| AspenTimes.com

Aspen Skiing Co.’s hotel group eyes Limelight at Mammoth ski area

Aspen Skiing Co.’s The Little Nell Hotel Group announced Friday it has purchased 7 acres of vacant land at the base of Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort for development of a Limelight-branded hotel and residences.

It’s the first big splash for the hotel group, which was created as its own division in January under the direction of managing director and chief operating officer Alinio Azevedo. He said at that time the hotel group was looking at opportunities in ski resorts and non-ski markets.

“After an extensive process to narrow down and define our target market list for a Limelight hotel, Mammoth was chosen, among select others,” Azevedo said by email Friday.

It hasn’t been determined yet how many hotel rooms or residences will be sought in the land-use approval process.

“It is a spacious parcel and presents a great opportunity for hotel and residential development,” Azevedo said.

There also will be associated commercial development. A Limelight Lounge will be a “signature amenity,” just as it is with the other Limelight hotels, he said.

The Mammoth hotel will be the fourth in the Limelight brand, following the original in Aspen and the later additions in Ketchum and Snowmass Village. The Limelight in Snowmass opened last season and was credited with helping bring zip and vitality to Base Village.

Mammoth makes sense for Skico for several reasons. The California ski area is huge at 3,500 acres but there are still development opportunities at the base. Mammoth along with its three related resorts attracts more than 2 million customers annually.

In addition, Mammoth is owned by Alterra Mountain Co., a sister organization of Aspen Skiing Co. The Crown family, which owns Skico, and KSL Capital Partners teamed to create what came to be known as Alterra in April 2017. Their first purchase was Intrawest Resort Holdings and its six ski areas. Two days later they completed the purchase of the privately held Mammoth Resorts for an undisclosed amount. The deal included four ski areas: Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

When asked what made the purchase of land at the base appealing for The Little Nell Hotel Group, Azevedo identified the proximity of the property to the base of Mammoth Mountain, the ability to develop the hotel from a “ground-up perspective” and a town that offers “a great sense of community and place, which is important to us in each of our Limelight hotels.”

“We really like Mammoth as a market and it has the right elements to make for a successful development, including a strong feeder market in Southern California and recent and forthcoming investments by Mammoth Mountain,” Azevedo said.

Alterra has a stronghold in California with Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows in addition to Mammoth Resorts. Top competitor Vail Resorts owns Northstar, Kirkwood and Heavenly.

Azevedo said the Limelight Mammoth will be similar to the other hotels in the brand.

“There is a common thread in being an upscale contemporary property set in the heart of its community,” he said. “With each property we build, we take what we’ve learned from the past ones so we can continue to deliver an outstanding product.”


Business Briefs: Occupancy up in Aspen, Snowmass

Lodges in Aspen and Snowmass Village had a combined occupancy rate of 71.2% in August, up nearly 3% over August 2018, according to research by Destimetrics, which tracks occupancy and bookings trends for mountain resorts.

Snowmass set an August record of 64.3% occupancy last month, which was 4% better than August 2018; Aspen’s occupancy stood at 74.5%, a slight increase over August 2018.

Social Security good to Pitkin retirees

Retirees in Pitkin County receive some of the highest annual Social Security payments in Colorado, according to a recent study.

Research by New York financial technology company SmartAsset shows Pitkin County rates second in the state and 10th in the country, with retirees averaging $22,789 a year in Social Security payments.

Custer County ($23,548) topped the list, while Gilpin County ($22,644) ranked No. 3.

Oxygen biz opens in Aspen, Snowmass

Breathe Easy Oxygen Services has started operations in Aspen and Snowmass.

The company was founded by Shelby Hawkins, who saw the need for supplemental oxygen when his 50-year-old sister, who is an elite runner, came to Aspen and struggled with altitude sickness.

“My goal is to help people thrive at 8,000 feet,” Hawkins said. “Recreating at altitude can be challenging, even for the fit and fast folks. Supplemental oxygen enables visitors and residents alike, to take another ski run or hike another couple miles — thus making the very most of their time in Aspen.”

Breathe Easy Oxygen Services offers sales and rentals of supplemental oxygen equipment in Aspen and Snowmass. More details at www.BreatheEasyOxygen.com.

Carbondale-based MountainFlow Wax helps skiers go green

MountainFlow Wax, based in Carbondale, is on a mission to help skiers and snowboarders “wax on, wax off” with the environment in mind.

“I think our story is that whatever you put on your skis ends up in the snowpack and then in your local rivers,” said Peter Arlein, founder and CEO of MountainFlow Wax. “I think most people don’t know that ski wax is made from petroleum, so our job is to get the word out there and offer a different option.”

Today, MountainFlow Wax is launching a Kickstarter campaign to offer a plant-based ski wax, which will be available in some local stores this winter and available for pre-order now.

Since 2016, Arlein has been working on a recipe for a reliable, sustainable ski wax.

“Just like you can have a soy candle versus a regular petroleum-based candle, you can do the same thing with ski wax,” he said. “It’s really finding the right waxes to use and then the right ratio of each type of wax to make it something that skis really well.”

For MountainFlow’s plant-based wax, Arlein uses about five to six different waxes to make the product.

“That’s kind of what sets us apart,” Arlein said of other companies trying to enter the plant-based ski wax market. “Other people have tried this in the past, but it just didn’t ski that well and I think it was mostly soy products, which is fairly inexpensive and easy to find, but it’s really bringing in those different waxes that make it super fast.”

Last year, Arlein did performance tests, including one comparing a set of skis with petroleum wax pitted against their plant-based wax, “and the performance was the same,” he said.

Arlein said two years ago he came up with a little over 200 different formulas to test before they dialed it into a wax that maintained performance. All formulas were tested by friends as well as shops across the region.

“It worked great,” said Chris Andersen, owner of Kind Bikes and Skis in Edwards, who tested the product last winter at Beaver Creek.

Last year, Kind Bikes and Skis carried the wax with positive feedback.

“We intend to carry it again this year,” Andersen said.

The wax is applied like other waxes and also comes in a rub-on form.

“Everyone was asking for an eco-friendly ski wax,” Arlein said about starting his research years ago. “I was super surprised to learn that there was no plant-based option in the U.S. or Canada.”

The topic of eco-friendly ski wax has primarily flown under the radar, but MountainFlow Wax is hoping to change that.

“Sensitivity to the environment is fortunately at the front of people’s minds,” Andersen said. “When you think about the different types of waxes and some of the chemicals found in waxes and how they go onto the snow and then percolate down to the ground and into our groundwater systems — it’s a real concern both for wild habitat and human water supplies.

“If it’s possible to make something that’s natural that won’t harm our groundwater and habitat for our animals,” he continued, “it just makes sense.”

For more information about MountainFlow Wax and to pre-order for winter, visit http://www.mountainflowecowax.com or visit the Kickstarter campaign.

Business Briefs: Buddy Program benefits from Turchin dental work, Carbondale bank participates in “Giving for Good”

FirstBank in Carbondale ‘Giving for Good’ in September

The recently opened FirstBank branch in Carbondale is partnering with the Carbondale Creamery and Café and Ascendigo Autism Services to donate $5 to Ascendigo for every latte or cupcake purchased this month.

The program is called “Giving for Good.”

Ascendigo, in its 15th year, helps those with Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through adventure in the outdoors, skills development and coaching and in-home behavioral therapy for those with ASD.

Dental work will benefit nonprofit

Dr. Andrew Turchin is donating 10% of proceeds from all cosmetic dental procedures this month to nonprofit The Buddy Program.

“Having the opportunity to handcraft masterpiece smiles while supporting one of the valley’s most influential nonprofits is truly a privilege,” Turchin said. “So if anyone was considering having any cosmetic dentistry done, this would be an ideal month to do so.”

More details at www.AspenSmileMonth.com

What’s the Big Deal: Red Mountain home scooped up for $11.26 million

“What’s the Big Deal?” runs Mondays and is based on the most expensive property transaction recorded in Pitkin County through 3 p.m. each Friday.

Price: $11.26 million

Date recorded: Sept. 3

Address: 863 Hunter Creek Road

Neighborhood: Red Mountain

Buyer: Sexton Investments LLC

Seller: Thunder 863 LLC

Property type: Single-family residential

Year built: 2002

Total heated area: 7,225 square feet

Lot size: 30,511 square feet

Property tax bill: $21,813

Business Monday: Fallout over home construction sparks litigation

An Aspen home under construction is the subject of litigation alleging its owner, a prominent New York resident, entrepreneur and media personality, stiffed the general contractor for nearly $650,000.

Aspen company Hendrickson Construction Inc. filed suit last week in Pitkin County District Court against CRMX-236, a limited liability company controlled by Christy Ferer.

Ferer, a television reporter and entrepreneur who started the branded content media company Vidicom, said Friday by email that Hendrickson Construction Inc. was fired with cause and referred questions to her attorney, who declined comment.

Hendrickson Construction’s complaint was filed Tuesday. It claims that Ferer, on Aug. 9, terminated the firm as the general contractor — without cause and effective immediately — on a residential project at 219 N. Monarch St. in Aspen’s West End neighborhood.

The split came after Hendrickson and Ferer had entered into a contract agreement in January 2018, according to the suit’s accusations.

The suit also alleges Ferer meddled with Hendrickson’s work before the termination and “started face-to-face disputes with subcontractors, causing significant delays and cost increases.” She also “occupied and used” the property while it was under construction, causing more construction setbacks and escalating costs, alleges the suit, while noting that Hendrickson complied with more than 70 change-orders Ferer made to the project.

Hendrickson also has a mechanic’s lien on the property, which also was filed Tuesday, against both CRMX-236 and Ferer, saying the construction firm is owed $538,841 for its labor and materials associated with the work. Local landscape architecture and construction management firm The Stevens Group also has a lien on the property for $14,369 since Aug. 8, according to pubic records.

Hendrickson’s lawsuit says the contractor was refused payment for its work, and now the bills are past due in the amount of $538,841, as well as past-due interest of $3,566 and another $57,419 in expected profits; the plaintiff also is seeking at least $50,000 in economic damages for the plaintiff.

All told, the suit says Ferer is on the hook for $649,827.

Ferer’s CRMX-236 bought the property for $8.4 million in August 2017, according to public records.

Hendrickson and the attorney who filed the suit, Aaron Berne of the Glenwood Springs firm Karp Neu Hanlon PC, did not reply to messages left with them Friday.


Business Monday briefs: Aspen Skiing Co., ACRA to hold Afternoon Blend on Wednesday

Snowmass Tourism hires online marketing coordinator

Snowmass Tourism recently appointed Allie Welsh to the Snowmass Tourism Marketing Department. Welsh joins the team as the new online marketing coordinator, beginning in September.

“Allie’s enthusiasm and drive make her a perfect fit for this role,” said Virginia McNellis, marketing director of Snowmass Tourism in a statement. “She knows and loves Snowmass and has a passion for mountain sports. We are looking forward to seeing her apply that energy to inspire others to visit Snowmass through our website, social media and digital marketing.”

Welsh, a Colorado native, spent four years as a professional halfpipe skier before moving to Carbondale in 2018. Over the course of her skiing career, she competed on the FIS Freestyle World Cup Circuit, at the Dew Tour, and was a U.S. nominated potential delegate for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang. After retiring from skiing, Welsh turned her attention to marketing and was most recently the marketing coordinator at Challenge Aspen, where she handled marketing strategy, social media, content creation and advertising.

ACRA, Skico annual event Wednesday

The Aspen Chamber Resort Association and Aspen Skiing Co. will co-host their annual Afternoon Blend from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Sundeck atop Aspen Mountain.

The Afternoon Blend is an afternoon of presentations from ACRA and Skico executives, community networking, food, drink and prizes, including a 2019-20 Aspen Snowmass Premier Pass

Reservations are being taken at www.aspen chamber.org/membership/member-events. Price is $45 for ACRA members and $60 for non-members and includes food and drinks.

Following is the schedule of events:

• 2:30 to 3 p.m. — Uploading on the Silver Queen Gondola

• 3 to 4 p.m. — Presentations and giveaways

• 4 to 5 p.m. — Social hour

For more information on ACRA, call 970-925-1940 or visit www.aspenchamber.org.

Business Monday: Annette’s Bakery, other retailers to leave Aspen building poised for redevelopment

A group of retail businesses in one of downtown Aspen’s pedestrian malls are either permanently shutting their doors or lining up a new spot with the pending redevelopment of the building they occupy at 420 E. Hyman Ave.

“Find us a place to rent,” Annette and Fino Docimo said more than a few times Friday as customers filed in and out of the quaint restaurant that’s built a loyal lunch crowd over its past eight years.

Known as Annette’s Mountain Bake Shop, it will close at the end of September, the two said. They’re looking for another location but said it’s a difficult assignment given Aspen’s rents don’t favor mom-and-pop stores.

Neighbor CB Paws, a pet shop, will be in its space through the end of November, said Steve Fante, who has owned the business for 24 years.

Fante, however, said his business operations won’t be interrupted because he is lining up another downtown location for CB Paws.

“We’ll have a place by December,” he said.

The same goes for artist Guadalupe Laiz, who said she will relocate her gallery to another spot after being there one year.

“It’s a short-term lease,” she said, “and I’ve been aware of it and the response here has been wonderful.”

Less clear is the future of Aspen Hair Co. Located on the building’s second floor, the salon was closed Friday and its owners weren’t available for comment.

The Hyman Avenue building changed ownership in April 2017 when California-based Downtown 420 LLC bought it for $8.25 million. Downtown 420 is controlled by The Ezralow Cos of Calabasas, California, who has been letting tenants know their days are numbered because of the redevelopment, the business operators said.

Another tenant, Zocalito Latin Bistro, closed in September 2018 after its ownership decided to relocate because of the building’s limited future.

The building comes with city approvals for a third-floor penthouse dating to 2013; the city outlawed downtown penthouse developments in 2012, but not until after the then-owners of the 420 E. Hyman building submitted their land-use application. The scrape-and-replace project also calls for retail space and affordable housing.

Chris Severson, a regular customer at Annette’s, called its current location a “unique spot in Aspen unlike any other,” noting its food and baked goods have kept him coming back “maybe because of my Italian upbringing.”

Severson said he eats there “five days a week if I can,” adding that Fino on occasion would slip in some bacon on his prosciutto sandwich — a nice, personal touch not common at other restaurants, he said.

More evidence of Annette’s homey atmosphere, Severson noted, can be found on a wall of the eatery, where a young resident’s school writing assignment describes the bakery. It reads, in part, “I bite into the freshly made sandwich Annette places in front of me. It’s like a mother’s cooking, but better. A piece of eggplant spills onto my math homework. Ella Fitzgerald quietly hums in the background. This is my happy place. This is home.”

Annette and Fino Docimo work at Annette’s the six days it’s open a week — they take a slight break on Sunday when it’s closed — making soups, sandwiches, daily specials and baked goods ranging from cookies and pastries to donuts and bread.

“It’s the only bakery we’ve owned together,” Fino said, noting their experience running a restaurant in Snowmass Village as well as operating the Popcorn Wagon some 16 years ago, when it was consistently open for business.


Business Monday: Marty Stouffer, National Geographic still at odds in ‘Wild America’ case

Marty Stouffer’s trademark lawsuit against National Geographic has passed muster with a federal judge who ruled last week that four of six claims by the Aspen-area resident and wildlife filmmaker can proceed.

U.S. District Judge William Martinez’s 45-page ruling, which came Aug. 20, dismissed Stouffer’s claims of unfair competition and copyright infringement against National Geographic. The order, however, cleared the way for Stouffer’s federal claims of trademark infringement and trademark dilution, as well as his claims of unfair competition under Colorado common law and violation of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act.

“The court believes that the appropriate question to ask is: Did the junior user (National Geographic) have a genuine artistic motive for using the senior user’s (Stouffer’s) mark?” asked U.S. District Judge William Martinez in his order.

With that question to be put to the test, Martinez wrote, “In light of these rulings, Stouffer will be given an opportunity to amend his complaint and National Geographic will be given another opportunity to move to dismiss.”

Stouffer, whose Marty Stouffer Productions is based in Aspen, is suing National Geographic on contentions that it ripped off his ideas and its divisions stole his “Wild America” brand for their own video productions.

The suit was filed in December; National Geographic filed a motion to dismiss the claims in February, saying its work is protected by the First Amendment.

Among Stouffer’s allegations is that National Geographic’s “America the Wild,” a television series that debuted in 2013, “bears a striking resemblance to ‘Wild America,’ replicating the most minute details of ‘Wild America’ in its production.”

Marty and his brother Mark starred in the original “Wild America,” which showed the tandem journeying across North America’s wildlands on a mission to capture rare nature videos. The lawsuit says it was one of PBS’ most popular series, running from 1982 to 1996, and Marty Stouffer Productions invested more than $24.5 million to advertise, promote and brand the series.

In court filings, National Geographic, which is owned by the Walt Disney Co., argued Stouffer had no right to generic traits “common among television shows of this type: a male star, interacting with animals, having facial hair, or of wearing a backpack and jacket while standing on snow.”

The judge ruled that Stouffer’s unfair competition and copyright and infringement claims don’t hold up because, in part, “Stouffer may believe these elements define the nature documentary genre because ‘Wild America’ made them standard. Even if true, they remain unprotectable ‘idea(s)’ or ‘procedure(s),’ … and Stouffer has not plausibly alleged that National Geographic’s selection and arrangement amounts to copyright infringement.”

Stouffer’s suit said he had been working with National Geographic earlier this decade about some type of licensing agreement or possible purchase of the “Wild America” film library, but the deals didn’t materialize.


Business Monday Briefs: Aspen lodge rooms expensive but busy in July; electric vehicle event Wednesday

Aspen high on room rates, occupancy

Aspen’s lodging rates were nearly double the next closest Colorado ski town in July, while its occupancy rate was tops among the resort towns that month, according to a report released last week.

Daily room rates in Aspen averaged $624 in July. That was highest in the state while Telluride was next at $326, according to the most recent Rocky Mountain Lodging Report, which is commissioned by the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Commission. Vail lodges had the third highest daily rate — $234 — in July. Aspen’s average rates also were the state’s most expensive that month.

The lofty prices didn’t appear to drive away visitors: Aspen’s 83.4% occupancy rate was the highest among ski resorts in July, but lower than the state average of 85.4%, according to the report.

Through July of this year, Aspen lodges have charged an average daily room rate of $539, which is also the most expensive in the state. Its 70.5% occupancy rate from January through July also put it ahead of all of the state resorts surveyed, but still below the state average of 70.7% for the same time period, according to the report.

Free electric vehicle event Wednesday in Carbondale

The Experience Electric event — the third in a series of four around the region — will be held at the Carbondale’s Third Street Center, 520 S. Third St., from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Presented by local clean-energy groups, the Experience Electric series enables participants to learn about EVs on the market, find out about discounts and tax credits, understand how EV charging works, talk to EV owners and test-drive cars. Free refreshments will be provided.

The series coincides with Garfield Clean Energy’s annual electric-vehicle group-buy event, in which several Glenwood Springs auto dealers are offering extra discounts on select EV models through Oct. 31.

To RSVP and learn more, go to GarfieldCleanEnergy.org/ev2019.