I’m an addict. Addicted to the sight of the white-covered Rocky Mountains smiling at me from the airplane window before I touch the runway of Denver International Airport with a deep sigh. I am addicted to these 3 ½ hours of road trip on the Interstate 40, which bring me closer to my destination and let the day slowly burn out on the snow-cleared highway. I am back in Aspen, Colorado where winter and skiing in North America have their home. That small town with its spruced-up Western boutiques and kitschily lit apartment buildings that still carry powdered sugar from the last snowfall on their facades. I am looking forward to seeing the four big ski resorts on Aspen Mountain again.
With the small, beloved Creperie du Village and cozy bars where live sports flicker on the flat screen until late at night. And I’m looking forward to returning to the Limelight Hotel, which I’m visiting for the third time in a row. For me, the Limelight is not just any place, it is rather the sum of an attitude to life that I have never felt before in any other ski resort in the world. It is this pinch of exclusivity, coupled with American nonchalance, that is best experienced in the spacious lobby with its open fireplace where we enjoy a cool beer, chat with our loved ones, listen to the sounds of a live band and watch the trickling snowflakes as they touch the giant windows. What a place. What a moment. What a life.
The highest credo at the Limelight is that you feel comfortable. No problem for me in the Luxury Room with its crackling open fire, hot shower and cosy reading corner. In addition, there is a huge king-size bed that will iron out just about every cramp of the skiing day. It´s really hard to leave this place. Even more relaxation is promised by the bubbling outdoor pool, which heats up to 40 degrees for the apres ski program.
The lounge is clearly the place to be at the Limelight, because at 3 p.m. starts the famous happy hour, where drinks and oven-fresh pizza bring the skiing day to a worthy conclusion. Now, all the little adventures of the day are brought out and played with a pinch of extra powder, while the live band gets lost in various jazz loops. While the afternoon is filled with exuberant relaxation, breakfast is marked by tense anticipation. At least when the snowploughs are on their way outside and the first gondolas are already driving up the slope. Quickly, some scrambled eggs with potatoes, salmon and muesli and then the Limelight-Shuttle takes me over to the Silver Queen Gondola.
There are actually only two types of ski days in Aspen. Either the sun is shining from the sky and you would love to curve through the mighty Douglas firs in a T-shirt or it snows fresh champagne powder and it goes like a pillow fight. On the first day the huge terrain in Snowmass rewards me with a picture book day and I enjoy the 98 slopes at Elk Camp and High Alpine. You hardly notice the altitude of about 3.600 meters, so gentle and deserted you ski down Sunnyside, Naked Lady or Adams Avenue to Snowmass Village.
The second day at Aspen Mountain is quite different, because the grooming team is not able to handle the 20 centimeters of new snow, when I make the first tracks in the early morning with a few ski enthusiasts. This powder, which is so addictive, is only available in Colorado, and while in Europe everyone yearns for a sunny day, the addicts here only have a grin on their lips when it trickles down from the sky. So get into the gondola and off to speed talking, because the Americans like to use every ride as a small talk platform. This is how I learn that Carl has finally given up his luxury hotel in Bali in order to settle down in Aspen with his former employee, or that Joshua from Lake Placid is still feeding on the 1980 Winter Olympics, but has to admit that here in the West there is simply the best snow in the world. There is nothing more to add to that.
Three days in skier heaven come to an end and I sit in the lobby with the General Manager of the Limelight, Henning Rahm, and review my experiences. Born in Hannover, he moved to Aspen in 2007 to start a new adventure. He is no longer drawn back home. „Why should he?“ he asks me with a smile. „Nowhere else can I feel better than here. We live here peacefully and a bit isolated from the stress of the big city and the headlines of our world. The only thing I really miss is good coffee. That’s why I bought a new machine at home that brews coffee like in heaven“, but the guests at the Limelight can also consider themselves lucky, as Lavazza takes care of the morning roasting, which is particularly pleasing for the Germans, who have little use for the filter blends from the local coffee shops. After stops in Hamburg, Bad Nauheim and Palm Springs, Henning Rahm has arrived at his professional and private home and enjoys every day in faraway Colorado with his fantastic team and guests from all over the world.
This article was written at the invitation of the Limelight in Aspen and the Aspen Snowmass ski region. As always, I would like to thank Tucker Vest Burton, who organised the trip for me. Thanks also to Henning Rahm, for the time in his new home and the exciting podcast.
Here you’ll find my article about the new Limelight Hotel in Snowmass.