Carroll: Aspen vs. Vail: Who’s the Biggest Loser? | AspenTimes.com

Carroll: Aspen vs. Vail: Who’s the Biggest Loser?

Meredith C. Carroll

With Christmas around the corner, it's only a matter of time before Mariah Carey gives the paparazzi her finest rehearsed spontaneous poses as she teeters in stilettos while barely wearing something furry, skin-tight, thigh-high and low-cut on the icy sidewalk outside Joan Boyce Jewelry on Cooper Avenue. As they do every year, glossy tabloid magazines will then run the photos of the self-proclaimed elusive chanteuse to show what the rich and famous are doing (that 99 percent of the rest of us are not) during the holidays.

It has not been scientifically proven (or, more likely, even studied) that the presence of celebrities at a ski resort will increase the likelihood that the non-famous will flock there on holiday. On the other hand, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to conclude that places like Aspen and Vail probably aren't doing themselves many reservation favors when inundated with the infamous.

Time was that Aspen was synonymous with the A-list, attracting such Hollywood heavyweights as Michael Douglas, Jack Nicholson, Jerry Seinfeld and Will Smith. Of late, however, it's more like a parade of the biggest losers, including darling-turned-damned part-time local Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds (years after his career-ending Balco debacle), O.J. Simpson (post-murder acquittal, pre-kidnapping conviction), Alex Rodriguez (before his steroid scandal but after whispers that a portrait depicting him as a centaur hung over his bed) and Charlie Sheen (where to begin?). Ousted Enron CEO Kenneth Lay died suddenly at his Old Snowmass home (although not the one he once owned in Aspen on the aptly named Shady Lane).

Farther east (right off the interstate, natch), though, Vail isn't faring much better in the glitterati department. Inside Access, which offers "exceptional events" and "amazing experiences" for Chase credit-card holders, is providing guests this winter the chance to dine with Olympic gold medalist Lindsey Vonn along with three other professional skiers for $250, which comes out to just $62.50 per champion.

Perhaps an evening with Vonn would be worth more if she weren't still linked romantically to Tiger Woods, he of no-fewer-than-12-girlfriends-while-still-married-with-two-kids shame. Making matters worse, tickets to an upcoming Inside Access event in Texas with disgraced MLB pitcher Roger Clemens are going for $150. It probably won't make Vonn feel any better, either, upon hearing that even tickets for an Inside Access event earlier this year with Food Network chef Guy Fieri — whom the New York Times restaurant critic asked of his restaurant in Times Square, "When you hung that sign by the entrance that says, Welcome to Flavor Town!, were you just messing with our heads?" — were $100.

Surely Huey Lewis and the News playing at Belly Up Aspen on New Year's Eve will be better than Cee Lo Green from a couple of years ago, but next to the electronic DJ duo EC Twins as Vail's First Night headliner, and last year's Mix Master Mike, basically a turntablist as memorable as a Spinal Tap drummer, both Green and Huey Lewis never seemed hipper (and thus, by extension, squarer).

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The Aspen vs. Vail dud duel doesn't end there. Compare Beaver Creek's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" ex-housewife Camille Grammer to Aspen's "Real Housewives of New York City" repeat reality offender Bethenny Frankel. Or how about Vail's Mary Hart ("Entertainment Tonight") and Aspen's Vanna White ("Wheel of Fortune")? Sure, maybe Vail can boast of "Beverly Hills, 90210's" Ian Ziering (fresh off a stint at Chippendales and the "Sharknado" sequel), although Aspen has has-been David Arquette. No one wants to claim Paris Hilton as their own, but sometimes Aspen simply has no choice (namely when she steps off a plane at Sardy Field). Not to be outdone, the Vail Valley once had Kathy Lee Gifford (she of the what's-wrong-with-three-bottles-of-wine-before-9 a.m. fame) on its team, even if Team Vail Valley probably picked her last.

Of course, while they probably won't admit it, even the most seasoned of locals in both resorts usually delight in seeing, say, Joe Biden at Two Creeks or Hilary Duff in the neighboring lane at Bol. And many of those vacationing in both mountain towns probably assume they'll be surrounded by stars while dining at Matsuhisa or Campo, and those with their star radar on high alert will be delighted regardless of whether it's a tertiary cast member from "Full House" or a former secretary of state.

Yes, should "Hollywood Squares" ever decide to make a comeback and neither Lorenzo Lamas, Danny Bonaduce nor Charo is available for the center-square position, it would seem the best place to get talent of a similar quality these days would be halfway between Aspen and Vail in No Name.

More at http://www.meredithcarroll.com.