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As a kid who grew up in Glasgow, I learned to ski on a dry ski slope in Edinburgh and then moved on to the dizzy heights of Aviemore (thank you to my old science teacher Mr Rose for teaching me to ski on ice!). Aspen was almost as far away as the moon, until I entered the business of show, or should that be snow.
Some things in Aspen will surprise you and some won't!
Heated pavements… surprise!
Women who look like they've skied downhill at 110mph, well their faces do… you're not surprised… (Although they look permanently surprised!).
What will definitely surprise you is that this nirvana of the ski world is filled with the friendliest, most unpretentious people you could meet. Very reasonably priced skiing, ski hire, and for those of you who have skied in Europe, it's a biggie, drum roll please... no queues! #ONLYINASPEN
Aspen was originally founded as a mining town during the silver boom in Colorado around 1879. Over the years, this ski town has emerged into worldwide fame as a glitzy playground for millionaires and megastars, and with some of the most expensive real estate in the US.
The stars' favourite hotel
I checked into The Little Nell. It's Aspen’s only 5-star, 5-diamond ski-in and ski-out hotel.
The exclusive and plush 92-bedroom resort comes with a Ski Concierge of course and the legendary service includes warming your boots, tune-ups, ski equipment transfers and private lessons. Guests also have access to First Tracks where you can get a few runs in before Aspen Mountain opens to the public. #ONLYINASPEN
The Little Nell is the place to spot your favourite big screen idols enjoying the pre and après-ski scenes. Their clientele include Mariah Carey, Jay Z and Beyoncé, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, plus most recently the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. It’s newly remodelled restaurant, Element 47, has 20,000 bottles of wine in its cellar alone and many of their guests order the chef's famous entrees (Sea Bass, Black Truffle Fettuccine, Wagyu Beef). #ONLYINASPEN
Every year an influx of more celebs than you could shake a ski pole at make Aspen sound like a roll call of Hollywood's finest. My old pal Gerry Butler told me after visiting, "It really is a fantastic place."
When I mentioned to supermodel Elle Macpherson I was keeping a diary about her favourite city she responded, "Aspen is special to me because it’s home away from home. I spend a lot of time there with friends both in summer and winter. I love the people, the lifestyle, the restaurants and the weather. The skiing is some of the best in the world and summer biking and hiking is magical. I find Aspen wholesome, easy and cool all at once."
The supermodel shared her super tips for Aspen exclusively with HELLO! Online:
- "Nothing beats breakfast at The Little Nell
- The Ski Concierge at The Little Nell is the best I've ever come across.
- Ralph Lauren for the windows!
- Performance Ski for the latest in ski-wear and Gorsuch or Stapleton Sports for ski equipment
- Bikram Yoga for summer workouts when not hiking or biking
- Under Armour for under clothes
- Aspen Sports for kids ski gear
- The Korean Feet Spa – for the best foot massage after a long day
- Honey Bee for organic juices/food"
With Aspen being a ski-ground to the stars that means bargains are to be had in the shops. Sure there's Dior, Gucci and M&S (ok I lied about the third) but check out the resale boutiques and grab yourself some Prada ski pants for one tenth of the price.
Maybe it all sounds a bit too much like posing till closing so is there any real skiing going on? You bet your Aspen there is.
Four mountains make up the Aspen ski resort area - Aspen aka Ajax, Snowmass, Highlands, and Buttermilk.
Ajax is right above The Little Nell hotel and is one of the steepest yet smaller mountains. With 11,000 feet in elevation and 76 trails it’s definitely for the experienced skier to enjoy the black diamond terrain.
Highlands - This is considered the locals' favourite mountain and offers 360 degree views of the Maroon Bells.
Snowmass - There is no better family skiing than the 3,000 acres of Snowmass with the longest vertical in the States at 4,406 feet.
Buttermilk - The easiest mountain (with only a 2,000ft vertical rise and 44 trail runs). The X Games is hosted here and will attract the world’s best winter athletes to compete.
OK I hear you scream… now we're on to drinking… enough skiing! We all love the après-ski and that’s where Aspen excels.
On one of my many and varied runs I thought I was hallucinating and spotted an oasis… it was. The Oasis is a pop-up champagne bar on Ajax that offers Veuve Clicquot flowing every weekend. There are clues tweeted during the day of so you can locate where to toast in the snow.
Guests can venture out for the perfect cocktail or have dinner at The Chef's Club in The St. Regis Hotel which is the exquisite new restaurant featuring Food & Wine magazine's best new world chefs.
And the perfect place for a warm nightcap is The Caribou Club that has quite the reputation. Jennifer Aniston reportedly got denied quite simply because she wasn't on the doorman's 'list'.
I really would be very happy to never ski any place other than Aspen although one day I will return to Aviemore.
There's an old Aspen saying “You come for the winter and stay for the summer”… I might just do that and then I’ll really be #ONLYINASPEN!
The Little Nell offers deals throughout the season. They have snow up until the end of spring for your ski vacations but it's a wonderful place to visit over the summer as well.
For Aspen/Snowmass lift tickets visit:
All the latest on the world's youngest royals