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If You Go – Aspen, Colorado

Writer Lynn DeBruin gears up before the four-day bumps clinic.
Writer Lynn DeBruin gears up before the four-day bumps clinic.

Deals in Aspen

While Aspen still caters to the rich and famous, it isn’t immune to the bad economy, which means there are plenty of deals out there. February and March also are often the best months to ski. Not only is the base typically its deepest, but skiers might get a powder day one day and sunny blue skies the next.

“The promotions and deals they can get are better than they’ve been in the 22 years I’ve been here,” said Jeff Hanle, director of public relations for Aspen/Snowmass. “Everybody is trying to fill their rental property. If your dream is to come to Aspen, now is the best time to do it.”

Bill Tomcich, president of StayAspenSnowmass.com, said Aspen has never been more affordable, especially with lodging, airfare and lift ticket packages. Increased hotel inventory and airline capacity are key reasons.

How2GetThere

With Frontier jumping into the Aspen market a year-and-a-half ago, it brought airfares down.

Tomcich said that there are 10 percent more airline seats available now, with United adding nonstops from Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and Delta serving Aspen nonstop from Salt Lake City and Atlanta through March 28. Tomcich’s website also contracts directly with airlines, meaning many packages don’t require a 14- or 21-day advance purchase. For more information, and last-minute deals, go to www.stayaspensnowmass.com.

Where2Stay

Last year the Limelight Lodge (www.limelightlodge.com), a pet-friendly, 125-room upscale moderate property, opened in Aspen. This season, the new upscale 151-room Viceroy (www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/snowmass) opened as well.

We stayed at Chateau Dumont (www.chateau-chaumont-dumont.com), just a two-minute walk to the gondola, with spacious rooms, full kitchen, free internet access and free street parking.

Also nearby are the Aspen Square Condominiums (www.aspensquarehotel.com). Though smaller than Dumont, they were very chic, some with gas fireplaces, balconies, terrific views of downtown Aspen and also very close to the gondola and shopping.

Pet motel

The Little Nell (www.thelittlenell.com)is one of the top-rated hotels in Aspen, and perfectly located next to the Gondola at Aspen Mountain – also known as Ajax.

It’s also dog-friendly. It offers brass ID tags for pets, fresh water bowls, dog walking and sitting on request and even a pet menu from the elegant Montagne restaurant, featuring tenderloin of beef and grilled salmon with eggs.

During our stay, while we warmed up with a delicious dish of Beef Bourguignon after a day on the slopes, a bulldog wandered carefree near its owner, taking in the Aprés scene himself.

An Italian visitor hams it up with dog Trixie at the lounge in the Little Nell, a pet-friendly hotel.An Italian visitor hams it up with dog Trixie at the lounge in the Little Nell, a pet-friendly hotel.
Aspen-Mini-SkisSki boards or mini-skis help shorten the learning curve in the Bumps for Boomers clinic.

Bumps for Boomers

The four-day clinic, with lift ticket, is $1,493 in February and March. Three-day clinics also are available for a slightly reduced fee. Classes are purposely kept small, with a maximum of four students per instructor. At times, our clinic provided almost one-on-one training. Ski boards are provided the first two days. Skiers simply need their boots and poles those days, and can either rent skis the final two days or provide their own. Find more information at www.bumpsforboomers.com or by calling 970-989-2529.

What else

Aspen offers a four-mountain pass with Ajax, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass all within nine miles. It also offers the largest free groomed Nordic system in North America, and another Nordic area, Ashcroft, which sits in a valley surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks.

Pine Creek Cookhouse (www.pinecreekcookhouse.com) offers a chance to dine and dash with a two-mile ski trail to the restaurant. One can also get there via snowshoe or horse-drawn sleigh. Nearby, T-Lazy-7 Ranch (www.tlazy7.com) offers guided snowmobile tours of the picturesque Maroon Bells – North America’s most photographed mountains.

The area also has three new ice-skating rinks, a 25,000-square- foot child-learning center and free shuttle service between the ski areas.

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