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Vail or Snowmass First Week of February 09?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
My Atomics have kidnapped my bikini and I am now focused on Winter 2009. After my last few trips to Utah, I am in the mood to return to Colorado. I guess that's what I get for secretly listening to John Denver at the gym...a girl cannot live on Jane's Addiction alone.

I am a fan of Vail. Plain and simple. The back bowls totally have my number. Toss in a daily spry picnic break at Belle's Camp and color me blissful. Apres ski with my Amex shopping...joy. And oddly, I have almost exclusively had crappy snow when visiting, little to no fresh, sometimes classic crud; apparently, I give Vail a pass on that. I am bound to hit it one trip. Also, I enjoy a day or two at BC.

Juxtapose that against Snowmass. I have never been to Snowmass or Aspen. Until last week, I simply was not compelled to check it out. The Snowmass trail map did not do much for me. I am happiest on black runs, I love bowls, dig a nice glade, am friendly with a couple of double blacks but am not an extreme chica (yet). What finally interested in me about Snowmass was the obscene following of positive supporters they have. I like that Snowmass has a village and a respectable quantity of ski-in/ski-out (ish) lodging. But I cannot quite get a handle on what exactly their village has. Is it a smathering of shops/dining like Keystone's River Run, Vail's Lionshead, Beaver Creek or a barrage of retail like Vail Village, Whistler? Is there a sweet picnic spot like Belles? I like having Aspen nearby but I hate that it is not walkable from Snowmass. I appreciate the bus/shuttle system but that does not compare to a "walk-to" village. It also seems a bit of a distance (more so than say, Deer Valley to Park City Main St). Again, I am operating from ZERO experience and could really use some insight in this arena.

This trip will be my husband and myself. Nightlife is not huge but a pulse is. I somewhat sold myself on Snowmass to satisfy the innate need for "something different" but obviously, I am not entirely buying the idea. Rereading this, I clearly have a predilection for Vail...yet I hate to miss Snowmass because of my own ignorance. (Yes, those who know me, enjoy that I just put in print that I bask in ignorance.)

If you were me, where would you ski the first week of February...Vail or Snowmass? My Atomics, my bikini and I appreciate your help!
post #2 of 13
Snowmass is like a big Beaver Creek. If you had a family, I would say to stay in Snowmass. But it sounds like you might like staying in town better. If you want expert skiing, Aspen Mountain and Highlands is were you will want to be skiing.

If you hit picnic point on a nice day at Aspen Highlands, I don't think you will ever go back to Belle's.
post #3 of 13

Here is my detailed trip report with lots of pics from my Snowmass trip this past March: http://forums.epicski.com/showthread...ighlight=cliff

My ability level is a lot lower than yours, but I absolutely loved Snowmass. Just about everybody we saw there said they've skied everywhere and Aspen/Snowmass is the only place they go now.

If you do go, I can't recommend the Snowmass Mountain Chalet (http://www.mountainchalet.com/ )highly enough. As you can see from the pics, it is right on the slopes. The included breakfast and soup lunch are top notch. I just checked the rate for when you'll be there, and it looks like $303/nt. for a non-deluxe room (which is what we had - you're view is on the opposite side of the mtn. from the slopes - I've got a pic of it in my report). When you figure that is for true ski-in/out accommodations and 4 meals a day (2 for each adult), that really can't be beat. Plus, you're right next to the Village - up one flight of stairs and you're there.

As for the village, it has a mix of retail and restaurants. There is is one main bar that was pretty hopping early evening but didn't seem to go very long into the night. We rode the bus into Aspen only one night - probably took 20 to 30 minutes with the various stops.

This year, I'm either hitting Vail or Park City for a short guys trip end of January, and will be taking the whole family to Beaver Creek for a week at spring break in March. Since Snowmass was my first trip out west, I want to see some different places before settling into one spot.

Good luck and I hope this helps!

Take care,
post #4 of 13
Aspen/Snowmass hands down. If you want expert terrain, Vail is pretty much lacking in that department. All of the mountains in Aspen (with the exception of Buttermilk) have much more challenging expert terrain. The apres scene in the area is also the best in the lower 48 imo. Basically everything is on the table there. If you want to party big, or if you just want to go out for a bite to eat, it's all there. It's definitely a benchmark in high end ski area towns. Even the bums are classy...
post #5 of 13
Aspen has 4 mountains with somewhat varying amounts of difficulty and lots of vert. Snowmass is big with mucho vert. Never been to Vail - but I have a free place to stay there meaning I will hopefully soon!
post #6 of 13
Another vote to check out Aspen. I would use Snowmass for base because it has best ski-in/ski-out options, but force yourself to ski at both Highlands and Ajax before your last day in case you want to return. Must hang out in town of Aspen a few nights too.
post #7 of 13
Plus there is a good deal more expert terrain at Snowmass than Vail (look at the top of your map), plus SERIOUSLY tough stuff at Highlands.
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I knew you guys (or "ya'll" if you are bi-lingual) would have the answer. Aspen, here I come!

Now...the speed round question: stay in Snowmass or Aspen?
post #9 of 13
Depends on family/slopeside and money. If you have a lot of money stay near Ajax

If you don't or want a better deal, Snowmass! There are more choices for slope side over there.

Also there are reasonable condos in town, depends on the experience you want. For me, I like staying in town - kind of more lively or real or something. But it's a lot for anything, dunno if the village is like that. It's kind of like going to another town or something - a bit of a ride. And it's more contrived because it's a mountain development. Well done though! And really big.

Busses are great right from the airport etc - you can ski check and get your stuff to any of the other mountains for the next day - used this a few times. Just left them after skiing and don't have to worry about it.
post #10 of 13
Unless you HAVE to have ski in/out, stay in Aspen, definitely. Much more shopping, dining, nightlife, ambiance. A lot of the lodging have their own shuttles that take you straight to the bottom of the lift on request, and you can get very well priced accommodation in Aspen town if you do a bit of looking. You will want to ski at Ajax and Highlands, which involves a bus ride anyway so you might as well be in Aspen enjoying all the after-ski extras. Snowmass to me is for families and old people who can't walk more than 50 yards in ski boots.

Snowmass base, yes Keystone is a good comparison, not more than a smattering of shops with no real character.

I'm also a huge fan of Vail, boy are you are going to love Aspen!
post #11 of 13
Oh and just to reiterate said many times - fly in and you don't need a car! Cute little airport and busses take you everywhere.
post #12 of 13
I would stay in town unless you have a bunch of kids you have to schlep. I find that people that stay in Snowmass always think they will go into town more than they really do. Plus the bus system just works better from town. The last free express bus out to Snowmass is 3:45 return 4:45. But if you catch the last bucket on Ajax your still on the lift at 3:45. Getting to Highlands from Snowmass is a bit of hassle, but a breeze from town.

Aspen has tons of really, really good restaurants. You might want to just get a hotel that serves a lite breakfast and go out for the rest of your meals.

Check out Frontier Airlines for cheaper fares into ASE. They are currently in Chapter 11, but they seem to be doing a good job into Aspen.
post #13 of 13
As everyone else mentioned, Snowmass hands down wins this. Personally, I like Aspen Highlands almost as much, but mostly because I like hiking Loge Peak.

If you can stay in town, I'd recommend doing that. Aspen has a cool vibe and it's worth experiencing. If you like shopping in Vail Village, you'll love Aspen - especially if you're into the galleries. As Shredhead mentioned, there's too many good restaurants to list. Some of the old regulars, like Little Annie's, are worth going to.
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