Gay Ski Weeks have become hugely successful and popular in recent years, mixing what so many GLBT travelers love about circuit parties, gay pride festivals, and upscale (and welcoming) resort destinations into one very festive package. Arguably the most famous of these events is Aspen Gay Ski Week, which takes place in 2016 in mid-January (the dates this year are Jan. 17 through Jan. 24) and consists of dozens of cool events.
This week-long party is, of course, especially fun for skiers and snowboarders, but you might be surprised just how many of the events can be just as easily enjoyed by nonskiers. Gay Ski Weeks are also an excellent time for beginners to take lessons.
Of the many ski resorts that straddle the Continental Divide, Aspen has the most striking setting - and inhabitants. You'll be charmed by the grid of neatly preserved 19th-century buildings. You'll be blown away by the 360-degree curtain of 14,000-foot mountains. You'll be just as astounded by all the townspeople who are ever so tan, trim, beautiful, and friendly (in that multi-million-dollar sort of way). The pages of GQ and Vogue spring to life here.
Gay Ski Week in Aspen, which is sponsored by the Roaring Fork Gay and Lesbian Community Fund (RFGLCF), consists of a wide range of activities, including apres ski parties and cocktail receptions at a number of great bars and restaurants around town.
There are also numerous lunch and dinner events; a comedy night; a free-for-all pool party; and a riot of hot performers and DJs.
Also keep in mind some of the town's other favorite gay-friendly nightspots, such as the J-Bar at the the wonderfully historic Hotel Jerome, the chic Kenichi sushi restaurant, and 39 Degrees at Kimpton Hotel's gay-friendly Sky Hotel.
During gay ski week, there's always plenty going on around Aspen, and it's easy to find "family" at any number of locals bars and restaurants. Dining socials during gay ski week take place at several culinary hotspots - in recent years these have included L'Hostaria, for Tuscan fare; Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro at Snowmass; and Prospect, at the atmospheric Hotel Jerome.
Aspen accommodations can be very pricey, and they fill up fast in ski season, so it's wise to book early when possible. That being said, it is possible to find last-minute deals, even during Gay Ski Week. One excellent resource is the Stay Aspen & Snowmass (SAS) Central Reservations gay ski week site (888-649-5982), which has loads of information on the event itself as well as on Aspen and Snowmass condos, hotels, and even home rentals. SAS has been around since 1986, and it's one of the most reliable - and gay-friendly - travel resources in Aspen.
The definitive gay Aspen accommodation and ongoing official host hotel of Aspen Gay Ski Week, is the stylish (and pet-friendly) Limelight Hotel, and the historic and elegant Hotel Jerome is another great partner of Aspen Gay Ski Week. Other top picks among Aspen's many gay-friendly properties include the Sky Hotel, run by the super-gay-friendly Kimpton Brand, and the hundreds of condos and town homes at Snowmass Village.
For more information on planning a visit to Aspen, whether during Gay Ski Week or any other time, check out the useful website produced by the Aspen Chamber of Commerce and Resort Association.