Even in summer, the air cools as you drive through the Colorado mountains toward Aspen and Vail. These two resort towns are exceptionally cool in attitude, as well. They’re famous for skiing, celebrity sightings and luxurious, laid back style.
We had left the cowboys and carnivals of Cheyenne behind. Now, our plan was to spend a few nights in stylish digs, with plenty of time to enjoy the culture and cuisine of these upscale mountain villages. (The beauty of road trips is that everything changes, just a few miles up the road.)
First stop – Vail. We checked into The Sebastian Hotel in downtown Vail Village and immediately, we relaxed.
Our first night’s dinner was in-house, at Leonora, the restaurant attached to the hotel. The highlight was blistered shishito peppers served with spicy mango mayo. Perfect with a glass of wine.
There’s a cozy library for after dinner drinks, with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and an extensive art collection. The Sebastian also features a gorgeous pool, hot tub and fire pit area, which is just as inviting in summer as it is après ski.
The next morning, after a leisurely breakfast in our room, we walked into town. Vail is full of chalet-style architecture, stone pavers and, in summer, brilliantly colored flowers. Much of the year, it’s filled with international tourists, cyclists and hikers.
I wandered into the Helly Hensen shop, filled with high-tec active wear from the 140-year-old Norwegian athletic brand. Nearby, the Blitz Boutique has fun dresses and accessories.
But my favorite store had to be Res Ipsa, where all of my heart’s desires collided! Shoes, travel, color, pattern – what more is there? Res Ipsa’s mantra is “fewer lawyers, better shoes” and they can say that – since the founders are both lawyers. The boutique is filled with their signature kilim loafers, rug sandals and vintage denim. I was in heaven! (And if you can’t get to Vail – you can get the same feeling when you shop online!)
After that it was time for lunch and a glass of wine, sitting on a corner and people watching. Even bird watching. This hummingbird made quite a spectacle of himself during our meal.
Our evening plans included an outdoor ballet performance that was part of the Vail Dance Festival. The dance festival is on again right now – July 30 – August 9, 2021.
From Vail it was on to Aspen, where artists, socialites and celebrities gather. Our hotel pick was The Little Nell, a true, Five-Star, Five-Diamond resort that was the perfect road trip splurge.
My SmithHönig business partner Kellie and I had met one of the Little Nell buyers in our showroom, so I was especially looking forward to checking out the hotel’s boutique. As expected, it was chic and chock full of gorgeous goods.
The Little Nell itself is now even more luxe, with a recent redo by Spanish interior designer Luis Bustamante. The space is filled with rich textured velvets and luxurious organic surfaces. Overall, the feel is edited, modern, and very, very Aspen.
The new living art garden wall at The Little Nell is entitled “Love for All; All for Love”. It reminds me of our “All Love” artwork, which we’ve printed on both metal and smaller acrylic blocks. It’s a theme that resonates with us on so many levels.
The Little Nell is named after an old mining claim (which in turn was named after a ‘lady of the evening’), and sits on a site that’s been, over the decades, a hunting ground for the Ute Indians, a silver miners’ retreat, open dairy pastures and a dive bar.
Now, all around the hotel are chic boutiques, cafes and bars.
The truth is, I feel about Aspen a bit the way I feel about Big Sur (more on that later). I’m quieted by it, despite the bustle of shoppers and tourists. I connect to the deep appreciation of and focus on art, literature, and ideas that the community is famous for.
I’m drawn to the fact that Hunter S. Thompson once ran for mayor here, that there’s a renowned contemporary art museum and a literary center that sponsors a community read and donates 200 books to locals for reading and discussion. (This year, first dibs on free books goes to first responders.)
All in all, it was the perfect road trip respite. From elevated dining to chic boutiques to arts and culture, our Aspen and Vail adventure was time well spent.
Next week, it’s on to Taos and Santa Fe. Join us as the summer road trip continues…