Jerome throws wrench in wedding plans

Joel StoningtonAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN Reservations manager Manpreet Sidhu got a jolt Monday when he learned the proposed eight-month closure for renovation was off and the Hotel Jerome would reopen May 25. That’s because Sidhu’s been planning a wedding for six months and even bought tickets for a three-month honeymoon. Sidhu married his wife in December in his wife’s native Argentina, but the couple set a date to renew their vows and have a traditional Indian wedding May 9-10. The wedding is still on, but Sidhu’s lifelong dream to travel to Egypt and throughout Europe for the honeymoon may be cut short. Other Jerome executives who have tickets to fly to the wedding may also have to cancel. “In the beginning, [my wife] was like, ‘How did this happen? We’ve been planning this for months,'” Sidhu said. “The initial reaction is shock. But you just try to take it positively and make the best of it.”Much is up in the air after Monday’s announcement. Dozens of employees at the Jerome are suddenly facing some hard decisions after the announcement the hotel is under contract to sell and will not undergo a closure and renovation.Pastry chef Heather Campbell said she was working overtime Monday making sweets for employees and that plenty of people dropped by to get a cookie pick-me-up. Campbell was scheduled to take a train to Colorado Springs with Broadmoor pastry chef Remy Funfrock but had to cancel Monday. The current owners of the Jerome also own the Broadmoor. “The owners were such sweethearts; they were so supportive,” Campbell said. “They had such good intentions for the town, and it’s almost like they got slapped in the face.”Human resources director Ann Fitzgerald said the hotel has been paying for some plans that needed to be canceled. She said the Jerome has now paid for a $3,000 deposit on a house that one employee on the way to Colorado Springs had already put down. “Out-of-pocket expenses are being reimbursed,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re taking it on a case-by-case basis.”Perhaps a bigger headache at the moment is renewing many employees’ visas that were set to expire. Fitzgerald said the hotel suddenly is facing the prospect of applying for visas at the eleventh hour when it is accustomed to getting them long in advance. Elizabeth Shoun, a two-year server in the J-Bar, said she doesn’t yet know if she will cut short a planned eight-month jaunt to Central and South America with her boyfriend. “I’m not going to decide until later,” Shoun said. “I was basically going to travel for the whole time.”Shoun, Sidhu and many others had looked at the time off as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Sidhu said he didn’t know when he would have the opportunity to take so much time off again. Sidhu, however, just doesn’t have much time to think about anything beyond getting the hotel reservations back up and running. He said calls to the reservation line more than doubled from Monday to Tuesday. “If you know anyone who wants to work in reservations, send them over,” Sidhu said. “Surprise, we’re hiring.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is