I know this is the year I’m supposed to be trying new things, going new places and generally shaking things up, but Aspen is a hard habit to break.  This time was a wee bit different than the ski weeks in years previous because this time I had my nearly 4 year old in tow.  Having said that, I still took advantage of Aspen’s always fine dining, but rather than an 8 o’clock res at Cache Cache after après ski and a nap, now it was a table for two at 5:30, please.

STAY

For nearly 20 years I batted around between the equally luxe accommodations at The Little Nell and The St. Regis (once upon a time The Ritz-Carlton).  Both have excellent proximity to town (O.K., how about smack dab in the middle) and superior customer service.  The Nell feels more boutique-y, with excellent après ski at the base of Ajax (Aspen Mountain) and fireplaces in every room.  One of my favorite pastimes is ordering up some hot chocolate (extra whip) from room service after a day on the slopes and sitting by the fire reading the newspaper.  The St. Regis has a big bustling lobby (for the more socially inclined) and a terrific on site shop for renting gear.

The Gant appears to be my new winter home in Aspen as feeding a child breakfast from your own kitchen seems the sensible thing to do.  Offering three different ‘categories’ of condos in one, two or three bedroom options, all with fireplaces (alas no room service), two pools, three outdoor hot tubs, and shuttle service that runs round the clock into town.  Marty and Mary at the Concierge desk will book a week worth of dinners for your stay, keep you abreast of all Aspen happenings, and offer their help in any way.  If you are a repeat guest you may even get a complimentary (and unexpected) upgrade.  Order groceries online before your arrival and The Gant will make sure your fridge is stocked and ready to go.

Try the new Limelight Lodge for digs right in town with a friendlier price tag and a family friendly lobby scene complete with Jenga and board games to play.

EAT

Aspen has great restaurants (and a lot of them), so getting bored never seems to be a problem.

Here was my itinerary for the week:

Saturday, 7pm:  Su Casa.  Great Mexican in a cozy subterranean space.  Super margaritas, custom salsas, and a perfect spot for kids.  (Mine happens to be addicted to black beans.)

Sunday, 5:30pm:  Matsuhisa.  Yes I know.  Why would I bother when I have Nobu AND Nobu Next Door only 3 blocks from my place back home?  This place is ALWAYS happening, always serves up good Japanese, and is a good spot to run into friends and see who else is in town.

Monday, 6pm:  BB’s Kitchen.  A newcomer, serving up pretzel bites with mustard in lieu of bread, a kids menu (a plus!), and a great spinach salad with a Parmesan crusted egg and crispy shallots.  I bet the patio is great in the summer.

Tuesday, 6pm:  Cache Cache.  Always a favorite, this white table clothed French has excellent cuisine and a wine list to match.

Wednesday, 5:30pm:  Jimmy’s.  For steak and a salad.  Or fried chicken. . .

Thursday, 6pm:  Takah Sushi.  COZ-Y.  Best kids menu around.  I’m addicted to their Diablo Roll!  Tempura shrimp and asparagus, inside out with spicy tuna on top in an eel sauce with Serrano chilies.  Beyond.

Friday, 6pm:  Casa Tua.  With a sexy space and a ‘Marilyn’ room, this hot new Italian didn’t disappoint.  Although I’m off wheat and dairy for the moment and couldn’t savor one of their homemade pasta dishes, I was quite happy to dine on fish.  The kids menu is as sophisticated as the place.  Love.

Also try Brexi Brasserie if you want a French bistro feel with what I hear is the best burger in Aspen.  Little Annie’s and The Red Onion are old school casual with red check table cloths and big portions, perfect for the family.  In my current wheat-free existence, I passed on Campo di Fiori this time, a good choice for festive Italian fare.  Rustique has a warm country atmosphere with cassoulet and Coq Au Vin.

SHOP

Bonnie Young may well be the most beautiful children’s clothing I’ve ever laid eyes on. With a price tag to match, most of these threads were too much for me even at 50% off, but a girl can dream can’t she?  GORGEOUS.  Rumor has it that an adult line is in the works. . .

I love a trip to Amen Wardy and wish I had one in my neighborhood.  The one stop shop for hostess gifts, housewares, specialty foods, and of course Stephanie Johnson bags.  I scored mini chocolate chip cookies with a bow to bring back home and Chocolate Lace!  Do you know what that is?  I swear I haven’t seen it in 20 years and I used to adore. . . best when sprinkled on top of the best vanilla bean ice cream you can find.

Stock up on everything beauty at Cos Bar.

DO

Well ski of course!  With four mountains, Aspen is a great winter destination.  Having said that, I pretty much keep to Snowmass (which is so giant it’s as big as all the other three combined) where my daughter can learn to ski in arguably the best ski school in the country.  By day 6 she was riding the chairlift and doing ‘French fries’ down the mountain with the big kids.

Definitely lunch at Lynn Britt Cabin if you are skiing Snowmass, or try 8K at the Viceroy Hotel for sushi and soups.  Gwyn’s High Alpine is the best choice for cafeteria service and offers healthy choices like kale and quinoa salads.  Cloud 9 is a MUST if you are skiing Highlands.  Reserve ahead for raclette or fondue.

Do request Herbie Molner for a full day adult private ski lesson but don’t be surprised if he’s booked.  He hasn’t taken a reservation from the desk in 25 years and that’s what happens when you are simply the best.

If it’s snowing buckets outside and too cold for the more fair weathered of you, take in an afternoon movie at the Isis theater, the perfect small town movie house.