This Iconic Aspen, Colorado, Resort Has a Whole Next Look — Take a Sneak Peek Inside

Now's the perfect time to head to Aspen.

<p>Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort </p>

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

When you think of booking an Aspen, Colorado getaway, your mountainside fantasy might include a see-and-be-seen hotel lobby atmosphere and a heart-of-town location that puts you within walking distance of stylish après-ski bars and reserve-well-in-advance restaurants. But allow us to reframe that Rocky Mountains vision for a moment: How would you feel about an architecturally stunning resort that’s only a mile-and-a-half from the Aspen Mountain gondola, but feels so tucked away that instead of the buzz of the downtown scene, you hear almost nothing at night? That’s exactly what you’ll get at Aspen Meadows Resort, a historic property undergoing an identity-defining renovation.

To truly understand the allure of this majestic 40-acre retreat in Aspen’s west end (did you know Aspen has a west end?), you have to tuck into a bit of its history.

Aspen Meadows was built in the 1950s as the accommodations for the Aspen Institute complex, which industrialist and philanthropist Walter Paepcke unveiled as a non-profit humanities campus in 1949. Bauhaus architect and artist Herbert Bayer transformed Alpine farmland into a dynamic arts-and-culture destination. The austerity of the architecture, designed in the Bauhaus style with sharp lines and bursts of primary colors, provides an exciting juxtaposition to the natural grandeur of the property — the immense slopes of the Rockies and the slender towering reach of the Aspen trees.

Since these early days, it’s developed a reputation as a tranquil hideaway with a gorgeous architectural and artistic footprint. But over those years, most of the folks who would stay in the spacious all-suite Aspen Meadow Resort were primarily conference attendees or travelers participating in the Institute's plethora of academic, cultural, and arts programs. Few leisure visitors from out of town knew much about Aspen Meadows.

Last year, however, the Institute tapped Salamander Hotels & Resorts to usher in a new era of Aspen Meadows. “While Aspen Meadows has certainly been an iconic property for decades, even iconic properties need refreshing,” said Justin Todd, Aspen Meadows' general manager.

<p>Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort</p>

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

And that much-needed refresh started in 2022, just in time for the 2022-2023 ski season, when many of the 98 suites (spread across six buildings), from the studios to the two-bedroom units, were holistically updated to meet the demands of today’s mountain holiday seekers.

When it first opened about 70 years ago, these suites were cloaked in knotty blond wood. Now, a more contemporary design language built around Bauhaus’ structural minimalism defines the interiors. “I like to describe the rooms as Bauhaus-inspired with a modern aesthetic,” Todd said of the bright colors and warm wood layers. Striking decorative elements — from the bulbous pendant chandeliers to the lacquered bright blue side tables — add even more visual interest.

But the most compelling parts of this renovation are the functional enhancements that modern-day travelers will enjoy. For example, as a result of these changes, there is in-room air-conditioning for the first time ever. Storage for ski boots and other gear — another brand-new amenity — has been built into the redesign. And for the resort’s Institute guests, comfortable work spaces remain important details of every suite. But even with all these upgrades, one very critical thing persists. “Our all-suite product remains among the largest in Aspen. That hasn’t changed,” Todd said. On average, suites here measure 600 square feet. “Guests are going to be impressed with how easy it is to work in these rooms, dine, spread out, and store all their gear.”

<p>Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort</p>

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

Now that all 98 rooms are complete, work on other property improvements will begin. The goal, after all, is to make Aspen Meadows a full-on resort experience. According to John Speers, executive vice president of operations at Salamander Hotels & Resorts, the scope of the transformation will include fleshing out the dining concept inside the Walter Isaacson Center. Bentel & Bentel Architects, who worked on the Yale Club and Aldo Sohm Wine Bar in New York, are in charge of reimagining the main restaurant without sacrificing one of its major perks: It’s the only dining room in town with full views of every ski mountain in Aspen.

<p>Maya Kachroo-Levine/Travel+Leisure</p>

Maya Kachroo-Levine/Travel+Leisure

Launched for the 2023-2024 winter season, West End Social is a totally new addition to the Aspen Meadows experience. Here, chef de cuisine Rachel Saxton and executive pastry chef Sara Figueiredo take Colorado ingredients through an international tour of flavors: wagyu tartare spiked with Gochujang, bison burger patties stuffed into hearty pretzel rolls, and fresh pasta made by hand daily. Even the après-ski experience here, which features an enviable outdoor area with unobstructed views of the Rockies, has been refreshed to make it more competitive with offerings in Aspen.

<p>Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort</p>

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

The health club and spa are also due for its own makeover.  The heated outdoor lap pool with views of the Rockies is already a major draw for both visitors and local members. But Speers wants to turn it into a destination spa. “We are in the very early stages of planning a world-class wellness center with traditional spa offerings enhanced with robust programming to include workshops, cooking classes, and weekend retreats,” he reveals. In addition, there are plans to create more experiential programming to take advantage of the grounds’ natural surroundings. Speers said rugged adventures such as cycling, guided hikes, and fly fishing along the Roaring Fork River are some of the activities they’re hoping to introduce in the future.

<p>Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort</p>

Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

All of this is part of turning the campus into a more well-rounded tourism destination. Right now, a stroll around yields a sense of serenity as well as moments of awe when you encounter the outdoor art collection. And the 2022 opening of the Resnick Center for Herbert Bayer Studies, a gallery dedicated to Herbert Bayer’s incredible portfolio of creative work (from advertising posters to abstract paintings to tufted textiles), has helped breathe new life into the property.  But when the planned development is fully rolled out, the resort will certainly offer more than it does now while still retaining the tranquil nature-first atmosphere that has made it an exceptional standout in the Aspen hospitality scene.

“This [new] vibe is exactly what Walter Paepcke would call the Aspen Idea: a balance of mind, body, and spirit,” Speers said. “We want our guests to be able to engage their minds in the amazing art and programming on campus, reinvigorate their bodies in Aspen's mountains, and refresh their spirit with thoughtful hospitality, delicious food, and connection with others.”

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