Photo: Limelight Hotels
Photo: Limelight Hotels

Aspen and Snowmass Are Surprisingly Affordable for Family Vacations This Year

For most families, a long-term stay in a desirable and expensive winter mountain town like Aspen isn’t usually in the cards. But this year, Aspen and nearby Snowmass are responding to the changing world during COVID-19 with programming and extended stay discounts aimed at helping families enjoy the area’s incredible outdoor activities while being mindful of social distancing, educational needs, and overstretched family budgets. 

Long considered a winter wonderland of the rich, Aspen’s resorts and restaurants are now a family option this season. You can book longer stays for less money than usual in Aspen (and Snowmass, just 15 minutes from Aspen) and enjoy a winter family vacation you might never have been able to afford in years past.

Lodging Deals for Long-Term Stays in Aspen 

The Gant

Located on the west end of Aspen, The Gant has spacious condos with kitchens, washers and dryers, and outside entrances. Guests opting to make The Gant their winter base camp will enjoy 30 percent off the regular rates on direct bookings of one- to four-bedroom private condominiums for stays of 14 or more nights, pending availability. A tax exemption applies to stays of 30 or more consecutive nights. And, The Gant has eased cancellation policies to provide more flexible booking options. No penalty will be incurred for reservations cancelled more than 14 days from arrival for most bookings (except for select holiday bookings).

The Gant has partnered with trusted local outfitters including Nomad Inc. and Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) to create private experiences that will help you fully explore Aspen. With inclusivity in mind, activities cater to both avid skiers and snowboarders and those who’ve come for the winter scenery without the downhill adrenaline rush. The Gant’s concierge service can also arrange private winter experiences like Rocky Mountain Flightseeing through Electric Mountain Lodge, dogsled tours with Alaskan huskies, heli-snowmobiling, heli-skiing, private backcountry tours, and ice-karting, among other unique activities.  

Aspen Meadows Resort

Aspen Meadows Resort is a great option for families who want to bring their pets with them on vacation. The resort is located a few blocks from town and has plenty of covered parking for guests. A Bauhaus lover’s dream, Aspen Meadows was built by visionary architect Herbert Bayer in the 1950s. And its the kind of lodging that lends itself well to traveling during COVID–19 because there are no interior hallways or elevators. The resort’s aesthetic also means there are lots of clean lines and very little clutter in the rooms, which means fewer surfaces to worry about cleaning and ample space for in-room dining.

For extended stays and schoolcations of a month or longer, Aspen Meadows Resort is offering 30 percent off its average room rate, and 50% off resort fees (based on availability). The resort is also putting empty conference room space to good use by providing family meeting space for Zoom class sessions or office space for those who want to separate their work and school space on the property from their lodging space. The meeting space has a tech crew to help you troubleshoot any issues and get that remote office/ or classroom set up the way you want it.

Limelight Hotel Aspen

The Limelight Hotel Aspen is a 126-room property nestled in the heart of downtown, just steps away from the world-class mountain activities and adventure. Known for its contemporary décor, family-friendly atmosphere, and superior staff, the Limelight’s amenities include an expanded continental breakfast (pre-packaged during COVID-19), free in-town transportation, adventure concierge, complimentary activities for guests, outdoor pool and hot tubs, a vibrant lounge area, and pet-friendly rooms.  

This season, the Limelight Long Stay package offers up to 30 percent off stays of 14 days or more in a deluxe or higher room across all three of their properties (Aspen, Snowmass, Ketchum). The package includes a full range of amenities such as high-speed Wi-Fi, daily breakfast, access to complimentary bikes, and a weekly $25 food and beverage credit in the Limelight Lounge. Additionally, guests can request a printer, scanner, and additional monitor be set up in their room upon arrival. 

Snowmass and Supreme Savings 

Located nine miles from Aspen, the mountain resort of Snowmass is a champion of innovative outdoor programming, home to numerous four-star hotels, and famous for its upscale mountain cuisine. Snowmass also has 3,300 acres of skiable terrain (three times the size of Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, or nearby Buttermilk). Best of all, 95 percent of the lodging is ski in and out, many with private entrances.

Hotel options for families include Limelight Hotel Snowmass, The Wildwood Snowmass, The Westin Snowmass Resort, and more than a dozen others. There are also hundreds of VRBO options and other long-term stays offered through the resort. 

This winter, Snowmass has an incredible selection of outdoor programming for families to enjoy in a safe and responsible way. Here’s just a sample of the many free events being offered.  

The Collective Snowmass & The Rink: The heart and soul of Snowmass Base Village, The Collective Snowmass is a hub for community events. It features weekly programming, including socially distanced chess night, bingo night, comedy night, live music, educational talks, and community art activations. In addition, the Game Lounge is open daily from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The Rink is open daily for free ice skating from 12:00 p.m to 9:00 p.m. as well. And Saturday night is Disco Night! Game of Stones, the highly successful curling series, returns this winter as well.

Snowmass S’mores: Kicking off its fourth year, Snowmass S’mores returns with a new s’mores iteration that incorporates COVID-19 safety protocols. Beginning opening day, guests of all ages can enjoy Snowmass S’mores free starting at 3:30 p.m. every day throughout the winter season. Guests can find branded s’mores carts (which resemble oversized marshmallows) in Snowmass Base Village and on the Snowmass Mall. 

Coffee, Cider, and Snacks: Snowmass offers free coffee in the morning and RXBARS and Supergoop sunscreen at the end of the ski day around the village. A hot beverage and snacks are self-serve and attended by a friendly guest services team who can also give advice on where to go for après, what runs to ski first in the morning, and how to check a pair of skis with the ski valet.

Ambassador Tours & First Tracks: Meet a knowledgeable local ambassador for a free educational tour around Snowmass on skis. Mountain tours meet every day at 11:00 a.m. at the fire pit in the Snowmass Base Village Plaza. In addition, sign up to be the first one on the mountain with First Tracks, offered on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and available to upper-level intermediate skiers and snowboarders ages 11 and older. First Tracks must be reserved in advance as space is limited. 

Anderson Ranch Arts Center: Founded in 1966, Anderson Ranch Arts Center is a premier destination for art making and critical dialog in the contemporary art world, bringing together aspiring and internationally renowned artists to discuss and further their work in a stimulating environment. With a campus that’s free and open to the public, and an extensive array of online offerings, Anderson Ranch is a hub of creative energy with a host of virtual and interactive art workshops, lectures by influential artists and curators, and children’s art workshops.

Snowmass Ice Age Discovery: In 2010, a construction crew unearthed a single tusk of a young female mammoth while digging at Ziegler Reservoir. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science took over the site and went on to find 6,000 bones of 10 mammals and more than 30,000 bones from small vertebrate animals, 42 species in all. Mammoths, mastodons, camels, horses, sloths, and other species, as well as insects and plant life were found. The Snowmass paleontological site is the richest Ice Age ecosystem found at high altitude. Guests skiing at Snowmass Ski Area can learn more about the discovery at the new interpretive Ice Age Discovery signs, located off ski runs Scooper and Dawdler, or by visiting the information center at Town Park Station.

Snowshoeing & Uphilling: Take a two-hour guided snowshoe tour with an ACES naturalist on the top of Snowmass Ski Area, daily at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. The guided tours are $41, but snowshoers can also visit the Snowmass Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Center on the Snowmass Golf Course for a trek on the Snowmass cross country trails for free. Snowshoers can also explore Snowmass Ski Area on a wide variety of uphilling trails for free, too. Uphillers are welcome on designated uphill trails throughout the day on Snowmass Ski Area.

Cross Country Skiing: Glide across snowy meadows and through silent pine forests and aspen groves on more than 60 miles of groomed all-level Nordic trails. Part of the Aspen Snowmass trail system, the largest free trail system in the U.S., trails can be accessed from the Snowmass Cross Country Ski & Snowshoe Center on the Snowmass Club Golf Course. Trail access is free; bring or rent gear. 

Transportation: The Roaring Fork Transit Authority (RFTA) provides extensive free bus service from Snowmass to Aspen and various points throughout the valley (for a nominal fee) until 2:00 a.m. Snowmass also has a free local shuttle service (Snowmass Village Shuttles) to all major activity areas in Snowmass Village. Shuttles depart every 10 minutes from the shuttle terminal located just below the Snowmass Mall on Daly Lane. Most lodging properties in Snowmass offer free shuttle service to and from the airport and around Snowmass Village.

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Julie Bielenberg
Julie Bielenberg is an award-winning journalist and photographer based in Colorado. She is a national leader in agritourism and publishes more than 50 editorial assignments annually for over a dozen outlets.