More affordable lodging in Aspen? |

More affordable lodging in Aspen?

Since the late 1950s, people have counted on the St. Moritz Lodge for inexpensive accommodations in Aspen. Now, eight more rooms will carry that tradition into the new millennium.

As the first to use the city’s newly renewed lodging preservation program, the West Hyman Avenue lodge will remain an option for those seeking lower-priced lodging in Aspen.

In recent years, about 200 low- and medium-priced hotel rooms have been lost in Aspen. The St. Moritz now stands as the only lodging establishment that offers dorm/ hostel-style accommodations.

“We fill a niche, have a unique, special place in Aspen for people looking for a nice but inexpensive place to stay,” said St. Moritz owner Michael Behrendt.

On Monday, Behrendt’s application to add eight hotel rooms and two employee housing units to the lodge won unanimous approval from the City Council.

With the expansion, the St. Moritz will have 21 hotel rooms, 12 dorm rooms with three beds in each room, and four rental condominiums.

“With the loss of 200 low and medium units we’ve been pretty busy. I’d say we have probably the highest occupancy in town,” Behrendt noted. “But the fact remains that the cost curves here are pretty steep and the choice was either expand or go out of business. So now we’re back on good, solid footing.”

Since Behrendt took over operations about 30 years ago, rates have only increased with inflation and it is still possible to get a monthly rate on a dorm bed for $15 a night, he said.

There are 12 different rate periods throughout the year and different rates for nightly, 10-day or monthly stays. The St. Moritz offers dorm rates fluctuating from $25 to $39 during peak seasons, hotel rooms going for $44 to $159 daily, and condos averaging $345 a day.

And it’s not just tourists who take advantage of the St. Moritz’s prices.

“There are a lot of people here on seasonal jobs or people in between apartments, or in between relationships. We see a lot of husbands,” Behrendt quipped.

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