Ski and Be Seen

This winter’s quick getaway guide for Aspen, Colorado and Gstaad, Switzerland

Aspen, Colorado

While the Colorado snow never disappoints, the nicest thing about a trip to Aspen is the diversity in offerings and activities—art, nightlife, spas, famous chefs, designer boutiques, and even Soul Cycle (for the New Year). There is no shortage of fun to be had in Aspen, especially if you stay at The Little Nell.

The Nell is one of Aspen’s most exclusive properties and the exclusivity begins when you are greeted at the airport by a Nell staffer in an Audi Q7 3.0T. Fancy a test drive? The cars are yours for up to a two-hour test drive during your stay.

Recently-refreshed rooms offer comforts such as stone-clad gas log fireplaces, and complimentary fully stocked refreshment bars with locally made snacks. Ready to hit the snow? Changing into your ski boots has never been easier thanks to the ski concierge who does the dirty work for you. In a rush? Book a “First Tracks on Ajax” session that allows you to board the Silver Queen Gondola 45 minutes before it opens to the public.

The Little Nell is situated in the heart of Aspen at the base of the mountain

Element 47 is the Nell’s casual fine dining restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the latter paying homage to the state of Colorado and its seasons. From seafood to game meat, a terrific winter salad and made-fresh-daily Strozzapreti, there is something for every palate.

While dining, take advantage of the Nell’s wine program. Element 47 has graduated 10 of North America’s 150 Master Sommeliers including the property’s current Master Sommelier, Carlton McCoy. McCoy oversees the 20,000-plus wines in the cellar and also the Red Light Lounge, a private bar located in the cellar.

A look at one of the myriad offerings within the Nell’s private wine bar, Red Light Lounge

Ajax Tavern, the more casual restaurant on property, is ideal for lunch while skiing or après-ski. Optimal for people watching, Ajax is home to comfort food like truffle fries, onion soup gratinée, a delicious moules marinière, and plentiful raw bar selections. In town on the weekend? On Fridays and weekends “Clicquot in the Snow” offers Veuve Clicquot cocktails and a DJ in the afternoon. Still not satisfied? Chair 9 is applauded as one of the best après-ski lounges in the country and promises live music and dancing daily.


In Spring 2017 The Little Nell underwent a nine-week renovation by The New York-based luxury design form Champalimaud Design, LLC.

Throughout the nine-week renovation, sustainability was always top of mind for the design tea m and in keeping with the sustainability efforts and commitment by Aspen Skiing Company, all existing wooden furniture was refurbished in lieu of purchasing new items.

Gstaad, Switzerland

This January, after longing to go for years, my mother and I decided to take a trip together to the tiny mountain (population 9,200) village perched in the Swiss Alps, two hours from Geneva. 

We flew into Geneva and stayed the night at the Mandarin Oriental, which is located in the center of town right on the Rhône River. Greeted with champagne and Swiss chocolates and the most delectable breakfast, it was the perfect place to spend our first night in Switzerland. 
The following day we made our way by private car up through the mountains to Gstaad and our home for the next few days, Gstaad Palace.

The Mandarin Oriental in Geneva, Switzerland.

World class accommodations in Gstaad with a view

Originally built in 1913, it has been renovated multiple times and features a world-class spa, four restaurants, and a grand lobby with live music nightly. Rooms are furnished in classic Swiss style and offer expansive views of the mountains. Just a few meters from the hotel are high-end boutiques like Moncler, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and over half a dozen ski resorts from which to choose.

After a trying day on the slopes (our weather did not cooperate to say the least), guests can recuperate in the 9,000-square-foot spa—home to eight treatment rooms, saunas, steam baths, and Olympic-sized pools.

Though Gstaad is as picturesque as they come, there is little to no need to leave the Palace during your stay given your dining options. Good luck choosing between Le Grill, La Fromagerie, La Grand Restaurant, and GrandTerrace. Dinner at the Le Grill beckons to a bygone era. Oversized dinner menus lay in your lap as the three-piece band serenades the dining room while waiters in tuxedo jackets anticipate your every need.

Once off the property, you must explore Wasserngrat. This very steep mountain features the private Eagle’s Club (offering reciprocal membership with Aspen Mountain Club) and the best public restaurant on the mountain, Wasserngrat Restaurant. Wrap yourself in sheep skin, indulge in a sizzling pot of fondue, try the meringues (a huge platter, mind you) and cream for dessert, and wash it down with a glass of wine.

By the time your stay in Gstaad comes to an end, you will leave remembering its centuries-old European charm fondly and fully understanding the town motto: “Come up, slow down.”