‘Alternative’ hotel hopes to attract younger set | AspenTimes.com

‘Alternative’ hotel hopes to attract younger set

Naomi HavlenAspen Times Staff Writer

The lobby of the new Sky Hotel features big, comfortable couches, games and a wuiet relaxing atmosphere. Paul Conrad photo.

Move over, Hotel Jerome. Hang on to your guests, St. Regis, and watch your back, Little Nell.There’s a new hotel in town gearing up to grab the attention of a young, hip crowd that can appreciate a funky couch or two, a pet-friendly environment and techno hold music on the phone system.Although the Sky Hotel has been operating quietly out of the former Aspen Club Lodge space at 709 E. Durant Ave. since November, the inn is rapidly expanding its unique decor into the lounge and onto the pool deck in time for the Food & Wine Classic this weekend.Turning a traditional mountain-lodge space into a completely new type of space has taken time and the efforts of two California-based designers, but the result is what Sky Hotel General Manager Peggy Trott refers to as “the alternative.”Setting foot in the hotel is an eye-opening experience. Alice in Wonderlandlike chairs in the lobby have eight-foot-high seat backs, and a multicolored “topographical sofa” is in the lounge.The chandelier is wrapped with Mardi Gras beads, and a game table beneath it features mismatched chairs with checkers, tic-tac-toe and Battleship.The hotel was purchased last March by Northridge Capital, an investment fund based in Washington. It’s being run by the Kimpton Group of San Francisco, which is known for operating high-end boutique hotels like the Hotel Monaco chain, including one location in Denver.The Sky Hotel is a breed of its own, Trott said, although the hotel shares some of the Kimpton Group’s trademarks, like a pet-friendly policy and a welcoming environment for kids.”I think they really want to promote being a good neighbor, and getting involved in the community rather than just being some San Francisco company that opens a hotel in Aspen,” said Jill Landman Alfond, who is handling public relations for the Kimpton Group. “The Sky Hotel is off the beaten path and very eclectic inside, so it’s a good place for locals to go for drinks.”Alfond said the hotel may host theme nights, or drink tastings for locals. In terms of local competition, Trott said she doesn’t feel like the Hotel Jerome, the St. Regis or The Little Nell are direct competition.”I feel like we’re the alternative,” she said. “Our target market is 25- to 55-year-olds. It’s a broad range, but we deal with people who just want to have fun.”Dayna Lee from Los Angeles was the designer for 39 Degrees, the hotel’s bar and lounge, named for Aspen’s position at 39 degrees North Latitude.”I’d call this extremely comfortable,” Lee said of the lounge area. “It’s relaxing and warm. It’s stylish without lacking in luxury and beautiful lush wools, tweeds and leathers.”The bar itself glows with a translucent scene from an Aspen grove near Ashcroft, and rough-sawed lumber on the walls are both mountain lodgesque and “more appealing than painted dry wall,” Lee said.All 90 rooms of the Sky Hotel were revamped in the fall and designed by Mike Moore, a San Francisco-based designer. Rooms include details like door cards that read “Spruce me up” on one side and “Let me chill” on the other.Although the Aspen Club Lodge used a dining room space upstairs to feature Variations restaurant, Trott said the Sky Hotel won’t try to compete with Aspen’s current award-winning restaurants. 39 Degrees will provide some breakfast and lunch service, but also a sampler menu in the evening.”We want to give the community something they’ll really like, but also something they don’t know they’ve been missing,” Trott said. “This is a fun hotel. I think there is a positive energy in all of our properties.”