Last spring, longtime locals threatened to leave Aspen, and the newspaper editorial pages were awash with letters praising and bemoaning the end of an era. Was Gucci trying to buy the resort? Hardly. All the fuss was over the decision to allow snowboarders, as of April 1, on Aspen Mountain. And so began Aspen's embrace of Generation Y, which now includes a season-ending Spring Jam and packages priced for those wearing Columbia, not Versace.
How many boarders will flock to Aspen to do what we skiers cherish -- attacking the mountain's signature bump runs, floating down powder pockets like the Mine Dumps, or doing high-speed laps down Spar Gulch -- remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, over at Aspen Highlands and Snowmass, it's business as usual. Despite the fancy new base area, Highlands remains a locals' scene. Grab breakfast at the Thunderbowl Market Café and head for the breathtaking pitches of Highland Bowl, steep glades in Temerity, and gravity-defying bumps in Olympic Bowl.
As for Snowmass, a powder day spent careening down the Cirque Headwall, navigating chutes in Hanging Valley, and whooping it up in Powerline Glades on the Big Burn epitomizes why we ski.
Play: Aspen's nightlife ranks tops. As a prelude, dine at one of the many gourmet eateries that offer bar menus -- same food, lower prices -- like Cache Cache, L'Hostaria, or Olives. Il Poggio in Snowmass serves tasty Italian. For a splurge, take a sleigh ride or ski in to the Pine Creek Cookhouse.
Stay: Grand-scale luxe in Aspen is easy to find; for more intimate lodging that doesn't require a CEO's budget, try the Hearthstone House, the Hotel Durant, or the Mountain House bed and breakfast. Snowmass is your best bet for slopeside condos.
Save the Date: The ESPN X Games descend on Aspen Jan. 17-20.