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LUXURY HOTELS: The Little Nell, Aspen, Colorado, usa
Style: Rocky Mountain chic
Scene: mid-western alpine town
Seen in the lobby: jet set ski set (from Hollywood's A-list and New York high fliers to Texan billionaires).
 
Aspen is where the planet's stars come to play.

And the luxurious Little Nell - Aspen's only Five-Star, Five Diamond hotel - a stroll away from Aspen Mountain's Silver Queen Gondola and close to all of the Colorado tinsel town's designer shops and restaurants - is where they like to stay. It's been that way for 20 years.

So I've turned up early for breakfast hopeful. The evening before I'd heard actor turned politician Arnold Schwarzenegger had been seen on the slopes. Hollywood bad boy Charlie Sheen had also briefly appeared the day before in the local courthouse to plead not guilty to new assault charges, but I'd been too distracted on the famous mountains - not wanting to waste the perfect spring skiing conditions.

tln courtyard
tln courtyard
aspen ski
executive suite living room
tln suite living room
paepcke suite
ajax exterior

 

Celebrity sightings, however, raise little more than an eyebrow with the locals. One of the main reasons the famous probably like coming here.

I quickly lose interest too, distracted (again), this time by the plate of eggs benedict - two perfectly poached eggs served on toasted brioche with tender tasty strips of maple-glazed bacon belly and hollandaise sauce. The bacon literally dissolves in my mouth with each bite.

I see now why America's most discerning palates also like to stay here, I think as I contentedly pat my stomach and sit back to gaze over the courtyard and the in-ground heated pool to the looming Ajax mountain beyond. New for the 2012/2013  ski season is  Elements 47 restaurant  so gourmands will have even more reasons to come here. Paying homage to silver, the precious metal that initially put Aspen on the map,The Little Nell's latest restaurant (opening November 30) revives soulful American cuisine with Executive Chef Robert McCormick's distinctive flair.

When it comes to home-style comforts, the Little Nell's accommodations don't slouch on the finer touches either. You won't find airline economy-sized bottles of alcohol in the mini-bar here.

But keeping up with the demands of an ageless world there has been some recent cosmetic enhancements. More than a nip and tuck though, it's a totally new (US$18 million) image for this Aspen A-lister.
 
Aspen is where the planet's stars come to play...and the luxurious Little Nell is Aspen's only Five-Star, Five Diamond hotel.

Throughout the 92 guestrooms and suites the elegance of a French country inn has been replaced with custom furniture and fabrics designed to infuse the Rocky Mountain setting in its modern makeover.  Gone are the floral fabrics, heavy patterned drapes and dated wallpaper in favour of a more neutral, yet warm and luxurious tones. Bringing the décor into the 21st century are the specially commissioned modern artworks and photographs, flat screen high-definition LCD TVs, ipod docks, plush down-filled sofas and smart leather arm chairs to sink into after a day on the slopes, while goose-down pillows and luxurious Fila d'Oro down comforters ensure those all important beauty zzzs.

The departure has apparently ruffled some feathers - mainly from the hotel's oldest, most loyal fans traditionally resistant to change. But overall it's been given the thumbs up, especially by a growing generation of younger, affluent wanna-be Aspenites who think Chicago designer Holly Hunt's Aspen-inspired design more 'earthier' and more reflective of a contemporary home - be it in LA or New York. I'm with them.

The changes are also much more environmentally PC - not just in the choice of paints on the walls and the wool carpeting in the rooms and corridors but its improved energy efficiency - with longer lasting LED lighting and with motion sensors turning off the lights, fireplace and adjusting the room temperature by three degrees after you step out. In fact, everything from lights to entertainment and guest services can now be controlled from one remote via the state of the art Control4 central wireless system - the first of its kind in Aspen. The downside to progress perhaps is that it now takes 15 minutes instead of five to get your head around all the gadgetry - taking away precious ski, spa and shopping time!

Check in: The Little Nell, 675 East Durant Ave, Aspen Co 81611. Tel: + 970 920 4600.
Ultimate Luxury: The spacious Pfeifer Suite with two bedrooms and one and half bathrooms can be converted to a three or four bedroom suite with private entry to all rooms. Luxury amenities include slope-side balconies, fireplaces, full service wet bar, 42-inch flat screen HD TVs, Bose sound systems and personal computer system.

Most Indulgent Moment: There are 40,000 bottles of wine in the cellar and soon you'll be able to view (and order from) the entire wine list by remote control. From May former US Olympic ski racer turned champion fisherman Andy Mill will guide Little Nell's guests on exclusive day and multi-day Fly Fishing Adventures through some of the best trout-filled lakes, rivers and streams in the picturesque Roaring Fork Valley.

Insider Secrets: Pets are treated like people with special doggie treats, their own cosy beds and even a puppy jet lag kit to help acclimatize your best friend to the altitude! Didn't bring four-legged company - then simply rent a dog for the day!

The Little Things: Little Nell's ski concierge will warm your boots, help with ski and snowboard storage and tune-ups - even the morning news.

Junior Luxies: Colouring books at the dinner table, meals served on playful child-friendly crockery. The concierge can also help with babysitting arrangements. PlayStation games and movies can be set up in your room - just ask at the front desk.

Dress code: Designer furs and threads from Bogner, Chanel, and anything from J Crew to Pucci will be right at home here.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Link: www.thelittlenell.com
 

Debbie Neilson-Hunter 8/4/10. Updated 7/11/12

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