Ski Haus pursues plan for timeshares
One of Aspens historic ski lodges is ready to jump on the timeshare bandwagon.Owners of the Little Red Ski Haus are the latest operators of an Aspen hotel to seek permission to sell multiple ownership shares in the lodge rooms with the hopes of boosting occupancy and profitability.The Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend approval of the timeshare application. The final decision rests with the City Council.A group of investors led by Chicago attorney David Fiore purchased the Ski Haus from longtime owner Marge Babcock two years ago. They converted the old-style lodge, which had 22 rooms with bathrooms down the hall, into a 13-room bed-and-breakfast with individual bathrooms for each unit. The addition of a hot tub and the Prospectors Cellar, where guests have breakfast and can kick back with an aprs-ski drink, were also part of the renovation.The lodge, at 118 E. Cooper Ave., is featured as the Inn of the Month in this months issue of Ski magazine.Its first year of operation as a modernized lodge, however, has not been profitable, according to attorney Mike Franzmann, representing the owners.They have proposed selling one-sixteenth shares in the units, including the two bunk rooms, which each contain four beds. The arrangement would allow use by owners for three weeks a year. Two of the lodge rooms would be combined to create one luxury suite. The average cost of a Ski Haus share is estimated at $84,838, according to the lodges timeshare application.Sale proceeds would go first toward whittling down the substantial debt the owners incurred to purchase the lodge and renovate it, Franzmann said.Some P&Z members expressed reservations with the proposal, though they all agreed the lodges timeshare plan complies with the citys regulations for such accommodations.Member Ruth Kruger wondered whether a small lodge could operate successfully as a fractional project without the reservations system and large pool of share owners available to a large hotel chain. Fractional ownership in properties operated by Ritz-Carlton or the Hyatt, for example, opens up opportunities for owners to vacation at various member hotels.Im really concerned with a timeshare in a small lodge like this, Kruger said.I worry that many of the other lodges in town are going to come forward with timeshare proposals, added member Jack Johnson.But P&Z member Steve Skadron praised the plan as one that would make fractional ownership in Aspen available to a market that may be priced out of other projects.I think this makes sense for the lodge and the community, he said. I think this is a bold step on the part of a local owner to address a significant need.I think its a step in the right direction, concurred member John Rowland. I think its definitely worthwhile for a smaller inn like this to pursue it.Some guests at the Ski Haus have actually inquired about buying an interest in the lodging there, according to Beverly Fiore of Carbondale, business manager for the lodge.The Ski Haus would continue to make rooms available to the general public when owners are not using them, as city regulations require. The lodge will keep its on-site hosts, as well, Fiore said. There is a managers residence within the Ski Haus.The day-to-day operation will virtually remain the same, she said.In addition, the Ski Haus has proposed limiting fractional sales in order to keep four weeks a year open at peak times, when the lodge tends to fill up with guests anyway, including Christmas and New Years, Franzmann said.[Janet Urquharts e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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