If you blew it on Valentine's Day or need to earn some extra points with your snugglebuns, I have two words of advice: Aspen/Snowmass. My boyfriend Andrew and I recently splurged on a short-n-sweet weekend getaway and devised an excellent game plan, if I do say so myself. All you need is some cash, a phone to reserve a room, and a pact with the weather gods for a powder day. (Aspen just got a foot of fresh, and the season isn't over 'til April 11.) Godspeed.
On your way in to Aspen (about 3.5 hours from Denver) stop in Carbondale for dinner at the "community bar" at Phat Thai (343 Main St.) If it's the first Friday of the month, be ready for a crowd of young, lively locals out for the town's monthly art walk. Do not miss the fresh ginger martini. Head straight to Snowmass and, if you're splurging, check in at the new, retro-cool ski-in/ski-out Viceroy Snowmass (from $275-$695 for a studio, 130 Wood Rd. in Snowmass Village). It has a youthful, friendly feel that is surprisingly (and thankfully) devoid of stuffiness, plus a ski valet, a spa, and eco credentials. Mountain Chalet Aspen (from $105, 333 East Durant Ave. in Aspen) is a less expensive option. The best time to hit the pool in most places, and certainly the Viceroy, is late night. Head down there in the evening for an al fresco hot tub dip.
Wake up and pick up a pastry and coffee at The Nest in the bottom of the hotel. Check the conditions and discuss the plan of attack. To shred steep groomers, go to Aspen. For pipes and rails, head to Buttermilk, home of the Winter X Games. To ski the famed Highlands Bowl, go to, you guessed it, Aspen Highlands. (Save Snowmass for tomorrow for its ease of access.) Aspen Highlands is my favorite. If you go, hike to the top of the bowl and, at least once in your life, you need to have the raclette or fondue at Cloud Nine, an alpine bistro with stupidly pretty views over the mountains. (Reserve ahead of time on the weekends. Here's the number: 970-923-8715.) It is literally the big cheese.
A word about Aspen/Snowmass, which is my favorite place to ski with the exceptions of my home mountains in southwestern Colorado and Whistler: Yes, a lift ticket now costs an utterly absurd $96, but what you get is four mountains with an astounding amount of variety and no lift lines. Literally. I've never seen a lift line in Aspen. It's almost weird. Now, for dinner, I'll recommend two spots. If you're splurging, go to Eight K at the Viceroy. Have the Colorado lamb and get Thomas, the most enthusiastic and down-to-earth sommelier I've ever met, to pair a wine according to your dinner and tastes. Otherwise, go to the Woody Creek Tavern (2858 Upper River Rd. in Woody Creek), a funky locals' hangout, and get the chicken enchiladas. Then head to Belly Up Aspen (450 S. Galena St. in Aspen), a venue that brings in acts from Snoop to The Motet.
Ski right out of the front door to the lifts at Snowmass. The largest of Aspen/Snowmass's four mountains, it has 3,132 acres of skiable terrain and ridiculous variety. I love the tree skiing, but you can pretty much find whatever you'd like. You know the rest of the drill: catch lift, check out views, ski, repeat.