Sailing at 9,000 Feet

St. Regis Aspen Resort offers new yacht club, driving experience

Photography: C2 Photography

Photography: C2 Photography

Think Aspen in the summer and you likely envision hiking, biking, arts festivals and great wining and dining. But for those hoping to branch out a little on their next visit to the picturesque mountain town, how’s a scenic drive in a new luxury car, plus a sailing—yes, sailing—lesson and gourmet picnic sound?

For the first time, the St. Regis Aspen Resort has teamed with the Aspen Sailing School to offer a package that’s as unique as it is memorable. According to Justin Todd, director of sales and marketing at the luxury hotel, guests will be handed keys to the resort’s new 2015 Lexus NX, a sporty crossover vehicle with a turbo-charged engine, to make the scenic mountain drive along the Frying Pan River to Ruedi Reservoir’s Aspen Yacht Club. There, they’ll get sailing lesson aboard a 12-foot Sunfish sailboat or a 24-foot cruising yacht, depending on skill and comfort level.

Courtney Sheeley, whose father, Don Sheeley, is the head instructor of the Aspen Sailing School (instructors there have sailed in the America’s Cup), says sailing high in the mountains at Reudi, about an hour from Aspen, is an amazing experience. “We’re in the middle of nowhere,” she says. “You would never think you would be able to sail there, and it’s something totally unique to the valley.”

The mix of mountains and sailing is an experience most people never get to enjoy, Todd says. “You have 14,000-foot peaks around you while you’re out sailing and you get to drive up these beautiful back roads to get to the reservoir,” he says. “It gives a different perspective, especially for people who have never been here before or have maybe never thought about it.”

Sheeley says winds at Ruedi come from all directions, and learning to handle those gusts helps make you a good sailor.
“In the ocean, the winds can be pretty predictable,” she says. “At Ruedi they can change at any second, so it keeps you on your toes.”

All levels of experience are welcome, according to Sheeley. Beginners will be taught the basics, while those who know their way around a boat can even have the opportunity to join in on races. “Anyone can do it,” she says.

Of course all that sailing is sure to spark an appetite, so St. Regis Chef David Viviano will pack the car with a special gourmet picnic (think lobster BLT, heirloom tomato and watermelon salad, apple coleslaw and s’mores cookies).
Sheeley says the biggest appeal to mountain sailing is being nowhere near the ocean. “You have the mountains surrounding you and then you’re in a sailboat,” she says. “It’s just a really cool experience.”

Need-to-Know Info
The St. Regis Sailing Experience is available with a two night minimum stay, with pricing starting at $2,000. Call 970.429.9550 for more information, as this experience may not be booked online.

UP NEXT: A Different State of Mind