View From the Plaza

Postcard from La Fonda: The Aspen Stereotype – Some True, Some Not

A friend of my husband’s called late last week offering us a free condo on Main Street for this week in Aspen, Colorado. Needless to say, we rescheduled meetings, cleared the decks, packed the car and headed north.

After being slowed up by an overturned truck in the Glenwood Canyon tunnel, extending our leisurely 7 hour drive to over 13 long harrowing hours, we safely arrived in the heart of downtown Aspen. The first thing I noticed was the Roaring Fork River not as roaring as in the summer. More like a hibernating fork.  The second thing I noticed were the remarkable ski outfits.

Jenny Kimball on Aspen Mountain (Ajax)

On the first chairlift we rode, our lift mate wanted to talk with us about his stock portfolio and the dive it has taken over the past several years resulting in him refusing to live in any state that has income tax since he simply can no longer afford it. Today’s lift mate talked about UPS losing 2 of her family’s 9 bags including her makeup bag so she was at a total loss, though thrilled to have had to shop the night before for all new ski clothes. Contrary to my suspicion that women with gorgeous expensive ski outfits are not good skiers…. au contraire here in Aspen. They can carve as nice a turn and handle moguls with the best of the hard-core skiers.

The prices at the restaurants, in the shops, and the lift tickets create sticker shock even for us Santa Feans.  However, we discovered the locals’ way to eat great food at reasonable prices.  Most of the best restaurants have bar menus that are extraordinarily reasonable – same chef, kitchen etc., with tables you can sit at. We tried it at L’ Hostaria tonight and had a phenomenal meal at very reasonable prices. Eating at the bar is the way to go if you do not mind not having reservations.

Lobby of the Hotel Jerome. Located in the heart of Aspen, the hotel was recently renovated by Todd-Avery Lenahan, a leading designer in the hospitality industry.

The not so stereotypical Aspen is the high number of older folks skiing. Many, many folks over 70 and lots in their 60s – surprising given that this week is spring break for many schools. There are more ski hill ambassadors and helpers on the mountain almost than skiers. And the hot apple cider served at the mountain summit to anyone who wants it, is a nice touch.

The Sundeck restaurant at the top of the mountain puts the newly expanded Santa Fe lodge at the ski base to shame. It is LEED certified, with soaring gorgeous windows and views and the food is excellent. The restrooms are on the main floor of the lodge which is highly unusual and very luxurious to not have to tramp up and down stairs in ski boots. So, some stereotypes are well founded, others not so.

All in all, it is a charming city and Aspen Mountain is gorgeous and free of lift lines.

10 Responses to “Postcard from La Fonda: The Aspen Stereotype – Some True, Some Not”

    • Jenny Kimball

      We are! I can just see you Annette looking like a million bucks in one of those hot ski outfits!

      Reply
  1. lois marchel

    Jen, I am so glad I am on your email list I love reading your blog. You are a good writer! Spirited and interesting .
    Send my best to your mom and of course thanks for the email. Fondly,Lois

    Reply
    • Jenny Kimball

      Good to hear from you. My husband and I were just talking about Sally and the Levins last night since the first time we ever went skiing we borrowed clothes from them. That’s where our skiing adventures started way back when.

      Reply
  2. Gloria Wise

    Jenny, I am so glad you got away from the construction noise and problems. Go where the snow is good. Gloria

    Reply
    • Jenny Kimball

      Thanks. Sunny blue skies today so should not encounter any more hail skiing!

      Reply
  3. Jeff Caven

    Hi Jenny,

    Sounds like a great trip. Which mountains did you ski and how do you think they compare with Taos and Santa Fe? Don’t they have 4 separate areas? Aspen is on my bucket list for sure. Nice hotel interior shot by the way.

    Reply
    • Jenny Kimball

      So far we have skied Ajax (Aspen Mountain) each day but today we are heading to Aspen Highlands to ski. The other 2 areas are Buttermilk and Snowmass. It is nice since one ticket allows you to ski at any of the 4 resorts. Each one is different. Buttermilk more for beginners, Snowmass the largest and probably the most family friendly since it has all types of terrain, Aspen Highlands seems to be a good all around mountain with 2 bowls to ski, and Aspen Mountain the hardest with no green slopes. The snow is heavier here than NM but that may just be the time of year. The lodges on the mountain are nicer here with better food here. But, the lift tickets are much more expensive. Keep it on your bucket list. Definitely worth a trip.

      Reply
  4. Andy Ritch

    Love the expression “hibernating fork.”
    We just got back from the Caribbean and your talk of snow is a bit unnerving. However, can Santa Fe’s beautiful Spring be far away??
    Andy

    Reply
    • Jenny Kimball

      It certainly was not roaring this time of year. Spring must be close which measns hang on from our wind! Welcome back.

      Reply

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