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Aspen vs. Vail: How to Decide

Aspen, Vail, vacation, ski, mountain, skiers, travel, snow

Photo: Martha Camarillo; Kevin Cooley

See our ultimate ski guide.

Aspen

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.

Vail

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.

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