Photo: Limelight Hotel Snowmass

Limelight Hotels Made Me Fall in Love With Après-Ski Again

Aspen Ski and Snow Epic Stays
by Tim Wenger Feb 5, 2024

What ski culture in the US has historically lacked is the idea of community-based après-ski activities. In the US, après-ski is usually no more than grabbing a drink in the ski lodge bar, and lacks the kind of scale and excitement that makes it a vital part of the ski day, as you’d find in the Alps.

But the Limelight hotels brand, with locations in Colorado’s Aspen, Snowmass, and Denver, as well as Ketchum in Idaho, seems like it’s bringing that true après-ski culture to some of America’s poshest ski towns. And the hotels’ bars and lounges, comfortable rooms, and shared social spaces seem to be resonating with guests, as more locations are in the works. The brand’s growing success proves at least one thing: ski travel is far from cheap, but if you actually get the experience you pay for, you’re likely to return again and again.

I’ve stayed at both the Limelight Aspen and Limelight Snowmass hotels, attended a work event at the Denver location shortly after it opened in 2023, and recently revisited the Limelight Snowmass after a day on the mountain. Each time I’ve stayed at a Limelight property, I’ve been glad to be there rather than an Airbnb, a high-end resort, or a timeshare. (Quick aside: if you ever find me in a timeshare, it’s a sure sign that I’ve been kidnapped. Please call for help).



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The reasons I love Limelight hotels, and what makes the brand my ski-town hotels of choice, are subtle. They don’t jump out at you until right away, but once you notice what makes them special, it’s impossible not to appreciate the thoughtfulness. And I’m not the only one who thinks that — here’s why the Limelight properties are becoming the go-to resort of choice for fans of meaningful, enjoyable après-ski.

We hope you love Limelight hotels! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

Bringing ski culture into a polished hotel brand

lounge at limelight snowmass

Limelight hotels have plenty of space foe socializing. Photo:

Zooming out, Limelight hotels have broken down any pre-imagined barrier to staying in a typical hotel on a ski trip. Hotels have boot and changing rooms and plenty of space in each for everyone to dry out their soggy ski gear, and no one will look at you funny as your boots click-clack through the halls. Its locations in Aspen and Snowmass set the bar for the brand, and the newer locations in Denver and Sun Valley (as well as forthcoming expansions) continue to provide high levels of comfort, cleanliness, and culture without the highest price tag in town, capitalizing on the growing appetite for exciting and high-end ski lodging that isn’t a grand per night.

Limelight Aspen, the brand’s first location, is built on the site of the storied Limelite Lodge and Ski and Spur Bar. It replaces but still honors the former pub, which helped to develop Aspen’s iconic counterculture (Hunter S. Thompson ran for sheriff of Aspen in 1970, representing his self-made “Freak Power” political party). It also sits just a short walk from the Aspen Mountain ski lifts. And while the brand is owned by Aspen Ski Co., but don’t let that turn you off.

The company is a leader in sustainability throughout the ski industry and hosts the best Gay Ski Week in the world. There are ways to do Aspen on a budget, and the town itself is a cultural haven to rival major coastal cities, making it a truly international destination. And in this writer’s view, as someone who celebrates the fusion of global cultures, a hotel brand working to accomplish just that without stretching guests’ wallets to the tune of The Little Nell or the Hotel Jerome makes it worth a look.

Rates at the Limelight properties vary widely by season and day. It’s possible to book for as low as $265 per night. Peak-season rates hover above $600 for a room at Limelight Aspen, and can stretch closer to $900. However, traveling in the shoulder season, mid-week, or early and late season knocks a big chunk off of that price.

Even if you do visit in mid-winter, there are ways to get around the sticker price and to get more value out of the dollars you spend. Case in point: booking your room and lift tickets together saves on both. Booking two or more nights can knock hundreds off the single-night rate, and Colorado residents can take an immediate 20 percent off through the hotel’s local’s discount, with that number occasionally reaching as high as 30 percent.

Limelight Hotels went back to the drawing board to create a better après-ski hangout

limelight hotel aspen lounge

While the rooms are comfortable, the hotels are designed to get people into shared spaces. Photo:

Most skiers, and indeed, most humans in general, can’t afford to buy several rounds at the lodge bar every day of their ski trip. And those old guys playing Dire Straights covers on beat-up guitars in the corner of dusty ski bars haven’t appealed to the ski crowd since at least the 1980s. I’m a Colorado native and have been deeply involved in ski and snowboard culture for nearly three decades. And outside of a few overly-revelrous days back in college at the old Purgy’s Bar at Purgatory Resort, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve spent more than an hour hanging out at a ski resort’s base after a day on the hill.

The ski resort après scene on this side of the Atlantic isn’t popping off, and never really has been. The reason, I firmly believe, isn’t because American skiers don’t want to be lively and vibrant and dance on the table in their ski boots like Austrians. It’s because there’s nowhere to do it. That’s partially because most resorts will kick guests out the moment their boot hits the top of the table, for fear of being sued.


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That’s not to say that the Limelight hotels are a beacon call for ragers. The rooms are quiet and insulated, and I heard at least one Dire Straights song played at the Snowmass location a few weeks ago. Instead, the brand built lounges that serve as places for skiers to come together and revel in the day, away from high ski resort prices and corporate vibes. It’s a happy medium between wild après-ski and corporate après-ski, where skiers can lounge on couches around a fireplace with pizza and beers, or hit the dance floor to live music if they’re so inclined. And the lounges are designed to spur random social interactions more naturally than at your typical bar.

“The Limelight Hotel brand was built on the foundation of fostering a sense of community and connection, dating back to the days when it was the Ski and Spur Bar in the heart of Aspen,” Alino Azevedo, the CEO of Aspen Hospitality, told Matador. “Today, as a growing hotel portfolio, we are dedicated to bringing people together and providing a space where guests can engage with each other and the local community.”

The vibrant après scene and lounge-style dining create a happening atmosphere that keeps guests out of their rooms into the evening, in a manner more similar to European ski towns than what you’d find at the typical resort town condo complex or chain hotel in America.

Another issue the brand tackles head-on is “last-mile” transit: getting from the hotel to the lifts. All Limelight hotels are in central locations so guests can walk to ski lifts, additional dining and social options, and public transportation. Even the Denver hotel, in the center of a city increasingly enveloped by suburban sprawl, is adjacent to Union Station. That puts it in the city’s transit hub, near hip restaurants and bars, and a stone’s throw from the train to the airport.

Sure, you can pay to park your car at the hotels – but there’s no need to bother with a car (and that money is better spent in the lounge, anyhow).

So, how about the rooms?

room at limelight snowmass

Rooms are comfortable with plenty of places to work remotely. Photo:

Limelight hotels have several room types, including standard rooms, luxury rooms, and suites, all with modern amenities such as oversized closets and plush bedding. All hotels have a range of amenities such as gyms, hot tubs, and pools, and many rooms are pet-friendly. Each of my stays was in a “King Deluxe,” the brand’s most basic room type.

I regularly work on my laptop in hotel rooms, in a different location depending on the time of day. In the mornings, I like to work from a desk or table with a decently comfortable chair, which each Limelight room has. In the evenings, I tend to sit in bed, embracing the “lap” aspect of the laptop. That makes me appreciative of Limelight’s use of box-spring mattresses and bulky bed frames, or rather, the lack thereof. The mattresses are comfortable and furnishings are modern. I loathe box springs — so inefficient and bulky, with little-to-no upsides — and appreciate Limelight’s hardwood frames with extra storage space. And the padded headboards are comfortable to lean against when working without immediate back pain.



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Rooms have Lavazza espresso pods (a good mark above a Keurig), speedy internet, and plenty to browse on the TV. ADA-compliant rooms are ample, with plenty of additional complimentary amenities on-demand, including feather-free bedding; stuff for dogs, kiddos, and babies; and any toiletries you may have forgotten. Of course, there are plush robes in the closet – this is Aspen Snowmass, after all.

Limelight is guilty of succumbing to the “amenity fee” trend, but at least you’re getting something for it here. Ski storage, airport transfers, breakfasts, and even the chance to test-drive the latest Audi models are included as part of the 10 percent add-on to the check.

Limelight hotels make it easy to get to know a destination

climbing wall at limelight snowmass

There’s a climbing wall at Limelight’s Aspen hotel. Photo:

Hotels in outdoor-centric destinations increasingly incorporate things like climbing walls, partnerships with tour operators for guided hikes and bike rides, and opportunities to connect with like-minded travelers and locals. Limelight offers all of this, but it doesn’t feel like it’s trying too hard. After all, the last thing any ski town needs is another $60-per-plate restaurant named after the local backcountry hut. This, I’m sure, is why Limelight’s Snowmass and Aspen hotels have become the institutions they have.

Would you like to attend a film screening hosted by a local professional rider in the lobby? Yes, I certainly would. How about the ability to demo new gear or get on the lift early? Sign up via the hotels’ Adventures page. The Aspen location even what is perhaps the most iconic mountain town activity of all time: dog portrait day.

I could feel the excitement surrounding the brand each time I stayed at a Limelight property. It seems like it’s successfully positioning itself as the go-to option for travelers seeking hip accommodations without the luxury price point of high-end, ski town hotels. I left each hotel wanting to come back, wanting to be part of the story, because, honestly, it feels hip. And authentic. And trying to fight the increasingly unattainable economic divide that seems to be rising in so many ski towns in Colorado and beyond.

And if you’re someone who regularly takes ski trips and appreciates a good après scene, well, you’ll probably want to go back, too.

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