Cheering On the Chukkers in Aspen: 2016 Snow Polo World Championships
Snow. Horses. Celebrities. Competition. If there’s a better way to spend the weekend than combining these four things while enjoying the magnificent mountain town of Aspen, we haven’t found it. Get ready for one of Aspen’s brightest Christmas highlights, the 2016 Snow Polo World Cup Championship, Dec. 16-18, smack in the middle of ski heaven. Hosted by Aspen Valley Polo Club’s Melissa and Marc Ganzi, and St. Regis Connoisseur Nacho Figueras, it is the snow globe version of world cup polo.
Devised more than 2,600 years ago by nomadic tribes in Central Asia, the game of polo once served to bond warrior with rider. While traditional polo matches don’t normally include the fluffy white stuff, you can bet that the ancient Mongolians didn’t stop their training due to a few inches, or even feet, of accumulation. Like those dedicated, gregarious Mongols, four modern teams will be suiting up in Aspen for the fourth consecutive hosting of this most prestigious winter match. Similarly, celebs and passionate fans will be jockeying for position within the VIP tents in anticipation of this truly unique, breathtakingly fast sporting event.
The Game’s the Same …
… well, sort of. There’s the ball, which is larger, lighter, and brighter than regulation polo, dressed up in a cheery, seasonal red, making it easy to see. And there’s the fence, more like arena polo, to keep the ball in play. And the teams are made up of three players each, boasting some of the most accomplished, high profile players on the World Polo Tour. See who’s playing for Flexjet, the US Polo Association, St. Regis, and Audi on the Aspen Valley Polo Club website.
Still played in periods called chukkers, there will be four, with seven minutes of play in each. The polo ponies will be surefooted due to the cleated iron protecting their toes, replacing the regulation smooth shoes. The lavish parties, the passionate fans, and the luxurious surroundings with lots of satellite social events will all be in place, just as they are for a regular match. Hats, however, might be cozy and furry as opposed to fancy and floral.
Thursday, Dec. 15, there will be a presentation of teams and tournament draw held at the St. Regis Hotel. Saturday, Dec. 17, press day at the playing field starts at noon. Sunday, Dec. 18, from noon to 4 pm, subsidiary and final games take place, with fan and player tête-à-tête between games and after presentation of the antler-adorned trophy.
For Over the Top VIP …
… and then some, this is the place. If there’s any destination that knows how to gild the luxury lily, it would be Aspen. Look for chic, heated tents with fire pits, cushy seating, and a scrumptious selection of mountain fare from the St. Regis kitchens, along with complimentary cocktails and perfect views. Tickets are available through the championship website, $500 for a 2-day pass, $350 for a single day.
Getting there can be half the fun if you fly by private jet into Pitkin County’s Sardi Field. The view of the mountains and the tiny squares of the downtown valley are superb from the air. The airport is moments from town, making it an easy transition from plane to posh.
If you prefer, a luxurious private rail car from Rail Ventures, Inc., can tag onto an Amtrak route, delivering guests from east or west on established lines. Fitted with five-star amenities of your choice, the cars feature excellent food and beverage service, concierge, and deluxe sleeping accommodations, all harking back to the golden age of railway travel.
Once in town, consider getting around in a romantic horse-drawn sleigh from Aspen Carriage and Sleigh, with powerful steeds, jingling bells, cozy blankets, and hot chocolate to bliss the ride.
The Stay’s the Thing …
… and Aspen has some of the most indulgent accommodations of any resort so the choices are many, but the St. Regis is a closely engaged sponsor of the event and presents some of the most beautiful options including the dreamy
, butler service, and divine location close to everything.
The St. Regis Snow Polo Experience, available exclusively through the hotel, includes luxurious accommodations, 2 VIP tickets earning admission to the World Snow Polo Championship Marquee for the St. Regis brunch, Bloody Mary cocktails, afternoon tea, and St. Regis polo inspired amenity. Tasty dining credits also accompany the package, taking $50 off of breakfast at Trecento Quindici Decano, and $100 off dinner at Chef’s Club.
While You’re There …
… do not miss the opportunity to sip something fun at the Hotel Jerome J-Bar, soak up some sumptuous craft cocktails at Hooch, or mingle like a local at the Woody Creek Tavern. The Wheeler Opera House puts on some grand performances, so checking the schedule is imperative if you have some time to spare.
Arriving a day or two early? Make fresh tracks down Ajax with a day pass and some killer demo skis on Walsh’s or Hyrups, or ski the powder between the trees on Last Dollar in The Dumps. Don’t forget to stop and admire the view from the top, as it is worthy of at least one selfie.
Then there’s shopping, world class, with a capital W. If it’s ultra-luxurious winter wear, head to Gorsuch at the Little Nell. It’s all you need to know to dress appropriately for any Aspen event. Kemo Sabe is the place for western wear, artisan apparel, and accessories. If it’s swagger you seek, this is your spot. For luxury women’s wear, head to made in Manhattan Valentina Kova. Fantasizing about fur? Head to Aspen Fur & Shearling. And the list goes on, with everything tucked right into the downtown area, including galleries, jewelry, shoes, and even an upscale drug store.
Whatever the weather, this is one event that is always glamorous and exciting, with afternoon snowflakes adding to the charm of it all. If you’d like to brush up on your polo rules and etiquette, St. Regis even has that ready for you on a special web page, but fair warning, this will not be like your grandfather’s polo match. Go prepared, but be ready for anything, and don’t worry about the divot stomp. It’s not happening, because … snow!