’Tis the Season

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The St. Regis Aspen Resort turns into a winter wonderland perfect for creating memories during the holidays.

By Jillian Livingston

strls.124554From winter until early spring, guests of The St. Regis Aspen Resort bundle up in combinations of down, Gore-Tex and fur to stroll into town and explore the brick-paved pedestrian malls, frosted over in snow diamonds.

From town, the handsome St. Regis Aspen Resort, standing majestically near the base of Aspen Mountain, glitters in sophisticated elegance. Old-growth pines surround the resort adorned in sparkling white lights and blanketed in tufts of white snow, nature’s down jacket.

From the moment a guest steps into the resort, the holiday spirit springs to life with a life-sized gingerbread house, designed to replicate the resort, and a courteous, efficiently trained staff on hand to ensure that vacations are as well-groomed as the snow on the slopes.

Uncompromising Service

Over the holiday season, the resort is filled with international guests, and Stephanie Madrid, chef concierge at The St. Regis Aspen Resort, tells how the well-appointed concierge and butlers do what they can to fulfill special requests, no matter how large. “We have requests asking for decorations of both Christmas and Hanukkah in the same room. It’s just the way the St. Regis is, whatever the guests want, we do.”

While defining the differences between the butlers and concierge, Madrid also points out that the butlers and the concierge work together to ensure an impeccable guest experience. “As a resort property, the butlers run errands for the guests staying in the suites of the resort, catering to special requests such as down or foam pillow preferences or scheduled nightly turndown for the beds; and the concierge organizes the dinner reservations and activities for all the guests.”

Madrid shares stories epitomizing the resort staff’s attention to detail. One wintery season, a couple—bitten by the Aspen love bug—requested a wedding be planned for that day. A love heart was shoveled in the snow on the top of Aspen Mountain and wedding vows were made, amid rose petals, Champagne flutes and a backdrop of snowy peaks. “That’s an example of what we do last minute, and how we handle it,” Madrid says.

The resort concierge team understands the importance of tradition, whether it means decorating a Christmas tree with freshly baked gingerbread cookies in a guest’s room or wrapping Christmas gifts. “We have had guests ship boxes prior to their stay, and we wrap them, get them all arranged and delivered to the room upon request for Christmas Eve,” Madrid says. Even specially prepared dinners are made to represent the custom food of a visiting guest’s homeland.

Timeless Traditions

strls.124558In early December, The St. Regis Aspen Resort blossoms into full winter mode as all four mountains open for skiing. Within five minutes walking distance, a 15-minute gondola ride ascends 2.5 miles over 3,000 vertical feet to majestic peaks, expansive views and versatile ski slopes.

This year, holiday traditions begin with Hanukkah, where Aspen Rabbi Mendel Mintz will kindle the lights of the menorah in the resort lobby and recite the traditional Jewish blessings. The lighting of the candles continues every evening from 4:45-5 p.m. until Dec. 5. After the last candle is lit, traditional latkes and other treats will be served.

Additionally, after guests spend a day on the slopes, they can head back to the resort to sit by the fireplace in the Shadow Mountain Lounge lobby. Kyle McElwain, assistant beverage manager at the resort, recommends the hot chocolate bar after a chilly day of snow play. “In January, we start our ‘grown-up’ hot chocolate bar where adults build their own alcoholic hot chocolate with liquor-infused whipped creams, chocolate bark and our house-made marshmallows.” Of course, children may also delight in the homemade hot chocolate, sans the alcohol.

In the lounge, s’mores for the children and gluwein and cheese fondue, the perfect apres-ski snack for parents, can be ordered. “Our executive sous chef, Tobias Burkhalter, is from Switzerland, so he’s got it nailed,” McElwain says. “It’s as traditional as it gets.”

Yet, after a day spent outdoors—or even after savoring the finest of holiday cuisine and drinks—one may need some revitalizing at the resort’s Remède Spa. Customized treatments will help to cure sore or aching muscles, beginning with Champagne and chocolates. From there, hot and cool plunges are offered as well as steam caves, a fitness center and a movement studio.

For those looking to indulge and pamper—the holidays are a perfect time and reason to treat the spirit, body and mind—try the Champagne and Chocolate Truffle Decadence Body Facial. This luxurious treatment begins with a Champagne scrub followed by a moisturizing, warm chocolate mask that helps the skin fight the damaging effects of the sun. During this time, guests will receive a relaxing scalp massage while wrapped in chocolate decadence. The finale to this experience is a 30-minute massage using chocolate body lotion.

Of course, following such a relaxing session, an appetite is surely acquired. Yet, guests couldn’t be anywhere better—the resort offers myriad options for savoring the season.

Holiday Feasts

mulledwineAspen_bespoke_food1 42770_JasonDeweyFor the ideal holiday spread, guests should save their appetite for dinner at the Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE. Partnered with Food & Wine magazine, this restaurant in The St. Regis Aspen Resort provides the ultimate dining experience in a charming atmosphere with an open kitchen. American regional cuisine is curated by Executive Chef Didier Elena, who is often accompanied by a rotating roster of the magazine’s Best New Chefs award winners and international celebrity chefs, bringing a diversity of cultures to the plate.

The menu for Christmas dinner at the Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE includes Champagne and lobster bisque with brioche, pumpkin gnocchi with roasted Maine scallops and chestnut foam, and quail and foie gras with albufera sauce and braised winter vegetables.

And, at this time of year, no meal is complete without a holiday cocktail. This is where Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE Executive Beverage Director Anthony Bohlinger steps in. Bohlinger, who recently won the title of Most Imaginative Bartender in Aspen, offers drinks like the huckleberry fig, a rendition of the amaretto sour. Ingredients include Luxardo amaretto, lemon juice, lemon grass syrup, organic egg white and balsamic pickle brine. However, a classic and timeless holiday libation from the St. Regis should not be forgotten.

“The biggest thing with the St. Regis is the bloody mary, which was created at the original St. Regis in New York City,” McElwain says. In the mornings, if guests need a kick-start to the day, they may consider visiting the bartender in the Shadow Mountain Lounge to enjoy The St. Regis Aspen Resort’s signature bloody mary, the Downhill Red Snapper, made with muddled dill, fresh basil and hand-crafted and batch-distilled vodka from the local distillery, Woody Creek Distillers. The drink is topped off with a garnish of two olives and a pickle.

McElwain also suggests that guests try The Shogun. “If you try it, it’s really good, served in a martini glass up with wasabi and soy sauce,” he says. “We also serve traditional Prohibition cocktails to fit in with the history and cultural feel of Aspen. It fits into the atmosphere and vibe of Aspen.”

To top it all off, Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Marrari creates sinful desserts such as the chocolate and hazelnut cake in a golden leaf.

One never likes to depart from vacation, but an experience at The St. Regis Aspen Resort will fill guests with an archive of memories from which to draw when back in hectic everyday living. Perhaps, these memories will lead them to return annually to build upon a tradition of holiday splendor.