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Aspen Apres-Ski Scenes Still Sizzle

ASPEN, Colo. (MainStreet) -- Apres-ski in Aspen is often defined by chilled sauvignon blanc, fragrant truffle fires and cheesy fondues shared between fur-trimmed ski bunnies and ogling instructors just off North America's poshest pistes. For some it's a refreshing dose of fun after a long day on the slopes; for others it's the very reason they venture into the snow at all and to these hot spots in America's most famous ski town.

In Aspen, post-slope action is best had at some of the area's top hotels. For luxury revelers there's no scene quite like The Little Nell. Apres-ski virgins will want to pass through the hotel's lobby lounge and into the Terrace Bar where a socialite jungle awaits in a spectacular setting of leather sofas and hide-covered stools arranged around a crackling fireplace. From 3 p.m. each day during peak ski season, a showy crowd of Aspenites and visitors peel away their layers of Moncler and Bogner to partake in a flirtatious mingle over bubbly and global tapas that inevitably continues into the evening hours.

A more youthful set of locals prefers the stomping grounds of 39 Degrees Lounge within the Kimpton's Sky Hotel. A timber-trimmed bar a few feet from a steaming pool deck beckons a 20- and 30-something mix of microbrew beer and cocktail drinkers to a teeming lounge that you'd think has peaked at 4 p.m. each ski day yet simply gets busier as the evening progresses. In-house mixologist Denis Cote concocts a whimsical list of such alcoholic spirits as the Champagne Supernova with its Moet mix of white peach puree and strawberry liqueur or Aspen Slush, with Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey and Grand Marnier with a trough of Gringo Chorizo Fondito to follow.

The St. Regis Aspen is debuting an all-new look (designed by Rottet Studio) for guest rooms and common areas. Hoping to create a fashionable mountain manor "similar to what John Jacob Astor would have designed during the Gilded Age," the results include the Shadow Mountain Lounge, which is infused with modern decor accented in creamy leather furnishings and capped by a roaring fireplace clad in stacked stone. A mix of hotel guests and posh Residence Club homeowners carouse over early afternoon tea before transitioning into bloody marys and late-afternoon Champagne Sabering -- a tradition that started with Astor at the original St. Regis New York in 1904.

>>Time To Check Into Hotel Stocks

As the night progresses, Aspen locals fight manicured nail to manicured nail to secure a reservation at the city's top restaurants. New for this year from the owners of local eateries Wild Fig and Brexi Brasserie comes Steak House No. 316. A city that likes its meat, Aspen gets a stylish concept steakhouse set within an A-frame dining room with walls accented in dark wood paneling and stacked granite detailing. An adjoining bar is ideal for solo diners and those looking to strike up conversation. The main courses are divided by land and sea, but steaks are paramount with Kobe flat iron, Prime Cowboy ribeye and porterhouse available with sides such as a 6-ounce lobster tail or truffle potato au gratin.

Look for Caribou Club to maintain its status as the premiere nightspot followed by Casa Tua Aspen, celebrating its second season after a much-hyped opening that last year made it the toughest reservation in town. Those looking for a more relaxed dinner and nightlife vibe can hit-up the new Finbarr's Irish Pub, which offers a gastropub dining scene that only gets better through the night. A cozy yet modish space is contained within exposed brick walls and period archways dividing a main bar from a trendier lounge. A sophisticated menu includes hearty pub-style meals and noshes that start with a bang, including Guinness and cheddar fondue, curry-spiced calamari and pub-style gravy and fries. LCD screens playing the game du jour vie with black-and-white photos and clusters of crystal chandeliers that extend a more polished feel and make for the hottest new bar scene of the Aspen season so far.

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Michael Martin is the managing editor of JetSetReport.com, a luxury travel and lifestyle guide based in Los Angeles and London. His work has appeared in InStyle, Blackbook, Elle, U.K.'s Red magazine and on ITV and the BBC.

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