Burwell leaves Silvertree Hotel | AspenTimes.com

Burwell leaves Silvertree Hotel

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Bill Burwell, a familiar name to nearly everyone in Snowmass Village, is no longer the president and general manager of the Silvertree Hotel, the Wildwood Hotel and Village Property Management.

“Bill has been there a long time,” said Rod Burwell, his older brother and business partner. “He has been looking at some development opportunities, and he thought it would be kind of nice to get away from it for a while. I just figured, so be it. We’ve been talking about this since summer.”

But Bill Burwell’s farewell from his position at the Silvertree was marred by what his brother called an “unfortunate” incident at the Mountain Dragon restaurant on Dec. 6.

According to an incident report filed with the Snowmass Village Police Department by James Dicks of Basalt, an intoxicated Burwell made threatening statements regarding Les Peterson, the Silvertree’s director of sales.

According to the complaint, Burwell, 58, approached Dicks at the Mountain Dragon about 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6. Burwell allegedly put his arm on Dicks and pulled him close.

He told Dicks that Les Peterson was going to “get” it, according to Art Smythe, Snowmass Village police chief. “The words were that Les had done something to him and that he was going to ‘get him.'”

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Burwell also allegedly disparaged Dicks and Peterson over their sexual orientation.

“That may have been the interpretation of some of the other people that heard the comments,” said Smythe, who would not make public a copy of the complaint.

Smythe said criminal charges would not be filed against Burwell and that Dicks just wanted to document the incident.

However, Smythe said he does want to talk to Burwell.

“We want to assess where he was coming from on this night and to get his assurances that people didn’t need to be concerned about their safety,” he said. “And to make sure we have a full account from all parties in the incident.”

Bill Burwell could not be reached for comment on Tuesday. He is expected to return to Snowmass Village this week before leaving Friday on a long-scheduled trip to Africa with his wife, Judy, and his son.

“It was very unfortunate,” said Rod Burwell of the alleged incident at the Mountain Dragon.

Sometime after Dec. 6, Burwell traveled to the Dominican Republic.

“He had been there earlier in the year with a friend of his,” said Lance Burwell, who is the vice president of operations at the Silvertree and Burwell’s stepson. “He had come back and discussed that he was going to look into some resort development down there.

“And at that time, we laid the groundwork for how the hotel would operate in his absence.”

Lance Burwell, along with three other senior employees, including John Quigley, the senior vice president at the Silvertree, will now be managing the daily operations of the 260-room Silvertree Hotel, the 150-room Wildwood Hotel, and Village Property Management, which has 200 units in its rental pool.

Rod Burwell is chairman of the parent company that owns the Snowmass properties, Silvertree Hotels of Snowmass, LLP. He does not plan to name a new general manager right away.

“We’ll see how our group process works out,” he said. “If I have to be CEO, I can act in that role and make key decisions, but it is up to them to run it day-to-day.”

Rod Burwell, 63, is an entrepreneur who manages a range of business concerns from Minneapolis, including the Madison Concourse, a 360-room hotel in Madison, Wis.

Bill Burwell bought Village Property Management in the early 1980s. In 1986, Rod purchased the Silvertree and Eldorado hotels.

“Rod had put the financing deal together to purchase both hotels and to renovate them, which included improvements to connect the hotels,” Lance Burwell said.

In the last decade, Bill Burwell has been a highly visible citizen in Snowmass Village. He was president of the Snowmass Homeowners Association, served on the Snowmass Village Resort Association board, and was a key sponsor of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass music festivals.

A big rodeo fan, Burwell also ran the town’s rodeo for several years. He also bought and then sold the Snowmass rodeo grounds.

Burwell is also known for his sometimes caustic comments at public meetings.

“He feels so strongly about Snowmass that his view of what is right for Snowmass is very important to him,” Rod Burwell said. “And he will stand up and argue for it as strong as he can. Living in a small town, the business aspects sort of blur into the personal aspects.”

And while Bill Burwell may be leaving the Silvertree, his stepson said he doesn’t think he is leaving Snowmass Village.

“The house is not for sale,” said Lance Burwell. “My mom is still going to be here.”

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com]