Many travel journalists seek out the latest hospitality trends, interesting hotspots and sightseeing gems for a living. With each new experience, these well-traveled professionals expand their worldview and develop a new perspective.
Recently, an Austin-based travel writer named Deborah Stachelski spent a handful of days in Aspen, Colo., and we wanted to hear more.
The Little Nell: Tell us more about you and your stay.
Deborah Stachelski: I live in Austin with my husband and two dogs, and soon will be adding a baby boy to our family. I work as a freelance journalist and run my own site Society Letters.
I’ve learned that inspiration is something that comes and goes. You won’t be inspired 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. It used to rattle me when I would lose interest in writing about or documenting my travels with photos. Having multiple creative outlets is very helpful when one avenue isn’t working and you feel burned out.
My visit to Aspen was a long-awaited one. We had been planning a trip for two years and finally, it worked out to go for Christmas. It was like living in a snowglobe for a week! Everywhere you look there are twinkly lights, powdery snow, gorgeous holiday decorations, Christmas music, and people with smiles on their faces. It’s such a wonderful place, it barely feels real. It’s extremely inspiring.
TLN: With your images and prose, design, art and creating aesthetic are essential. When in Aspen, where did/would you go to find inspiration for photos or experiences to cover in writing?
DS: I found inspiration all around Aspen. I looked to the actual structure and framing of the town, the cobblestones in the streets, the architecture and the details on every corner. I’m a people-watcher as it helps me write a compelling story later. Watching people walk by laughing, clutching their hot cocoa in one hand and gift bags in the other, I would imagine why they were there, who were they shopping for, and their life story.
There is so much wonder and detail in everyday things we take for granted. I poked in and out of antique shops, movie poster stores, chatted with baristas, visited art galleries, and ate in as many restaurants as I could. I also tried to just sit and not rush around – pretending like I lived there. Acting like a tourist can make everything go too fast because you’re trying to take it all in, but there is something to be learned from the ease of the locals.
TLN: What are some of your favorite Aspen moments?
DS: While at breakfast at element 47, I got to learn from the chef the proper way to make a French fold omelette and chat a bit about his time working at The Nell. It’s the little things like that that make my travels more memorable.
Bundling up and taking the gondola up to the top of the mountain on a really snowy morning was one of the most breathtaking moments of my trip.
At night we would walk the town and rush in and out of pubs and restaurants for warmth, in between looking at the Christmas lights. The horse-drawn carriage ride was straight out of a Hallmark movie, and I will never forget wanting to bottle up the feeling Aspen gave me and knowing photos just wouldn’t do it justice.
TLN: Are there any physical landmarks you find yourself frequenting while in Aspen?
DS: We found ourselves walking through town each morning for coffee and snacks at Jour de Fête, and would usually end up at Ajax Tavern for lunch or a drink.
TLN: For a first-time traveler to Aspen, what the top three things you think they should know?
DS: My top three tips are:
1. Go with someone you love! Aspen is super romantic.
2. Pack your cutest, warmest clothes – everyone is stylish here!
3. Stay in a mountain-side room at The Little Nell!
Our sincere thanks to Deborah for sharing tips from her visit with Little Nell guests – new and returning. To book your stay, contact the team at The Little Nell today.