I can never sleep at The Little Nell. It's not the beds that keep me awake. They're as soft and downy as new-fallen snow. Nor is it the purr of snowcats prowling the peaks outside my window. Although they do occasionally cause Talisker, my springer spaniel, to raise a wary eye. (Of course the hotel accepts pets as guests, and, yes, they do serve the smoky-peaty single malt after which mine was named at the swanky bar downstairs).
What keeps me awake is the little skier on my bedside phone. It's an icon, really, on a button. Who can sleep when, in a mere 5,4,3,2 hours, a simple press of that skier-icon-button will connect me directly to the ski concierge, thereby setting a cadre of ski valets off to warm my boots, collect my prodigious paraphernalia and set my freshly waxed skis on the snow, tips pointing toward the hill (and off I go)?
Fortunately, since it is The Little Nell, there are plenty of ways for me to kill time while the clock so slowly ticks toward daylight. I can contemplate which of the 11,000 bottles of wine lying in wait in the cellar Richard Betts, the hotel's 29-year-old Tuscan wine god, will choose to pair with the elk medallions I will devour at the next possible opportunity. I can scribble a shopping list of the Bogners, Mont Blancs and Parmigianis that I wish to buy, or read the Tom Robbins I actually did buy at one of the shiny lobby shops. I could count the myriad accolades/awards The Little Nell has acquired since it opened 11 years ago, which, while well-deserved, might actually send me snoozing. Or I could simply count the stars, celestial or otherwise, that blink so brightly in the unparalleled Aspen universe.
Sleep? Who needs it? I can do that at home.
LOCATION The slopeside Little Nell is at the base of Ajax Mountain, five miles from Aspen's Pitkin County Airport and a four-hour drive (185 miles) from Denver International Airport.
DETAILS The Little Nell has 92 guest rooms, including 15 suites, all with fireplaces. Amenities include a full-service restaurant, 24-hour room service, on-site health club and spa, outdoor pool and hot tub.
DIGITS Rates run $525-$4,100. Reservations: 888-843-6355 or 970-920-4600; www.thelittlenell.com.