Hot Hotel: Discerning skiers are heading to the St. Regis Aspen Resort(doubles from $799), which is fresh off a redesign that gives the modern rooms a touch of Gilded Age opulence.
Lodging for Less: Updated last year, the 45-room Hotel Aspen(800/527-7369; doubles from $299) is a hip alternative for travelers looking to save their money for lift tickets or late-night magnums of Veuve Clicquot.
Après-Ski Scene: The younger bump-skiers take over the banquettes at the Kimpton’s Sky Hotel(800/546-7866; drinks for two $20); a quieter scene unfolds on the fireside couches of the Little Nell(970/920-4600; drinks for two $30).
Coveted Table: Cache Cache(970/925-3835; dinner for two $150) is still the choice reservation, but townies are flocking to casual newcomer Justice Snow’s(970/948-9209; dinner for two $60).
Bring It Back: Look for gorgeous gemstone jewelry at Maja DuBrul(970/920-1133), run by the granddaughter-in-law of Walter Paepcke, who founded modern-day Aspen.
Celebrity Sightings: Owen and Luke Wilson, Antonio Banderas and Melanie Griffith, Jack Nicholson—and their pilots, of course.
Hot Hotel: After several years and a $2 billion investment, Vail’s village redevelopment is complete; the Four Seasons Resort Vail(800/332-3442; doubles from $635)—with its claw-foot tubs and 75-foot heated outdoor pool—is the crown jewel of this renaissance.
Lodging for Less: Vail is surprisingly short on affordable rooms; the best place for deals on rentals and hotels (including the new Sebastian Vail) is vailonsale.com.
Après-Ski Scene: The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort, has given new life to the village’s Lionshead base area, with everyone from Mexican power brokers to Denver day-trippers heading to the sunny patio at the hotel’s Tavern on the Square(970/754-7777; drinks for two $20).
Coveted Table: Elway’s(970/754-7818; dinner for two $120) just opened at the Lodge at Vail, a RockResort; its house-cut prime steaks and 350-bottle wine list are giving competition to the area’s other hot spots, Kelly Liken and Larkspur.
Bring It Back: Don’t miss a stop at Gorsuch, the legendary family-run boutique where coyote-fur boots and turquoise belt buckles set the bar for mountain fashion.
Celebrity Sightings: Michelle, Malia, and Sasha Obama; local Olympian Lindsey Vonn; and fund managers on corporate retreats.
Copyright © 2012 Amex