Just Back: Mountain Time in Aspen, CO

(No) Sarah Fazendin was impressed by the exuberance of the mountain bikers in the Snowmass base area.

Sarah Fazendin, founder of Videre Luxury Travel Design, took a family vacation and relays all the new rules in a COVID world.

Aspen, Colorado was the first major U.S. tourist destination to experience a serious outbreak of COVID-19. After a fast and serious shut down in March and a slow reopening beginning around Memorial Day, tourism officials report that the Aspen/Snowmass area is currently running between 80 percent and 90 percent capacity. This is what they would expect during a “normal” summer season. 

Masking and social distancing are absolutely the norm here right now. 

At the iconic St. Regis Aspen Resort in the center of town, traditions like the 5 p.m. Champagne Sabering and enjoying the lovely pool overlooking Aspen mountain are still happening, just with more precautions and safety measures in place. All staff have a temperature check every day and are given a new mask and gloves at the beginning of each shift. 

Particularly this summer, the most in-demand room category is the Grand Deluxe with Balcony. Overlooking the courtyard, many guests are opting to enjoy meals on their large, private balcony. While typically only served in the restaurant, this summer, guests are able to enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the rooms, making this outdoor space even more highly coveted. 

The new W Hotel, located just two blocks away from the St. Regis (across the street from The Little Nell), is a fun option for an afternoon swim. The concierge at the St. Regis can reserve pool chairs for guests at the W’s rooftop pool. In fact, this pool is open to the public. Definitely a fun change of scene and great views from the roof overlooking the gondola.

Champagne sabering is alive and well at the St. Regis Aspen.

The Snowmass base area is quite busy with mountain bikers, who can load bikes onto the chair lifts and gondolas and explore the downhill bike park. I’m told this mountain bike park was built a few years ago with ambitions to be the best in the western United States, and based on the exuberance of the bikers doing laps on the hill all day, it seems to be well on its way to achieving that goal. Guides and clients ride up in separate gondolas, and helmets and other rental gear are constantly and thoroughly disinfected. Other than that, it seems to be business as usual.

The state of Colorado has enacted a mandatory mask requirement for all indoor public places, and here in Aspen it is most definitely being enforced. Even in outdoor public spaces in the ski village areas, masking is required. In fact, compared to other mountain resort areas such as nearby Vail and Breckenridge, Aspen seems to be taking the health and safety precautions a bit more seriously.  

Aspen is proof that we absolutely can enjoy the beauty of the mountains, hotels and fine dining for which the area is known … but travelers need to expect to follow the rules in place to keep everyone safe and healthy. It was wonderful to see families together exploring the mountains and trying new things like mountain biking and rock climbing. Even during a global pandemic, or perhaps especially during a global pandemic, the mountains are always a good idea.

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