Aspen isn't the country's premier ski destination because it's got rows of couture menswear shops, an exceptional dining scene and the country's swankiest marijuana dispensary sitting front and center on Main Street — though it has all of those things, should you be so inclined.
What makes Aspen supreme is its remoteness. Unlike Colorado's other megaresorts (Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge et al.), Aspen is at a serious remove from the Front Range, which means the hordes of weekend commuter skiers from Denver and Boulder can't make it. So no matter what time of year it is, the lift lines are short, the bars roomy and — most importantly — the slopes abundant with stashes of untouched pow.
We headed to Aspen last month to scout things out ahead of this weekend's Audi FIS World Cup Finals, where the world's best alpine skiers will compete for bragging rights and a spot on the sport's most coveted non-Olympic podium.
Here's where to eat, drink, shop and ski to get the most out of the weekend, with a few bonus tips from KITH NYC founder Ronnie Fieg.
The Getup: KITH Aspen
Shopping in Aspen has traditionally fallen in one of two buckets: trendy couture garb you can buy in any major U.S. city (Louis Vuitton; Gucci; Burberry) or chunky, leathery Western gear befitting a stock show. Then streetwear demigod Ronnie Fieg showed up and opened a seasonal version of his KITH NYC flagship. Designed by fellow New Yorkers Snarkitecture, the shop is the exclusive brick-and-mortar home for KITH's second ski and snow collection, which features collaborations with Columbia Sportswear, TUMI, Timberland, Capita Snowboards and more. Fieg's favorite selects? A reimagined Columbia Bugaboo Jacket, the Core Fleece Hoodie and the Verado Anorak. But don't sleep on the fleece slippers and robe (in-store only). They're divine.
The Wine and Dine
Aspen ain't broke for top-shelf grub, as evidenced by the fact that it hosts America's ritziest food and wine festival every summer. Pinons is the go-to for surf and turf (get the fried oysters and a rack of lamb if you know what's good for you) while J-Bar at the famous Hotel Jerome is a cowboy-chic saloon perfect for après ski (fun fact: it's also where Hunter S. Thompson wet his whistle in his waning years). Fieg recommends Matsuhisa, a five-star sushi joint from the team behind NYC award winner Nobu. And if you need something to help you build up an appetite, make a quick stop at Silverlake Apothecary beforehand to pick up some, ahem, assistance.
The Slopes: Snowmass
Aspen is spoilt for choice in this department. Within a 20-minute drive of most hotels you'll find four resorts: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Snowmass and Buttermilk. Like Fieg, our pick of the litter is Snowmass ("Skiing for me is about relaxation, so I don't need to be on Black Diamond courses — I'd rather go down the slopes and appreciate the scenery"). It's the host of this weekend's Audi FIS World Cup Finals, where you can see stars like Lindsay Vonn and Mikaela Shiffrin gun for gold, and, more importantly, it's got pockets of knee-deep gnar within a stone's throw of every lift on the mountain. To get to the Hoth-like summit, find the Cirque, a low-speed tow lift. At the top, you should then traverse to Headwall or Lower Ladder for some of the most epic alpine vistas you'll see on this side of the Atlantic.
Just be sure you ski with a buddy and stay on trail. You'll be about as blissfully off-the-grid as an inbounds skier can be.