Culture

A-list ski resorts

Author: Elle Canada

Culture

A-list ski resorts

In Colorado's ritziest ski towns, a friendly rivalry exists. Who has the best skiing? The hippest nightlife? The hottest stars? At first glance, Aspen seems ahead of the game. Its residents include Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, Jack Nicholson and Kevin Costner; Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, Kate Moss and Heidi Klum were spotted around town last winter. Not that Vail's residents mind. "Celebrities come to Vail for its beautiful location and the fantastic skiing," says Ted Alvarez, arts and entertainment writer for the Vail Daily. "They really don't care about being in the spotlight -- which gives you a better chance of mingling with them. Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake have been spotted here. They popped into Los Amigos -- a very casual place at the bottom of the hill where you can get margaritas and Mexican food -- and had to wait in line just like everybody else. There's no superstar treatment here!" As Randy Wyrick, business editor for the Vail Daily, puts it: "The people who must be seen go to Aspen; the people who own the people who must be seen go to Vail."

Aspen
Where to go
This former silver-mining town became a ski resort in 1947; today, property prices are sky-high. (Hollywood producer Peter Guber reportedly sold his Aspen property for $51 million!) In the last week of December, posh boutiques hold cocktail parties -- Prada hosted one for Vogue's editor-at-large André Leon Talley last year -- and residents like Kurt and Goldie and Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones throw annual New Year's Eve dos.

The look
"Ralph Lauren cords and high brown boots, a beige cashmere sweater by Prada, diamond studs and lots of shearling," says Susan Harvey, owner of Susie's Limited, a popular consignment boutique in Aspen.

Where to play
The Sky Hotel's poolside bar, 39 Degrees, is the hippest après-ski spot in town. (Mariah Carey had a Christmas soiree there in 2004, although the details are predictably hush-hush.) Why not try a Ménage-à-Trois -- a blend of Stoli h Vanil vodka, Kahlúa and Baileys, with a shot of espresso and a garnish of coffee beans -- on the curvy, three-tiered sofa while you keep an eye on the ultra-cool guests in the outdoor pool? Other favourites include The Bar at The Little Nell, Ajax Tavern and the J-Bar.
Where to eat
Dine on Wasabi Caesar and Margherita Mussels at Elevation Restaurant & Bar (www.elevationaspen.com), or try the Ahi Tuna and lightly smoked Colorado Buffalo at L'Hostaria (www.hostaria.com). Cache Cache Bistro and Takah Sushi are also popular with the locals.

Where to stay
Uptown girls book into Aspen's St. Regis Resort (www.stregis.com/aspen), where celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn have enjoyed romantic getaways. Other upscale cribs include The Little Nell (www.thelittlenell.com), where Oprah stays, and
Hotel Jerome (www.hoteljerome.com), host to Johnny Depp.

Where to shop
Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior -- Aspen has no shortage of luxe boutiques. But the best place to score a black satin Chanel cocktail dress
(for just $425) is Susie's Limited. Do celebrities ever pop in? "Once in a while," admits the ultra-discreet Harvey, "but I really can't say who."

Where to unwind
After a hot-stone treatment and 20 minutes of oxygen therapy at St. Regis' Remède Spa, you'll feel ready for another day of moguls -- the snowy kind.

Image courtesy the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

Check out Canada's top 5 luxe ski resorts!


Vail
Where to go
Created in the '60s as a European-style alpine-ski village, Vail is the largest single-mountain ski resort in North America, with 2,141 hectares of terrain, including the Back Bowls and Blue Sky Basin. More than 25 years ago, Vail's luxe little sister, Beaver Creek, was born, upping Vail Valley's star rating. Although Cameron Diaz and Britney Spears are fans, the real wealth here comes from corporate titans and politicos. (Al Gore is a regular.)

The look
"Chanel sunglasses, Earnest Sewn skinny jeans and lots of fur!" says Alejandra Aldunate, general manager of Blitz Vail boutique.

Where to play
Vail's après-ski scene starts around 4 p.m. at Garfinkel's, The Red Lion and The Tap Room, then it moves on to Sanctuary, Sandbar Sports Grill and the Euro-chic Samana Lounge.

Where to eat
Dine on Colorado Lamb Chops and Red Pepper Risotto at Toscanini, Beaver Creek's lively Tuscan restaurant. Or try Restaurant Kelly Liken and Sweet Basil-both are big on seasonal American cuisine.

Where to stay
For a luxe hideaway, check in at The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera (www.rockresorts.com), a château-style resort nestled high on a private mountain, just 20 minutes from town. Enjoy a sweeping view of Vail Valley from an outdoor hot tub, or treat yourself to Avanyu Spa's High Altitude Rescue, a moisturizing body treatment that helps combat the effects of being slopeside.

Where to shop
"Long coats are hot this season," says Aldunate, general manager of Blitz Vail boutique. "We're carrying BCBG Max Azria, Kenzie and Diesel." For everything from cowboy boots to sheer Roberto Cavalli tops, pop into upscale outfitter Gorsuch Ltd., which has stores in Aspen, Vail and Beaver Creek.

Where to unwind
For the perfect Ralph Lauren moment, sink into a buffed-leather sofa in The Great Room at The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch on Beaver Creek Mountain. This magnificent stone-and-timber hotel is the starting point for a sleigh ride up to Zach's Cabin, a private club that opens its restaurant each evening to members of the public.

Image courtesy the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

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A-list ski resorts