Big names long for the Limelite |

Big names long for the Limelite

Abigail Eagye

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN The owners of the Limelite Lodge aren’t the only ones who were hoping the redeveloped Aspen hotel would be finished by now.The lodge has a history of catering to big groups, and organizers for a number of special venues say they’ve missed the rooms while the lodge has been out of commission.The delays have been somewhat of a financial burden to the owners, but Dale Paas said he and his family are suffering a greater emotional toll as they must turn away familiar groups that have booked rooms at the lodge for years.”We are crying that we can’t have the X Games kids next week,” he said.X GamesIn years past, production staff for the X Games have holed up at the Limelite.Katie Moses Swope, X Games spokeswoman, said ESPN might book as many as 800 room nights for staging crews during the games – that doesn’t include VIPs, TV staff or the athletes themselves – and the Limelite has been part of the regular lineup.Despite the lodge’s hiatus, though, Swope said the Limelite’s owners have continued to offer help during this year’s games. Lodge owners gave ESPN a year and a half notice they’d be closing their doors temporarily, and they’ve helped ESPN crews set up Après X at Wagner Park.”They’ve been great this year in offering us help elsewhere,” Swope said. “We love working with them, and it does provide more rooms, but because we’ve had so much notice, we’ve been able to compensate.”Comedy FestivalMark Neth, travel supervisor with HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival, usually books 45-48 rooms for support staff between the former Limelite and Snowflake lodges for a total of 300-320 room nights during Comedy Fest. But those rooms won’t be available this year, as the hotel is currently just a couple of holes in the ground.”I’m bummed that they’re renovating right now,” he said. “Since that closed, I’ve had to pick up these rooms at other hotels.”Those hotels include the Molly Gibson and Aspen Mountain lodges. The new accommodations are still a stone’s throw from the festival’s staging grounds at the St. Regis Hotel, but not as close as the Limelite, and Neth expects to hear some gripes from staffers who don’t want to walk the extra few blocks.The Limelite’s location was really only part of the draw, though. Neth likes working with the lodge’s employees. “The whole staff there is awesome – really nice,” he said. “They always take care of me, and if I’m short, they always work something out.”Neth invariably runs into snags at the last minute. All of Aspen’s lodges get the job done, but “it’s definitely easier with a family-run operation,” he said.Despite saving money by bunking staffers in condos in addition to hotels, Neth will “without a doubt” book back into the Limelite when it reopens.Food and Wine ClassicFor Basalt resident Devin Padgett, a special projects producer with Food and Wine Magazine, the Limelite’s location is everything. For last year’s Food and Wine Classic, organizers “had to scramble to get more condos and lodging out at Snowmass” for staff, he said, and the extra distance was a headache.”It creates another spoke in the wheel for us,” he said.His company usually books 30-40 rooms at the Limelite over the duration of Aspen’s Food and Wine Classic.”That’s just the production,” he said. “There are a lot of Classic attendees who enjoy going to the Limelite as repeat customers.”The event’s Grand Tasting made a permanent home at Wagner Park in 1990, and organizers have been working with the Limelite ever since.”They bend over backwards to assist us,” he said.Padgett said many of the people who come to Aspen for the Food and Wine Classic could probably afford to stay anywhere they want, but that doesn’t account for what he calls “The Mayberry Factor.”People become accustomed to hospitality and the relationships they form at a place like the Limelite.”It’s not always about price,” he said. And that’s as true for the organizers as it is for the guests.”The greatest thing about Dale and his family is they’ve become like Food and Wine family,” he said.The Limelite’s owners will break ground on a new underground parking garage next week.Neth hopes the new lodge will be ready in time for next year’s Comedy Festival, in March 2008, but Paas said he’s making no predictions at this point.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is


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