July 13, 2024

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How To Enjoy Aspen Safely

Known as a glamorous winter paradise, people flock to Aspen every ski season for more than the slopes, because unlike many other ski towns Aspen is a hub of art, foodie culture, and fashion.

Although, like most places in the world right now, Aspen has been in and out of lockdown with careful precautions in place to ensure the town is able to be enjoyed safely. At the time of this article’s publication, Aspen’s indoor dining was just allowed to reopen at 25% capacity.

What it all means, though, is that Aspen is seeing fewer visitors this season, which may be a dream scenario for true winter sports enthusiasts who want to enjoy all of its mountains in a nearly private way. It’s absolutely possible to take runs without encountering very many skiers at all, which makes it the ultimate in socially-distant outdoor winter fun.

In addition, lifts and gondolas are not shared (unless by members in the same party) masks are strictly enforced as is sanitization, and with plenty of space to keep distance in the open air, the Aspen Skiing Company is following COVID guidelines to a tee. Pitkin County, where Aspen is based, is also enforcing negative COVID test results to enter its borders.

Of course, with any travel done during this time, it is best advised to stay at home or practice utmost caution.  If driving to Aspen is an option, it’s an incredibly safe way to get into town.

For those who are able to travel safely to Aspen, here are the top tips to enjoy it.

GETTING THERE

Aspen’s airport is the equivalent of a one-stoplight town. With one small room for check-ins and one skinny, lonely belt for baggage claim, only tiny commuter planes and private jets fly into Aspen. This scenario means there are no airport crowds to contend with and a myriad of private charter options or sparse commuter planes that would get you into town without coming into contact with people. To be ultra-precautious, check airline seating before booking to make sure your flight doesn’t have many people on board.

WHERE TO STAY

The Little Nell is Aspen’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel with the mountain’s Silver Queen gondola only a 30-second walk from most rooms in the hotel. With early access to the lifts before they open to the public reserved just for Little Nell guests plus other incredible perks like a slopeside ski concierge, the hotel is a well-positioned place to enjoy a safe, Aspen getaway.

Everything in the hotel is hyper-sanitized including the mini-bar treats and room service. Also, hotels are only permitted to operate at 50% capacity currently which means only every other room is empty to keep a healthy amount of distance.

While bars and restaurants generally remain closed, The Little Nell has created a daily aprés-ski service presented at guests’ doors at 4 and 6 pm with masked bartenders who bring to life a full cocktail and wine menu along with special treats. 

WHERE TO SHOP

All the shops are open which means hitting Dior, Prada, or Armani are still available for the itinerary (socially-distant of course), but the real in-the-know place to shop is Performance Ski. It is a ski shop, so everything there is picked with the outdoors in mind, but only to help create an authentic Aspen look. With brands like Aztech Mountain, Moncler, Nick Fouquet, and Elder Statesmen it contains a designer spread that is curated to have you outfitted and fitting into the local vibe in no time. 

WHERE TO APRÉS

While outdoor dining is the safest option at the moment in Aspen, it is tough to find as it drops as low as 12 degrees in the evenings. This has hardly stopped Dante at The Snow Lodge from operating a safe and fun Aprés scene. The Aspen outpost of the East Coast’s Surf Lodge, Dante has a massive patio alongside the Silver Queen Gondola where tables are spread far more than six feet apart with clear, plastic safety screens separating them from each other. Heaters are aplenty, the DJ’s music is blaring, and the cocktails are flowing.

WHERE TO EAT

It would hardly be Aspen without fondue in which case French Alpine Bistro is the place to indulge in a bit of cheese soaked bread. A popular place to dine while in town with more than just fondue on the menu, the cozy, European ski lodge-inspired atmosphere was created with dark, reclaimed woods and maximally-adorned walls which give the space a well-worn feel. To dine indoors, guests are treated to a prix fixe, $150 per person menu. As for outdoor dining, there are only two outdoor tables so reservations should be planned in advance, but prepare to imbibe on the Dom, as in consideration of its very limited outdoor capacity the table minimums for these two are set at $1800 each. 

WHERE TO CULTURE

The Aspen Art Museum, known not only for its collections but also for its world-class architecture by Shigeru Ban Architects, is still up and running at 25% capacity. It’s currently showing Barbra Kasten and Mary Weatherford exhibitions along with Winterfest: An Exhibition of Arts and Crafts, a show of works by local artists and craftspeople. The limited number of guests permitted to attend the museum gives visitors a semi-private cultural excursion between runs.

WHAT ELSE

For a little bit of winter magic, there’s Aspen Sports Silver Circle Ice Rink. The outdoor ice-skating rink is nestled at the base of Aspen Mountain which gives it a backdrop like no other. Its sweet twinkle light decorations combined with starry-skies above while night skating make for a one-of-a-kind Aspen experience.