To say that Aspen is in the midst of a renaissance suggests that the Rocky Mountain resort town suffered a decline in popularity and prestige in the first place. To the contrary, the ever-glamorous Colorado retreat has proved resilient as a ski destination for the international elite, even in the face of falling real estate values and the global economic downturn. Aspen in 2013, however, is better than ever, a refined and well-rounded hideaway with year-round activities—fly-fishing, mountain biking, kayaking, and other pursuits keep visitors occupied in the warmer months—and a host of new or updated properties that include the historic Hotel Jerome, an Auberge Resort (www.aubergeresorts.com), which reopened last December after a detailed restoration.
Aspen’s upscale construction projects and renovations have extended into the private-home market, opening up new possibilities for buyers in an area known for its restrictive development codes and constant demand. “We’re experiencing a period of buyer opportunity that is rare here in Aspen,” says Gary Feldman, a managing partner at the real estate firm Joshua & Co. (www.joshuaco.com), which sold a home at Aspen’s Starwood gated community for $50 million in 2012 and which currently lists a 13,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom home there for $18.9 million. “These will be looked upon in the future as the golden-opportunity days right before the market turnaround.”
The Starwood community includes a number of large-scale ranch homes that were built before Aspen’s housing regulations began limiting residences to 5,750 square feet in 2000. In addition to ranches and other stand-alone properties, the Aspen area—which encompasses the four ski resorts of Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass—offers a limited number of resort-style condominiums and fractional-ownership opportunities. Following are four of the destination’s latest and most exciting projects for prospective buyers.
The Residences at the Little Nell
Set at the base of Aspen Mountain, within steps of the Silver Queen gondola—and the town’s lively après-ski scene—the Residences at the Little Nell claim one of the only ski-in/ski-out locations in Aspen proper. The development, which is owned and operated by its legendary neighbor, the Little Nell resort, debuted in 2009 with 26 three- and four-bedroom fractional-ownership residences. Priced from $1.4 million to $2.8 million for a one-eighth share, the residences feature traditional stone-and-timber mountain architecture offset by contemporary interiors with fieldstone fireplaces and furnishings in velvet, leather, and tweed. In the kitchens, Viking appliances and granite countertops receive a hint of local style with copper accents. All residences include spacious decks or terraces, many with views of Aspen Mountain. Ownership comes with exclusive use of a fitness center and rooftop pool, as well as 24-hour concierge and housekeeping services. Homeowners also have access to all of the Little Nell’s facilities, including the newly opened Element 47—arguably Aspen’s best restaurant—and Ajax Tavern, the gondola-adjacent bistro at the heart of the après-ski action. 877.925.7272, rlnaspen.com
Dancing Bear Aspen
The four-year-old Dancing Bear Aspen residence club, which recently became part of the Timbers Resorts group, is situated next to Wagner Park in the center of town, a few blocks from the base of Aspen Mountain. With a total of just nine three-bedroom units (additional residences are under construction in an adjacent building), the fractional-ownership club operates on an equal-access basis, allowing owners to stay in a different residence each time they visit. All units come with the same luxurious appointments, including steam showers and soaking tubs in the bathrooms, Italian blown-glass lanterns and Ebanista leather settees in the living rooms, and Mascioni linens in the bedrooms. On-site amenities are extensive and impressive, encompassing a theater, a rooftop lounge, a fitness center, a lively brasserie, a business center, a game room, a wine cellar with private dining facilities, and concierge services. One-eighth shares are priced at $655,000 and include a Timbers Collection membership, which allows homeowners to trade time in Aspen for stays at any of the company’s residence clubs in destinations such as Tuscany and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. 866.993.7633, www.dancingbearaspen.com
The St. Regis Residence Club, Aspen
The St. Regis Aspen Resort is back at the forefront of the area’s elite hotels after a $40 million refurbishment completed last year. On the heels of the redesign, the adjoining St. Regis Residence Club, Aspen, underwent an extensive renovation led by the Texas-based interior designer Lauren Rottet. The residence club’s 25 units, which range from two to three bedrooms, evoke a contemporary mountain manor, with muted color palettes and furnishings such as tree-trunk side tables and leather armchairs. Available in one-eighth fractional shares from $215,000 to $499,900, the units afford views of either Aspen Mountain or Shadow Mountain from the property’s prime location in downtown Aspen. Homeowners enjoy exclusive use of a club lounge and the services of a private concierge team and have access to all of the St. Regis resort’s amenities. The renovation of the resort included the addition of a stunning new spa and the debut of the Chef’s Club, an elegant and fun fine-dining restaurant with a rotating menu from Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef award winners. 970.920.3300, www.stregisaspen.com
The Residences Viceroy Snowmass
After being postponed in 2009, the ski-in/ski-out residences at Viceroy Snowmass hit the market last November as Aspen’s most stylish new condominiums. Designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, the 152 full-ownership units offer a contemporary take on mountain decor, mixing black granite tile flooring and oak wall panels with colorful patterned textiles, Sferra linens, and deep soaking tubs. Units range from 432-square-foot studios to 2,600-square-foot, four-bedroom residences, and are priced from $252,000 to $2.5 million. The condominiums sit adjacent to the Assay Hill lift at Snowmass—the Aspen area’s biggest and best ski resort for families—within the Viceroy hotel, which offers ski-valet services and includes a Kelly Wearstler–designed pool terrace and a 7,000-square-foot spa by Gathy. 855.923.4500, www.viceroysnowmasssales.com