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ASPEN COLORADO SKI RESORTS

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Planning a ski trip? The Aspen Skiing Company (ASC) offers advice on vacation packages and Aspen Snowmass lodging, from budget to luxury.

Mountain Chalet Aspen and St. Moritz Lodge are just two hotels for skiers on a budget. The town also has moderately priced accommodations, such as the Limelight Lodge, which offers free breakfasts and apres ski drinks and snacks.

Deluxe Aspen hotels include The Gant, a condominium resort with two heated swimming pools, three hot tubs and an outdoor fireplace. The Little Nell is the only five-star, five-diamond hotel in Aspen CO. Located near the Silver Queen Gondola, it features newly renovated rooms and suites by designer, Holly Hunt.

Snowmass Village hotels

Snowmass Village is located 14.4 kilometers east of Aspen. Ninety-five per cent of accommodations are ski-in, ski-out. Budget accommodations include Snowmass Inn and Snowmass Mountain Condominiums.

Examples of moderately priced lodging are The Stonebridge Inn and Tamarack Townhouses. Located near the children's ski school, Treehouse Kid's Adventure Center, and below Fanny Hill, Tamarack Townhouses are ideal for families.

Interlude Condominiums, also located near the Village Express high-speed lift, are deluxe ski in, ski out condominiums. Top of the Village, at the top of Snowmass Mountain, is also in the deluxe accommodations category.

The main hotel in the new Snowmass Base Village is the Viceroy Snowmass Resort & Residences. The 173-room LEED Silver-certified mountain resort is ski-in, ski-out, with a spa, fine dining restaurant, pool café, apres-ski bar and ski valet services.

Last-minute deals for lodging and property specials are found on the StayAspenSnowmass website.

Ski runs

It's important for anyone planning an Aspen or Snowmass vacation to know the differences between the four mountain ski resorts.

Aspen Mountain is the second largest ski resort in Colorado, with 76 steep intermediate and difficult ski trails, which run into the town of Aspen, eight lifts and four restaurants. It has no beginner trails. The longest run is 4.8 km (three miles).

Aspen Highlands, where locals like to ski, has 125 easy, intermediate, difficult and expert trails and two bowls (Highland and Olympic), with five lifts and five restaurants. The longest run is 5.6 km (3.5 miles).

Snowmass, with 91 easy, intermediate, difficult and expert trails, and three terrain parks, is the best ski and snowboard mountain for families. It has 21 lifts and nine restaurants. The longest run at Snowmass is 8.5 km (5.3 miles) long.

Buttermilk, with the lowest summit elevation (3,018 meters or 9,900 feet), has the best ski runs for altitude acclimatization. Its 44 wide and gently rolling trails and five terrain parks are ideal for beginners and intermediates. The longest run is 4.8 km (three miles). Buttermilk has 9 lifts, two restaurants and five terrain parks.

Skiing season

The Aspen Mountain and Snowmass ski season begins on Thanksgiving Day and ends in mid-April. Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk ski resorts open in mid-December and close in early-April.

Although the region receives more than 762 cm (300 inches) of snow annually, the ski resorts bask in more than 300 days of sunshine.

Equipment rental

You only need one lift ticket to ski Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. With hands-free lift tickets, you don't have to pull out your ski pass. A chip inside each plastic card allows quick radio frequency gate access to the ski slopes.

If you rent your ski and snowboard equipment from Four Mountain Sports or D&E, Aspen/Snowmass Skier Services provide free overnight ski and snowboard storage and delivery to any of the four mountains.

Shuttle service

Aspen Snowmass is a 3.5 to 4-hour drive from Denver, Colorado. Aspen is a 22-minute flight from Denver CO. Many lodges, such as The Gant, provide free Aspen Airport transfers.

You don't need a car in downtown Aspen, because complimentary shuttle busses provide free transportation to and from Aspen, Snowmass Village, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk, during the day. Free shuttles run between Aspen and Snowmass in the evening.

Winter activities

For apres-ski, Aspen Skiing Company offer tips for restaurant deals. Aspen has more than 100 restaurants, serving everything from steak and pizza to ethnic and vegetarian cuisine. If you eat at the bar, in nearly every Aspen restaurant, the menu prices are cheaper. Happy hours abound with drink and appetizer bargains.

There are plenty of things for non-skiers to do in Aspen and Snowmass Village. Activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, skating, walking tours, a climbing wall, shopping, art galleries, museums and lectures.

Aspen Snowmass also offer many free things to see and do, such as free mountain tours and skateboarding, free admission to the Aspen Art Museum, free art gallery tours and guided nature walks, free sing-alongs and story-telling, free concierge services, free concerts and special events.

Vacation packages

The international guests section of the Aspen Snowmass website helps out-of-country visitors find deals for Aspen Colorado ski resorts.

Advance purchase discounts and special deals are available for lift tickets, equipment rentals, lodging packages and group ski and snowboarding lessons for kids and teens.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Aspen Skiing Company: www.aspensnowmass.com

Stay Aspen Snowmass: www.stayaspensnowmass.com

Colorado Tourism: www.COLORADO.com

More things to see & do in Colorado:

Cumbres and Toltec Rail Trips Between Colorado and New Mexico

Vail Plaza Hotel and Club - Vail Village Colorado