Historic Hotel Jerome sells for $33.5 million | AspenTimes.com

Historic Hotel Jerome sells for $33.5 million

Scott Condon

The Oklahoma Publishing Co. paid $33.5 million Tuesday to acquire the Hotel Jerome and its employee housing at the old Cortina Lodge, according to a special warranty deed filed with Pitkin County.Oklahoma Publishing Co. became only the sixth owner or major operator of the hotel in the last 116 years. The Gaylord family, which has a controlling interest in the firm, started negotiating with Jim McManus and his Hotel Jerome Associates LP to acquire Aspen’s historic hotel early in 2005. McManus was an owner for 20 years.McManus said in an earlier interview that he was working on a $40 million deal with the buyers. But public documents indicate $33.5 million exchanged hands. McManus couldn’t be reached for comment on whether the sale price dropped or other terms of the deal that weren’t recorded in the warranty deed.McManus and his former business partner, Dick Butera, bought the hotel in 1985 for $6 million. They immediately poured several million more into an expansion and remodeling.McManus said the Gaylords could better afford investing the capital the hotel needs to stay competitive. The Jerome is widely considered one of the top three hotels in town, along with the Little Nell and St. Regis. It was built during Aspen’s silver rush and has long been a centerpiece in town. It was completed by Jerome Wheeler in 1889.Records of the hotel’s ancient history are foggy. Some records at the Aspen Historical Society indicate Wheeler sold the hotel to businessman Archie Fiske for $150,000 in 1892. Other historical records indicate it was in Wheeler’s hands until he lost it for back taxes in 1909.Pitkin County held the hotel until it was purchased in 1911 by Mansor Elisha. The Elisha family owned the hotel for decades. They gave a long-term lease to Walter Paepcke in 1946.In 1968 the hotel was purchased by John Gilmore, who struggled to get a renovation plan approved by the city. McManus and Butera were able to advance with a plan that restored the Jerome’s grandeur. McManus eventually bought out his friend.McManus said he was convinced to sell to Oklahoma Publishing Co. because it understands the unique role of owning and operating an institution in the community. Oklahoma Publishing Co. also owns the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, a historic resort annually honored for high standards.Steve Bartolin, president of the Broadmoor, will oversee the Jerome. Tony DiLucia will continue to be the general manager of the Hotel Jerome.Bartolin said there will be no changes apparent until 2006. The company plans to renovate rooms and other spaces at the hotel.”First, we have to plan, then design, then you have to order,” Bartolin said. And that process takes time, he said. Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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