Aspen Skiing Co. invests $10 million at Buttermilk

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen Skiing Co. is building a new kids' center called The Hideout at the base of Buttermilk. The building and associated work will cost $10 million, according to the company.
Aubree Dallas/The Aspen Times |

Aspen’s Skiing Co.’s $10 million kids’ center and associated improvements under construction at the base of Buttermilk head the list of big-ticket projects underway at Colorado ski resorts this summer.

The list of projects is short on new chairlifts but heavy on additions designed to improve guest services and the overall experience at the resorts, according to information compiled by Colorado Ski Country USA.

Skico is building a 7,500-square-foot children’s center called The Hideout at Buttermilk. The facility will be the headquarters for kids’ ski school, according to company spokesman Jeff Hanle. It will accommodate children ages 2 to 12. The old Powder Pandas building, which was torn down, focused on kids 2 to 6.

The Hideout, designed by CCY Architects, of Basalt, was patterned after the children’s center recently constructed at Snowmass Base Village.

Skico thinned additional trees at Deep Temerity at Aspen Highlands, adjacent to Lucky Find and Mystery Gully, two new trails created by glading last year.

“Picture the Treehouse but smaller,” Hanle said.

The Hideout will house the ski-school, rentals for kids and will include play areas and gathering places for the youngest skiers, ages 2 to 6.

“The building is designed for kids and made to feel like it was built over time by a child,” Skico project manager for construction Dana Dalla Betta said in a statement.

She called the design “a blend of contemporary and campy” that includes special nooks for kids to hide out. It also will have a lookout tower.

The structure is located in the sprawling Buttermilk parking lot, to the east of and perpendicular to the Bumps restaurant building. It is scheduled to open in December.

The kids’ center is part of the first phase of a project that will overhaul the base of Buttermilk. The center itself will cost roughly $5 million, according to Skico. There also will be a revamped parking lot, bus and shuttle drop-off and pedestrian plaza in front of Bumps. Massive utility work was necessary as part of the project, boosting the overall price to $10 million.

Phase II will feature a new skier-services building that will include a rental and retail space. Offices that are currently in an old green building at the base area will move into the basement of Bumps.

There is no timeline set for the second phase of work, according to Hanle.

Other projects Skico is undertaking this summer include the addition of a snow-tubing area at Snowmass and glading at Aspen Highlands.

An area with four lanes of tubing will be added at Elk Camp. It will be open seven days a week, from 1 to 3:30 p.m., and on Ullr Nights on the mountain.

Skico thinned additional trees at Deep Temerity at Aspen Highlands, adjacent to Lucky Find and Mystery Gully, two new trails created by glading last year. Hanle said he didn’t know yet if the freshly gladed areas will get their own names.

Skico also is completing the thinning of an egress route from 230 acres of tree skiing on Burnt Mountain to the Two Creeks portion of Snowmass.

Following are other big projects at other ski resorts, according to Colorado Ski County USA.

Winter Park is adding the 16,000-square-foot Lunch Rock Restaurant at 11,200 feet in elevation. The year-round restaurant will have 250 seats inside and 150 seats on a heated deck.

Wolf Creek will add the new, refurbished Elma Lift, a fixed-grip triple chair that will eliminate a long traverse to get back to the base of the mountain.

Telluride, Steamboat, Loveland Ski Area and Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort added to their snowmaking systems.

Crested Butte thinned 10 acres of trees for skiing in glades. Ski Granby Ranch added two new trails.

Silverton Mountain made one of the more unique capital improvements of the summer. It purchased a special helicopter cargo basket that will accommodate deep-snow landings. The old basket would get buried in deep snow upon landing. Guides had to shovel snow just to get access to their skis.

Two ski areas will celebrate milestones during the 2014-15 season. Winter Park will celebrate its 75th anniversary with a weeklong series of events starting Jan. 28. Wolf Creek is also celebrating 75 years in business.