The St. Regis Aspen Resort is asking to amend its agreement with the city so that it can close during portions of the offseason to cut costs.
Citing low occupancy rates, lost wages for employees and maintenance needs, the 179-room hotel has requested two- to four-week closures during the spring and fall of 2014, according to a memo to the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission.
“It’s a really difficult time for most businesses in Aspen, I think,” General Manager Heather Steenge-Hart said, “because revenues are down, but you still have to pay certain fixed costs.”
Those fixed costs, including employee wages and utility bills, far exceed revenue in the offseason. The Little Nell Hotel and Residences and the Hotel Jerome also shut down seasonally.
In the memo, city staff states that it “can find no reason to deny the St. Regis the ability to do the same.” The Aspen City Council will consider the request at a future date.
The current planned-unit-development approval requires that the hotel remain open year-round. If the amendment is approved, the hotel portion of the property will close, while the spa will remain open to the public. The restaurant, pool and gym would remain available for use by fractional-ownership residents at the St. Regis, at the base of Aspen Mountain.
Steenge-Hart said offseasons also take a toll on employees. Many rely on gratuities, she said, so during slow periods, their wages diminish substantially. With the extra time off, she added, employees will have opportunities to relocate to sister hotels in southern climates that peak during Aspen’s offseason. They also will have time for vacations or employee training, she said.
In 2003, the year-round requirement was discussed at a Planning and Zoning meeting, in which one of the commissioners voiced concern for the loss of hotel rooms because of the conversion to time-share units. The memo states that after 10 years, that is no longer a concern.