Hotel group bullish on Basalt Mountain Inn after purchase for $3.6M
New group plans new approach with boutique hotel
The new owners of the Basalt Mountain Inn wasted no time raising rates, making a few changes and trying to reshape perceptions.
The downtown Basalt hotel was purchased in mid-June by a limited liability corporation headed by Manish Patel of Alamosa and his business partners, Bob and Rahil Sanghvi from Florida. Their Arbor Apartments LLC-Midland Hospitality LLC purchased the prime site for $3.6 million from Green Drake Basalt LLC, according to a warranty deed filed with the Eagle County Clerk and Recorder. Green Drake Basalt’s partners include Aspen businessman Mike Tierney, Aspen architect Charles Cunniffe and Josh Mondry.
The new owners took possession of the hotel on June 18 and promptly increased the nightly rate from the low $150 range to more than $200 per night.
“The reason that we raised the rate is because we want to be proud of our community and people always gauge the comfort of the hotel based on price,” said Freddie Maxwell, who trains general managers for the Patel group. “For Basalt, $150 would indicate to somebody that it’s a basic hotel. So we moved it from the $150-range to the $200-plus range only because we want to assure everybody that comes to this hotel that we provide everything that a major hotel provides. We have a great breakfast, great rooms and great staff.”
Thomas Garcia joined Basalt Mountain Inn as general manager after relocating from Las Cruces, New Mexico. He said the location was part of the appeal for the buyers.
“It is ideally situated with the rivers here, Aspen being nearby, a great, beautiful place in the Rocky Mountains,” Garcia said. “It’s a tourist haven. A lot of people want to be here.”
The location within Basalt is also a big part of the appeal. Basalt Mountain Inn is on the east end of Midland Avenue, a short walk from downtown’s shops and restaurants.
Maxwell and Garcia estimated the owners have 30 to 50 properties, mostly in Colorado and mostly hotels. Many of their holdings are big box hotels, so buying the boutique Basalt Mountain Inn is somewhat of a departure for them.
“This one stands out in that it’s the only one in the area, for now,” Garcia said.
Maxwell and Garcia said Basalt Mountain Inn is ideally situated to cater to outdoor adventurers who are attracted to the Roaring Fork Valley. The hotel is popular with people who come to Basalt for the fishing and cycling during summers, the town’s bread-and-butter season.
During winter, they will cater to crowds who have been priced out of Aspen and Snowmass Village. The property is also popular with people visiting Basalt for family gatherings and special events, Garcia said. He believes the broad appeal is strong enough to carry the hotel through the shoulder seasons, which catch many out-of-town business investors off guard.
Maxwell said the Basalt Mountain Inn snapped back from the tough time produced by the COVID-19 pandemic quicker than other hotels in the Patel group and quicker than much of the national hotel industry.
“We’re at full occupancy here,” Maxwell said. “We’re sold out almost every night, but in our other hotels, we should be at maximum occupancy by early January.”
The Basalt Mountain Inn’s 25 rooms are full or close to it Thursday through Sunday, according to Garcia. They are roughly at 50 percent occupancy on the other weekdays — something they aim to improve upon.
One of the changes they made was switching from a continental breakfast to one on par with a chain restaurant’s offerings. While no major renovations are planned, they will attend to standard maintenance issues, such as touching up walls, replacing lights and eventually phasing in new furniture and fixtures. They also plan to improve the sound proofing between rooms.
“Am I 100 percent happy with what we have? Not really,” Maxwell said. “But we’re getting to the point that by January, we’re going to be at a level where our guests are happier than they were before because we now have things that are better.”
Garcia and Maxwell acknowledged that one daunting issue is the labor market — not only in Basalt but elsewhere in Colorado. They are offering between $16 and $19 per hour for housekeepers and front desk help in Basalt.
“We can’t seem to find (help),” Maxwell said. “In fact, everybody around here can’t find enough employees because there’s not enough to go around. There’s restaurants up and down the street that are hurting because they can’t provide the service because nobody wants the job.”
Maxwell said he believes the employee pool will broaden once federal unemployment benefits tied to the coronavirus pandemic expire later this year. In online forums in the Roaring Fork Valley, numerous people have said businesses must boost pay to reflect the realities of the market.
Garcia and Maxwell are prepared in the short run to chip in where necessary.
“There’s a day where we might have to go make up beds because we’re shorthanded,” Maxwell said.
For the sellers, the Basalt Mountain Inn never worked out quite as imagined. The group bought the property in December 2006 for $4.4 million. They worked on a development proposal called Midland Place that envisioned 24 residences, 10,600 square feet of retail and office space, and underground parking. The project got delayed by a Basalt development moratorium in 2008 and never took flight. Instead, they extensively remodeled the hotel in 2014.
Basalt Mountain Inn went on the market for $5.5 million in May 2016 but was withdrawn by the end of the year. It went back on the market in July 2018 for just shy of $5 million. The asking price was later reduced to $3.995 million.
The Patel group looked at the property in March 2021 and closed on June 16 for $3.6 million.
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Tourist accommodations in Aspen and Snowmass Village enjoyed a strong holiday period, which is always expected. But advance reservations also indicate the area could set a winter occupancy record.