Platts: Aspenworld — Come Join Us in Paradise for the Holidays
The day always begins the same.
The sun rises in the east, cresting over the highest peaks on Independence Pass to welcome in the morning. It’s wintertime. The guests are here and they’re looking to spend exorbitant amounts of money. As the hosts, we are eager to oblige. After all, that’s how we’re programmed. That’s what we’re here for.
The guests, also known as the newcomers, want a certain illusion, an exact fantasy. And, when they come here, that is what they get, because they’re willing to shell out the cash for it.
They pay the toll and are granted access to Aspenworld. To enter, they have a range of transportation choices, from private jet to personalized vehicle. Some even come in on those airport shuttles. Those are so popular right now. There’s only one way in and one way out, making sure we (the hosts) stay put, and the guests arrive in a regimented manner. Once the well-heeled visitors get here, they’re decked out in the appropriate garments, which include extravagant furs, overpriced jewels, the latest ski gear and enough upscale drugs to intoxicate a herd of elephants. We outfit them for the ideal “mountain town lux” experience; where the haves come to revel in their riches.
Each of the narratives offered in Aspenworld have been created with the customer in mind. It’s a “choose your own adventure” type experience, and we are the escorts. We give them the winter wonderland they’ve been waiting for, filled with well-known celebrities, overpriced meals, lavish retail shops and world-class skiing they can enjoy all day. They choose what they want to do and, no matter the cost, we acquiesce. They don’t have consequences. This is all a game for them, and we are here to help them win, even if we don’t always see it that way. Even if, sometimes, it means we lose.
We provide an illusion of elegance for the newcomers. There are the stories meant for the adventurous types. Those range from ski lessons on the mountain to backcountry trips, for those who really want to test their mettle. If a guest isn’t into the on-mountain terrain, there are plenty of outings in town for them to enjoy, from exercise classes (new for this holiday season only is SoulCycle) to shopping binges. The hosts also provide a variety of spa experiences for guests to enjoy, if they are looking to relax.
Why must we do this? It is what we are designed for. We don’t question our world. We don’t mind our routines, or “loops,” as our creator refers to them. After all, most lives have some kind of monotony to them. Ours aren’t really that different. We wake up, run our errands, fit in time for skiing, maybe some yoga, as well. We get our work done, and we enjoy time with friends in the evening. We dull our memories with a drink or five at the local pub. Perhaps we even puff a small bowl of marijuana in between our sheets before bed to help us reset. We wake up the next morning, ready to do it all over again. This is the reality we know. The newcomers fit into our daily loops, and we help show them what “Aspen Living” is all about.
What about the guests? Well, they just love us. They can’t get enough of the crotchety old ski bums who spend every possible moment on the slopes, or the young bartenders who continue to claim they will only be here for one more season. They’re in awe of the super athletes who ski uphill and do other kinds of strenuous activities. They love that they can walk from restaurant to bar to club all within one block. They can get just about any amenity they want. Sushi in a landlocked town at 8,000 feet? No problem. Spraying $500 bottles of Champagne at the ceiling in an on-mountain restaurant? As you wish. Aspenworld is their playground, and we are props to magnify the experience.
Some guests get lost in this world. They forget about their real lives, and immerse themselves fully in the day-to-day activities of this mountain town. It’s hard to blame them. After all, this is paradise. As the hosts, this town isn’t meant for us, but we still get to reap its benefits, as long as we keep the guests happy, of course.
Finding out this truth scares some hosts. It makes them feel like they’re trapped. They can’t handle the fact that they exist for someone else’s delight. They choose to see the ugliness of this world, the disarray. But you can choose to see the beauty. You can choose to believe there is an order to our days, a purpose. It’s your choice.
And always remember, these indulgent delights can and do have extravagant ends.
If this column makes little to no sense to you, Barbara Platts recommends that you watch the HBO original series Westworld. And just to make it clear, this is a joke. Barbara does not actually think all of the locals are robots. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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While the rest of the festival’s performance program was announced in the spring, the opening concert by the Festival Orchestra had remained blank.