Simon’s Top Summer Traditions

Summertime in Aspen unleashes an abundance of activities that appeal to all. We asked our Managing Director, Simon Chen, for his personal take on the best cultural, social and athletic endeavors in store this season.

Simon, pictured at left, cresting the top of Independence Pass.

Simon, pictured at left, cresting the top of Independence Pass.

Q: The Food & Wine Classic is right around the corner – June 19 – 21 – how would you describe the energy swirling around The Nell that weekend?

A: Food & Wine is the kick-off to the summer and one crazy weekend here at The Little Nell. We are the headquarters of all things Food & Wine. The who’s who of our industry is here, hanging out, drinking great wine in the Living Room at The Nell.  We have been truly blessed with wine talent over the years and F&W weekend is a reunion of some of the finest wine talent in this country. We also have two exceptional wine dinners – The Greatest Wines of the World on Friday with Master Sommelier Jay Fletcher and The Kings of Northern Rhone on Saturday with Rajat Parr featuring rare wines and a four-course pairing from our Chef de Cuisine, Matt Padilla.

Q: For families visiting The Nell this summer, what do you suggest for the top of their list of adventures?

A: This would be my perfect day: Take a walk to the farmer’s market early in the morning and sample the finest produce that Colorado has to offer. I would follow this with one of Fredy’s omelets at element 47 before taking a leisurely ride on our cruiser bikes down the Rio Grande trail. After the ride and a quick bite at Woody Creek Tavern for lunch I would head back to Aspen stopping to enjoy the Roaring Fork River on its journey west.

Q: For couples looking for a special date night, what do you suggest they not miss?

A: Our new stargazing package has been in the works for a little while, but I think it will soon become The Nell’s signature way that couples get engaged. Champagne, dessert and the millions of stars in the sky – what could be more romantic.

Q: The Nell’s known for its beautiful gardens surrounding the hotel and within the courtyard, which will include a living wall this summer – what inspired this new addition?

A: It stemmed from my first stint at The Nell back in the late 90’s. I always remember guests dining on the patio in the summer with our beautiful gardens as a backdrop.  I wanted to relive this experience but also to elevate it to another level. It took a little bit of convincing Arabella, our landscaper, but I think it will become a fixture at The Nell for many years to come.

Q: What summer events at The Nell are particularly of interest for you?

A: There are two amazing cycling events we are hosting this summer – the first is our Ride & Dine series. Our Culinary and F&B team take our guests on a series of road bike rides to different farms in the Roaring Fork Valley and we put on a dinner Little Nell style. The ride is only half the fun! 

The second is our second annual Clip-in with Christian Cycling Camp from August 17 – 20 and it’s already sold out. Christian Vande Velde has brought George Hincapie and Craig Lewis with him this year so it should be exceptionally amazing with three former pro riders. We also have a few surprises up our sleeve for the lucky guests who are joining us. It’s a great way for our guests to experience and mingle with some legends of the sport.

Q: How did the Ride & Dine series and Clip-in With Christian come about?

A: Our Ride & Dine Series was the idea of our F&B team – primarily Chubby and Carlton who appreciate cycling and fine wine and food themselves. Our regular guests at e47 would come in after their long rides day as their first stop to relax and dine. It made perfect sense to combine the bike ride with the great food and wine of The Little Nell, but to add in fun and new locations.

Clip-in with Christian came about after we ran a similar program at my previous hotel. I called Christian just after he won the 2012 USA Pro Challenge as he was planning on retiring. I asked him if he wanted to put on a camp with us over the race weekend. It took him about one second to say yes! Last year was our inaugural year. We rode hard, laughed a lot, built some great friendships and at our final night’s event, while watching images of the weekend, all of our guests and pros unanimously asked “When are we going to do it again?” So, here we are, back for a second year looking to raise the bar yet again. 

Q: The Little Nell’s Adventure Center is a hub for outings into the Great Outdoors. Describe the most special summer adventures offered to guests at The Nell.

A: I’d recommend the Sunrise Jeep Tour, which is new this summer. Our guides will take you to the best places around Aspen to watch the sun come up where the air is clean and crisp with a slight chill. You’ll be surrounded by the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains with a departure from the traditional day-to-day experience.

Q: Do you have any favorite summer traditions in Aspen and at The Nell?

A:  My favorite tradition is floating down the Roaring Fork River in our dory boat, which was custom built with its own wine cooler. Nothing says summer quite like fishing and enjoying a glass of wine with not a worry in the world.

Join us this summer at The Little Nell and experience all Aspen has to offer. For more information on activities and adventures, simply contact the concierge at 970.920.6365 or our reservations team to book your stay at 970.920.6220.