My Blog

You've arrived: The new modern Base Village at Snowmass

1/24/2020





For years, Snowmass has had a reputation as Aspen’s outdated but friendly family resort, a place where wide open runs were beautifully groomed and laid out like a red carpet for guests who might be less-than-expert skiers. While it boasted an ample supply of slopeside accommodations and user-friendly terrain, the bulk of its development, which had been mostly neglected since the early 70s, was in need for an upgrade.

 

That day has finally arrived.

“The big news in Colorado ski country is that the Snowmass Ski Area is finally – finally – getting some respect,” reported Forbes Magazine. “Snowmass not only has a true luxury trajectory but will soon offer a sleek, modern village that is ready to compete with the best … It’s been a long time coming.”

The Snowmass Base Village (SBV) development project, which has been 10 years and $600 million in the making has finally come to fruition. The completion of the long-awaited Limelight Hotel, featuring a 30-foot glass enclosed climbing wall in its lobby, slope side access and an ice-skating rink out front have injected a new spirit of modernity and luxury, not to mention record-breaking sales. Luxury residences at the Limelight, Viceroy Snowmass, One Snowmass are in high demand, and the Lumin is completely sold out.

 

With luxury also comes family-friendly attractions and amenities, something that (let’s be honest) is sorely lacking in Aspen. SBV tailors to kids, and therefore, to parents who are thrilled to be able to enjoy their vacation, too—without having to sacrifice true Aspen style. 

 

Here’s our hit-list of family-friendly favorites:

 

Ice skating

Move over, Rockefeller Center. Nothing screams winter charm like an ice-skating rink. Yes, SBV joins the ranks of other world class ski resorts around the world with an ice rink at its epicenter, a virtual winter hive of activity. Located between the Elk Camp gondola and the Limelight, the brand-new arena is open to the public daily. In the warmer months, the ice rink transforms into an open space where families can enjoy lawn games, movies and educational series, among other daily events. 

 

The Collective

At the epicenter of SBV bustling winter scene is The Collective, a gathering space that just opened in December and has created a buzz for visitors and local families who are loving the one-stop-shop for a lively social scene, good food and dedicated space for kids to play. We’re talking about a state-of-the-art game lounge downstairs featuring a Ziegler Reservoir ball pit (yes, the one where Mastodon fossils were found in), neon foosball, a music wall, giant pin art, video game lounge, classic arcade games and more.

 

That should keep the kids good and occupied so the parents can check out the new restaurant and bar scene on the main level by award-winning local Chef Martin Oswald, also the owner of Pyramid Bistro in Aspen. Here diners become chefs in the new mix6 restaurant creating their own custom dishes from a variety of veggies, proteins, legumes and rice and home-made sauces. Adjacent is moxiBar with indoor/outdoor service featuring creative cocktails, craft beers, wine and a shareable bar menu. As if that’s not enough, there’s also a community space, offering a place to hear live music, Ted-style talks with educational speakers, kids’ programs and videos.

 

Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center

For parents who want some serious alone time, this conveniently located adventure center allows parents to rest assured their little ones are getting the best possible child care, state of the art facilities and award-winning ski school programs.

 

Winter Playgrounds

Just in case skiing all day doesn’t provide enough excitement, SBV has created a slew of fun places to play. The Limelight hotel proudly offers the state’s largest climbing wall, standing at a staggering five stories tall. In the summer months, kids can get escape the heat and cool off in a brand-new state-of-the-art Splash Park, featuring pop jets and shallow pools. At the base of Snowmass Mountain, enjoy year-round fun at the Ski Beach with live music, events for foodies and holiday celebrations.

 

Easy Eats

When the kids start to meltdown because they’ve run out of gas, run over to Mawa’s Crepe Shack for the best sweet and savory crepes this side of the pond, not to mention the best hot chocolate in town. For burgers and bears slopeside, ski on down to the Viceroy for five-star service that’s still kid-friendly at The Nest. And because some kids like sushi too, venture over to Sake Sushi bar or grab a slice of wood fired pizza during SBV’s most happening après scene at the Limelight.



Aspen Airport: Plans for a Major Facelift

11/25/2019



If you’ve ever flown into Aspen, you already know this isn’t your average airport. The surrounding mountains and close proximity to the highway require a steep, tight, descent that is one of the most technical and challenging in the country, revered by commercial pilots. Maybe you’ve experienced the sharp turn before landing, your nose pressed against the window as you wonder how a commercial flight could be this exciting. Maybe you wondered why the wheels go down when the aircraft is so far from the ground, only to learn minutes later that the landing is imminent. Maybe you’ve waited in the crowded terminal when flights were delayed or cancelled and not even been able to find a seat.

What you might not know about our little airport is there is only one type of Commercial Aircraft presently flying here that can land (the CRJ-700), because our runway is too narrow to accommodate larger planes. You probably also know that these planes are pretty cramped, with only two seats on each side of the aisle, and that they’re not big enough to accommodate carry-on bags. But you might not know that these planes are coming to the end of their lifespan and will eventually be taken out of service within 7-10 years.

Plans are in motion to create a wider runway and build a new terminal. The County Commissioner allowed for the creation of a public volunteer committee to represent community input (a process virtually unheard of by the Federal Aviation Administration) and to make sure the project meets Aspen’s wants and needs.

In July, the FAA approved the final environmental assessment for the airport’s proposed runway and terminal improvement projects, and determined there would be no significant impact to the environment from redevelopment. The FAA’s approval clears the airport to shift and widen its runway 80 feet to the west, widen it up to 150 feet and strengthen it to allow up to 150,000 pounds of landing weight.

Like any major development project in Aspen, it’s stirred up a bit of controversy. The good news is the public visioning process and dialogue will give everyone a chance to voice their concerns and ultimately come up with a plan that represents the will of the Aspen community.

Here’s a basic rundown of the debate, just so you’re prepared to discuss this hot topic at your next Aspen holiday party:


PROS

-A wider runway is needed for a new generation of jets with wider wingspans that will replace the smaller planes currently landing at the airport, which currently restricts aircraft with wingspans greater than 95 feet.

-The newer jets should be more efficient than the current CRJ-700s serving the airport’s commercial passengers.

-The improvements would allow larger commercial jets, with bigger passenger loads, to access the airport.

-The current facilities do not meet many federal operations and safety requirements, air-service operational requirements, or modern systems-technology requirements.

-The new project strive to meet local sustainability, connectivity and mobility goals. The new planes would be cleaner, greener, and quieter.

-The aging facilities also are inefficient, difficult to maintain, costly, and do not provide a customer experience that reflects the character or sense of place of the community.

-If the Aspen airport can’t stay competitive and offer reasonably priced airfare to the commercial market, it will encourage more people to fly private or to visit other mountain resort markets with better air service.

 

CONS

-The airport may shut down for two straight months or longer, most likely during a fall or spring off-season, to accommodate construction.

-The improvements would allow larger commercial jets, with bigger passenger loads, to access the airport. (Some people see this as having a negative impact on the town’s growth).

-The cost could be as much as $400 million, with federal grants expected to contribute over $150 million to the runway. It would represent one of the largest infrastructure initiatives on the Western Slope since the development of Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon.

-Some people feel that Aspen is an important enough market that the burden should fall on the industry, not the taxpayer, to figure out how to adapt to its challenges.

-A new airport would not reflect the character of the town, and the requirement of jetways (as opposed to stepping off the plane and having to walk outside to enter the terminal) would detract from the small mountain town experience.


For more information on the Aspen Airport improvement project and its community input, visit www.asevision.com
.

Hello Halloween

10/31/2019




What Ghost Town?

Boo! Halloween in Aspen is one of the biggest parties of the year.

Halloween might fall right in the middle of off-season and in the middle of the week, but don’t be tricked into missing out on what is hands-down one of the biggest treats of the year. When it comes to Halloween, Aspen isn’t messing around. From the elaborate costumes and festive atmosphere to the long list of happening events and parties, it’s like Mardi Gras meets New Year’s Eve, but dressed in costume. There’s so much to do, it’s scary!

For Kids & Families
An Aspen tradition, the annual Boo! Bash Halloween Celebration is at the right time (3 – 5 pm in the afternoon), the right place (what kid doesn’t love the fire station?) and for the right reasons (it’s presented by The Aspen Elks Lodge #223, the Aspen Recreation Center DepartmentRed Brick Center for the Arts, and the Aspen Fire Department). With lots of activities for kids, including free snacks, painting, clowns, games, art activities and more, it’s a great way to keep everyone happy—at least until that dreaded sugar crash hits. Parents can get in on the fun, too. Come dressed in costume for prizes for kids and adults!

If trick-or-treating is a must for your little ones, hop on the bus and head to the North 40 neighborhood out at The Aspen Business Center. Not only is this one of the most ideal places in the valley to go from house-to-house because of the densely packed homes and pedestrian walkways and parks in between, but it’s one big party. The hosts with the most, local residents don’t mess around when it comes to making sure it’s a good time for everyone; parents will more than likely find a treat (read: adult beverage) along the way, too.

For a Late Night
When it comes to serious Halloween party-goers, the must have ticket of the night is for Belly Up, where electronic jam band Lotus will only add to the already freaky atmosphere. For serious bragging rights, the annual costume contest will return as a silent contest. This is no joke as judges cruise around during the show to select the uber-competitive title of Aspen’s best dressed on Halloween to the tune of a $500 cash prize. Scary, right? Runners up get cash prizes, music perks, and more. Doors open at 9:00 p.m. Tickets ($45 GA/$75 reserved) can be purchased online here.

Locals love the atmosphere at Mi Chola where all that skull décor finally makes sense. DJ DC will be spinning the dance tunes and Halloween drink specials will take the night fright to the next level all night starting at 9 p.m. It’s not Halloween in Aspen without a last-call stop at the Caribou Club for their annual can’t miss bash. Go underground—literally—into the late-night hours for this infamous after party, open to the public.

For Giving (a little more than candy)
If you want to talk about a real horror show, think about the hard work (read: unpaid) the Aspen Fire Department and Mountain Rescue Aspen volunteers do for our community. Join 7908 for their first annual "Suffer Club" party and benefit for these amazing first responders. For $250 you get bottomless libations, passed appetizers and food stations from 6 - 10 p.m. Or buy a partial ticket for $125 as a donation that goes straight to a firefighter or Mountain Rescue volunteer. After 10 p.m., patrons may purchase a "late-night" admission ticket for $25, which includes a specialty Halloween cocktail. Proceeds benefit the Aspen Fire Department and MRA. 

For Kicks
Head down to Basalt and take a scenic drive up the Frying Pan Valley and count how many pumpkins you spot perched at various points along the way. Every year, the mysterious Great Pumpkin scatters pumpkins up and down the 15-mile stretch of road between Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir. You’ll spot them on cliff bands, fence posts, and hanging from trees. Continue down valley and then head west on I-70 to Osage Gardens in New Castle for the best—and prettiest—pumpkin patch on the western slope. Don’t miss the farm store for the fresh produce and local products that will have you inspired and already planning for (you guessed it) Thanksgiving.

Colorado Unspoiled: A Day Trip to Paonia

9/26/2019






Paonia in the fall is an idyllic place, a place where you can pick apples right off the tree and eat grapes from the vine that taste like grape jelly and drink hard cider and eat organic garden-fresh veggies. It’s a place where bluegrass music sounds better and tie-dyes seem cool again and a young dance troupe can make you choke up. Best of all, you can go wine tasting—without having to leave the beauty of fall in the mountains behind.
 
The drive itself is worthwhile, with some of the most prime foliage viewing around. Head down valley to Carbondale and jump onto Highway 133 and up the Crystal River Valley, where the open flanks of the lower valley fold into a tight canyon with sheer rock walls and funnel into a tiny basin surrounded by mountains that are big by Colorado standards. Ascend the steeps of McClure Pass; there are switchbacks so driving up it feels like taking off in an airplane, slowly gaining elevation until the earth drops out beneath you, thousands of feet down to the valley floor.
 
On the other side lies Delta County where the idyllic and North Fork Valley is a relic of a more unspoiled Colorado, one without resort development, traffic, and ski resorts. Paonia has a distinct mountain-country-old-timey vibe; You only get one bar of cell phone reception, an anomaly harder and harder to find places where you can truly disconnect these days.
 
Turn your phone off, throw on your comfiest pair of jeans and head on over to a side of Colorado that will never, ever change.


A Few of Our FavoriteThings to Do:
 
For the whole family: Big B’s Delicious Orchards
It’s not a trip to Paonia without a stop a Big B’s, especially if you have kids. Cruise the orchards and pick your own apples, grapes, peaches (depending on the season), and explore the pumpkin patch. Do a little wine or hard cider tasting and grab some lunch at the café (the tamale plate hits the spot) while the kiddos play on the giant tree swings. Before you leave, stock up on fresh produce and locally made products at the Orchard Store. Camp for the night, especially in the summer during the Saturday music in the orchard series. https://www.bigbs.com/
 
For wine lovers: Azura Cellars & Gallery
Named for the sailboat that carried them safely around the world, winemakers and art lovers Helen and Ty Gillespie have mastered the art of high-altitude grape growing. Explore the vineyards and enjoy a variety of reds including a pinot noir (one of the only places in Colorado to successfully grow and bottle this delicate grape). Soak in the sun and views on the patio or peruse the owner-curated art gallery for a dose of sophistication and culture in this remote mountain valley. www.azuracellars.com
 
For beer drinkers: Paonia United Brewing Company
It’s no surprise that a town that prides itself on homegrown everything would have its own brewery offering small-batch handcraft beer. Swing by for a pint, live music, community events, local art, local fare and good company. Sample 11 different beer varieties on tap, made on site and served with a friendly, down home Paonia smile. www.paoniaunitedbrew.com
 
For a swingin’ good time: Mountain Harvest Festival
If you need an excuse to visit Paonia and want to get a real taste of the town’s flavor (literally and figuratively), the Mountain Harvest Festival, (September 26-29, 2019) is the one. This annual celebration features music of the North Fork Valley (read: a lot of bluegrass) local arts and crafts, and fun traditions like the Great Chili Cookoff, Grape Stomp, Farm Tours and Saturday Sundown Swing. www.mountainharvestfestival.org

Zone 4 Architects- Bill Pollock Interview

8/16/2019

“Solidity, style, place, and home.”


I sat down with Bill Pollock, the president of Zone 4 Architects, to learn more about his company and team. Choosing an architect can be a stressful task, but with the right company, everything will fall into place. Zone 4 Architects are located on the Hyman Mall and if you ever stop in and say hi you will be greeted by seven hardworking, happy and creative individuals. After a quick chat with Bill, I have gained a greater understanding of why this company is so incredible. If you are looking to build a home or a commercial property, Zone 4 Architects is a wise choice.


What style of architecture do you focus on?

“We focus mostly on Modern. In Aspen it is called ‘mountain modern.’ We also label a lot of our work ‘transitional.’ Meaning traditional forms with modern details. For example, we might take barn wood or a regular house shape and put some modern detail with metal roofs, white, and simple details. Ultimately, we focus on each clients’ individual needs, but currently people are wanting modern.”

 

What is the meaning behind the name of your company “Zone 4?”

“The original concept was the climate zone. We used to be in Climate Zone 4 but what we did not know is that, every once in a while, they change that. It is about context, we want to build for Zone 4. Arid, high mountain, and dry. We want to be in context whether the home is modern or not. A white box here would be cool, but it might not be contextual. It is also about the symbolism of four, four elements, four seasons, stability… and that relates to house and home.”

 

What makes you different?

“We have a wide range of styles and we are not going to force our style onto our client. This is their house not ours and we want them to be happy. And sometimes we have to swallow our ego to do that. We try to make the process fun. Being invited over to dinner after the project is done is the goal because that means the client is happy.”

 

Which home is your favorite?

“The next one.”

 

What goals do you have for your team in the future?

“To keep everyone happy. The team and our clients.”

 

What do Zone 4 Architects do best?

“We are very design oriented and we all get along very well.”

 

What inspires you?

“All architects learn from each other which is always inspiring. The environment also inspires me. If there is an incredible mountain view, then obviously that becomes the focus.”

 

Be sure to take a look at Zone 4’s website and stop by there beautiful office. The fun people and Aspen Mountain deck views are worth the trip.


Photography by David Marlow.
For more information click here.

The Belly Up Aspen

8/7/2019

Aspen’s favorite music venue.

The Belly Up has a long history of bringing big name talent into town. This venue is unlike any other venue in the world. Where else can you attend an incredibly intimate concert that is just one block away from the gondola at a world renowned ski resort?

Michael Goldberg opened the Belly Up Aspen in 2005 and has been running it flawlessly with his two sons ever since. In fact, The Rolling Stone’s Magazine put it on the list of the “Best Clubs in America.” The Belly Up Aspen has an incredible reputation among both visitors and locals and there is a reason why. With over 300 performances a year, the Belly Up always has something going on.

What to expect? Expect nothing and everything. The Belly Up is never the same experience but it is always an unforgettable night. The general admission tickets are a great choice for those who like to dance and get close to the action. Typically, the general admission tickets are the cheapest as well as being the best spot in the house. The dance floor is located right in front of the stage and the energy is always high. For those who prefer to relax, chat, and drink, the reserved tables are another great option. The tables are slightly more expensive than the general admission tickets but it is an added bonus to be able to sit and simply enjoy the show.

Be sure to check the Belly Up Aspen event calendar frequently because you will not want to miss out! Past talents include The Avett Brothers, LCD Soundsystem, Lil Wayne, Jimmy Buffett, Kygo, Snoop Dogg and John Legend. Seeing such big names at such a small venue is truly a treat. With a capacity of 450 people, you will feel as if you are at a private concert. Check the event calendar and make it a night to remember.

For more information click here.

The Red Onion- Downtown Aspen Real Estate Series

8/1/2019


The Red Onion is Aspen’s oldest bar and a true testament of time. Originally named the “The New Brick Saloon,” the building was built in 1892 during the silver boom. At the time, it was one of the only standing buildings in Aspen. Soon, the name “The Red Onion” started catching on among locals and eventually the name was officially changed. This building has seen it all and has been one of the most popular bars in Aspen for over a century.

The Red Onion has a rich history of celebrities, wild parties, delicious food and strong drinks. John Denver, Billie Holliday, Freddie Fisher, and Louis Armstrong are among some of the big name musicians who have played at the bar over the years. Take a visit and be sure to look at the old school images hung throughout, you will not be disappointed. This is one of the most iconic buildings in Aspen and the character of the saloon has been beautifully maintained. Grab a drink and take a trip back in time to 1892.

For more information click here.

Surf the Mountains: Get out on the Water with a New Perspective of the Mountains

7/23/2019


Chances are you’ve probably heard about stand-up paddle boarding, (also affectionately referred to as SUP, which somehow fits right in with our slang-riddled mountain town vernacular). The beautiful thing about stand-up paddle boarding, and the reason it’s become one of the fastest growing water sports, is because it’s easy to learn, anyone can do it, and you don’t need actual surf to ride a surfboard. In the mountains, SUP opens up a whole new way to explore our rivers, mountain lakes, and reservoirs. Better yet, it’s a great way to get out on the water in the summertime. Let’s just put it this way: whoever says we are landlocked, never rode a SUP.
 
What It Is

Much bigger than the average surfboard, stand-up paddle boards have a lot of flotation and are easy to balance on. A paddle is used to propel yourself so that actual surf (or in our case, rapids) aren’t necessary. This opens the sport up to any body of water, whether it’s a high alpine lake, a large reservoir, a river, or even a small pond. It’s basically a hybrid of surfing and kayaking, but at a more relaxed pace with a much faster learning curve—now you can be a surfer without actually having to learn how to surf.
 
The Equipment

The beautiful thing is, all you need is a board and a paddle and you’re good to go.
Stand Up Paddle boards are typically inflatable, so they can be compressed and carried and stored easily in dry bags, which is beneficial in the mountains where our vehicles are already loaded down with toys and complicated roof rack systems. They come with a case and pump and can be easily inflated and deflated on site. Paddle boards cost anywhere from $1,000 - $2,000 (paddles aren’t always included) and can also be rented from $50-$75/day. A personal flotation device (PFD) or life jacket, is required in some places, but always recommended (it’s not as easy to swim in cold water as you might think) and usually included with a rental. It’s also a good idea to wear a large brim hat, sunglasses, sun shirt, and river shoes (Tevas or Chacos) to wade in on rocky bottoms.
 
Where to Go

In Aspen, there’s nothing quite like drifting down the calm waters of Northstar Preserve, located at the base of Independence Pass. Put in at the Wildwood School and paddle down river to the bridge takeout. A shuttle is required, and most outfitters will provide that service or you can always try to hitch a ride from a local. Pack some beers and snacks (paddle boards are equipped with bungee cords to tie down extra layers, water bottles, and a few supplies) and hang out at “the beach” a nice spot on the river to enjoy the sun and chill on a hot day.
 
For a full day outing, head down to Basalt and cruise up the Frying Pan to Ruedi Reservoir. Surrounded by wilderness, you don’t need a fancy speed boat to enjoy this stunning spot. Put in at Freeman Mesa, a day use area just past the Aspen Yacht Club—it’s on the north shore, brah. This small inlet is somewhat protected from the wind and chop created by the boats and has a nice grassy area and picnic tables to camp out for the day. If you’re with young children, head another 10 miles up the Pan to Chapman Dam, a campground and day use area, a much smaller body of water where motorboats are prohibited. More like a pond, kids can drift from one end of the lake to other without you ever losing sight of them. This is a very popular camping spot for families, so book in advance if you want to spend the night. Or venture over to the east side of Independence Pass to Twin Lakes (www.visittwinlakes.com) and gaze at Mount Elbert as you paddle and explore these two pristine lakes, surrounded by dramatic, snow-capped peaks.
 
Gear Rentals and Guides

Check out Aspen Whitewater Rafting for gear rentals from its locations in Aspen and Twin Lakes. They also run shuttles and guided tours of North Star Nature Preserve from Aspen.
 
Aspen Kayak and SUP for guides, instruction, and rentals.
 
Reserve a rental board through Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Basalt. Local board manufacturer Shaboomee offers rentals or check out the reasonably priced offering from the Aspen-base snowboard and ski manufacturer, High Society.
 

Aspen Saturday Market

7/19/2019


aspen saturday market

Every Saturday from 8:30-3:30 the Aspen Saturday Market takes place. A true staple to an Aspen Summer. The market is perfect for indulging in delicious foods such as fresh produce, donuts, and sorbet ice cream. On top of a mouth watering selection of foods, there is plenty of shopping to be done. You can find everything from bikes to art to clothing, so don’t forget your wallet! There is even a petting zoo and dogs that are up for adoption. The Saturday Market is the ideal place to people watch, socialize and take in the views. A great way to kick start your weekend and an even better way to fill an empty stomach.

Snowmass Free Music Series- Thursdays on Fanny Hill

7/17/2019


Quick! Put on your dancing shoes! Every Thursday night on Snowmass Mountain there is a free concert. People from all over the Roaring Fork Valley come to eat, drink, and listen to a fresh new band. The drinks are cheap, the company is good and the views are even better. Whether you like Reggae, Blue Grass, or Indie, you will be sure to discover a new artist you love. This is a great time to catch up with your local friends or meet visitors from out of town. Grab dinner at Venga Venga and listen while you eat or enjoy a delicious Italian meal at Il Poggio before the six o'clock concert. Just don’t forget to practice your dance moves before you come!

For more information and an event calendar click here

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