The Air Up There: Aspen
Aspen isn’t just a skier’s paradise; it’s a standout summer resort as well. The breathtaking scenery of the Colorado Rockies, the range of mountain-sport activities, and the world-class festivals make Aspen a place where celebrities and jetsetters in jeans mix nonchalantly with locals and tourists.
WHERE TO STAY
The St. Regis Aspen Resort has a full spa, Bose stereos as bedside clock radios, and humidifiers in each guest room to compensate for the dry mountain air. The renovated Hotel Jerome looks like new, though it dates back to 1889, as does its saloon, the J-Bar, where you can order pre-Prohibition potables. (You may remember Hotel Jerome as the chefs' lodging quarters during the Top Chef Season 3 finale.)
WHERE TO EAT
The annual Food & Wine Classic, which is taking place June 19-21 this year, will feature tastings and demonstrations all over town. Keep an eye out for such famous foodies as Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, Danny Meyer, Ming Tsai, Giada De Laurentiis, and Top Chef’s own Tom Colicchio and Mrs. Food & Wine herself Gail Simmons.
One of the major Food & Wine Classic sponsors is Syzygy, a fusion restaurant known for putting a French/Asian spin on local dishes like elk tenderloin. Similarly, at Rustique, you can dine on both fine French cuisine and on Aspen’s best macaroni and cheese. (That’s no small feat; Aspen eateries take mac & cheese very seriously.) Beer lovers will want to visit Brexi, a new brasserie with an exotic list of imported brews. Matsuhisa is Aspen’s branch of world-renowned sushi chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s raw-fish empire.
Then there’s the Caribou Club, known as much for its exclusivity (there’s no sign on the door) as for its refined American cuisine and extensive wine list. Mingling with casually dressed A-listers (everyone from Cheech and Chong to Bill Clinton has dined there) and dancing with them until the wee hours is a perk of membership, but if you can’t wangle an invite from a member, you can buy a temporary membership or visit during one of the Food & Wine Classic events scheduled there.
WHAT TO DO
Hike the Maroon Bells peaks for some of the most spectacular vistas in North America (featuring some of the continent’s most frequently photographed mountains). Enjoy spectacular fly-fishing on the Frying Pan River. (Call Taylor Creek Fly Shop to arrange a fishing trip.) Shoot the rapids on a whitewater rafting trip, which you can book through Aspen Whitewater Rafting.
HOW TO RELAX
Visit the Aspen Club and Spa, where amenities include full-body wraps and mud treatments, teeth whitening, and even chiropractic services. If you’re in town between June 25 and August 23, attend concerts by top classical performers at the Aspen Music Festival. And Chris Botti, Smokey Robinson, and Al Jarreau are coming for the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival (June 18-27).