New Sundeck makes debut in just nine days |

New Sundeck makes debut in just nine days

Chalk up a small victory for the Average Joe over the economic elite on Aspen Mountain.

The public facilities of the new $14 million Sundeck Restaurant are nearly finished and will be unveiled in little more than one week.

But the people plunking down up to $70,000 to join the private Aspen Mountain Club must wait until March to enjoy their exclusive amenities at the fancy new building.

The phasing is by design. The Aspen Skiing Co. desperately wanted to complete the public cafeteria and a public sit-down restaurant before the big crowds and big revenues arrive during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. General contractor Shaw Construction of Grand Junction obliged that schedule.

“They basically built a 22,000 square foot building at 11,200 feet in eight months,” said Eric Calderon, the general manager of The Little Nell hotel and the supervisor of Sundeck operations. Only two days behind Despite the hurdles, the construction pace is only two days behind schedule, according to Skico spokeswoman Rose Abello.

As it turns out, the Sundeck might be unveiled at about the same time top-to-bottom skiing is available on Aspen Mountain. The lack of early season snow has prevented skiers from visiting the mountaintop so far.

Construction workers are scrambling around the clock to complete the public portion in time for a Dec. 18 open house that will raise funds for the Aspen Valley Ski Club. The open-house benefit will feature wine and cheese, but no food from the facilities.

The Sundeck’s public restaurants are scheduled to be open for business Monday, Dec. 20, Calderon said.

The Skico gave local writers a sneak peek of the Sundeck yesterday, and to a layman’s eye, it seemed hard to believe that the interior finish work can be completed in just nine days. One Skico official acknowledged there’s an office pool to pick the completion date.

Gert Van Moorsel, the Skico’s project manager, said there has been a peak of 100 construction workers and an average of 75. Pitkin County allows interior work at night, so some workers have put in long days and sacked out at the mountaintop patrol shack for a few hours to eliminate the lengthy commute. Variety of opinions As with anything in Aspen, public opinion will surely run the gamut on the Sundeck. Without a doubt, the building is large and imposing – yet beautiful and well done. The interior is divided enough to avoid a cavernous feel.

The main floor, which includes the bulk of the public and private rooms, is 14,300 square feet. Skiers can enter from the east, like with the old Sundeck, or via a grand entrance at front and center that is punctuated by a sharp, peaked roof. A private entrance is provided for the Aspen Mountain Club.

The eastern third is home to a public cafeteria that seats 230 inside and a deck for 125. It will be served by what Calderon called a “scramble servery” that features a rotisserie grill, soup-and-salad island and wok station for cook-to-order daily stir-fry foods.

The middle third features an open lobby, called The Gallery, that leads back to the fireplace. Customers will find the restrooms, ski school desk and skier services tucked in nooks and small rooms around the gallery.

The middle third is also home to a public sit-down restaurant the Skico has named Benedict’s. That restaurant, which will have table service similar to Gwyn’s at High Alpine in Snowmass, will seat 70 with an outside deck for 40.

The private Aspen Mountain Club will be located on the western third of the main floor. Some people erroneously believe that the entire Sundeck has been redeveloped as a private club. In reality, about 4,500 square feet – almost exactly one third of the main floor’s area – will be devoted to a members-only dining room, “living room” and small bar.

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