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New Sundeck still a go

The Aspen Skiing Co. is forging ahead with plans to redevelopthe Sundeck on Aspen Mountain this spring, despite a lackluster1998-99 season. A drop in the number of skiers and snowboard riders often forcesthe Skico to rethink its strategy for off-season improvementson the mountain, but not with the multimillion-dollar Sundeckproject. “In this particular case it won’t, because the club membershippart of the project will pay for the Sundeck,” explained Skicopresident and CEO Pat O’Donnell. The new Sundeck will be 21,600 square feet, or about twice thesize of the venerable old restaurant at the top of Ajax. In additionto a public cafeteria that seats 210 and a public dining roomfor 85, the new facility will include the private Aspen MountainClub with pricey memberships. It is those membership fees that will fuel the multimillion-dollarredevelopment of the mountaintop restaurant. Demolition, or at least preparation for demolition, of the oldrestaurant is scheduled to begin “an hour after we close AspenMountain for the season” on April 18, Skico officials have said.A big community party is in the works before the old Sundeck disappears.The Aspen Historical Society and Skico are working on the planfor the bash.”We don’t have any details on it yet,” said Ruth Whyte, one ofthe organizers. “We’re working on it.” Whether the Skico undertakes any other major projects this summerremains to be seen. O’Donnell said he anticipates many ski resortsin Colorado will scale back capital improvement plans becausemost are experiencing a decline in business this season. The Skico’s business was off about 11 percent after the Christmas-NewYear’s period and hasn’t improved since. O’Donnell said his staff is still going over capital improvementwish lists and will soon present priorities to the Crown family,majority owners of the privately held company. It’s a given that the wish list will be smaller than if the Skicoexperienced growth in skier and rider visits this season. “We’re very prudent with our spending right now, but we’re notin a reactionary mood,” said O’Donnell.


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