No booze service with room service for Ritz Club opening |

No booze service with room service for Ritz Club opening

Janet Urquhart

Members of the new Ritz-Carlton Club will have to go to the bar to toast the opening of their upscale accommodations at Aspen Highlands.

The Aspen Liquor Licensing Authority delayed action Tuesday on the club’s request for permission to serve alcohol as part of room service to residents of the fractional-ownership units, which will be occupied for the first time on Feb. 24.

The liquor board told club representatives they first want state authorities to sign off on serving alcohol to club residences, which will be shared by multiple owners and spread among several buildings.

How to handle the fractional-ownership arrangement apparently stumped the state Department of Revenue’s Liquor Enforcement Division initially, though Ritz attorney John Stonbraker said he now has verbal approval from the state on an arrangement to serve the units.

The state refused to license the club as a resort complex, he said.

“The state looked me in the eye and said they’d never licensed a time-share before,” Stonbraker said.

The Ritz-Carlton Club is not really a time-share, but rather a fractional-ownership complex, in which members purchase a one-12th ownership share of a unit rather than a block of time.

The first 47 units of the 73-unit club will open late this month, said general manager Jud Hawk. He is expecting 50 percent occupancy of the club when it opens, and 100 percent occupancy by March 3.

Nonetheless, Hawk and Stonbraker said they will wait until the liquor board’s March 6 meeting for the hoped-for license approval.

Stonbraker said he believes the club can be licensed much as a hotel is. Though the units will be spread among three buildings when construction is complete, the buildings are contiguous in that they are linked by secure, underground parking/service connections.

Board members told Hawk they’d like a tour of the facilities before considering the liquor license next month.

Though room service to club members cannot include alcohol until a license is granted, members can purchase their own liquor and bring it to their units.

And the board has already granted a liquor license for the club’s soon-to-open Willow Creek restaurant, which will be open also to the general public. Alcohol may also be served on the restaurant deck, the pool deck and in a private clubroom for members.

The first phase of the club, opening this month, includes 45 units and the restaurant in a building flanking the main plaza at Highlands Village. Two Ritz penthouse suites are located in a second building, across the plaza, that also houses the Commonwealth Pub and employee housing units.

Twenty-six more Ritz-Carlton Club units will be part of a third building that has yet to be constructed. Thus far, 190 members have purchased fractional ownerships in the club, according to Hawk. In all, the club will be able to accommodate 876 members.

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