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By the early summer of 2020, former urbanites Sara and Nat Zilkha, along with their five children and pet dog, were ensconced in what would become, in Sara’s words, their “lifer house” in Aspen. They just didn’t know it yet. Looking at the date, you might now be anticipating a recounting of pandemic-inspired flight from the big, bad city. That’s not, in fact, what was going on.

Nat is the chairman of Gibson Brands (the well-known maker of celebrated guitars) as well as cofounder and executive chairman of Firebird Music, a music investment fund, while Sara is the cofounder of Salt + Snow, a lifestyle brand geared toward skiing and surfing aficionados—and the family had indeed until recently resided on New York’s Upper East Side. In August 2019, however, several months before a mysterious virus dubbed SARS-CoV-2 began capturing headlines, they decided that overseeing their sizable brood in hyperkinetic Manhattan had simply come to be too much. It was time to decamp for someplace less stressful.

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“We’d actually only been to Aspen a couple of times,” Sara recalls, but the town, with its singular blend of wilderness and culture, had made an instant impression. “So we said, ‘Let’s try it for a year and see what happens.’ ”

Within fewer than a handful of days after starting school in their new town, the children’s verdict was in: “All five said, ‘Absolutely not, we will never go back to a city.’ ” A home was duly purchased, with the intent of doing a gut renovation, and meanwhile the family settled into a different house, on a two-year lease, to sit out construction.

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