While the idea of bringing a beach to the mountain may raise some eyebrows, there’s something about the dichotomous landscapes that complement each other—or at least it does at ASPENX Beach Club, the 12-week pop-up art installation atop Aspen Mountain, designed by fine-art photographer Gray Malin and produced by apparel and experience company ASPENX. Perhaps it’s the bright, striped beach deck perched atop a plateau at an elevation of 11,212 feet and allows visitors to stop and take in the sweeping views of the Rocky Mountains. Or maybe it’s the bevy of spritzes from Select that offers refreshing relaxation needed after hours on the slopes. It could also be the various DJs who create the buzzy energy that many have come to love about Aspen’s après-ski scene. Whatever it is, it clearly works as evidenced by the ever-populated club which is now in its second year.
Malin, renowned for his aerial photography, depictions of jet-set locales and stunning shots of Aspen, conceived of a Snow Beach while in town. He tells us, “I thought of the idea in October 2020 when I was in Aspen. I met with The Little Nell, who I had previously worked with, and pitched them the idea. They really loved the concept, but we needed to figure out how we could logistically execute it. To find inspiration, I went to Miami in 2021 and studied the classic beach clubs along South Beach’s coastline. I examined how they were put together and taken apart, asked questions about the ins and outs of the clubs and began to sketch out how Snow Beach could work. I started planning the layout, furnishings and details of how my art and vision would come to life. ”
That vision is glamorous, decadent and playful—fitting in with Aspen’s ski scene. The color-coordinated decks and cabanas, lifeguard chair and pillows depicting Malin’s own aerial beach photography is aptly picturesque, creating many photo opportunities. The beach is conveniently located right beside the top of the gondola so attendees can ski in and out. Before the lunch rush, the beach is quieter, offering a calm moment to soak in the landscape and bask under the potent sun at high elevation. Then, around 1PM, as the crowd rushes in and the DJ takes up the booth, the beach becomes a lively dance floor.
The experience brings a whimsical aspect to the town’s offerings which can become bogged down by more routine settings and long lines. Instead, Beach Club crafts an atmosphere of charm and spontaneity, courtesy of Malin’s keen design, which embraces contrast in season as well as colors.
“A while back I had traveled to Switzerland and flew over the Paradiso Ski Club in St Moritz. The red accents contrasted so perfectly against the white snow, and I knew that was the perfect color to bring to Aspen Mountain after reviewing my notes from the beach clubs of Miami,” he continues. “I jotted down extensive notes and brainstormed how to combine the look of these clubs with my aerial photography of beaches, skiing and vintage-styled series and loved seeing my dream come to life.”
During this year’s ski season, ASPENX tapped esteemed Venetian aperitivo brand Select to take over the installation with spritzes galore. The cocktail proved to be a fitting choice not only because of the summer coastal decor, but also because it makes for a thirst-quenching and light refreshment—perfect for those who just came down the slope. With Select Aperitivo (which was created in 1920 and is comprised of 30 botanicals) the spritz avoids being cloying or syrupy. Its brightness is instead balanced with a hint of bitterness.
Select also blends right in with Malin’s contrasting color-scheme, making it a natural collaboration. It’s these details that recall what informed the project in the first place: Aspen itself. “Aspen has always been such a special place to me and has inspired me in many ways. I love what a sight Aspen’s natural beauty is to witness and the energy the community brings to the town. Aspen in general creates the most fun après-ski memories that keep me coming back time and time again,” says Malin. Nestled between the scenic mountains and vibrant lounge chairs, it’s easy to perceive (and experience) the ski town through Malin’s eyes.
Hero image courtesy of ASPENX