth and fantastic), a small menu of unique and delicious entrees and cocktail pairings with dessert.
After five days in Aspen, we left for Telluride. Even though it was only a few hours away and was also known as a ski resort town, it is a whole different world. Where Aspen is for the stars to shine, Telluride is for the famous to mingle and relax. From downtown to the boutique hotels, there’s a casual vibe in Telluride no matter what you come there for.
We were actually staying at one of those hotels, the Lumiere Telluride. With just 11 rooms and 18 residences, you are assured personalized service. We had a huge two bedroom, two bath apartment, with a spacious living room and a hot tub on the deck. We could see the mountains and the rest of the resort from our balcony high on the range.
There was no special event to cover in Telluride, but we had plenty to keep ourselves busy. The Gondola runs year round so you never even have to step in your car to get between locations. We took it the first night to downtown Telluride for a great dinner at Cosmopolitan (where they make the perfect Cosmo cocktail), that included the some of the best macaroni and cheese and lingberry pie I’ve ever had.
We took the gondola back to the Lumiere and drank some wine while looking at the stars from the hot tub. After a peaceful night sleep, we had breakfast at the hotel, which included made to order eggs and fresh baked bread.
In the morning, Lexi from San Juan Outdoor School Adventures picked us up and we did some light hiking along the river, just outside of downtown. The scenery was so beautiful and I could imagine the leaves changing in the fall and the flowers blossoming in the spring, between all the skiers and white snow covering everything all winter.
After the hike, we walked around the downtown area where the shops were filled mostly with antiques and unusual items. Restaurants were scattered throughout, but Lexi recommended Caravan, a Mediterranean food truck in the middle of town. It was an excellent choice. Even though it was still fairly early, the hiking had left us famished and we gobbled down a vegetarian platter of hummus, spinach pie, tabouli, baba ganouch and falafel with warm pita bread.
Back at the Lumiere Telluride, we luxuriated in the plunge pools and on the lounge chairs into the late afternoon. We were able to order a cheese platter outside and enjoyed it with a Viognier from Sutcliffe Vineyards, a Colorado winery.
Lisa stayed at the pool while I got a massage at the hotel’s spa. It was time for a nap after all that relaxation, but we had to change for dinner just a few blocks away at La Piazza del Viaggio. It looked like it really was within a piazza with all the outdoor tables and welcoming atmosphere. We had an excellent true Italian dinner, highlighted by the Vitello ai Capperi e Carciofini, veal with capers and artichokes in a lemon and white wine sauce.
After dinner we went back to the hotel for our final night in Colorado. It had been quite a girlfriend getaway and after seeing what Aspen and Telluride have to offer, I will never again label a place “just for ski season.”
After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at WineAndSpiritsTravel.com and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website MarciaFrost.com.