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Fiji wins Wheeler water fight

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Wheeler Opera House will stick with Fiji water, though it is the most expensive of all the brands that put in a bid to supply the opera house with bottled water.

The contract with Fiji will cost the Wheeler $14.40 per case of 24 bottles.

Aspen Pure, founded earlier this year by a group of local investors, offered to supply its water to the Wheeler for $12.50 per case. Coca-Cola submitted a bid to supply Evian for $9 per case or Dasani for $6.10 per case.



The Wheeler uses 200 to 250 cases per year, selling bottles to patrons from the bar in its second-floor lobby. It was seeking either 16-ounce or 500-milliliter bottles from prospective suppliers.

Jerry Bovino, chairman of the board for Aspen Pure, contested the Wheeler’s selection of Fiji. The city manager let the Wheeler’s decision stand last week after reviewing his complaint.




Price was not the only consideration in making the selection, according to Rebecca Hodgson, the city’s procurement officer.

Fiji is most often requested by performers at the Wheeler, she said. In addition, Fiji comes in a square bottle that won’t roll if it’s dropped on the pitched floor of the auditorium by an audience member. And, the Fiji bottle and label doesn’t make a disruptive crinkling sound when it’s handled.

Currently, Wheeler patrons are allowed to bring beverages from the bar into the auditorium during movie showings, but not during live performances.

That policy, however, may change, according to City Manager Steve Barwick.

“A lot of people request to bring water in during performances,” he said. “We may experiment with that at some point.”

Both Fiji and Aspen Pure offered to provide free water for charitable events at the Wheeler. Fiji will donate 60 cases during the year. Coca-Cola’s bid did not address any donation of water, Hodgson said.

Bovino appeared before the City Council last week to make a case for Aspen Pure.

The Wheeler ought to be selling water with the Aspen name on it, he argued. In addition, he said, it’s more environmentally friendly to import Aspen Pure, which is bottled in southern Colorado, than Fiji, which is bottled in the South Pacific.

Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is janet@aspentimes.com


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