The Treasures of Aspen

The frigid months of winter have officially arrived and it’s time to take to the slopes. With all the destinations to choose from around the globe, Aspen—a small-town winter wonderland nestled away in the Colorado mountains—remains the preferred escape for the world’s A-Listers. The town’s wilderness experience combined with its world-class skiing and shopping have attracted artists, photographers, and writers drawn to the rich arts scene and vibrant spirit, as well as old American families like the Kennedys. A celebrity peak in 1978 brought other big names like Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, and a smattering of producers and actors who all made Aspen their ski getaway following 20th Century Fox’s purchase of the Aspen Skiing Company. Among the elite that currently call this jewel of Pitkin County their home is style icon Aerin Lauder.

Lauder—designer, tastemaker, and mother of two—lives an exquisite life, and is best known for founding her namesake luxury-lifestyle brand in 2012. Built around a love for interiors and a talent for producing warm and inviting spaces, Lauder’s brand exemplifies her elegant, effortless aesthetic and echoes her lavish upbringing. With unmatched talent to bring simplicity and beauty into all aspects of life, there is no better person from Aspen’s roster of residents to introduce a personal view of this beautiful town and its many joys.

Lauder’s new book, Aspen Style, produced in collaboration with Assouline Publishing, delves into the town’s storied history dating back to the 1890s mining boom, and features Aspen’s most illustrious attractions including stunning Victorian houses, Hotel Jerome, and the Wheeler Opera House. Aerin pays homage to the town’s stark glamour and the beauty of the untouched landscape that provides the area its unique charm—a refreshing reminder of nature’s wonder in our increasingly digital age. Her loving uncle Leonard Lauder, a man of tradition, introduced her to Aspen at a young age. Each morning, Leonard would wake up early, put on his red ski outfit, and drive his Jeep Wagoneer to ski First Tracks. Following long days at the mountains, he’d welcome the family home to big fondue dinners—a tradition Aerin still carries out with her own children.

While Ajax, Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass mountains draw the athletes and nature lovers, Aspen is also renowned for its shopping and dining. On off-days from the slopes, Aspen-goers venture into town where mainstream brands like Gucci and Dior, as well as more unique mainstays like Gorsuch, line the streets. The restaurant scene consists of high-end fare in unique, alpine-style settings. Casa Tua is the choice for Northern Italian cuisine in a cozy cabin-style hangout, and Creperie for fondue in a rustic-chic, quirky ambiance. For adventure-seekers, Aerin recommends unique spots combining sports and dining that she describes as “a handful of restaurants that you get to only after some exertion.” She continues, “There is nothing better than skiing to First Tracks and then stopping at Bonnie’s on Ajax for a delicious breakfast of oatmeal pancakes and their signature apple dumplings.”

So, it goes without saying that Aspen, with its tight-knit community and old-school mystique, continues to captivate those who call it home. As Aerin puts it: “Aspen is my winter paradise and my happy place. It always has been, and continues to be, my Shangri-la.”