Management shakeup at the Jerome
ASPEN The new owners of Aspen’s Hotel Jerome closed the deal Thursday, prompting a shakeup in the hotel’s upper management.The owners also say the Jerome will stay a hotel for now.The Jerome, built in 1889 during Aspen’s silver boom, has been closed since April 2 and reopens at noon today. Tony DiLucia, the Jerome’s longtime general manager, resigned Thursday, as did two other managers – Ann Fitzgerald, human resources director, and Steve Shotsberger, director of operations – and a “handful” of other employees, according to Steve Fitzgerald, senior vice president for human resources for Vail Resorts.DiLucia could not be reached for comment.The new owners hired RockResorts International LLC, a subsidiary of Vail Resorts, to manage the property.The new managers have brought in an interim general manager, Tim Estes, the current leader of Vail Beaver Creek Properties. Estes was involved in refurbishing the Sky Hotel and knows Aspen well, Fitzgerald said. Management is still searching for a permanent general manager.New owners Elysian Worldwide LLC and Lodging Capital Partners LLC did not disclose the sale price, but published reports have speculated that it was about $50 million, a figure Elysian CEO David Pisor said was in the ballpark.However, Elysian wants to get to know the posh resort town of Aspen, its neighbors and the property before committing to any plans for the 92-room Hotel Jerome, Pisor said.”We’re looking forward to working with the city of Aspen to make sure the Hotel Jerome continues to be a major Aspen treasure,” Pisor said.”We’ve owned if for about 45 minutes now,” joked Steve Kisielica, co-founder of Lodging Capital Partners, but he echoed Pisor’s goal to maintain the Jerome as a hotel for now.Representatives of the new managers held a staff orientation for some of the hotel’s 190 staff members to inform them of the management shift Thursday afternoon.Fitzgerald said an additional 15 hotel workers’ jobs were on the line pending proper documentation.”We actually fired no one,” Fitzgerald said. “In order for us to pay people, we have to process them onboard. … We want the work force that was here.”But in processing current Jerome employees, the new owners said, 15 workers were not able to produce the proper documentation.Fitzgerald said no one who can produce the paperwork to prove citizenship or resident alien status will be fired.”We would have liked them to stay with us,” Fitzgerald said of the workers – and senior management.”It totally floored us,” said one employee who wanted to remain anonymous and said workers are worried about losing staff. “We are now a Vail Resorts property. It has nothing to do with Aspen-community people. … The morale’s kind of in the toilet right now.”But J-Bar supervisor Josh Whittaker was more optimistic.”As far as I know, nothing’s changing,” Whittaker said. “They’ve changed the menu, but I think it’s better.”Chicago-based Elysian Worldwide has a luxury hotel-condo going up on Chicago’s Gold Coast and plans to develop a portfolio of luxury landmark hotels in North America, Europe and Asia that likely will include single-family units or condos, Pisor said.Oklahoma Publishing, former owner of the Jerome as well as the Broadmoor hotel in Colorado Springs, had proposed extensive renovations that would’ve shuttered the hotel through the end of the year.And while Elysian still plans renovations, its work will allow the hotel to be open to guests, Pisor said.Elysian Worldwide and Lodging Capital Partners will leave future staffing decisions and room rates up to RockResorts International.Jerome officials say they have a “smattering” of bookings and expect some walk-ins over the holiday weekend.The Associated Press contributed to this story. Charles Agar’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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