WORDS • ERIN SPONG | PHOTOS • courtesy of W ASPEN
If there’s one thing we all know about Aspen, Colorado, it’s that the beer flows like wine. Along with featuring four world-class ski resorts, Aspen is home to one of, if not the, rowdiest après ski scenes to pour over a resort town. For 16 years, the Kimpton Sky Hotel served as Aspen Mountain’s premiere après spot for locals and visitors alike to cap off their day’s worth of ski turns with an Aperol spritz—or two. When the Sky closed in March of 2017, Shlomo’s took over the libatious responsibilities at the base of Ajax, but when the go-to après bar shut its doors for good this past summer, locals were left with nowhere to “put out the vibe.”
With the most serendipitous timing, The W Aspen officially opened on August 29, 2019, with plenty of time to settle in before ski season. Aspen’s first new luxury hotel in 25 years replaces the old Sky Hotel, literally and figuratively, serving up high-class post-skiing debauchery in the same exact spot The Sky did for so many years. Now, the W Aspen ushers in a new, fresh era for Aspen’s après scene.
“Northridge Capital bought the old Aspen Club Lodge and converted it to the Sky Hotel in 2001, and we had a great run for 16 years, but the Sky was physically obsolete and, simply, needed to be replaced,” Northridge Capital’s President, David Jackson tells me over email. “I met up for coffee with local developer John Sarpa in December 2013 and we started sharing ideas, and the next year, we were off and running.”
The 128,000-square-foot W Aspen offers 88 ski-in-ski-out hotel rooms as well as 11 shared-ownership condominiums, dubbed the Sky Residences at The W Aspen. Fusing The W’s iconic hotel design prowess with the spirited atmosphere of the town and its residents, the W Aspen is unlike any other hotel offering in the historic ski town. With commissioned murals from well-known street artists, including Baltimore-based Gaia, adorning its walls and two of Aspen’s most popular DJs, Kevin Joyal and Alex Golden, setting the nightly tone, the new hotel fills one of the town’s largest voids: a genuinely hip spot to just chill.
Perhaps the most prominent—and, frankly, badass—feature of the new W hotel is its 8,000 square-foot rooftop deck, aptly named the Wet Deck. The largest rooftop space in all of Aspen, the Wet Deck boasts a year-round pool and hot tub, a lounge area, a permanent DJ booth and dance floor and a horseshoe bar for everyone—not just paying guests—to enjoy. The best part? You can practically ski into the space and you’re immediately gifted with 360-degree views of town when you step foot on the deck.
“If you want one of the best views of Aspen, regardless if you’re staying there or not, definitely go up to the pool deck,” says Tae Westcott, one of W Aspen’s athlete ambassadors.
“It’s the only spot in town where you can see the sunset with that type of view that’s open to the public. It’s pretty special,” adds Mo Mitchell, member of Aspen’s only female ski gang, The Babes.
When word first got around town, locals were skeptical that the new hotel would be able to fill the large party shoes The Sky left behind. But the W’s commitment to redefining revelry while also staying true to Aspen’s après roots has made it the hangout for the fabled town’s trendsetters. Athletes like Westcott, Torin Yater-Wallace, Alex Ferreira and Gretchen Bleiler have all stamped their approval on the new space. Welcome to town, W.