I’m the type of person who reads US magazine every week (along with the New Yorker). So I couldn’t resist the Aspen’s Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous tour, offered by Five Star Adventures.
Costing $89 for two hours, the tour picked us up at Hotel Jerome in a blue minivan. The group included my former boss, Ronny Stoddart of USA TODAY, and my childhood friend Kathryn Newsome-Herr, an avid traveler. It’s a tough audience; we warned our guide Terry that we’d be asking a lot of questions.
At first I wasn’t sure if the tour was going to go well. Terry seemed nervous, and seemed unwilling to let me out of the van to take pictures at first. But she warmed up as she realized that we really did want to learn about her adopted hometown and extended the tour for more than 30 minutes so we could see everything.
My overall impression is that your money doesn’t go too far in Aspen! The average home price is around $6 million, and even the nicest homes seemed smaller than mansions in comparable luxury destinations. I was also surprised that many of Aspen’s most famous residents had ungated homes that sat extremely close to the road.
Of course, prices are at a premium because the view is out of this world!
From the slopes of Red Mountain – where homes start at $13 million – you have a direct sightline of Aspen Mountain, with the town spread out below. No wonder most of the hillside houses have floor to ceiling windows.
One of the town’s most drool-worthy properties belongs to actor Kevin Costner. Situated slightly out of town, in a valley along the Roaring Forks River, Costner’s 165 acre ranch has his mansion, a guesthouse, a lake, stables and a breathtaking view It also has the baseball diamond used as a stand in for Iowa’s Field of Dreams.
We doubted we’d be invited in, so we took this photo instead.
One of the most notable mansions on Red Mountain is the distinctively pink home built by Donald Trump, who developed the town’s St. Regis hotel.
Can you believe this is a one-bedroom?
Unfortunately for star gazers, the biggest homes in Aspen are owned mostly by moguls. There’s even an area called “Technology Row,” where the chief executives/founders of Sun Microsystems (Bill Joy), Dell Computers (Michael Dell) and Yahoo (Jerry Yang) all live.
Of course, if you’re going to spend this much on a home, your accessories have to be out of this world. This mailbox with copper bears on it – just down the street from the Aspen Club, where a membership runs $65,000 a year (and doesn’t include classes) – cost $30,000! Terry said the home was owned by Turnberry Associates real estate developer Jeffrey Soffer.
The cutest part of Aspen is the West End, which is filled with charming Victorians. Jack Nicholson’s home is here, as well as a place once owned by George Hamilton. where allegedly multiple tanning beds were found after its sale.
Here’s the thing that Kathryn noted about Aspen: The rich here are so insanely rich that your run of the mill well-off families – let’s say those working stiffs making $500,000 or s0 – find themselves at the back of the line. For example, we experienced delays getting cabs from the Aspen Valley ER because they were all busy ferrying the super rich to their private planes. Even if you book the 2,000 square foot Pfeifer Suite at Little Nell, which costs up to $52,000 a week during the high season, you still might have trouble getting reservations at Matsuhisa. Personally, I’d rather stick with Captiva.
If you had all of the money in the world, where would you live?