Once a year, the world’s best extreme sports athletes fly in from around the globe and descend upon Aspen, Colorado for the Winter X Games.
One of my favorite parts of my job is that I get to travel to events like these from time to time to be on-site. Besides doing the job you were sent there to do, it’s always a good chance to rub shoulders with people at the company I don’t normally work with, and every once and a while there are pockets of downtime where you can explore the town or city you’re in. When it comes to skiing, I’m pretty loyal to Breckenridge. It’s one of the first places I learned to ski back in the day (when my Mom says I was cuter and sweeter – sorry Mom!) and my appreciation only grew when it was the destination of years of college ski trips. All that said, Aspen stole my heart. Hands down. I’ve been converted.
Admittedly, X Games is probably not an event I’d have gone to outside of work, but I’m glad I did because it superseded all expectations. For those of you who are not gigantic extreme sports fans (me), X Games is a mix of snowboarding, skiing, and snowmobiling competitions with a lot of live music sprinkled on top that is produced and televised by ESPN. This year, the musical guests were Snoop Dogg, Chromeo, Skrillex, and Wiz Khalifa. Snoop Dogg was a fan favorite…
Chromeo is one of my favorite artists to see live. They throw a mean dance party… A fun part of X Games (if you’re above the age of 21) are the after parties. All of the big sponsors – Red Bull, Monster, etc – compete to throw the biggest party with the biggest musical acts. The fella’s at Monster asked us to join them for their party atop the mountain. We quickly obliged and hopped in a gondola that took us to the tippity top. Where we found an emerald green estate all to us… Tyga stole the show, though I’m a bit biased since he was so close he was sweating on me. The next day, we ended up getting stuck in Aspen because of weather, so we took advantage and squeezed in half a ski day. We fueled up at Little Annies with Eggs Benedict on potato latkes (!!! I have never seen latkes used for the base of Eggs Benedict and it was bomb) and mimosas.
Don’t be shy, get in there. Here’s a close up…
We headed over to Highlands, Aspen’s most advanced mountain. We were in it for the skiing but we also had ulterior motives. We’d heard about a little place called Cloud Nine from some friends, which was somewhere halfway down the mountain and apparently threw a good day party. We grabbed our skis and started on our way to find the not-so-secret spot. We got a little distracted by these views though… After more than a few runs, we found what we were looking for… and it lived up to the hype. Cloud Nine is technically a restaurant where you can have brunch, before it turns into a pseudo-club around noon. As the hours progress, those seated take up standing, and those standing take up dancing on tables and spraying bottles of Veuve Clicquot with reckless abandon. It’s a good time.
The outdoor part has a wraparound deck with 360 views of the mountains. It’s breathtaking. And it’s a mighty fine spot to grab a beer and bask in the sunlight. Also, they have a bar completely made out of ice, so you’re pretty much insulting someone if you don’t have a beverage… Once you’ve soaked in the beautiful scenery, head inside around 2:30 for the finale… just keep an eye on your electronics when the champagne starts flying.
They kick you out around 3pm and you can imagine the scene as 50 newly made best friends have to ski down the mountain post-champagne shower. For our last evening in Aspen, we accepted an offer to a private Chromeo show at Belly Up (awesome venue – if you go to Aspen, it’s a must). It was pretty cool to be with only a couple hundred people dancing to Chromeo, when every other time I’ve seen them has been at festivals playing to crowds in the tens of the thousands. I can’t talk up Aspen enough. It has great skiing, restaurants, shopping and a serious apres-ski scene to boot. It has an international clientele and you’ll meet more than a few people with some stories to tell. To top it off, I hear it’s even better to visit in the summer and fall (see you then, Aspen!).
If you’re looking to make a trip, we split our time between The Limelight (hotel with pool, hot tub, etc) and North of Nell (luxury private condos). Both are in awesome locations – very central and you can walk anywhere in less than five minutes. If you’re with a big group, I’d say go with the North of Nell, as the condos are excellent/huge and have a good view of the mountain. If you’re looking to meet people and be more social, hit the Limelight.