Aspen Skiing Co. to build Limelight Hotel in Sun Valley

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen Skiing Co. acquired a site in Ketchum, Idaho, that includes approvals for a 119-room hotel, depicted in this rendering. Skico will expand its Limelight Hotel brand to Sun Valley.
Aspen Skiing Co. image

Aspen Skiing Co. officials believe they will be able to open a Limelight Hotel in Idaho quicker than they can in their own backyard.

Plans for a hotel in the Limelight brand are advancing quickly in Sun Valley and stalled in Snowmass Village.

Skico announced Tuesday that it had closed on property in Ketchum, Idaho, near the River Run base area of Bald Mountain at the famed Sun Valley resort. Ketchum granted approvals for a hotel with 119 hotel rooms and suites plus 11 free-market residences. Skico will seek some minor modifications to the approved plan. Company officials want to reconfigure the main floor to create the flow and vibrant atmosphere that exists in the Aspen hotel, Skico said in a statement.

Skico bought the 126-room Limelight Hotel in Aspen in 2010 from the Paas and Woolery families. The main floor includes an expansive and open lounge that’s often a hub of activity for both hotel guests and local residents.

Skico intends to complete drawings and apply for a building permit for the Ketchum hotel by May 31, according to Skico Vice President Don Schuster. The dates are among the terms of a development agreement with the city of Ketchum. Construction is slated to begin in summer 2015 and the hotel is anticipated to be open for the 2016-17 ski season, Schuster said.

Meanwhile, work on a Limelight Hotel in Snowmass Village appears unlikely to start before summer 2016. Skico’s plan for a 102-room hotel at its flagship resort has been extensively reviewed in the past, but Skico pulled the application when Related Colorado ran into financial trouble and couldn’t advance with its broader plans at the Snowmass base. Town Council members said recently they would be willing to expedite the remaining review process for the hotel, but the broader proposal for Base Village must go back to the first stage of review. Skico officials said they didn’t want to proceed with construction of the Limelight until an overall plan for the base area is approved.

The review is expected to start in 2015 and likely go late into the year.

Meanwhile, Skico is looking for additional opportunities to expand its brands of the Limelight and The Little Nell Hotel, a five-star property at the base of Aspen Mountain. Skico President and Chief Executive Officer Mike Kaplan told The Aspen Times in a recent interview that Skico was “looking at a couple of mountain destination locations” as well as “the right urban locations.”

The company believes its brands would blend well in some other locations, Kaplan said. The hotels also would potentially help drive business to Aspen and Snowmass, he said.

The company was working on a plan in 2008 for a Little Nell Hotel at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

“Then the credit crisis hit, and we backed off that and focused close to home, then the Limelight (purchase) happened and we integrated that, so now we’re ready to look for some more,” Kaplan said in the earlier interview.

Schuster declined to identify the other markets that Skico is examining.

“We have considered several other locations, but at this time, we felt the Sun Valley area was the best fit for the brand,” Schuster said in an email. “We continue to look at other locales but do not have anything pending other than the potential Snowmass Village location.”

Skico bought the Ketchum property from Bald Mountain LLC, a Seattle-based company. Bald Mountain applied for a hotel in 2009 and received a development agreement in 2010, according to the Idaho Mountain Express newspaper, which covers Ketchum. Bald Mountain couldn’t build the hotel and received three extensions of their approvals. The final extension came in November, the newspaper reported.

The luxury hotel was going to be called the Bald Mountain Lodge. Skico will call it the Limelight Hotel, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.


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