‘Dogs of Aspen’ Creator Will Bring Snow Beach to Aspen Mountain

Have you ever been on top of a mountain and thought, “This would make a good beach?”

If not, then you are not Smart Gray – a Los Angeles-based fine art photographer who made several trips to Aspen Mountain before pitching this idea to ASPENX.

“What if we created an activation here that was a beach club,” he recalls. “People could come here in the afternoon and lay down in a cabana or on a chair and enjoy some après-ski time.”

An artistic rendering of Snow Beach.

It’s a return to one’s roots — and a departure from his ongoing project of photographing dogs in luxurious settings, including the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Malin’s most recent shoot, titled “Aspen dogs‘, recreated an earlier photo shoot featuring local models in retro ski gear.

“I was just like, ‘Wow, there’s such a dog culture here,’ and I’m talking about gorgeous dogs, beautiful dogs,” he said. “So I immediately thought, what if we could do a project with dogs in Aspen and kind of revisit some of the places I shot in 2019, but instead of using people, what if we used dogs.”

But Malin is best known for his aerial photography – some of his most popular series feature aerial views of beaches and ski slopes.

That’s what he’ll try to recreate in February, on the snow next to the ASPENX Mountain Club, which is inside the Sundeck restaurant building atop Aspen Mountain. Beach chairs, cabanas and watchtowers will be set up before Malin takes off in a helicopter to film the scene.

“I really want people to step into a photograph of Gray Malin and create their own memories,” he said.

The Lounge Chairs, Aspen Dogs.jpg

Gray Malin’s furry subjects bask atop Aspen Mountain, with part of the Elk Mountains in the background.

The project is a collaboration with Aspen Skiing Co.’s new brand – ASPENX, the brainchild of Paula Crown, a member of the company’s owning family.

The brand offers top-of-the-range ski equipment, mountain fashion — and “experiences.”

These experiences — like most things in Aspen — won’t come cheap. Snow Beach Rates range from $300 to $4,800.

“(Aspen) is not a cheap place to visit,” May Selby said. She does PR for ASPENX, Little Nell Hotel and Limelight Hotels.

“We understand that it’s an expensive investment to come here on vacation,” she said. “But if it’s available to you, we’ll make it worth its weight in gold.”

SkiCo’s business model, Selby said, rests on a few pillars: skiing, of course, as well as hospitality. ASPENX is a new mainstay, taking SkiCo further into the world of retail fashion, premium amenities and luxury experiences.

Collaborations – like Snow Beach with Gray Malin – are fundamental.

“ASPENX is meant to be a multiplier,” Selby said. “We’re just ‘Aspen’ ‘X’ and then the next mark behind.”

For example: “ASPENX Pradaoffers a range of luxury ski gear, with jackets ranging from around $2,000 to $5,000.

James Parker is the Managing Director of ASPENX.

“My favorite product in the store is probably the insulated jacket,” he said. “It’s part of our uniform collection. It’s waterproof, it’s super warm and it’s really comfortable. I wear it regularly.”

As he explains, ASPENX also offers high-tech products, including a ski boot sole insert that tracks pressure points as you shred, “And then it links to an app via Bluetooth and gives you ways to improve your skiing.”

Snow Beach will launch the first of ASPENX’s experiences. The experience starts on February 18 and runs every weekend until the end of March.

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