The world-class ski area known as Aspen Snowmass, actually made up of four mountains and two towns, this year celebrated its 75th anniversary.
It seemed very fitting then that two of the area's properties underwent transformations so major they can be described as a rebirth.
When it comes to lodging, new hotels are few and far between here, especially in Aspen, where sky-high real estate prices limit development. The 2019 opening of the W Aspen marked the first newbuild hotel in that town in more than 20 years.
But that doesn't mean existing properties are resting on their laurels. Two of them underwent multimillion-dollar renovations, reopening just in time for the most recent ski season.
Guests enjoy the complimentary breakfast in the lobby at the Limelight Hotel Aspen. Photo Credit: TW photos by Johanna Jainchill
One of them is the Limelight Hotel Aspen, which, although it opened in 2008, is one of the town's newest hotels. Acquired in 2012 by the Aspen Skiing Co., which owns the ski resort, the property underwent a multimillion-dollar, six-month renovation last year.
While I can't speak to what it looked like before, I was an immediate fan of the Limelight Aspen's modern but cozy aesthetic. Fans of its nearby sister property, the Limelight Snowmass, will feel at home, with the same designers used for both properties.
Those designers said they were inspired by Aspen's mining history, and as such there are metal accents throughout as well as nods to the environs, with natural woods, but also pops of color in art and furnishings throughout.
Upon entering the lobby, where the restaurant and lounge has double-height windows with mountain views and a large fireplace, the sense of place is immediately felt. I appreciated some of the unique design elements, such as the two reception "pods" rather than one long desk and a digital photo of Aspen trees as their backdrop.
The lobby area is actually three connected spaces: the lounge; restaurant and bar; and a new kids club, which adds to the hotel's very laid-back vibe.
The lobby maintained a buzz throughout the day, popular for dinner and apres ski in front of the roaring fireplace in the evening with groups that varied from friends and co-workers to families with kids like mine.
During the day, I wasn't the only one who seemed to be taking a break from the slopes to get some work done with a coffee and my laptop. Spaces like these are perfect for the rising number of people on workations.
And it seems nobody misses out on the Limelight's free breakfast buffet, a key amenity in a place known for its pricey restaurants. Especially for a family, complimentary breakfast over the course of a ski trip offers hundreds of dollars in savings.
As nice as the lobby is, our room was equally inviting, with bright pieces of art and a kitchenette with a microwave, sink, fridge and the very necessary Nespresso machine.
The room had very spacious and well-designed closets and storage areas, a clear sign of the consideration for the needs of skiers and all of their gear.
After a long ski day, it's nice that the restaurant delivers pizza it makes in an on-site pizza oven; the wild-mushroom pizza is not to be missed.
The Limelight is centrally located, and its shuttle picked us up from the airport and also brings guests to the mountain if needed. The walk to the lift is about four blocks, which we took when there was a shuttle backup one morning.
A key refresh, rebrand in Snowmass
The lobby of the Viewline Resort Snowmass, Autograph Collection, with its three-story Viewline Lobby Bar. Photo Credit: TW photos by Johanna Jainchill
The town of Snowmass is just 20 minutes from Aspen on the road that passes the two other mountains that make up the resort, Buttermilk and Aspen Highlands, and it has also seen major hotel refits.
Last year's $40 million rebuild and rebrand of the former Westin Snowmass Resort is the largest of them.
The Viewline Resort Snowmass has one of the area's best locations. It offers easy ski-in/ski-out onto Snowmass, the largest of the four mountains, and is near the many restaurants and shops on the outdoor Snowmass Mall.
I heard from guests that the former Westin had been in real need of a face-lift but maintained demand and strong rates over the years due to its plum location.
Rebranding to eventually be part of the Autograph Collection, and moving up to four-star status, required a major investment in both time and money. It closed for eight months to undergo the rebuild, reopening in January.
The entrance to the 254-room property is dramatic, with the three-story Viewline Lobby Bar and its floor-to-ceiling windows showing off the Snowmass slopes and lifts. A massive art installation hangs from the soaring ceiling, and the room's center features a warm gas fireplace. The spot is so popular with the apres ski crowd, it can be hard to find a seat.
The bar menu features an impressive menu of hot cocktails and several local beers on tap. There is also a three-level outdoor deck off the lobby bar.
Photo Credit: TW photo by Johanna Jainchill
The property opened last summer 2021 as a unique offering in the famed mountain town: a buyout-only, 26-guest home that offers many of the services of a luxury hotel.
Midcentury modern design and furnishings run throughout the property, often in shades of cream and brown, with splashes of color like the blue bar stools in the lobby bar.
I loved the cozy, midcentury furnishings, including a shaggy rug and pillows, in our one-bedroom suite with a huge living room/dining room that included a table that could easily fit eight people. The very comfy living area was a perfect place to relax after a long ski day.
I appreciated the small bathroom off the living room that became a private bath for my son, who slept on the foldout couch. There's also a very large bathroom off the bedroom.
I didn't get to use the balcony, accessible from both the bedroom and living areas, due to single-digit temperatures, but I certainly enjoyed the slope views. I did step out on the balcony long enough to look down and discover my next destination: the heated, outdoor, slopeside pool and hot tub, a very popular apres ski spot.
Tip: For clients taking a trip to Aspen Snowmass who plan to visit multiple resorts and stay at different properties, Four Mountain Sports is the place to rent from. After skiing at any of the four mountains, you can leave your skis or snowboards at the on-site gear check and let them know where you'll be going the following day. The equipment is then delivered to the base of that mountain and is ready the next morning, a complimentary service for all renters.