Lodging community opens up its beds for World Cup
In conjuring up images of heroic figures in life, innkeepers are probably not the first group that springs to mind.
But in Aspen, and particularly for those in the Aspen Skiing Co. who are involved in putting on the World Cup ski races, that group is at the head of any list of local heroes.
“The World Cup races really couldn’t take place without the lodging community,” declared the Skico’s Jayne Poss, who is in charge of arranging accommodations for the army of racers, trainers, support staff and media representatives for this year’s races.
“Every single one is stellar and heroic,” she said of her list of 31 hotels and lodges that have offered everything from free rooms for racers to cut rates for the press, not to mention facilities for everything from ski tuning to meals.
Poss said the combined number of physical space involved is 450 rooms, which when multiplied out by the number of nights comes to more than 1,800 “room nights,” a contribution she said is worth something in the neighborhood of $300,000 “at a minimum.”
Which is why, she said, “without the lodging community’s support, there would not be a World Cup event in Aspen. It just isn’t in the budget.”
The main kudos, she said, go to the St. Regis Hotel, which will be World Cup headquarters. The hotel, she said, has donated its entire complex of basement conference rooms to the effort, outfitting the large ballroom as a dining area for the entire three-day race event.
In addition, she said, the hotel is donating “an enormous amount of parking for the press,” discounted meals for racers and a total of more than 70 “room nights” for race officials.
“The St. Regis is a big supporter of the World Cup,” said hotel general manager Richard McLennan. “It’s a big event for the community as a whole and our image as a ski resort.”
He and the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, John Curnow, both said they understand the value of such an event to the town and feel it is part of their responsibility to take part.
“We think the publicity that it [Aspen] receives out of a successful event is very important for the early season, of course, and it can only bolster the season as a whole,” said Curnow.
The Gant, a longtime and steady supporter of the World Cup races, is donating 20 rooms, plus a satellite dining area for the Austrian and Swiss racing teams, which is needed to ensure that neither team has to travel farther than the other to the race staging area at the base of Aspen Mountain.
The other lodges, Poss explained, contribute a number of rooms proportional to their size. Rattling a few off the top of her head, she said the Innsbruck is donating 10 rooms, The Inn at Aspen is contributing 30, the Aspen Meadows another 30 and the Sardy House three of its relatively small 19-room capacity.
She said the list of lodges includes some of the town’s oldest tourist establishments, mentioning the Limelite Lodge, the Aspen Square and the Hotel Jerome, to name just a few.
One unusual aspect of this year’s races, Poss said, is that because the racers are women and the trainers are mostly men, more rooms are needed to provide sufficient separation of the sexes. Poss said she did not realize that until relatively late in the game, and “I actually had to call back [to the lodge owners] and ask, `Can I have another one?’ And they were great.”
Poss said the same lodges that have signed on this year (and also were on board for the 1998 Men’s World Cup) have already signed on for next year, guaranteeing that if there is a race, the racers will have places to stay.
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