The past two years have brought an unexpectedly early start to Aspen winter, making for a perfect holiday getaway. The Little Nell preps for the season with its fully renovated suites by Holly Hunt, who last year oversaw a complete refurbishment that makes them the top ski accommodations in the US - sorry Aman and Montage. The Nell's holiday line-up includes Christmas dinners at Ajax Tavern and more-formal Element 47, in addition to a bottomless Dom Perignon New Year's Party at in-house Chair 9. At competitor Hotel Jerome, its recent ownership change to Texas-billionaire Dan Friedkin solidified the hotel's moniker in Auberge Resorts given he's the Napa-based management brand's Chairman and majority owner.
There have been a number of restaurant changes around Aspen since last season. The surprise closing of longtime Brexi makes room for The Monarch, a new London-style steakhouse concept inside The Dancing Bear with pedigree cocktail lounge opening just before Christmas. David Burke Kitchen also plans on finally opening this December, after innumerous delays to its downtown dining space. Closer to the mountain, short-lived Zeno makes way for Nello Aspen from New York's Nello Balan. The NYC restaurateur plans a swish Italian trattoria ala Southampton's Nello Summertimes with apres-ski terrace and trendy dining room in a space formerly inhabited by Il Mulino.
Meat & Cheese, last year's coup d'état that was the best Aspen restaurant opening in years, will have a bigger debut this season. The it-spot epicurean will offer an expanded retail space and new basement lounge that will double as a gastro-pub and speakeasy to compliment the upstairs dining room. In terms of nightlife, Belly Up continues to impress with its ability to draw top-tier talent like The National on December 29th and 30th with Chromeo headlining on NYE and Rufus Wainwright on January 2nd. Otherwise there's always Caribou Club with its member's and invite December 31st dinner and dance soiree that's still the chicest New Year's Eve invite in Aspen.