Historic Snow Queen Lodge in Aspen changes ownership
Group who owns Little Red Ski Haus spends $7.6M on neighboring lodge
Two neighboring Victorian bed-and-breakfasts in Aspen are under the same ownership after the Snow Queen Lodge sold for $7.625 million this week to a buyer connected to a private equity firm in California.
The new owner is a limited liability company corporation called Aspen Snow Queen Holdings, which public records link to the same Santa Monica address used by the LLC that acquired the Little Red Ski Haus for $8.9 million in January.
Both Victorians on the 100 block of East Cooper Avenue were originally built in the 1880s, and both come with development restrictions. Each property also has gone through rounds of remodels and refurbishing over the years. City officials couldn’t immediately respond to questions about the properties on Friday.
The Snow Queen property also includes a single-family home built in 1994, property records show.
Broker Andrew Ernemann, who represented the buyer in the transaction, said Friday the new owner wants to remain private.
“I can’t share anything about the buyer or any plans they may have,” said Ernemann, who also represented Aspen Little Red Holdings when it bought the Little Red Ski Haus.
Property records tie the new owner to the private investment firm Clearlake Capital.
“The firm’s core target sectors are technology, industrials and consumer,” read a company description on a recent news release not related to the Snow Queen sale. “Clearlake currently has approximately $35 billion of assets under management, and its senior investment principals have led or co-led over 300 investments. The firm has offices in Santa Monica and Dallas.”
The signature of Fred Ebrahemi, who is the chief operating officer of Clearlake Capital, was on a public document associated with the Snow Queen purchase, which was finalized Tuesday. He did not return a telephone message left at the company’s Santa Monica office on Friday.
The eight-bedoom Snow Queen Lodge currently is closed and is not accepting reservations. Its last day of business was May 31. The 14-bedroom Little Red Ski Haus has been open to long-term renters in more recent years.
“It’s definitely not booking or open, as far as I know, for the summer,” Erneman said of the Snow Queen. “And as you can imagine, it’s been operated as a lodge for a long time. And I think it’s been a great fixture for Aspen as a lodge.
“It’s also an older building with a lot of things that most new owners would like to upgrade or bring life, like with any old property.”
As for the identity of the seller, that’s hardly a secret.
David Ledingham, who also is the co-artistic director of the Aspen Fringe Festival, had been running it since his mother, Norma Dolle, handed him the baton in around 2001.
She passed away in May 2020, after having bought the Victorian home in 1974. It was no coincidence that the owner of the Little Red Ski Haus next door was her identical twin, Marge Babcock. The two Chicagoans came to be known as the “Twin Victorian Lodge Twins.”
David Ledingham said it’s demanding work to maintain and operate a lodge. Add on the actor’s responsibility with the Fringe Festival, and he had plenty enough to do already.
“It’s hard work,” he said. “Everybody has this fantasy about running a B&B. It’s not what they think it is. It’s hard work. You’re on-call 24/7.”
The Snow Queen certainly had the element of charm. The Snow Queen was his mother’s pride and joy until she gradually removed herself from operations.
Snow Queen revenue plunged 40%-50% because of the pandemic, Ledingham said. And earlier this year, Ernemann approached Ledingham on the buyer’s behalf about making a deal.
Ledingham said he talked to some of his friends in real estate, and they recommended that he sell. The lodge had been off-market when Ernemann approached him with an offer.
One friend, Ledingham recalled, said: “I think this is a good buyer and the fact that they own the Little Red Ski Haus, they’ll probably do something interesting with the property.”
Representing the Ledingham family were brokers Jonathan Boxer and Scott Weber of Douglas Elliman.
“It’s a very special piece of Aspen history,” said Boxer, whose wife, Nikki, works alongside Ledingham as associate director of the Fringe Festival, which is scheduled June 11-12 and marks the return of live programming at the Wheeler Opera House. “It was built in the first decade that was really the birth of Aspen in the 1880s, when the silver boom was really taking off.”
Just weeks away from the expiration of their lease, Atlantic Aviation and the Pitkin County commissioners agreed to a one-year lease extension to allow more time for contract negotiations between the two parties.