A Crazy Happy Holiday Season in Aspen, Telluride and Redstone

Hitting the Fresh Pow in Telluride

Fresh Powder Turns Today in Aspen

Yay, I knew that if I were to write this story, the snows would come! Telluride received 9 inches of fresh overnight, 11 inches the past 24 hours and 15 inches the last 48. And boy, was it needed. Aspen is enjoying a good blanketing as well. In addition to the fresh snow, let’s hope this signals a significant breaking down of the high pressure system that has been sitting over Colorado (and Utah, Arizona and New Mexico actually) for the past two months!

Yet despite the paltry snow conditions, the resorts have managed to crank out a good product.

The Top of Buttermilk this Week

Teaching Snowboarding at Buttermilk

I’m back in Aspen dealing with some family matters. I arrived here Thursday night, just a month after I flew in here from a very extended stay on the east coast. Wow, what a month it has been!

Happy Clients in Telluride at Christmas

Perfect Outside Dining Weather in Colorado this Winter

After an initial few days in Aspen in December, I threw myself into the busy-ness of gearing up for ski season; this entailed rounding up my ski clothing and gear, stocking the house with an almost winter’s-worth of provisions and working my ski legs back into shape by doing my Telluride Ski & Snowboard School training.

Ski School Training in Telluride

Piles of Provisions

A nasty cold almost thwarted the start to my ski instructing schedule but thanks to mega doses of Vitamin C, fluids and fresh, chopped garlic (yes, I even had two cloves for breakfast, lunch and dinner a couple of days–followed by a chaser of Listerine of course) I was able to knock it out of my system pretty fast. I pulled it together–training, shopping, cooking and even a little decorating–to embark upon a super busy holiday season that required me to teach skiing ten days in a row.

Winter Light Show in Telluride

Phew! We always go from to zero to 150mph in no time flat. But that’s life in a resort town, especially one that typically has its busiest week of the year between Christmas and New Year’s.

Torchlight Parade: A Telluride Tradition

Happy New Year to All

By now, you must be wondering when I’m going to mention the elephant in the room–the fact that we’ve all been going about business as usual without much help from Mother Nature. Yes, indeed, it has been shocking how little natural snow we’ve had. Up through the end of last week, the snow totals for the season in Aspen and Telluride rang in at barely 20 inches. Yikes!

Shocking: But the Skiing Was Good

But guess what? I hardly heard a complaint. Really. I–like most of our ski and snowboard instructors–were fully booked during the holiday period and even into the first week of the new year. Both Telluride Ski Resort and Aspen/Snowmass worked wonders! People were skiing primarily on manmade and the snow was great. Sure, there wasn’t as much terrain open and the lift lines were longer, but people adjusted.

Like Spring: Lunch at the Base of Ajax in Aspen

My Guy and Me in Aspen in December

The fact that we had such gloriously warm and sunny weather made up for the lack of snow; many, particularly beginners and intermediates, seemed happier with these conditions than if it had been freezing cold with knee-deep powder. Expert skiers and die-hard aficionados might have gone elsewhere but canceled hotel rooms were snatched up by many looking to experience the holidays in two of the most world-renowned mountain resorts at a bit–just a bit mind you–of a discount.

Fat Tire Touring in T-ride

Snowshoeing Atop Buttermilk

First-time visitors and second home owners took advantage of the lack of powder days to do other activities as well. I’m sure there was lots of sleeping in, shopping and spa going along with many leisurely lunches. People also embarked upon other outdoor adventures such as fat tire touring, snowshoeing and hiking. They also took side trips to some of our mountain town’s best hot springs and most beloved attractions such as Mesa Verde National Park, just an hour and a half from Telluride.

Crowded Ski School Morning Meeting at Christmas

Everyone made the best of it in fact!

Telluride Ski Patrol

Bravo to the snowmakers and groomers, the ski patrol and ski and snowboard instructors and every other person involved with Colorado’s signature ski resorts. And thanks to all the hospitality workers that surely had to make extra efforts to please guests that came hopeful of experiencing a Colorado Christmas, typically one of the most magical winter wonderlands in the world.

Cinematic Western Scenery in Telluride

Yet even without the snow, the Rocky Mountain beauty always shines through. This is the great American West after all and no matter the season, there’s nothing quite like it.

Me Feeling Very Ahhh-spen

For more on how the slim snowfalls are effecting Aspen and Telluride, read Lack of snow has Colorado resorts tout what they do have, not what they don’t, a story that appeared Sunday in “The Aspen Times.”

Check out the snow totals in Aspen and Telluride. This week’s storm will surely allow for a fine cushion on the slopes and the opening of more terrain. Let’s hope it keeps up! I see more snow in the extended forecast, too.

Lodging and Dining Picks in Aspen
The Westin Snowmass
I recently stayed at two delightful properties, The Westin Snowmass Resort in Snowmass and The Inn at Aspen, just outside of the town of Aspen by the airport. Both afford great ski in/ski out access, a real plus for a winter vacation at any mountain resort.

The Westin Snowmass Dressed Up for the Holidays

I stayed at The Westin Snowmass about five years ago, shortly after its opening. On the heels of that visit, I wrote about The Westin Snowmass Spa at Terrific Spa Experiences in Colorado’s Mountain Towns and Snowmass Kitchen, the signature restaurant of The Westin Snowmass, in my story Great Dining Experiences in Aspen and Snowmass. I was thrilled to discover that this property has become even better–so much so that it now really feels like a Snowmass institution albeit one that exudes grand luxe.

Travel Writer Welcome at The Westin Snowmass

My Room at The Westin Snowmass


Double Nice

Bonne Nuit

Since it was early season when I was there and I am a travel writer, the team spoiled me silly. (See photos.) Oh, how I would have loved to have hosted a little gathering in my resplendent digs within this style-y hotel. Instead, I just sniffed some of the lavender essential oil provided and folded myself into the ultra-rich bedlinens for one of the best sleeps ever. A stay here must include a meal at Snowmass Kitchen and some nibbles of The Westin’s yummy smores. (Within Snowmass Village, you can even enjoy a special story time with your chocolate-y, marshmallow, graham cracker treats as I wrote in my story Skiing, Smores and Storytelling at Snowmass. It’s all so great for the kids!

Snowmass Kitchen

The Scene Outside The Westin Snowmass

The Inn at Aspen
Love the Inn at Aspen! The truth is that my family owns a place here, however, I hadn’t fully experienced it until this past month. And what a discovery. It underwent a huge facelift over a year ago and it has apparently become quite the happening place. With an immense great room that looks out onto the base of Buttermilk, and Home Team BBQ that serves up super tasty food within a fun setting, this place facilitates good times. The restaurant appears to be a locals’ favorite, which is always a good sign, especially in our mountain towns. The service within the restaurant and the inn is excellent as well–super friendly and efficient, not an easy find within our mountain towns due to the abundance of seasonal workers. Stay here and take advantage of their shuttle to be zipped around to Aspen, the Highlands or the airport; it’s all super convenient.

The Inn at Aspen

Fireside Coziness in the Great Room


Clean Quarters

Home Team BBQ

My Salad at Home Team BBQ

I skied Buttermilk, one of Aspen’s four mountains on Sunday, and loved it. It needed a bit more snow (most of the snowmaking here is reserved for the X Games, which take place at the base January 23-25) but even with the thin coverage, I could tell this is a sweet little mountain for skiers of all levels and especially kids. I’m sure the trails will be set up just right after yesterday’s storm.

Getting Ready for the X Games at Buttermilk

Two Recent Aspen Discoveries Laced with Lots of Local Flavor
Each time I go to Aspen, a town my family has frequented for some forty years, I like to check in on old favorites and discover some new places to eat, shop and socialize. I was super sad to learn that Main Street Bakery closed but thankfully Explore, Aspen’s gem of an independent bookseller still reigns supreme just a few doors down.

Cheese Selection at Meat & Cheese

In terms of a delicious bite to eat in or take out, I was happy to find Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop. This establishment knows cheese because the owner also owns the highly regarded Avalanche Cheese Company. No worries for vegans either. Within the well-stocked shelves of this gourmet shop/restaurant, you’ll likely be able to find something here to nosh on as well.

Tulips Tidbit

I love both big, luxurious spas and little beauty boutiques favored by the locals. Tulips Body Waxing Studio is the latter and I was thrilled to experience it and to meet the owner/manager, Berkeley Smith, the last time I was in Aspen. She’s not only a pro at what she does–from waxing to massage to facials–but she’s also a great gal to spend time with as you’re having some of the more necessary aspects of beautification taken care of. Wink, wink. No wonder she has ties in both Aspen and Telluride! Ssssh though, let’s not tell too many people about Berkeley, especially since she is often booked up pretty fast with both locals and visitors.

Lodging and Dining Picks in Telluride

Oh, my dear sweet Telluride. How good it was to find myself back home to you in Colorado (despite the fact that most of the cold and snow was back east this holiday season). I have written so much about T-ride’s places of lodging, restaurants, shops and, of course, Telluride Ski Resort where I’m an instructor. Just type your request into the search in the above righthand corner to locate some of my many Telluride stories and recommendations.

Mountain Lodge Telluride Great Room

Cozy Nook

Keeping Watch for Snow

So Welcoming

Kicking Back on a Ski Instructor Break at Mountain Lodge

Beaucoup de Breakfast

Weary but Happy

Mountain Lodge Telluride
Know that I will always tout Mountain Lodge Telluride. Not only is it a great property, but the GM there, Steve Togni, is my guy. So I love it! But being the pro that I am, I would never showcase it unless it merited it. Speaking of great rooms, Mountain Lodge boasts one of the most beautiful in the West. It’s especially festive during the holidays festooned in some of the prettiest decorations around. Grab a bite from The View Bar & Grill and sit back and soak up this Rocky Mountain grandeur.

Perfectly Peaks

What a Fire

Holiday Time at The Peaks Resort & Spa

Oh Christmas Tree

Whoa Christmas Tree

The Peaks Resort & Spa
If you love spa going and snowsports, book a room at The Peaks where you have both readily at hand. And oh, what a spa. The great room, bar and restaurant here are all pretty sweet, too. No matter where you are, you’ll likely be able to take in some of the best views of Colorado. I came to lunch here, at Altezza, with ski clients over the holidays and we all enjoyed a delicious meal punctuated by friendly, expedient service. Will definitely come back here on those powder days when you don’t want to waste time lingering at the table. I imagine it’s magical in the evening–especially at sunset when the glittering lights and the alpenglow create a dazzling scene within this beautiful dining room.

Colorado Christmas at the Redstone Inn


Such Charm

Old Fashioned Sweetness

Lodging and Dining Pick in Redstone
Who needs snow when you can cozy up at the delightful Redstone Inn in Redstone, Colorado? OK, maybe just a little bit for one of their famous sleigh rides. Still, there’s plenty to love in and around this historic inn just fifty minutes from Aspen. From fly fishing on the Crystal River to ice climbing to visiting the storied Redstone Castle to shopping in the cute little boutiques on main street, this is a destination worth checking out year-round. But make sure you experience it at Christmas when it is the prettiest. Food and drink at the inn make it easy to hole yourself up here for a little getaway without having to seek out any other dining establishments. Step back in time and soak it all in.

Redstone Inn Dining

Bonne Nuit

Don’t forget to check out the tourism boards’ sites for a complete listing of all the exciting doings in Aspen, Telluride and Redstone.

Thank you to Telluride Ski Resort and Aspen/Snowmass for the top two images of today’s powder days at their resorts.

Thank you to Axel Koch for the above panoramic shot of Telluride’s rustic side.

12 Jan 2018, 2:18pm
by Lee Recca

Thank you, Maribeth, for this guide to the high country, published just in time for high season! I love the photos, they really whetted my appetite for snow country travel!


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