Aspen totally stoked
Aspen Times Staff Writer
X Games fans hoping to secure cheap accommodations in Aspen on Saturday night better call dibs on somebody’s sofa.
Or, cross their fingers and try Glenwood Springs.
The return of ESPN’s winter spectacle, coupled with this week’s announcement that the games are a lock at Buttermilk through 2007, has produced smiles up and down the valley.
Even business owners who don’t cater to the X Games crowd, which includes plenty of 20-somethings more interested in beer and pretzels than Cristal and caviar, agree the games are a good thing.
And those who find the X Games demographic a perfect fit are, well, totally psyched, dude.
Cooper Street Pier is hosting an X Games employee party in its upstairs bar/pool room tonight and bracing for a big weekend at the watering hole.
“We expect to be busier for the next five days than we would be over the holidays,” said owner Charles Wolf.
“We are stoked,” declared Harley Stumbaugh, a manager at Boogie’s Diner. “We do a lotta, lotta business when they’re here, but more than that, it’s good for Aspen. It keeps the winter festivities rolling.”
The St. Moritz, one of Aspen’s more affordable lodges, had no difficulty filling its 36 rooms, including 11 dorm-style rooms that offer 33 beds.
“I don’t have any trouble filling a seven-night minimum for the X Games,” said Roger Haneman at the lodge. “The thing with the X Games is, it’s one of the few times of the year when people are calling months out and days out.”
Of course, anyone calling days out is probably out of luck.
“We’re just answering the phone, ‘Hello, sold-out St. Moritz’ and they’re still inquiring,” Haneman said.
Reservations for Friday and Saturday night at the 16-room Tyrolean Lodge were gobbled up months ago, according to David Trombetta, assistant manager.
“We’re getting a lot of calls now, but we don’t have anything available,” he said.
“Everybody wants Friday and Saturday. Some people are really surprised that we don’t have anything left,” said Jenny Stinchfield, a desk clerk at the Limelight, where ESPN has taken a chunk of the available rooms for its crew.
“The hardest part is everyone wants Saturday, and Saturday is booked,” said Ted Miernicki, whose family owns the Days Inn in Carbondale.
Next year, the hotel may institute a two-night minimum stay during the X Games weekend, he said.
The 35 rooms at the Best Western Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt are full Friday and Saturday night, reported desk clerk Magdalena Glowacka.
“The profile of our guest this weekend is young,” she said. “We can definitely tell it’s for the X Games.”
It’s the same story at the Best Value Inn and Suites in Glenwood Springs, which is booked solid Saturday night.
“I’m getting a lot of calls. I had to close off my Internet bookings,” said co-owner Linda Stoltzfus, who worried the motel would wind up overbooked by people all trying to make online reservations simultaneously.
Stoltzfus, a member of the Glenwood Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said she was delighted to learn ESPN has committed to three additional years in Aspen.
“That’s wonderful. I was so excited to hear that,” she said. “It does help us [Glenwood]. The X Games are great for us.”
The games don’t produce big business at the upscale Pitkin County Dry Goods in Aspen, but clothing store owner David Fleisher doesn’t mind.
“It has not made a bit of difference to my store since it’s been here, but I love it,” he said. “It’s good for Aspen. Everybody’s excited about it.”
Fleisher applauded the city’s decision to put up $100,000 a year toward the Aspen Skiing Co.’s costs in helping host the event.
It’s a good investment, both in terms of the spending by guests in town for the weekend, and in the exposure the resort enjoys from the games, he reasoned.
The $400,000 from the city’s general fund over the next four years is essentially an investment in Aspen’s economic development, according to City Manager Steve Barwick. What government can do to spur the resort’s fortunes has been a regular topic before the City Council of late.
Securing the Winter X Games at Buttermilk through 2007 is “huge,” Barwick said. “It’s very important.”
“I think we need to make more such investments to tell you the truth,” added Cooper Street’s Wolf, praising the city expenditure. “We need to prime the pump a bit more … this is definitely a step in the right direction.”
The upscale Aspen Square Hotel will provide accommodations for a contingent of ESPN staffers and some of the athletes, along with general guests, but general manager Warren Klug takes a broader view of the games’ impacts.
“It’s telling the marketplace this is a great place. You don’t have to be a celebrity and wealthy to come here,” he said. “To me, that’s the greatest advantage of the whole thing.
“But no question, in the short term, we are full this weekend.”
[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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