This Luxe Colorado Hot Spot Is One of the Best Places to Travel in 2024, With New Hotels and a Food-and-drink Scene That Keeps Getting Better

What's new in Aspen, Colorado.

<p>Michael Brands/Mountain Home Photo/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen</p>

Michael Brands/Mountain Home Photo/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen

I woke up on a Monday morning in Aspen to the view of pine trees heavy with brilliant white snow. It was still coming down as I rode the gondola up the 11,000-foot peak, not to ski but to visit the ultra-exclusive Aspen X Mountain Club.

Inside the club, where an annual membership starts at $350,000 a year, a roaring fireplace greeted me. Before I ordered a cup of tea in the all-tartan-clad bar and found the members' private wine fridges, I ducked into the cloak room, where I traded in my snow boots for a pair of crocheted moccasins, plucked from the selection on offer.

Aspen, Colorado

The 153 acres of new terrain on Aspen Mountain, which skiers and snowboarders can access via the new Hero’s chairlift.

Mollie Aspen: The newest hotel in town has chic interior design by Post Company and an excellent cocktail lineup by Death & Co.

West End Social: Aspen Meadows’ new restaurant has hand-made pasta and Martini Mondays in a Bauhaus-inspired setting.

Aspen Art Museum: The next 2024 exhibit at the free museum in the heart of downtown will run from the end of May until the end of September.

Both The Little Nell and The St. Regis Aspen just debuted revamped spas, with Barbara Sturm facials at The Nell and individual oxygen stations in The St. Regis RAKxa Relaxation Lounge.

Aspen X Mountain Club, a favorite among A-list out-of-towners, got a stunning overhaul in 2021. But it’s no longer the biggest news on the mountain: Hero’s, a new high-speed, four-chair lift debuted at the beginning of the 2023-2024 ski season adding 153 acres of new skiing and snowboarding. Unlocking 12 new intermediate and advanced trails, it’s the biggest terrain expansion since 1985. Plus, Hero’s chairlift takes riders and skiers to shaded, east-facing runs, where the snow holds better, which is why Aspen Mountain has called the project a hedge against climate change.

<p>Courtesy of ASPENX Mountain Club</p>

Courtesy of ASPENX Mountain Club

The expansion is one reason Aspen made Travel + Leisure’s editor-curated list of best places to travel in 2024. But the always-in-demand destination has plenty more that’s new and shiny.

I returned from Aspen X in time for my appointment at the brand-new Little Nell spa. As T+L contributor Devorah Lev-Tov recently reported, the spa at the iconic Relais & Châteaux hotel is the “region’s only ski-in/ski-out luxury spa at the base of Aspen Mountain.”

<p> Jeremy Swanson/Courtesy of The Little Nell</p>

Jeremy Swanson/Courtesy of The Little Nell

Three days in Aspen had dehydrated my skin to roughly the texture of a sundried tomato, so I savored the Barbara Sturm facial, which slathered my skin in restorative enzymes and left it with a pearly sheen. The spa’s entry lounge is bathed in deep blue, the perfect place to emerge from the three new treatment rooms for a cup of chamomile tea and a pine-nut-and-almond biscuit. There’s a new library next door — with a book-covered wall hiding a speakeasy — but I posted up at The Nell’s new wine bar, which doubles as a cafe during the day. I claimed an oblong beige couch, piled with shearling pillows and chunky-knit throws, in view of the hotel’s courtyard and steaming heated pool.

<p>Shawn O'Connor/Courtesy of The Little Nell</p>

Shawn O'Connor/Courtesy of The Little Nell

Other classic properties — Hotel Jerome, Auberge Resorts Collection, and Aspen Meadows — are upping their game alongside The Little Nell. Hotel Jerome trotted out a tasting menu at Prospect restaurant and Aspen Meadows, now part of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, got a stunning renovation. “A more contemporary design language built around Bauhaus’ structural minimalism defines the interiors,” Chadner Navarro, T+L contributor, reported of Aspen Meadows’ 98 recently overhauled rooms. The hotel aims to become a destination-of-its-own resort, with an on-site gallery that opened in 2022 “dedicated to Herbert Bayer’s incredible portfolio of creative work (from advertising posters to abstract paintings to tufted textiles),” Navarro said.

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

Jason Dewey/Courtesy of Aspen Meadows Resort

Aspen Meadows’ latest flex is the new West End Social restaurant, paneled in light wood that nods to Aspen’s beloved Bauhaus style, with floor-to-ceiling windows and vibrant contemporary art. I visited for dinner, starting with the house-made NA red wine called Pinto Zero, with pomegranate, tea, fragrant spices, and orange zest, and a winter salad packed with bright grapefruit and dill. But the dish that made my meal was the melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin tortellini, which chef Rachel Saxton told me she’d made by hand that morning, finished with sage and delicata squash.

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

Maya Kachroo-Levine/Travel + Leisure

I also checked out the city's newest property, Mollie Aspen, which opened in December 2023. A staffer told me I had just missed Rihanna and A$AP Rocky, but I could certainly appreciate their taste: Mollie had none of the ski lodge aesthetic that's often expected in mountain towns and instead felt more like a chic, 68-room stay that just happened to be a five-minute drive to the ski slopes.

<p>Nicole Franzen/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen</p>

Nicole Franzen/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen

Some credit for that goes to CCY Architects, which tackled many aspects of the design. Taking the lead on the interiors was Post Company, the firm that was also behind the maximalist redesign of San Diego’s The Lafayette Hotel & Club and The Rounds at Scribner's in New York State. The lobby, with caramel-colored leather chairs by a gleaming black-marble fireplace, doubles as a restaurant and bar on the left and an all-day cafe on the right. The food and drinks are by Death & Co., the legendary cocktail outfit that’s wading into the hotel scene.

"There's a level of honesty and simplicity that Mollie has added to Aspen," said Tyson Buhler, the director of food and beverage for Gin & Luck, which owns Death & Co.

At the restaurant, furnished with soft brown banquettes and deep leather couches, I paired fried, powdered sugar–dusted zeppole with a Pineapple Express, a cold brew and Seedlip concoction that was hands-down the most satisfying non-alcoholic cocktail I’ve ever had. I wasn’t brave enough to venture onto the patio, though the dancing flames of the outdoor fireplace lured a few folks into the nearly zero-degree weather. It looked like a fairly lovely spot to spend an evening — whether for locals, out-of-towners, or Rihanna and A$AP.

<p>Shawn Campbell/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen</p>

Shawn Campbell/Courtesy of MOLLIE Aspen

There’s more to come in Aspen this year. New York City’s Sant Ambroeus restaurant will open on Main Street this summer; Bosq Aspen just earned its first Michelin star; The St. Regis Aspen has a brand-new spa; and Stranahan’s, a local whiskey distillery, has a new Whiskey Lodge downtown. At the Aspen Art Museum, where admission is free, I caught a mesmerizing John Chamberlain exhibit. The institution will host a museum-wide exhibition by Montreal-born artist Allison Katz from May 29, 2024, to Sept. 29, 2024. And a White Elephant Resort, known for its posh Nantucket and Palm Beach outposts, will open across the street from Mollie Aspen in the summer of 2025.

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