A peek at the future W Hotel Aspen

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
A rendering of the W Aspen's rooftop patio bar, which will boast a pool, Jacuzzi, fire pits, cabanas, dance floor.
courtesy RJ Gallagher Jr. |

Just when we thought Aspen had it all, the Sky Hotel — otherwise known as the future W Hotel — is taking things to the next level.


The new development will feature a rooftop patio bar with a pool and Jacuzzi, fire pits, cabanas, a dance floor and a view of Aspen Mountain.

It also will house an underground speakeasy club, complete with a built-in DJ booth that will suspend from the wall — best described as a “suspended silver nugget,” said W Hotel Aspen developer John Sarpa.

Operation W Aspen will commence in April, when the Sky Hotel closes its doors and demolishes the current structure.

The redeveloped hotel, which is scheduled to open for the 2017-18 winter season, will be the W Hotel brand’s first alpine destination resort in the U.S.

W Hotels opened its only other mountain resort hotel in the world in Verbier, Switzerland, in December 2013.

The W Aspen will serve as “the next step in the hotel’s evolution,” said David Jackson, president of Northridge Capital LLC, the real estate asset-management firm that owns the Sky Hotel.

Jackson said the reason for the redevelopment is simply because its current building, which is nearly 60 years old, is “physically obsolete” and in need of an update.

But people don’t seem terribly bothered by the current Sky, which is typically packed for apres ski and attracts crowds of young and old, locals and visitors alike.

“If people manage to have fun in this place, imagine the fun they’ll have at the new place,” Jackson said.

In the search for a new tenant, the Sky group visited and interviewed 10 boutique hotel operators and selected W Hotels because of its “similar values” to the Sky brand.

“There’s a lot of similar DNA in the Sky Hotel and the DNA of the W brand,” said W Hotels Worldwide Global Brand Leader Anthony Ingham.

“Irreverent, light-hearted, fun, quirky and surprising” are a few of the adjectives Ingham used to describe the W brand.

W Hotels seeks to connect to its local community and create a space for and engagement between people that’s “fun, youthful, energetic and lively,” Ingham said.

However, the W Aspen will be “completely different to any other W in the states,” Ingham said. “As it should be, because it’s in Aspen and in the mountains.”

The W Aspen will have a “contemporary mountain chalet” design and house 88 guest rooms, including six suites and 11 fractional residences.

The residences will be located on the third or fourth floors of W Aspen with views overlooking Aspen Mountain and the town.

It will also include a 1,100-square-foot gym, a full service ski shop with equipment rentals and storage capabilities and thousands of square feet of public-amenity space.

“It all fits very well with the rest of community,” Jackson said. “The building’s not too tall or massive.”

Forte International managing partner R.J. Gallagher Jr. said the selection of the W brand to replace the Sky has received tremendous feedback from members of the community, including members of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, lodging experts, journalists, bartenders and other hoteliers.

Gallagher said the project also received “incredible enthusiasm” from the city government.

Northridge Capital LLC submitted its project application to the city in June 2014 and received approval eight months later in February 2015.

Aspen has topped the W’s wish list for quite some time, as it is “one of the most stunning and vibrant year-round resort towns in the world,” Ingham said.

The W Hotel brand, which started in 1998 and has 46 hotels and retreats internationally, is “thrilled to bring its lifestyle to Aspen while reinventing the traditional notion of an alpine escape,” Ingham said.

By 2020, W Hotels expects to reach 75 hotels around the world.


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