Not-so-hot hot beds?
Dear Editor:I read with great interest Scott Condon’s thoughtful May 27 article on hotels versus second homes as drivers of the Aspen economy. He cites a new study by the NWCCOG demonstrating that in Pitkin County, second-home owners account for over a third of all the “fresh” dollars that flow into the county from outside sources and stay here. That makes second homes one of the county’s biggest economic engines.Moreover, second homes and their owners account for four out every 10 jobs created in the county when the dollars flow in.Condon notes that all this occurs because second-home owners are spending ever-greater amounts of time in Aspen, which makes enormous sense. Long gone are the days of the two-weeks-a-year-maximum-occupancy second homes.So why the big emphasis by the City Council on hotels and their kissing cousins, interval-ownership units?During most of the year, a new hotel like the one proposed by Brooke Peterson and his gang for South Aspen Street will only survive by stealing revenue from other hotels in townEven during March – the absolute peak month for tourism – when occupancy was 79 percent in 2004, one out of five of the available beds in town went unoccupied. And what about October, November, April and May, when over half of the available “hot” beds in town are unoccupied?Adding another large hotel to Aspen’s inventory may be good for the Skico, but it can’t be great news for the smaller hotels and inns already here. During most of the year, the new hotel will simply cannibalize business from existing properties.Second homes, on the other hand, do just fine in pouring money and jobs into the local economy without the baggage of cannibalization.Clearly the City Council – if it truly wants to help Aspen’s economy – should steer Peterson et al back to their original, and already approved, plan to build some appropriately-scaled town houses on their Aspen Street property.Alex BielAspen
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