Not a ‘lite’ undertaking
Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN Owners of the Limelite Lodge originally hoped to have finished building the redeveloped lodge by now, but the construction process is new territory for a family that’s used to running lodges, not building them.”We never realized how many things could come up – how many things you had to go through to get everything in line,” said Dale Paas, who co-owns the hotel with Sue and Rick Woolery, his sister and brother-in-law.
The process of earning approvals, performing hazardous materials abatement and building demolition took far longer than the owners expected. Most recently, Paas and his family met delays as they came up against city regulations for shoring up the holes they’ll excavate to build an underground parking garage. They plan to begin digging next week.After missing several estimated deadlines for reopening, he’s no longer making predictions, Paas said.”I’m going to say we’re going to be open as soon as we can get a quality project built,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of time, but since we plan on living here a long time, we’d rather do it slowly and properly.”The Limelite and associated lodges have been part of Paas’s family for three generations, and they plan to continue running the new hotel as a family business for at least one more generation to come.The Woolery’s son and several of Dale Paas’s children are poised to keep the Limelite running well into the future. Forrest Woolery currently works in sales at the hotel, and Curtis Paas is dealing with construction of the new hotel, although he’s helped with everything from computers to maintenance.
Dale Paas said he expects his son Westen and daughter Mara, both of whom are earning degrees in hospitality and related fields, will return to take part in running the hotel as well, “unless the world changes.”Mara currently is studying in Florence, Italy. She is multilingual, and her experience in international marketing will be a boon to the new hotel, her father said. A large percentage of the old hotel’s business came from groups from other countries, a trend Dale Paas expects to continue after the hotel reopens.Paas’s grandmother, Nina, and his uncle, Glen, bought the original three-room hotel from the folk group The Fabulous Limeliters, who got their start at the Aspen hotel in the late 1950s. Dale Paas’s father, Leroy, later signed on, and over time the family acquired the nearby Ski-Vu and Deep Powder lodges and the Snowflake Inn, and they added 31 rooms to the Limelite itself.To finance the project, the owners took on several Denver partners, who will work with the Paases and Woolerys until the new hotel and associated condominiums are finished. After construction is completed and the condos are sold, however, those partners will be out of the picture, and the hotel will be owned and operated by the Paas and Woolery families.”Their part was to see that it all gets built and gets built well,” Dale Paas said.The delays have been a struggle for the owners, who are newcomers to the development side of the hotel business. And, according to Paas, their first venture may well be their last: “We’re so excited to get back in the hotel business, because that’s what we do.”Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org