Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Home CO Places CO Venue Report Après Ski Magic

Après Ski Magic

Toast to a productive day Colorado style, even if your group stays off the slopes

By Beth Buehler

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Wyld Terrace at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch || Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

Perhaps just as important as the equipment worn when hitting the slopes is the celebration after a day of networking and playing in the snow. Or in some cases, it might be a welcome reward after a day of meetings in Colorado ski towns.

While we can’t begin to cover all the possibilities, here are a few great places for raising a flute of champagne, trying out a tasty concoction from a master mixologist, munching on high-brow small plates or a slice of wood-fired pizza, and kicking back to relax in some of the state’s most picturesque places.

Après Ski Experts

Aspen has defined the art of après ski. Aspen Mountain put the town on the map for skiing in 1946, and three hotels located nearby offer the ideal combination of lodging, meeting and event space, and food and drink.

For teams with oenophiles, The Little Nell’s Wine Bar is a cozy listening lounge with plush couches and seating areas and DJs spinning records from an all-vinyl booth. The Wine Bar has 35 different wines by the glass, a full bar menu, and charcuterie and cheese boards for light bites. The Nest, an inviting outdoor patio serviced by The Wine Bar, has sectional couches, Adirondack chairs, and fire pits with strands of lights overhead.

The hotel’s slopeside restaurant, Ajax Tavern, has long been the place to see and be seen with its ski-in/ski-out location by the Silver Queen Gondola. Between the indoor space and patio, Ajax Tavern hosts up to 250 people for reception-style gatherings. The wide range of libations and selection of culinary dishes keep this place humming, with the truffle fries and Ajax wagyu beef double cheeseburger among the standouts.

A few streets over, the historic Hotel Jerome delivers equally memorable après ski options such as curling and cocktails in the hotel’s garden, crafted cocktails like espresso martinis at Felix Roasting Co., and Après After Dark at Bad Harriet speakeasy. Playing off navigating bumps on the slopes and indulging in bumps of caviar, Hotel Jerome has reinvented the traditional champagne and caviar experience by offering Bumps to Bumps, a floating array of elevated après essentials served at the pools and terrace.

“This past February, our historic property hosted the YPO Southern 7 Gold Chapter, with 80 guests experiencing all of the après ski favorites including a private ski and curling in the garden, along with our exclusive Taikun Sushi Omakase pop-up at Bad Harriet, which traveled to Aspen from New York City,” says Hotel Jerome’s Director of Events Elyse Jokich.

For something a little lower key, head to Limelight Aspen’s Lounge bar and patio for hand-tossed pizza, appetizers, small and large plates, and beverages. Local musicians play in the lounge Friday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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Fireside drinks on The Lounge patio at Limelight Snowmass || Courtesy of Limelight Hotels

Nearby in Snowmass

The Lounge at Limelight Snowmass, located at the ski area base just steps from the slopes, has a spacious patio adjacent to the outdoor ice-skating rink and serves a similar menu of food and music. The lounges at both Limelight properties hold 80 people, with groups able to spill over into the living rooms and add up to 100 more guests.

With ski-in/ski-out locations and plenty of space to host meetings and events, Viceroy Snowmass and Viewline Resort Snowmass also offer the full package for groups. The slopeside and poolside Nest Bar & Grill at Viceroy Snowmass is ideal for dining and drinking alfresco, and digging into homemade guacamole or a juicy Nest burger.

The Viewline Lobby Bar is an après ski oasis with huge windows, fireside seats, a mountainside patio, small bites, and handcrafted cocktails. Groups can reserve a section, buy out the entire Lobby Bar, or opt for Stark’s Alpine Grill. Don’t miss Moët on the Mountain with live DJ sets, bubbly, and food offered Thursday through Sunday on the restaurant’s deck. Next door at sister property Wildwood Hotel, Last Chair is a beer hall with fireside tables and 10 Colorado brews on tap.

A couple other ideas in Snowmass Village are Venga Venga, a cantina and tequila bar, and New Belgium Ranger Station, where there is live music, Colorado beers, wine, cocktails, and casual food items on the menu. Both have patios and offer buyouts.

A Creative Touch

Dallas-based WoodHouse purchased Elevation Hotel & Spa in Mount Crested Butte last year and has sprinkled après ski magic on the slopeside property. The hotel’s restaurant is an outpost of the company’s Dallas restaurant, José, serving Guadalajara-inspired foods, top-shelf tequila, mezcals, local brews, and more. Just steps from two main chairlifts, the José patio is the place to be for mingling over post-activity beverages and can host up to 200 for a standing soiree.

Groups also can book two indoor spaces that opened at the end of last ski season. In the lobby, billy barr is a salute to a local naturalist and researcher at Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory while Matchstick Productions Lounge has posters, memorabilia, and ski movies from a film company based in Crested Butte.

Also fairly new to the Mount Crested Butte scene is A Bar Above, which expanded into the space next door earlier this year. Daily live music as well as food, drinks, and a small patio make this a place worth checking out to celebrate a group’s adventures.

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A Bernatone alpenhorn welcome to Madeline Hotel & Residences in Telluride || Courtesy of the Auberge Resorts Collection

A Call to Gather

At Madeline Hotel & Residences, located at the base area of Telluride Ski Resort, a distinct sound alerts groups, skiers, and snowboarders that it’s time to celebrate. General Manager Bryan Wood kicks off après ski at 4 p.m. daily by blowing a custom-made Bernatone alpenhorn accompanied by his Saint Bernard pup, Shian. A complimentary toast is served in front of the Timber Room, where whiskey-forward cocktails and an extensive champagne selection are the specialties along with mountain dishes such as elk and small plates like Devilish Eggs with shaved black truffle. Up to 56 can be hosted for a semiprivate event in the Timber Room or a maximum of 100 when the inside space and patio are booked.

Rich Scene to Toast

Beaver Creek also has two slopeside hotels that are ideal for meeting, getting some runs in, and toasting the alpenglow. At The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, unwind after a day of snowy pursuits at Fireside Bar on Mountainside Terrace. Sakaba and Wyld Terrace also have spacious patios that are available to groups, or head inside to Bachelor’s Lounge and warm up by the indoor fireplace.

Located in Beaver Creek Village, Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa also has a large slope-facing patio with fire pits. For an indoor and outdoor seating combination, Brass Bear Bar has floor-to-ceiling windows and a grand fireplace. Meanwhile, 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill sits at the base of Haymeadow Express Gondola and features a large, covered patio with heaters and TVs. New this year is a covered pergola that is ideal for private après ski gatherings and features luxury seating, TVs, and fire pits.

In neighboring Vail, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Vail’s Remedy Bar has great views of Vail Mountain, live music three or four days a week, and a cozy, warm ambience for imbibing and enjoying good company. The property’s Flame Terrace is activated during ski season and typically has an ice bar.

For a touch of Austrian flair in the heart of Vail Village, plan a post-ski gathering at Pepi’s Restaurant and Bar located in Gasthof Gramshammer, which opened in 1964 and is only a short walk from Gondola One. At Pepi’s, enjoy the sunshine on the heated patio and catch a glimpse of some of Pip Gramshammer’s skiing medals and trophies.

We always schedule an après ski reception for our Colorado winter groups. On or off property, the skiers and boarders enjoy sharing stories about their day on the mountain over a cocktail and snacks,” says Melissa Layton, a partner at Operation Altitude, a Vail Valley-based destination management company that works in several Colorado ski towns. “The parties include a guitarist/vocalist, and we have added a trivia game and ax-throwing activity in the past to add to the fun interactive nature of the event.”