Welcome to Cvent's Meeting and Event Guide to Aspen, a city guide for meeting professionals. The ski town with historic style and an international reputation has been known for snowy adventures followed by legendary apres ski activities since the 1940s. In recent decades, Aspen has become almost as popular in the warm weather months, when the Rocky Mountains awash with wildflowers and sunshine beckon. Visitors swarm into this world-class leisure and meeting destination year-round for its arts and culture, shopping, and dining. Particularly sophisticated for a ski resort, Aspen boasts the dining and culture of a metropolitan area, but the authentic friendliness of a mountain community. Along with outdoor and culture enthusiasts, this Colorado destination attracts top businesses for conferences, meetings and retreats, thanks to its variety of hotels, unique venues and group activities. Aspen also serves as a leader in environmental awareness; 75 percent of Aspen's electricity comes from renewable sources and groups can follow the City of Aspen's Canary Initiative to offset their carbon footprint and minimize the impact on Aspen.
Flying into the resort community is most often done through Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, just three miles from downtown and within five miles of most of the meeting hotels. Visitors can also fly into the Eagle County Airport, 90 minutes away, or Denver International Airport, located a four-hour drive from Aspen. Denver International is the 15th busiest airport in the world as well as the largest airport in the United States by area. In Aspen, visitors can hop aboard Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) buses, which provide free service between Aspen and the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, as well as between Aspen and Snowmass Village. The regional bus system also services Pitkin County, Basalt, a portion of Eagle County, Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and New Castle, and runs a free ski shuttle between the four area mountains during the winter season.
Aspen boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year, which pours over epic snow conditions in the winter on soaring mountain slopes that bloom into meadows as Spring blends into Summer and are punctuated by golden groves of Aspen trees in the autumn. Truly a year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts, in the winter the resort is a fantasyland of play, with downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and ice skating. The party continues off the slopes, with apres ski festivities all over town. Take a seat in a comfy local bar or check out the massive ice sculptures at Escobar nightclub’s outdoor ice bar on Hyman Avenue Mall. Come spring and summer, the mountain of powdery snow melts into rivers known for amazing rafting, kayaking and fly fishing. There are seemingly endless trails to explore on a hike, mountain bike or horseback ride. But that is only the beginning of the ways to enjoy Colorado’s back country beauty. Take a jeeping adventure, go paragliding or zip lining, or head to the sky for an eagle-eye view of the mountains with Gateway Canyon Air Tours. Through the summer into the autumn, outdoor concerts become a grand event, with a picnic and incomparable mountain scenery framing the music. And on Saturday, exploring Aspen Farmer’s Market means perusing some of the best Colorado made, grown or produced items.
Group outdoor adventures can easily be had thanks to two Aspen companies. Blazing Adventures features more than 100 trips ranging from gentle floats down the Roaring Fork River to extreme whitewater rafting, as well as novice hiking, stand up paddle boarding, sunset dining and much more. Aspen Expeditions is a company that has been guiding and teaching rock, ice, ski and alpine mountaineering since 1976. With Aspen Expeditions, groups can walk on a slack line across the Roaring Fork river, hike around the Aspen Snowmass Maroon Bells Wilderness Area, and rappel into and climb out of natural ice caves, among many other adventures.
Groups can also enjoy Aspen's great outdoors at the four sites protected by Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, including 25-acre Hallam Lake nature preserve, with its trail system, indoor trout stream and both indoor and outdoor event spaces. Another option is joining ACES’ adult environmental science program or hiring a naturalist guide for a customized experience. And when winter comes up by the Rocky Mountain ghost town of Ashcroft, group expeditions can explore more than 600 acres of scenic high mountain territory via cross-country skis or snowshoe trails at Ashcroft Ski Touring. Group sporting activities can also be arranged at Aspen Recreation Center, which offers everything from a lap pool and weight room, to a 32-foot climbing tower and batting cages.
When it comes to activities that complement a meeting itinerary in Aspen, the great outdoors is just the beginning. Groups can enjoy a world-class performance at Aspen Santa Fe ballet company; a concert by anyone from living legend B.B. King to the Flaming Lips at Belly Up Aspen; and anything from jazz and folk to classical music on the schedule of over 300 events at the Aspen Music Festival.
Tours are another great way for groups to partake of Aspen’s charms in any season. With Aspen Walking Tours, participants can go off the beaten path, delve into the historic mining town’s intriguing past, or joint a murder and mayhem night tour. And Culinary Connecters takes visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour that provides an exclusive peek into Aspen’s dining world, visiting some of the town’s best restaurants to meet the chef and taste their creations.
Aspen also features a number of event-ready unique venues. Groups can gather at the award-winning Theatre Aspen's Hurst Theatre, with stunning spaces surrounded by water features and flowers thanks to their setting in the heart of Rio Grande Park. And the historic Wheeler Opera House, restored to its Victorian splendor, serves as a premier site for concerts, movies, festivals, lectures and community events, as well as private events from mid-September through early June.
With more than 100 restaurants and a penchant for maintaining an edge, Aspen serves up a mix of old favorites and locales centered on the latest trends in food. Rustique brings a taste of the French countryside in cuisine and ambience, and when contemporary Italian cuisine is what you crave, Aspen's L'Hostaria Ristorante and Mezzaluna deliver in spades. Check out Steak HOUSE No. 316 for a prime steak and a trendy kale salad, or an entirely different experience in the Private Rock Star booths at Kenichi, where the food is seared to perfection at 1000 degrees. The intriguing tastes of celebrity chefs is the basis of Chef's Club by FOOD & WINE, a restaurant where rising stars in the culinary world create the menu. And for a twist on All-American cuisine, there is Jimmy's, where mac and cheese means lobster mac and cheese with black truffle, sherry and tarragon. As the last rays of the setting sun fall from the mountain peaks and night arrives is Aspen, another side of the resort town emerges, a time where nightlife can be as chill or energetic as you want it to be. If low key and authentically Aspen is your style, settle in for a handcrafted cocktail made with rare spirits and surprising ingredients or a dish made completely of locally sourced ingredients at Justice Snow's, a favorite restaurant and bar for locals set in a landmark building constructed in 1889.
If high energy is on the nightlife menu, Aspen has several alternatives. Partygoers can go in a number of directions at Eric’s Bar, which is neatly divided into several sections, including a dance floor, an area for billiards, and a cigar bar. Posh and private are the watchwords at The Caribou Club, the members-only hot spot known by locals as simply The Bou. At the Regal Watering Hole, an upscale pub and dance bar, mingle with the crowd and sip classic cocktails while your keep an eye out for celebrities or move into the leather-clad lounge for VIP bottle-service. At Escobar club, the night is all about bold sexiness; a place where neon laser lights flash across the edgy crowd writhing on the dance floor to the DJ’s blend of current electronic, Latin, swing, jazz and retro tunes.