Aspen/Snowmass Hosts Inaugural ‘Après Ski Cocktail Classic,’ March 14-17

cocktail shakerWhat’s more fun than drinking an après ski beer at altitude? Attending a post-slopes cocktail festival at altitude. The first-annual Après Ski Cocktail Classic debuts in Aspen/Snowmass March 14-17, and will feature superstar mixologists and boozy experts such as Tony Abou-Ganim and Steve “Wine Geek” Olson, as well as chefs, sommeliers, spirit aficionados and “professional tipplers.”

Events at the Westin and Wildwood Resorts include a Grand Tasting “Village”; a private reserve room of top-shelf spirits; craft cocktails; seminars; snow parties; pop-up bars; demos; “fireside chats”; special on-mountain events; and “The Great Irish Whisky Pub Crawl.”

Pace yourselves. And get your tickets here.

[Photo credit: Flickr user RLHyde]

Telluride’s Hotel Madeline gives the gift of all-inclusive holiday ski packages

ski packages coloradoI don’t know about you, but all I want for Christmas is a ski holiday in Telluride, Colorado. Call me biased, but as an on-and-off resident for five years, I consider it the most beautiful, authentically Western ski town in the Rockies, and the top resort in the U.S..

When it comes to actual skiing, there’s 2,000-plus acres, never a lift line, and if you love steeps, off-piste, moguls, and serious pow, this is the place. Did I mention the annual average of 300 inches of snow and 300 days of sun? Located at the end of a box canyon in the heart of the San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado, Telluride is remote, but worth the effort to get there.

The actual “ski resort” area in Telluride is Mountain Village, a 15-minute ride up the free gondola, or a seven-mile drive up Hwy 145. Mountain Village is actually an incorporated town, an “affluent” community with a handful of luxury hotels and condos, rental homes, and McMansions, and shopping, dining and apres-ski venues. If you’re debating which town to stay in, it depends upon what you’re looking for. If you want a true local’s experience, and the convenience of being stumbling distance from apres-ski to dinner to bars to bed, choose Telluride. It’s also worth noting you can catch the gondola or two chairslifts if you stay in Telluride.

If you’re looking for a full-on luxury ski holiday and a ski-in/out property (or one with a spa), get up to Mountain Village and book yourself into Hotel Madeline. The luxury property was rebranded in February, 2011, and it’s a gem. Done up in a quasi-Euro-mod style, it’s located in the heart of the Village, and offers spectacular mountain views from every angle.

With 100 condominium hotel rooms and 60, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom condo residences, the Madeline also features spacious, quiet rooms in soothing natural tones, spectacular customer service, the Spa Linnea, indoor heated pool and jacuzzi, a ski valet, the swanky Bar M (popular for apres-ski), fine-dining at M’s Restaurant, climate-controlled parking (these things matter, trust me), and free candy by the fistful in the hotel lounge. What’s not to love?

More to love are this ski season’s specials, which include an “All-Inclusive Holiday Package” of six nights in a King room; round-trip transportation to Montrose Airport (70 miles p/w); two, five-day lift passes; daily breakfast or dinner for two; Performance Package equipment rentals from on-site Neve Sports, and a resort credit of $100.00 for use in the hotel Spa, bar, or restaurant, or at 9545 Restaurant at venerable sister hotel Inn at Lost Creek, a few minutes walk away. Package price for two is $3,737.00/$1,868.50 p/p, valid December 19 through January 2, 2012, taxes included.

Other winter specials include the “Just One More Night” package: stay seven nights and receive eighth night free, as well as similar attributes to the Holiday Package; pricing for two from $6,500/$3,250.00 p/p. Valid December 19 through January 2, 2012, and February 17-25, 2012, taxes and gratuities included.

Check Hotel Madeline’s website for more specials applicable through the end of the season (April 8th), or go to the Inn at Lost Creek website for their ski season specials. There, all guests have access to complimentary daily ski waxing, edge de-burning, and on-slope valet service with immediate lift access and trail access, and individually-designed suites with stone fireplaces, jetted tubs and steam showers, and kitchenettes.

For more information on Telluride Ski Resort, click here.

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Great apres ski locations

heliskiing apres ski While we love to enjoy the winter weather, our favorite part about a long weekend in a ski resort isn’t the slopes but the time spent apres ski. Here are a few of our favorite luxe locations around the western US:

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek

After taking in any of the 146 runs available in the area, unwind by sipping adult beverages in the Resort’s Antler Lounge or dine on authentic Colorado après fare, such as Smoked Trout Flatbread at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill. Heat things up at the daily S’mores Happy Hour, with handmade flavored marshmallows from the chef – vanilla, crème de menthe, Grand Marnier, M&M and toffee – the perfect after-ski sweet treat.

Fifty Two 80 Bistro & BarFour Seasons Resort Whistler
After experiencing the terrain of the 2010 Olympic Games, let the crew at the Resort’s lounge pour you a Mountain Mojito to enjoy on the heated terrace while the vibrant local talent entertains you. Also available in the spa, the Après Ski massage with a combination of much-needed stretching and hot-stone heat therapy to restore the body so you can hit the slopes again the next day.

Moonlight Basin
The Resort nestled in Montana’s Rocky Mountains is home of the Biggest Skiing in America, access to the Moonlight Basin – Big Sky Resort interconnect for 5,512 acres of downhill terrain, 4,350 feet of vertical, 27 lifts and over 220 trails. Back at the Resort, relax and take in the unforgettable views of three states while enjoying the warmth of the lodge’s classic stone fireplace and sipping winter libations from the bar, and on Saturdays – live music.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole
Located steps from the slopes of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the surrounding Grand Teton National Park, the Resort is a haven for snow sport enthusiasts, offering Snow Cat Skiing, Backcountry skiing and heli skiing. Guests can chill out or heat up at The Peak in front of the fire place on the terrace while indulging in local craft beer, creative cocktails and wines by the glass.

Telluride Ski Resort
After a long day hitting the slopes at one of America’s most extreme skiing destinations, hop the free gondola to Allreds, the city’s most famous restaurant. Sitting 12,000 feet above sea level, the lodge-style restaurant offers hearty steaks and seafood dishes with magnificent views of the valleys and slopes below.

The Fitz
The laid back atmosphere at the lounge in Manor Vail Lodge is what makes it the locals best kept secret for après fare. Adventure enthusiasts find paradise in the seven back bowls and four terrain parks before taking in an evening of live entertainment, signature martinis and panoramic views of Ford Park, Gore Range and Gore Creek for an unforgettable and breathtaking mountain experience.

Stonebridge Inn
After a day adventure in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, retreat to this slope side, full service property for an Artisan lounge experience. The menu features light and vibrant twists on traditional dishes, including Tuna Tartar, a Maytag Blue Cheese Burger and Pastrami Sandwich; perfectly paired with handpicked wine selections from the Chef for a sophisticated and effortless après ski that will please any palette.

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Après-ski with the best of them

It has been a while since “après-ski” meant simply “after skiing.” Today, après-ski is a whole philosophy. What you do after you ski often means more than how you ski, which is undoubtedly good news for people like myself.

Concierge.com has compiled a list of 13 best après-ski activities in the world. Here are the first 7 to give you an idea:

  1. Ultimate Suite — The Penthouse at the Sky Lodge, Park City, Utah (What’ll Snow You: Tickling the ivories on the baby grand piano in the 338-square-foot living room)
  2. Most Crackling Public Fireplace — The Great Room at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek, Colorado (What’ll Snow You: The fireplace is a full three stories tall.)
  3. Niftiest Night Light — Hotel Alyeska, Girdwood, Alaska (What’ll Snow You: Watching the Northern Lights in your pajamas-and wondering if it was all a dream in the morning)
  4. Ultimate Spa Treatment — Virgin Touch Spa, The Lodge, Verbier, Switzerland (What’ll Snow You: Sweet relief provided by Sir Richard Branson’s own massage therapist.)
  5. Hottest Private Hot Tub — Game Creek Chalet, Vail, Colorado (What’ll Snow You: The bubbly views from 10,500 feet)
  6. Most Crackling Private Fireplace — The Chalet at Twin Farms, Barnard, Vermont (What’ll Snow You: The aroma from the fireplace, matched only by the perfumes from the award-winning kitchen)
  7. Finest Place to Drink Al Fresco — Le Chamois, Squaw Valley, California (What’ll Snow You: The California sunshine)

Get the full list here.

By the way, après-snowboarders are also welcome.

Skiing in Japan

A recent NY Times article has peaked our interest. We’ve brought Niseko, Japan’s largest ski area, to your attention before, but the new article does a great job of presenting other skiing opportunities in the country.

As it turns out, Japan actually has many more, perhaps a hundred more, ski areas than the U.S., according to the website Snowjapan.com.

While the vertical drops aren’t quite what some have come to expect in the Alps or the Rockies, due to Japan’s unique climate, with winter winds blowing in from Siberia, ski areas can get tons more snow than comparable resorts in the U.S. For example, Niseko gets over 600 inches of snow, while Vail only averages 348. And the powder is supposed to be incredible.

Americans will benefit from the increased traffic from Australian skiers, who have gone to Japan in droves, blazing a skiing trail. Japanese businesspeople have responded by putting up more signs in English and catering to English-speakers. The Times suggested contacting Australian-run tour operators, like Skijapan.com, for more help.

And an additional feature that really intrigues us: the large number of available hot springs (“onsen“) for apres-ski.