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Retracing Aspen's Vibrant Emphasis on Wellness

David Stillman Meyer | September 18, 2019 | Lifestyle

Ah, 2004. a simple time, when no smoking, moderate exercise and a low-fat diet meant you were destined for a long and healthy life. We were so innocent!—so blissfully unaware of gluten and parabens and the misery of ketosis. Culture moves fast these days, so here’s a timeline of how America, and Aspen, made being well an art form.


2004: Morgan Spurlock documents a 30-day diet of McDonald’s in his film Super Size Me. Spoiler alert: He gets fat and grumpy. While hyperbolic in the extreme, the world never looks at fast food quite the same way again.

2006: The New York Times describes The Standard hotel in Miami as “as much a spa as a hotel.” Replete with hammam, mud baths and a hydrotherapy playground, suddenly a spa (not just a room for massages) becomes a de rigueur hotel amenity. “Wellness retreat” and #detoxretox enter the zeitgeist.

2008: Gwyneth Paltrow sends out the first Goop newsletter to approximately 10,000 subscribers with recipes for turkey ragu and banana-nut muffins.

2010: Jayne Gottlieb of Aspen Shakti takes over the yoga program at the Sundeck.


2011: Portlandia premieres on IFC with the skit “Colin the Chicken,” in which a hipster couple (played by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen) interrogate their waiter about the origins of the free-range chicken. After reviewing the chicken’s dossier, Brownstein explains, “It tears at the core of my being the thought of someone just cashing in on a trend like organic.” They decide the only way to be sure is to visit the farm where “Colin” was raised. “Hold our seats. We’ll be right back.”

2013: Aspen’s first 100 percent organic eatery, Spring Café, opens on the corner of Spring and Hopkins.


2013: Jerry Seinfeld goes on a press blitz on behalf of the David Lynch Foundation. “Comes out” as a 40-year devotee of transcendental meditation. TM goes mainstream.

2013: Santa Claus turns out to be gluten intolerant on an episode of Family Guy. “Hey, hey, what’s in these cookies?” Santa asks as he wakes up a sleeping boy. “I’m OK if it’s like coconut flour, but anything with actual grains I can’t do.”

“I’m not sure,” the little
boy responds.

“Well, who IS sure!?”

2013: Jüs opens in the Ute City Building. It remains Aspen’s only dedicated cold-pressed juice retailer. Yummy sandwiches too.

2014: “We’re on a cleanse” replaces “couldn’t get a sitter” as most popular excuse for parents to get out of social obligations.

2015: Organic Avenue, facing overexpansion and a juiced-up competition, closes all its New York stores.

2016: Opened in 1985, Aspen’s beloved McDonald’s closes.

2018: The Remède Spa at the St. Regis adds the hemp oil-infused Healing CBD Massage to its menu. Carl’s starts carrying Colorado-made CBD oils and lotions.

2018: O2, one of Aspen’s oldest yoga studios and spas, expands to three levels in the old McDonald’s building.


2018: Grass-fed Kerrygold Irish butter becomes the second-best-selling branded butter in America.

2018: A Goop pop-up opens in Aspen for the summer replete with jade eggs and Elvie Trainers to strengthen Aspen’s pelvic floors.

2020: SkiCo replaces “powder day pancakes” with free turmeric lattes made with your choice of nut milk.


Photography by: Palm photo by Drew Graham on Unsplash; Sundeck yoga photo by Jordan Curet courtesy of Aspen Snowmass; Spring Cafe photo by Jessie Chaney courtesy of Spring Cafe; O2 spa photo by Igor Prokhorko-Gevonshyr;