Aspen’s Residence Hotel turns fifteen
September 13, 2010
ASPEN – To the casual passerby on Galena Street, there’s nothing really flashy about The Residence Hotel.
In fact, other than the small hotel sign outside, it’s hardly noticeable. Unlike most Aspen lodges, which are stand-alone buildings, The Residence Hotel’s exterior simply blends with the surrounding architecture – it’s part of the Aspen Block Building – on Galena Street and Hyman Avenue.
But on the second floor is a seven-suite, opulent luxury boutique hotel that hearkens back to the Victorian era, each unit laden with Persian carpets, antique furnishings, original art, trinkets and collectibles – mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries – and full kitchens.
Located at 309 S. Galena St., The Residence Hotel turns 15 years old this month under the ownership of Terry Butler. Butler, a former model who ran for Aspen mayor in 1991, said she’s planning open-house parties and other events to celebrate the anniversary of the 8,000-square-foot hotel, which she converted from apartments in 1995.
Butler said the hotel has undergone extensive renovations. She’s even hired a marketing director, Gail Carol Bershon out of Los Angeles, to get the word out a time when luxury travel is down.
“The current economy has an effect on everybody,” Bershon said recently while at the hotel. “But this place is very unique and for Terry, this is her passion.”
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The anniversary comes at a time when some of Aspen’s larger lodges have changed ownership or are about to. The Aspen Skiing Co. bought the Limelight Lodge in April for $37.9 million; the Hotel Jerome was absorbed by Chicago-based Jerome Ventures LLC last winter on the heels of a financial boondoggle with the Main Street inn; and Starwood Hotels and Resort reportedly will sell its St. Regis Hotel Aspen by the end of this month for $70 million to OptAsia Capital Co. of Bangkok.
Butler, meanwhile, continues to own and run The Residence Hotel; she once put it up for sale for $3.75 million on the Internet auction site eBay.
But for now, she’s staying put, along with her friendly pooch Max, who’s 13 years old, just a couple of years shy of the Residence’s age.
“Staying here is like staying in your own home,” Butler said.
The Residence’s roster of clients is nothing to sneeze at either. Princess Diana, during her visit to the Aspen area – she even closed down El Jebowl during her stay – was a guest at the Residence Hotel. Demi Moore, Gerald Ford, Rupert Murdoch and Vanna White, among others, also were among the pampered guests at one time. And yes, dogs are allowed as well.
During Aspen’s silver era it was a brothel that served the miners. The Aspen Block Building was built in 1886 by local visionaries H.P. Cowenhoven and D.R.C. Brown for $30,000, an amount at the time that was considered “alarming,” according to the Aspen Historical Society.