Aspen Colorado and Snowmass

The Ultimate Mind, Body and Spirit Destination. Rebecca Fairbrother reports.

In the true holistic sense, Aspen is a haven for those who love the great outdoors and leading a healthy, active lifestyle – one which embraces the whole mind, body and spirit sense of the world. Aspen’s image as a premier ski resort, frequented by Michelle Obama and Goldie Hawn, somewhat belies its true character as a leading global Arts, Culture, Intellectual and Sporting centre. It is during the summer months that this vibrant cosmopolitan vibe is most keenly felt as an incredible range of calendar events kick in.

Modern Aspen as we know it was born more than 60 years ago when Chicago industrialist and philanthropist Walter Paepcke and his wife, Elizabeth decided that Aspen should be the site for the celebration of the 200th birthday of Goethe in 1949. In doing so, Paepcke not only organised a global celebration, he also propelled Aspen onto the world stage as a cultural centre, an innovative place where art and culture flourished, attracting intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs and philosophers. A year later, Paepcke created what is now known as the Aspen Institute, a central body and international, non-profit organisation dedicated to “fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues.”

Today, arts and culture thrive in the company of outdoor adventure and a close-knit, dynamic community, making Aspen, together with its close neighbour Snowmass (15 minutes away), a haven for the simultaneous nurturing of mind, body, and spirit. Here are some of the highlights for this summer and top tips:

Mind

Immerse yourself in Aspen tradition at the iconic Snowmass Rodeo. Celebrating its 39th consecutive season, the Snowmass Rodeo is the oldest, continuously running community rodeo in Colorado. Produced by the Snowmass Western Heritage Association, the aim is to preserve and enhance the western heritage and culture of the area.

Aspen Art Museum has been at the forefront of the international contemporary art scene for the last 35 years. This innovative, cultural centre will officially open its doors to the new 33,000 square-foot building on Saturday 9th August with a free, 24-hour celebration. Designed by Shigeru-Ban, who has recently been crowned with the prestigious 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, this new, alluring location boasts the only unobstructed public rooftop view of the iconic ‘Ajax’ mountain.
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year, the Aspen Ideas Festival, brainchild of the Aspen Institute, draws together the most inspired and provocative thinkers, writers, artists, business people, teachers and leaders from around the world to teach, speak, lead, question and answer. The central mission is rooted in the original Aspen Idea – to make the world a better place in a more holistic sense – and Bill Clinton, The Dalai Lama and Steve Jobs have all previously taken part.

Music-lovers will love the Aspen Music Festival. Presenting more than 300 musical events during its eight-week summer season, this festival features some of the world’s top classical musicians in its line-up.

Body

Aspen is located in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, 7,908 feet above sea level. The high alpine climate with low humidity and the year long sunshine continues to attract visitors from across the globe.

Fresh, clean air and breath-taking scenery provide the perfect backdrop for the diverse array of outdoor adventure activities on offer Aspen and Snowmass. From a myriad of hiking and biking trails to high-octane adventure experiences, as well as paragliding to stand-up paddle boarding, you can soak up the picturesque surroundings at your own pace.

Aspen provides a healthy lifestyle haven, offering an assortment of leisure activities catering to every taste, including adrenalin-inducing activities such as rock climbing and hot air ballooning to yoga and pilates for a more Zen experience.

Stand-up paddle boarding on a high altitude waterway is a great way to enjoy the stunning landscape whilst giving yourself a full body workout. Alternatively, if you want more of a hair-raising challenge there are hundreds of rock climbing routes for the avid climber, numerous bike rides as well as fly-fishing in the 70-mile Roaring Fork river.

Aspen is not just an exercise junkie’s stomping ground, it is also a foodie’s paradise, as well as home to the famous Food & Wine Classic. Packed with numerous restaurants, cafes and bistros serving fresh, natural produce, Aspen is home to some of the finest healthy eateries in the world.

The esteemed New York City chef David Burke is soon opening The David Burke Kitchen in Aspen. Using local and seasonal ingredients including venison, elk, wild boar, pig and trout, the menu is every gastronomist’s dream.

For those who are less carnivore inclined and more plant-based eaters, the Spring Cafe, Aspen’s first Organic eatery, opened their doors last summer. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner including hearty vegetarian cuisine, delicious salads and juices, this hotly anticipated eatery is definitely worth a visit.

Pyramid Bistro, the leading Nutritarian haunt in Aspen, offers an extensive nutrient-rich menu catering to vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw-food and gluten-free lovers – even the wines are organic! Located in Explore Booksellers, the owner Martin Oswald led Aspen’s adoption of ‘Meatless Monday’, making it the first city to join the campaign.

Spirit

People venture far and wide to experience the beautiful, fresh mountain air, stunning scenery and panoramic views. If you are a keen yogi you can enjoy mountain-top yoga with Dawn Yoga or take part in Wanderlust, an inspirational festival combining yoga, music, nature, and mindfulness, which comes to the slopes of Aspen-Snowmass this year (29th June – 6th July).

You can also take the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of the Ajax Mountain and enjoy a yoga class outside on the deck. For those who are in need of some much needed R and R, the Spa at the St. Regis Aspen provides a serene space to indulge in an array of relaxing and revitalising spa treatments, set within one of Aspen’s most luxurious and iconic hotels.

For more information on events in Aspen this Summer visit www.aspenchamber.org

Photo credit: Brett Friel, Jason Dewey, Jeremy Swanson

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