Aspen fishing trips with pt? | AspenTimes.com

Aspen fishing trips with pt?

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – In an effort to boost summer business as well as carve a new niche in the local tourism market, Aspen’s Little Nell Hotel & Residences is offering luxury adventure trips that go several steps beyond the typical concierge service.The emphasis is on fly-fishing excursions, and the hotel’s ski shop at the base of Aspen Mountain has been transformed into an “adventure shop” and outlet of sorts for Hardy, a British manufacturer of high-end fishing tackle and related apparel. The Little Nell even employs a director of fly fishing and has on its staff a team of eight guides to assist customers during trips.As for prices, the sky is the limit, depending on what the customer wants. Half-day trips to local lakes or rivers can run for as little as a few hundred dollars. Or, in the ballpark of $5,000 or more, the hotel can arrange a helicopter trip to a private mountain lake complete with a deluxe meal prepared by the staff of its five-star restaurant, Montagna, and fine wine from the hotel’s $1.8 million inventory of more than 20,000 bottles.These are not your grandfather’s fishing jaunts to a municipal pier. We’re talking fly rods worth thousands of dollars; express trips to private lakes stocked with nice-sized cutthroat and other species of trout; lunches featuring grilled salmon or beef and liver pt on crostini; and a bottle of wine that can carry a value several times higher than all of the tackle and food brought on the trip.”Some people want to be associated with the best of the best,” said David Doerr, The Little Nell director of fly fishing. “We are the outfitters. We have a staff of guides. We have exclusive rights to private ranches where nobody else can fish. We can serve picnic lunches or five-course meals. We can do it all.”Doerr explained that the summer adventure services began last year as a fledgling program. This year, the hotel has expanded it and is going all out. While there is a focus on fly fishing, other excursions also are offered, including rafting, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, hiking, yoga (atop Aspen Mountain), biking (the hotel has a fleet of expensive Orbea bicycles, each outfitted with GPS), horseback riding and pack trips, golf, geocaching, hot-air ballooning and more – even skeet shooting.Not all of the services are handled by in-house staff. The hotel is partnering with other outfitters in the area for certain types of activities, such as paddle boarding, spreading business around the community, Doerr said.The trips are not exclusively offered to hotel guests. Doerr said people from across the valley have been taking advantage of the offerings. The fly-fishing trips have caught on quickly so far this spring, with 28 people booking excursions in the third week of May. The trips can accommodate as few as one or two people to as many as 16, he said.”Aspen has always been synonymous with winter sports,” said Sally Spaulding, public relations manager for the hospitality division of the Aspen Skiing Co., which owns and operates The Little Nell. “We have to work a little harder to get people involved in our summertime activities. We’re trying to create a passion in our guests for the outdoors.”Spaulding said to help promote the services, the hotel’s adventure shop will be hosting “Adventure Fridays,” an informational happy hour with libations, every Friday this summer starting at 4 p.m. The first one will take place June 17. Those who attend can share stories with others about their adventure trips and learn more about the hotel’s various excursions.Bill Tomcich, president of reservations firm Stay Aspen Snowmass, said value-added packaging is a tourism industry trend. For example, his company can book traditional golf and whitewater rafting trips along with hotel stays and air travel, at a discount, as a way of luring visitors to the Aspen area.But, he added, The Little Nell appears to be a local pioneer with its new initiative by providing a one-stop shop and handling some of the excursions using in-house staff, going several steps beyond a typical concierge service.”I would say The Little Nell is breaking new ground locally in terms of the exact niche they’re going after,” Tomcich said. “In this case, they are being quite innovative in trying to create action packages that may attract people to the resort as opposed to being more of an add-on once people decide to come here. They are actually bundling it and creating packages and a reason for people to come here. And that is where the novelty lies.”He said it will be interesting to see if the resort property is successful in bringing more people to the area through its adventure services. “I certainly applaud them for the effort and I can see nothing but good coming out of this potentially,” he said.Doerr seems excited just to be taking people fishing. He said the hotel has purchased a custom, handcrafted wooden driftboat from Montana Boatbuilders for river fishing trips. It holds two customers, plus the guide.For now, because of high runoff on the streams and rivers, he’s making use of four mountain lakes. He’s hesitant to say exactly where these prime fishing spots are located.”Three out of four of them are on private ranches. Some are close, and some are far. One is north of Dotsero. It’s on a ranch with six lakes and connecting streams. We have others that are closer, such as one accessed by Glenwood Canyon.”Most of the fishing The Little Nell offers is catch-and-release, adhering to state laws that govern trophy fishing. In some cases, if law or the landowner allows, customers can keep one or two of the fish they’ve caught or send them back to The Little Nell, where the staff at Montagna will prepare it for a meal.”Yesterday, my clients went to a series of beaver ponds that we have permission to fish, and caught 50 fish, some up to 3 pounds,” Doerr said. “The beauty of all of this is, we’re taking people to places where they can catch fish.”asalvail@aspentimes.com

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