SNOWMASS VILLAGE - Snowmass Villagers dying to go inside the new Westin and renovated Wildwood on the Mall won't have to wait much longer.
While neither hotel is taking reservations quite yet, both are having a soft opening Nov. 15. According to general manager John Curnow, the Westin is "full blast" starting that day, opening for dining and overnight accommodations, and the Bar at Wildwood restaurant will open in the other property.
The two hotels have undergone a $55 million renovation project over the past seven months. Formerly the Silvertree Hotel and Wildwood Lodge, the properties were bought along with the Silvertree Conference Center by a joint venture between Starwood Capital Group and Wasserman Real Estate in July 2011.
Curnow, who has lived in the Roaring Fork Valley off and on for 14 years and was formerly general manager of the Sky Hotel in Aspen, said the hotels have seen $100 million worth of changes from purchase price to renovation. Those changes involve a higher standard of amenities, services and programming, in addition to the obvious changes in the look and feel of the properties, he said.
About 100 former Silvertree and Wildwood employees have returned to work at the new hotels.
"Returning Silvertree associates have been in awe of the changes," Curnow said.
One big change is the move of the hotel's main restaurant, called the Snowmass Kitchen, to the mall level from the slopeside location that Brothers' Grille occupied. Now the restaurant will still be accessible to skiers but will also have proximity to shops on the Mall. Dining and shopping options in the Westin complex will include the Ranger Station, a collaboration between the hotel ownership and New Belgium Brewing Co., Starbucks, North Face, Patagonia, Snowmass Sports, 81615,; and Local Color.
"We've got this great mix of local businesses and great, internationally recognized brands," Curnow said.
This summer the Westin got approval from the town Planning Commission to build a seasonal ice rink and mini-golf course on the Mall, in the area where the clock tower stood. The owners have decided against that because of the expense and how small it would have to be, Curnow said. Instead, the Aspen Art Museum has collaborated with the hotel to run a rotating sculpture garden in that location, which Curnow said he feels still accomplishes the goal of giving visitors something else to experience on the mall. A stage is also being constructed outside the Ranger Station for live music and other programs.
"The whole goal is to keep people here," Curnow said.
The look is the biggest thing that's changed at the Wildwood. Curnow said since the owners didn't rename it, redesigning it became the way to give it a new character.
Carlton DeWoody, of New York-based design firm Reunion, which took on the Wildwood project, said his team drew inspiration from ski lodges through the decades, from the '60s through the '90s. The result is an eclectic mix of different retro styles that never strays too far from the mountain feel.
In the lobby, DeWoody said he and his peers had the added task of keeping the space light enough for summertime guests to enjoy and cozy enough for the winter.
"We didn't want to forget that stuff is going on year-round," DeWoody said.
The floors and much of the interior is white oak, but there is also a fireplace and tables with storage space for board games. And, there is a skin rug painted on the floor and a faux trophy head wrapped in alpine sweater material, which as DeWoody put it are more "P.C." versions of classic ski lodge staples.
The Wildwood houses an arcade room, and its redesigned pool area will be opened to the community this summer.
Although they will have a specific role at each hotel, staff members are being trained to work at both. Some amenities at the two hotels are specific to their respective guests, while others they will share. Guests of one will be able to sign their room number at restaurants in the other.
"We have two very different experiences all right here," Curnow said. "But I think they'll complement each other."