For the Ultimate in Nouvelle Lang Syne, the Truly Hip Schuss Aspen

updated 01/16/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

Christmas in the Caribbean may be fine for your average working stiff, but the holidays find the privileged class heading for chillier climes—like the powdered slopes of Aspen. "It's the hands-down glitz and party capital of the world during the holiday season," pronounced longtime resident Terry Butler, the woman whose $1 million-plus ranch house Don Johnson bought last year. "Not only are all the beautiful people here, but they come from all walks of life." At the airport, the private Learjets (round trip from New York City: up to $13,000) were stacked as deep as the Vuitton luggage. Ankle-length mink, fox and lynx coats were de rigueur, and one boutique offered a ski parka for only $12,000—18-karat-gold zipper and snaps included.

Some celebs heralded the holidays quietly. George Hamilton was at his house, ex-wife Alana Stewart rented one, and the relatively sedate Snow-mass Club played host to Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. For entertainment, one bistro was charging $225 a head for New Year's Eve fixin's of Imperial Mandarin beluga caviar, Maine lobster with black truffle mayonnaise and free-range veal. But the truly trendy were at private parties, like the season opener for 250 thrown at the Hotel Jerome by Johnson and three friends to announce his engagement to ex-wife Melanie Griffith. Not only were Cher, Julianne Phillips, Ed Bradley, Jane Fonda, Hunter Thompson, Barbara Walters and the Michael Douglases there, but, in the words of caterer Anthony DiLucia, "You haven't lived till you've seen Sally Field and Goldie Hawn boogeying together while Jimmy Buffett sings 'Margaritaville.' "

Cher spent New Year's Eve with Gloria Steinem and a dateless John Kennedy Jr. at a bash thrown by Janie Buffett, ex-wife of Jimmy. Sheena Easton, Catherine Bach and Annie Denver (John's ex) were among the heavy hitters at the soiree tossed on Dec. 30 by producer and department store heir Ted Field. Everyone hushed when Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal showed up—except for novelist Jerzy Kosinski, who asked who they were. "I've been off writing a book," he said. Confided Farrah: "This is only my third time on skis, so I fall down a lot." Revealed Sheena Easton: "In four days I've gone from learning to stand up to intermediate, but I fall down a lot."

Meanwhile, at the $26 million home of Les Wexner, who owns four major women's clothing chains, the old guard was rubbing shoulders with Wal-Mart's Sam Walton, America's richest man, and assorted CEOs, while bemoaning the once-quaint town's decline. "Let's hope we don't become another Rodeo Drive," harrumphed one society type. Replied her friend: "Aren't we already?"

—Susan Schindehette, and Eleanor Hoover in Aspen

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