Aspen Felt Like Home

Travel Features Aspen
Aspen Felt Like Home

I was not quite sure what to expect when I went to Aspen, Colorado, for the first time, but I was pretty sure I’d return happy and refreshed. I’m glad to say that I totally called it.

I stayed at the St. Regis, a Marriot Bonvoy property, and it was immaculate, as one would expect. Sculptures welcome you into the hotel and are a part of the courtyard where the heated pool and three hot tubs are located. The courtyard is also where the daily champagne sabrage takes place at 5 p.m.. They bring out an actual sword and in the style of Napoleon they whack the top off of several champagne bottles to share with guests. The Astor family started the St. Regis brand, and Caroline Astor loved champagne, hence the tradition at these hotels. The Piper champagne they serve is made specifically for the St. Regis Aspen. I experienced this within a few hours of landing in Aspen, and it was here that I started to see that there was more to this luxury vacation stop. The people were beyond friendly. In fact, I made friends with a family the first night I was at the hotel and we ran into each other the entire weekend, comparing notes and sharing updates.

There were dogs enjoying the celebration, and children and adults alike gathered to give a puppy the attention he deserved. I guess we all needed some of that well known puppy therapy. 


I was supposed to go skiing the day after I landed but there was some confusion with my passes and ultimately the gondola was closed for bad weather, so the friendly concierge swapped my ski day for my spa day and I went downstairs for my treatment. I’ve been to many spas in my travels, and to be perfectly honest, not all of them are all that special. More often than not, the “spa” is similar to any strip mall chain massage parlor. There is a waiting area and a room for your treatment. Nothing wrong with this at all, but what makes a spa worth the extra investment is the amenities, and the RAXka Wellness Spa at the St. Regis has the amenities. In fact, if you had a treatment, you could spend several hours there and then head to the heated pools and have a full day experience. 

The space is newly renovated and you can tell. The waiting area for your provider is an actual oxygen bar. I walked over and grabbed a pink cannula and plugged myself right in for treatment. With Aspen’s drastic change in altitude from my home of South Carolina, it saved me the cost of going to an oxygen bar and the improvement was felt almost immediately.

After my massage, which was fantastic, I headed to the amenities. A steam room that was the right temperature was a first stop. I was able to just sit in there for quite a while. Often these are just so hot that it seems like they want you to leave after two minutes. Then I headed to the hot tub and cold plunge, where I did not last for two minutes. 

I always hesitate to use a cold plunge just because I don’t want to be a part of a crowd, but it’s also good for you, and with a hot tub to follow it up I figured it was worth the time. There is also a room with waterfall treatments for your back where you sit on a throne like a queen (or king) as the water pounds your back.

It was worth the price of admission to be sure, but self care wasn’t the only good thing to happen to me at the RAKxa spa. I also made some new friends. While chatting in the hot tub, I found out that one of the ladies was in town because her brother was a DJ and was playing at the Highlands Closing party. They invited me and you know what, I decided to add that into my schedule the next afternoon.

I also decided to take a snowshoeing tour offered by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and that was the best choice I could have made. If I’m being completely honest, and I always try to be, I thought it was just a hike, but it was so much more. My guide, Mason, told me and the other two snowshoers not only about the mountain, but about the nature around us. The guide taught me so much about how the animals and nature work together. One of my favorite things I learned is how to tell the difference between a fir and a spruce. Shake the hand of the tree; if it feels friendly and the needles are flat, it’s a fir. If you shake the hand of the tree and it feels spiky, it’s a spruce. We hiked to the top of the mountain and whether you ski or not, it’s worth putting on your snow gear and seeing Aspen from its peak.


At the Highlands Closing Party I met up with Bryan Normand, known as Kid Kamillion. Through him I got to learn about the DJ scene in Aspen. When Normand moved to the area, there were only a few DJs, but the scene has exploded and now there are over 100 in town. Many of them performed at the Highlands Closing Party at Aspen Highlands, and I can tell you, these DJs were excellent. That this thriving, talented community exists in the middle of the mountains is impressive. 

When it comes to shopping, there isn’t a store that’s more classic Aspen than KemoSabe. The hat maker opened in 1990 and has become an Aspen establishment. I was greeted by the sweetest sales clerk, and I was clear up front: I would be purchasing a hat. She insisted I try on a variety of hats and told me she could guess my hat size by looking at me. I was skeptical, and yet, the hats fit me, right on the money. They start at $350 and go up to what I call Aspen priced, or $1990, the year the store was founded. The prices can go up from there depending on the customization you choose. While on a tour of the store I found that 90% of its employees are women, and I can’t help but like that percentage! Upstairs, they had a full bar for private events, and, the best part, a store dog.

As I rode to the airport in the St. Regis Cadillac shuttle feeling like the fake fancy lady that I am, I realized that what I loved most about Aspen was the people. Every person who worked at the hotel and the spa went above and beyond. People I met in the hotel lobby would see me around town or on the slopes and chat about their day. The small town just took me in and made me feel a part of it like I had lived there all my life. 

Keri Lumm is a professional chatterbox who loves watching TV & movies, reading about pop culture, and gawking at any craziness on the internet. You can follow Keri on Twitter.

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