an active weekend escape to the mountains
I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to finally share this part of my life. Travel is a favorite component to my overall wellness and something I absolutely love navigating with clients. I actually can't believe it's taken me this long to put together a resource on a specific destination. While I love and appreciate material things like the next girl, I've realized over the years that intangible experiences are most valuable to me. Because travel is such a meaningful part of my lifestyle and health, my hope is that you will find inspiration to approach things differently on your next getaway.
There is a common notion when approaching wellness (food especially) away from home, that it's simply impossible to "stay on track." Dining out healthfully has been described to me as "stressful," "overwhelming" and "just too difficult." In my experience, most people give up and adopt the diet starts when we get home mindset. I promise you, it's not impossible to feel amazing on vacation or even continue to make progress towards nutrition-related goals. Not only is it possible, but allowing a wellness mindset to drive the experience can actually take you places you otherwise would never have gone.
I created a flexible framework that helps give structure to my days away. I've found that I can better maximize my time and stay aligned with my wellness if I have a plan. I will warn you in advance, I'm not the traveler (and neither is Joey) who "wings it." We don't sleep the mornings away or spend our time lounging in the sun getting ripped on poolside cocktails. If that's your dream vacation, enjoy! Moments of relaxation and indulgence certainly comprise some of our time, but we also crave a counterbalance.
As I'm planning for any given trip, these are the elements that get worked into the itinerary:
energize - healthy food (80%)
move - daily workout
adventure - active excursions, adrenaline, excitement
explore - sightseeing, new experiences, shopping local
recover - relaxation, wellness
indulge - comfort food (20%)
A few weeks before taking off on any trip, I do my research and get a tentative plan in place. For me, getting familiar with the location's food offerings, perusing menus and mapping the days around the dining experience is my favorite way to plan. I truly do eat my way through every destination. In a place as popular and food-centric as Aspen, you really do need to think ahead anyway because reservations are hard to come by during preferred times.
I always aim for healthy breakfasts and lunches so that I keep my energy high throughout the day. I reserve my indulgent moments for dinner, dessert or late afternoon snacks because with a condition like hypoglycemia, I honestly feel like garbage if I don't. But you do you. If you'd rather indulge at brunch, go for it.
ASPEN DINING FAVS:
COFFEE & BRUNCH
Private In-Room Dining at St. Regis - We generally do one breakfast delivered to our room on each trip. There's something so luxurious about enjoying a slow morning with coffee & omelets in robes. I'm a creature of habit and typically order a veggie or mediterranean omelet with avocado and a side of potatoes, grapefruit juice, coffee + almond or soy milk
Velvet Buck - Brunch on this beautiful patio was so relaxing and picturesque. I almost always order eggs at breakfast for protein, but Joey prefers a big bowl of oats first thing. All those years of early morning ski racing and traveling to Europe stayed with him. The brunch menu featured a cold pressed juice with beet (which is a great pre-workout). I asked for mine served in a tall glass over ice and it was perfect before our long bike ride.
Bear Den Aspen - This adorable little house-turned-cafe had a quaint, French feel. Their coffee was our favorite in town and the house granola, green goddess bowl and egg dishes were amazing. (I also ordered a cinnamon roll from here to-go and warmed it up for dessert later that night.)
LUNCH & LIGHT BITES
Hotel Jerome - The outdoor living room at this hotel is gorgeous and features the menu from their restaurant, Prospect. It's truly the perfect summer patio. Their menu offered a number of plant-forward appetizers and the cocktails were v impressive. I had a sparkling infusion with lavender, lemon and honey alongside the spiced edamame and hummus with vegetable crudite.
Gorsuch Ski Cafe - We also visited the Vail location of this gorgeous cafe/ski shop with my parents a couple weeks earlier. They make an Arnold Palmer with maple lemonade and ginger iced tea that is absolute perfection as an afternoon pick-me-up. They also have the most amazing croissants, both savory and sweet that pair beautifully with an espresso.
Meat & Cheese - If we lived in Aspen, this restaurant would be in our weekly rotation for sure. There is a perfect mix of healthy and indulgent on the menu here so you can go either direction. The kale 3 ways starter and rotisserie chicken board were absolute fire and I washed it down with a green juice over ice.
Steakhouse No.316 - Ok...I cannot say enough about this place. It checked all the boxes for a romantic dinner with a cozy ambiance, impressive menu and exquisite service. Our steaks were cooked so perfectly they needed no accompaniments, but their chimmichurri was delicious. Save room for dessert here because you can't leave without trying their bread pudding.
Think about when your will power is highest (for me that's first thing in the morning) and plan your workout during that time. You'll be happier, more energetic and able to enjoy your indulgent moments that much more. Hiking is available in Aspen right from town and many hotel gyms are offering classes or gym set-ups even during COVID. One of our fav workouts of this weekend was biking 9 miles uphill to the most amazing view in Aspen. You can certainly do it on a road or mountain bike, but if you want to really have a good time, rent electric bikes. The pedal assist helps just enough to get you up there faster with less hustle. It's still a great workout though, trust me. We rented ours from Four Mountain Sports and were so happy we did.
On this trip, we double dipped and got our workout in during our adventure up to Maroon Bells. Another more passive adventure is to take the Gondola to the top of the mountain. If you're afraid of heights, then you definitely have to face your fear and do this. The view is incredible all the way up. Adirondack rocking chairs and drinks await you at the top.
The stunning views are endless but Aspen also offers a high end shopping experience in town that's worth exploring. At the very least, window shop through the local and designer stores or treat yourself to something new. The Aspen style is over-the-top, so you can let your high fashion freak flag fly all you want here.
For me, the afternoons are best reserved for calmer, more wellness-focused experiences. I love to spend some of our time traveling, relaxing by the pool, treating myself to a spa service or just enjoying a little more self-care in the room. I like to plan these moments when my energy fades, which for me is 2-4pm most days. It's a way I can honor my body but still enjoy where we are.
o2 lounge / slow sunday morning / waterfall plunge at remède spa
As much as I preach about healthy practices, you've probably figured out by now that I also believe indulgence is as essential for your overall health. Your relationship with food will never be whole unless you allow yourself moments of freedom with food choices. When traveling, we aim for 80% healthy, 20% whatever the hell we want. In Aspen, cocktails in the courtyard from Mountain Social or poolside are a must. Don't ask me why I didn't get a picture of the cinnamon roll I ordered at Bear Den Aspen, the bread pudding at Steakhouse No.316 or the chocolate croissant at Gorsuch Ski Cafe. These indulgent moments were sprinkled throughout our stay between healthy meals and activity so we were able to be fully present and enjoy them without guilt.
SAMPLE WEEKEND ITINERARY
explore the resort, cocktails in the courtyard
shop in town
Meat & Cheese for dinner
coffee & breakfast at Bear Den
e-bikes from Four Mountain Sports to Maroon Bells
lunch at Hotel Jerome (outdoor patio)
massages, waterfall plunge & oxygen lounge at Remède Spa
dinner and dessert at Steakhouse No.316
morning hike up Aspen Mountain
brunch at Velvet Buck (courtyard)
gondola to the top before leaving town
If you've traveled to Aspen and have favorite places that I missed, send your recommendations my way! We definitely plan to go back again and again.