Aspen’s Limelight Lodge still in transition
ASPEN – The Aspen Skiing Co. plans to enter the Limelight on April 12, the day after the official end of the ski season.
“We’ll take possession that day,” said Paul Cherrett, senior vice present of Skico’s hospitality division.
The pending sale of the Limelight Lodge from the Paas and Woolery families to the Skico was supposed to occur in March, but the two entities decided to wait until the end of the season to ensure a smoother transition for employees.
How many current employees will remain on staff remains to be seen but all who qualify under Skico’s personnel policies will likely be hired on.
“It’s sensitive because we don’t own it yet … certainty is when I get the keys,” Cherett said, adding the Skico’s intention is to keep as many staffers as possible and the continuity of the operation intact.
Dale Paas, co-owner of the 126-room hotel, said he plans to stay on but is uncertain in what capacity.
“We don’t know what it’s going to look like yet,” he said, adding he’s confident Skico will do its best to protect the operation and its staff.
“We’re really, really, really pleased we were able to work something out with the ski company,” Paas said. “They have shown enormous integrity.”
Paas told The Aspen Times in late December that the hotel was having financial difficulty and he was looking to infuse more capital into the operation. At the time, Paas said the last resort would be to sell the property and he was hoping to find a partner to invest capital or secure more financing.
On Jan. 6, it was announced the Skico would buy the hotel and keep the rates moderately priced.
That’s still the plan, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.
Paas has said in the past that debt on the property had been mounting, and the cost of doing business had been rising. That was coupled with the recession and the fact that not all of the 14 condos at the adjacent Monarch on the Park have sold. The proceeds from the sales of the condos were expected to pay for the debt on the 100,000-square-foot hotel.
Paas said Thursday that many people in the community have approached him suggesting that he and his business partners are walking away with a windfall.
Not true, he said.
“They are sure we are raking it in and that we had planned that from the get-go,” Paas said, adding if that was the case, he and his partners would have tried to sell the property as soon as they got development rights and land entitlements several years ago.
Paas said while he can’t reveal the selling price of the hotel, it has been negotiated between the two parties.
“I just hope it covers our debts,” he said.
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The Wheeler Opera House will remain dark into 2021, with current COVID-19 public health orders in place. Meanwhile, the masonry work on the exterior of the building will continue into July.