Movie Diary

Living the high life

By Dom Cioffi

My family and I are currently on a ski trip in Aspen, Colorado. It’s funny, just writing those words sounds entitled. Saying you’re on a ski trip to Killington is one thing, but a ski trip to Aspen is a whole different animal.

The fact is, I could never afford a vacation in this town. I mean, I suppose I could scrounge up the money and make it happen, but I would never feel good about it.

We’re here because my wife was invited to a special event sponsored by a bank that she does business with. As such, a big part of the tab is taken care of. They pay for our room and provide discounts on rentals and ski tickets, plus the daily events are always catered. My son and I make out wonderfully, but my wife must attend several meetings that take up chunks of her day.

Aspen is beautiful – there’s no doubt about that. It’s tucked into a vast stretch of the Rocky Mountains so you definitely feel cut off from the rest of the world and deep into nature.

You can drive here from various locations, but it’s a hike. The easiest way to get to Aspen is to fly into the tiny local airport, but it doesn’t always work out. If the winds kick up (which they often do), flights get rerouted to Grand Junction where you are eventually bused into town, adding hours to your travel time.

But once here, it’s a slice of paradise, especially if you’re staying at one of the swanky establishments at the base of the mountain. I can exit my hotel room door and within 30 seconds be at the ski concierge where my snowboard boots and board will be waiting for me. Once suited up, I can then walk another 30 seconds to a heated gondola, which will whisk me up to the top of the mountain where I will have 365 degree panoramic views of the state of Colorado (think “Top of the world, Ma!”).

When hunger pangs start to hit, you can either ski off to a spot located mid-way down the hill, or go to the bottom where a live band or DJ music will get your après ski momentum grooving.

This is where the people-watching really starts to take shape. Aspen is a destination for the upper class and many in that sphere like to dress in ways that make them stand out in a crowd. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood aghast at an outfit, wondering if the person wearing it actually knows how to ski.

The town of Aspen is an eclectic mix of art galleries, night spots, cool restaurants, and apparel stores – all massively overpriced. We ordered three cheeseburgers the other night with one side of fries and drinks and, with tip, it cost well over $100. I don’t mind splurging on vacation and fully expect vacation pricing, but no cheeseburger is worth $30.

Of course, some things are worth paying top dollar for and the terrain is one of them. The mountains that make up the better part of the Aspen skiing experience are epic in their quality. This year in particular has seen record snow falls. We were lucky enough to get a nice dumping when we arrived, giving us a beautiful powder day to start things off.

My wife especially enjoys the turn-down service at the hotel. She loves having someone come in and pick up everything, refresh the linens, start the fireplace, and leave fresh flowers. Personally, I could get used to the designer chocolates being left on my pillow every night.

We did get into an argument about a private ski lesson for our son. I was all about a lesson, but I was pushing for the group experience. She insisted that, in order to get anything out of it, he had to get the full attention of an instructor. I don’t doubt that approach, but the cost difference was astronomical. I finally acquiesced, but my reservations persisted.

I can now report after two days of lessons, our son is transformed. Not only is he skiing with some impressive form, but his confidence is soaring. The first run I took with him after his lesson he darted into the trees only to emerge a moment later by hitting a jump where he caught impressive air.

I was proud, but admittedly a bit concerned. I don’t even want to consider what a hospital visit would cost in this town.

This week’s film, “Cold Pursuit,” is also set in a frigid  location with an abundance of snow. However, the adventure that takes place in this movie is far removed from the posh and luxurious environment I found in Aspen.

Liam Neeson stars as an all-American husband and father living a small town life. However, his picturesque existence comes unraveled when his son dies of a heroin overdose. Convinced that there’s more to the story, Neeson goes on a quest to find out what’s behind his child’s untimely demise.

This is a classic Liam Neeson murder mystery, full of painfully tense moments and equally intoxicated vengeances.  Check this one out if you simply can’t watch enough movieswhere Liam Neeson is a calculating vigilante.

A chilling “B-” for “Cold Pursuit.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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