The Little Nell
675 East Durant Avenue, Aspen, Colorado, United States
If you’re like us as soon as March 1st hits, you’re updating your spring wardrobe with pastels and pops of neon – investing in your newest pair of festival lace up sandals, a bikini (or two), arranging pretty blooms allll over your house, dusting off that bicycle and planning beach getaways with your bests. With spring always comes a beautiful reinvention, the shedding of winter coats & heavy fabrics for gauzy prints and caftans, trading comfort food for juicy and colorful fresh fruits and vegetables now in season. Indoor takeout (we’ll never give up Netflix & chill no matter the season) for outdoor farmer’s markets and best of all, welcoming that that big ol’ dose of Vitamin D we’ve all been craving so desperately!
As sweet sunny days are fast approaching (daylight savings time doo doo dah doooooo!!) it gives us pause to reflect on one of the most amazing trips we ever had the privilege of taking in the U.S. in spring! We were so honored to be invited for a visit to The Little Nell and while we were expecting exceptional design and hospitality (they’ve been voted Travel + Leisure’s “Best Resorts in the U.S.” for back-to-back years), we came to realize the level of experience they’re curating is bespoke, beautiful and dare we say it? Bucket-list worthy - for both getaways AND I-do's. Sunny spring doesn't just mean beaches & friends. Switch it up and head high up for some fresh mountain air with wide open spaces for dayzzzz.
Au Revoir Beaches. We Are Aspen Bound!
Aspen isn’t simply for snow bunnies looking for glam rock city with haute cuisine, high up in the mountains. It’s a year-round adventurer’s paradise, practically perfect for a variety of outdoors activities and gorgeous gatherings. So to start, Aspen is absolute magic in it’s snowy season, that’s a given considering it’s deserved pedigree as a snowy celeb hangout, world-class ski spot and home to the X-Games. As for The Little Nell, it happens to be nestled neatly at the base of the seriously impressive Ajax Mountain... and it's ski-in/ski-out. For pow junkies, snow lovers, gnar shredders... it's captial E everything.
But that’s not all gathering gurus – The Little Nell is steeped in some pretty serious history. We’re talking it was once the hallowed hunting ground for the Ute Indian tribe. A miner’s retreat, railroad, stop, dairy, ski lift… skier’s rowdy watering hole. Now it’s the only five-star, five-diamond property in Aspen, named for a mining claim located just up the hill from where the hotel sits now. As it’s described, Aspen today is “a product of its past – a little bit silver, a little bit soul. It is a crossroads of wild mountain and electric city, a gathering place for a community that comes from all over the world.” As for The Little Nell, well much like the city it’s situated in, there’s nothing quite like it… anywhere.
So imagine this - we arrive in Aspen and the air is crisp and thin, it hits your skin and it sings. But it's not frigid like the winter season, it's perfect and light, like an effervescent mimosa on a sunny afternoon. Since we've got the gathering fever (there's no cure) and we'd heard so much about the gorgeous Silver Queen gondola located just steps from The Little Nell - we couldn't wait to jump into the plush interior and take it straight to the top to see (what we'd heard) was THE place to get married in Aspen in spring. Sixteen breathtaking minutes later, we ascend over lush mountains, alight with the greenery and wildness of the season.
Yes, A Gondola Ride Will Take You To A Mountaintop Venue
We disembarck from the gondola and spy with our little eyes the Wedding Deck for the first time. Guys, it's GORGE. Floating three miles above the town of Aspen but just steps from The Little Nell, the Wedding Deck is an outdoor wedding venue unlike anything else in Colorado. At an elevation of 11,212 feet, with sweeping views of the Elk Mountain Range, it doesn’t get much more romantic. Accommodating up to 250 guests, add a little champagne and let the mountains do your DIY. Lucky for us little ducks, we were treated to a welcome dinner and entertainment on this divine deck by Elan Artists.
Powder Blue Interiors In Snowy Powder Setting
Imagine soaring views of the snow capped mountains, trees - and with live music playing and it was almost surreal as the violinist, trumpet player, and singer sang in such a natural surrounding!
Let's talk about the dreamy, dreamy, dreamy indoor venues you can make use of with the Wedding Deck. The Aspen Mountain Club is a restaurant decked out in an inspiring mix of powder blue, cream and gold which lends it a luxurious, yet intimate vibe. It's truly a hidden gem boasting unmatched views of the Elk Mountain Range from every room. Renowned New York designer David Anthony Easton appointed this 4,400 square foot private club, a unique space down to its antique Austrian tables and hand-woven rugs. Private events are staffed by The Little Nell and can host 250 for a cocktail reception, or 120 in the elegant dining room. The lightness and brightness you get from the large windows overlooking the mountains, high ceilings and powder blue accents will make for some inspiring Insta snaps, we swear.
The Sundeck is a more casual option, like your favorite LBD - it works either dressed up or down but it accommodates 500 of your favorite faces! The space features an open floor plan with a towering rock fireplace and 30 foot ceilings. Every toast, speech or presentation can be framed in panoramic window views of the great Continental Divide.
How cute are the talented ladies of Bash, Please?
We were treated to a five-course delicious dinner at the Aspen Mountain Club, and just like everything else at the Little Nell, no detail is too small or ever spared. If the devil is in these details, then we're going to hell in a handbasket, happily. The food is magnificent, fresh and inventive and the wine pairings were sheer perfection. As for the decor, Aspen Branch created beautiful florals set in antique blue and white vessels for our dinner party!
When we finally made our way back to the hotel after leaving the stunning modern cabin vibes of the luxe mountaintop venue, we were seriously tuckered in the most contented way. All we kept thinking about on the ride down was that after dancing all night at an amazing wedding, your guests will be too. The gondola ride is both fun and massively convenient - you literally step RIGHT off the gondola and into The Little Nell. We call that winning.
Picture exactly what you'd want at the end of a long day of socializing and travel: crackling fireplaces, panoramic views, sumptuous beds all set in an intimate mountain lodge that's so inviting you just never wanna leave (we didn't). Did we mention the heated floors? These are a delight in any season. Chicago designer and Aspen resident Holly Hunt styled the 52 guest rooms, 26 premium guest rooms, 8 suites and 6 signature suites. Contemporary works of art offset her “Aspen Modern” plush, textured fabrics and palettes of cream, blue and chocolate.
While we do love us some luxe vibes, we also love a good outdoor adventure. How fun would it be to give your guests the option of sleeping in and heading to the spa OR getting outdoorsy and adventurous? We chose the latter and headed off on fly fishing and white water rafting adventures!
Whitewater Adventures = Whiskey Adventures
What is the best way to wrap up a day of fly fishing and whitewater rafting? Whiskey of course!! Take your tired and weary guests to the local Woody Creek Distillers. Serve up a picnic style lunch, moscow mules in chilled copper mugs and then take them on a whiskey tour.
Whiskey, Mumus and Moscow Mules
We went on a tour of the distillery and bought some bottles to bring home as souvenirs. Your guests WILL LOVE this adventure. It was the perfect way to light a fire in our bellies and get us geared up for the night and evening ahead.
Cocktails, Bocce Ball and Gondolas
As if whiskey tasting and rafting adventures won't wow your guests enough. You can also host a music-filled cocktail party at the base of the mountain! The gals and guys of your guest list can lounge on the rustic wood lounge furniture or partake in a fun cocktail competition of bocce ball! Munch on lots of tray passed appetizers but don't forget to leave an appetite for the adjacent dinner hotspot, Ajax Restaurant. Yep folks, this is the beauty of The Little Nell. You can go from luxe to laid back in two seconds.
Even cooler? You just might be able to meet the onsite sommelier, who also happens to be the youngest in the world. Wine is a massively big deal at the Little Nell - they've earned the Wine Spectator Grand Award since 1997, but they've achieved the remarkable feat of graduating 10 of North America’s 147 Master Sommeliers (the most of any establishment in North America), including Carlton McCoy, who runs our wine program today and manages the over 20,000 bottle wine cellar.
For a heart-stirring set of I-do's in a dramatic & breathtaking setting, The Little Nell is your gorgeous go-to. From the coolest (and fun!) wedding transportation ever (gondola rides for guests anyone?), to otherworldy-seeming wedding venues set high above a dramatic landscape, to lush accommodations and a five-star dining experience, this is an elegant and unexpected twist for guests who've seen and done it all. With a bespoke and beautiful menu of experiences perfect any season, The Little Nell will be the setting for the stories your friends will tell over and over long after they've left Aspen.
The Venue Report Takeaway: If you host a gathering or wedding here, guests will feel completely cocooned in comfort, but it's intimate enough where you'll high-five your peeps in the halls, easily meet-up for hikes or apres-ski and clink glasses over and over at Element 47 resturant or one of 4 onsite bars.
Besides the spectacular venue spaces, accommodations, breathtaking views, convenient location, 5-star dining and sommelier program... (did we mention there's live music errrrywhere????)... as if this wasn't enough, The Little Nell is curating the most beautiful of experiences tailored to your every need.
Venue: The Little Nell | Photos: Scott Clark Photo