Aspen on the cheap

Monday evening, I leave for six days in Aspen for the first full family Christmas since 1991. I know you hear “Aspen” and think snowy peaks, celebrity ski bunnies, apres ski decadence, designer boutiques, and of course ass-biting cold (yesterday it was -11 degrees). You might wonder how an affordable week is possible during prime season at the playground of the rich and famous….

I stalked an NYC-Aspen fare for a month over the summer until it suddenly dropped to the realm of reality: $570, which quite honestly I shocked to get anything under $750. I had massive hassles with United Airlines the other day when I found my itinerary completely effed up, but I sorted it out to an even better schedule than originally planned.

Lucky us – two sisters live there, in employee housing that they call “the projects”. Just means that they’re rent-controlled, otherwise no one could afford to live close enough to work the restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc. Pretty much anyone not living off a trust fund qualifies. To give you an idea of what “the projects” are like in Aspen, they have a front porch, a back patio, a large equipment storage closet outside, skylight, the most unbelievable double-sink vanity, a communal brick BBQ pit, and a babbling brook running through the back yard. What a ghetto, eh?

Neither of my sisters has a dining room table – just breakfast bar set-ups. This means going out for Christmas dinner, which I’m not crazy about because it feels mean to make someone work and serve you on big holiday like that. For non-Christmas meals, we’re totally hooked up: my sisters waitress at a casual restaurant, and Starfish’s boyfriend tends bar at a yummy Mexican place. This is how you get $100 worth of food and $150 of drinks for $100 – there’s the official bill for $40 plus a $60 tip to the wait staff. The easiest way for us to get free drinks is to order a single bottle of wine for the table, and then the waiter-friend refills our glasses from other bottles at the bar. As a family of 5 plus 2 boyfriends, that’s a savings of no less than $100 right there. Sometimes the manager comps the whole bill. I think I’ll be coughing up about $150 for two special meals at places my sisters can’t get discounts, and maybe $50-100 at places they do. I know that doesn’t sound economical, but it is Aspen and it’s my only real expense other than the airfare. Mom & I are seriously campaigning to get Starfish’s boyfriend to cook for us, because Starfish tells us about some of the amazing dinners he has made for her. We drool. No joke.

Airport transfers
The airport is barely outside of town, and Bridezilla has a car (that she still owes me for and will start paying back in 4 months). Even if she didn’t, there’s a free town bus that services the airport.

My sister has most of the equipment and multiple outerwear items to borrow for crosscountry skiing, snowmobiling and target shooting. Plus, they’re my Christmas present from her! And she also got a free lesson with something she bought last year, never used the lesson (skiing), and is going to see if she can transfer it to me.

Total anticipated trip expenses for 6 days in Luxurious Winter Wonderland: $850


2 Responses

  1. This sounds wonderful! Hope you have magical family reunion. 😀

  2. Sounds like fun. I hate the cold, but other than that Aspen sounds amazing. Hope you have a great time.

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