Why Aspen Is Still The One

Celebrating its 75th year as a renowned snowy playground – well, what are you waiting for?

By Richard Clune 06/01/2022

Aspen. Let that simple, bisyllabic utterance sit a while and sew together transportive images of snowy, Coloradoan mountain life.

Say it over … ‘Aspen.’

Like Maldives or Paris and, ah, Madonna  – Aspen is proudly mononymous, the world’s only global ski town to truly burn such a candle.

Aspen. Those who’ve never been will become lost to cerebral celebrity snapshots – known names wrestling fur, garish print or excessively padded Moncler jackets that could easily drive the central narrative of a Seinfeld episode.

Those who’ve been simply smile approvingly and nod knowingly.

Aspen. It’s Colorado’s famed playground. The Centennial State’s most expensive outdoor jolly. It’s also a town of art and ingenuity, fervent community and acute pride. See, Aspen is so much more than its name conjures. And it’s this that has us regularly returning.

We choose to hit town in either early December or February. January, you see, has become dominated by ‘strine’. The locals love it – these regular interlopers from a sandy, far away land – to the extent of hosting Australia Day functions replete with lamington bake-offs and the like. That’s not our jam – because what’s worse than swapping, ‘oh, you live in Paddington too’ small talk on a gondola to the top?
No, we prefer our lift life to involve a local and a slice of chat that will further deliver insights into this twinkling valley of charm (or a local conversation that provides awareness of contemporary America and Colorado’s geographical location via a conversation heralding the many positives of Trump’s former presidency).

Aspen is in fact a loose term used to cover what is an expansive playground covering four key areas – Aspen Mountain (the peak that looms over Aspen town and which is best known as Ajax), Buttermilk, Highlands and Snowmass. It translates to 241km of trails and more than 1335 hectares of incredible terrain in which to strap-in and find some fun.

Our last adventure began in Snowmass – bunking down for a first time in the village at the recently opened Limelight Hotel. It meant an easy one-minute wander to the slopes and accommodation that runs to neat and modern if a little ski-country conformist. Outside sits an ice rink while indoors the property boasts a climbing wall. It’s all very family friendly, which extends to the soft stuff – a set of runs that caters to all comers and one we find incredibly enjoyable given an ability to link through some magical blues and blacks that push the legs given the expansive nature of Aspen’s largest mountain.

In the midst of a $600 million redevelopment that will ultimately bolster accommodation offerings and ameliorate village facilities, Snowmass also offers a new, exclusive Mountain Club – think secluded lounge areas and bar facilities, lockers, heated boot rooms, fitness centre, hot tubs, personalised concierge service and a side of celebrity, such as Gwyneth Paltrow. Member numbers are strictly capped and require, like golf, an initial buy-in with further annual dues.

Of the dining at Snowmass we point to the mountain and the elevated and warming charms of Sam’s – think housemade pastas and a decent wine list – and the historic appeal of Lynn Britt Cabin for some hearty Rocky Mountain chilli, shared boards, pates and more. So too make a morning ritual of The Crepe Shack – orders delivered by a Parisian-raised chef.

Skipping between the resorts is a simple process with most decent accommodation providing private shuttles, though there is also a free and frequent public bus network. So too are skis and boards easily placed in overnight storage or transferred between mountains so as you don’t have to cart things off slope and back each day (note – this service is included when hiring gear from Four Mountain Sports).

And so to Aspen proper – a stunning town held under muted lighting and dustings of gentle snow as if cut from a saccharine, if charming, Christmas movie. Rising tall above all is the ascendant Ajax – a tightly held and steep mountain where blue runs would prove themselves black elsewhere and double black diamonds dominate most short cut throughs. Ski here through trees and knee deep in powder, across wide groomers and all with the town twinkling below. Most runs funnel directly back to the main base and the start of the Silver Queen Gondola – home to some of the best people watching at the sprawling Ajax Tavern (be on deck on bluebird days) and a worthy refueling post that delivers via truffle fries, wagyu burgers and their kind.

It’s here too that you’ll discover Aspen’s finest accommodation – The Little Nell. A five-star offering of rightful renown, ‘The Nell’ is Aspen’s only ski-in-ski-out option – the place to stay and where James Packer maintains a residence and the Obamas, among many others, choose to rest when in Aspen.

A central and recently refurbished main lounge is immediately warming and sets the tone for rooms that are equally spacious, light and appealing. Nothing here is overdone – there’s a welcome simplicity to what’s presented; textures kept across neutral tones, a flourish of colour via artwork and coziness furthered by gas fireplaces (so too the warming appeal of complimentary mini-bar snacks and non-alcoholic drinks).

Of all rooms aim for the Walter Paepcke suite – the Nell’s largest and Aspen’s most acclaimed. Named for the visionary industrialist who planned for post-war Aspen to be a community of like-minded individuals engaging activities to improve the mind, body and spirit (read: The Aspen Idea), the one-bedroom suite (which can be expanded to include two additional bedrooms) covers 2,500 square feet, offers a private balcony with sweeping views of Aspen Mountain and its various happenings, central living room with work station, six seat dining table and more.

The Little Nell does attentive, discreet and personalised service like few other global properties. It’s an ask and you shall receive set-up – first tracks (skiing prior to the daily lifts lurch into being)? Of course that can be arranged, sir. Exclusive snowcat tour seeking powder with a former Olympian as guide? Sure, what time would you like that. Nothing at The Nell is a bother and it’s a level of service that again shines a spotlight on the general letdown of similar luxury outposts across ANZ.

Element 47 is the Nell’s fine diner and one of Aspen’s most celebrated restaurants. Ingredients are these days largely local and exquisitely curated across wagyu cuts, duck, seafood and more. As for the list – well, it is a thing of wonder with more than 26,000 wines held in the cavernous cellar, a $2.8 million treasure hunt that holds a $67,000 Burgundy and sticky dating to 1875.

Take dinner down here – it can be arranged – or indulge the one-hour tour.

The Nell also offers heated outdoor pool with hot tub and a small spa (they can arrange ‘oxygen rental’ should the altitude become too much – it won’t) and the world’s best bootroom – staff willing to strap you into your heated boots each morning while discussing mountain conditions, necessary daily news headlines across politics and pop culture while also delivering a decent espresso to kick start things the right way.

All of Aspen is walkable from The Little Nell and various town meanders are a must. The expected labels are all here – Louis  Vuitton, Gucci, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Moncler, more. Our last visit saw Paltrow’s Goop owning a small retail space and the ability to purchase one of her memorable candles; we were also drawn to the retro sartorial stylings of Aviator Nation while Kemo Sabe supplies necessary Coloradan cowboy attire – it’s a vibe.

Eating in Aspen – compared to, well, the majority of small town America – is a welcome pleasure. All the food groups – Japanese, Italian, French – are covered and generally done very well, even by snobbish Australian standards.

Ellina elevates hearty plates with a cellar of 1300 wines while 7908 is a cool downstairs outpost for both drinking, dining (aim for the $200 nachos) and late-night dancing. Running a bar tab across town should always involve Hooch, Bad Harriett, Eric’s (for games of pool and actual locals) as well as Betula. As for the exclusive Caribou Club, know ‘casual’ memberships can materialise for those visiting from out of town.

Elsewhere, Silverpeak is a marijuana dispensary lifted from Mad Men (seriously mod luxe; take your passport) and the Aspen Art Museum, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, is an hour well spent (perhaps two if following a trip to Silverpeak?)

Aspen – more than its name suggests.

aspensnowmass.com; thelittlenell.com; limelighthotels.com/snowmass


This piece is from our new Car Of The Year Issue – on sale now. Get your copy or subscribe here, or stay up to speed with the Robb Report weekly newsletter.


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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls). funair.com

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000. fliteboard.com

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950. manta5.com

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000. mo-jet.com

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000. silent-yachts.com

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100. osirisoutdoor.com

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000 boardlab.de

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000. ecooptisailing.com

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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