Skico’s private club proving popular despite controversy |

Skico’s private club proving popular despite controversy

The controversy over the exclusivity of the Aspen Mountain Club hasn’t deterred wealthy residents from dishing out between $60,000 and $100,000 to join.

The Aspen Skiing Co. has already sold about half of the 325 paid memberships to the private club that will be part of the new Sundeck Restaurant, according to Skico Vice President and Little Nell hotel General Manager Eric Calderon.

“We thought it would take about two years to sell the membership out. That’s not the case,” said Calderon. “At this point it looks like we’ll be sold out by this time next year.”

A rush on memberships began when they were first made available in late winter. There was a lull in May and early June, Calderon said, because a rumor circulated that memberships had sold out.

In reality, only a special category of the most expensive memberships and the lowest-priced charter memberships have sold out. Calderon said about 175 memberships remain available for sale.

The Skico and its majority owners, the Crown family, are giving out 50 honorary memberships in addition to the 325 paid memberships. Selling to homeowners The Skico sold 20 founding memberships priced at $100,000. They are more expensive because they include parking at the Little Nell’s underground garage, among other things.

In addition, the first tier of charter memberships priced at $60,000 have been sold, Calderon said. Memberships are now available at $70,000.

As expected, virtually all the sales have been made to full-time residents and second-home owners. Few, if any, have been made to guests who stay in hotels during their visits, Calderon noted.

The Aspen Mountain Club will take up about one-third of the new Sundeck, or about 7,000 of the total 22,000 square feet, according to Calderon. The remainder will be facilities used to serve the general public.

The private club has been widely criticized as just another wedge between the “haves” and the “have-nots” of Aspen. Critics contend the exclusive club shouldn’t be allowed at a ski area that uses national forest land.

However, the U.S. Forest Service is powerless to regulate the club because the site atop Aspen Mountain is private property.

“My answer to many people who are critical is that in reality, the entire valley has become elitist,” Calderon said. “What we are doing is no more elitist than any golf club that’s opening up between here and Vail.” Cafeteria gets priority The Aspen Mountain Club won’t open until late February or March. The cafeteria and other public portions of the building are slated to open Dec. 15.

Priorities had to be set because there isn’t enough time to finish the entire building by Thanksgiving, the opening of ski season.

“We’re basically trying to put in a building in eight months that would normally be scheduled in around 14 months,” said Chuck Apostolik, project manager for general contractor Shaw Construction. “So we had to fast-track the whole thing.

“We’re just trying to push in case we get the early snows up here,” he said of the work site at 11,212 feet.

The building was broken into phases so subcontractors could work on different sections without overlapping. There are about 46 workers now, with numbers expected to swell into the 70s next week. The peak number of workers will be in the 90s.

About 14 workers are in a bunkhouse on the mountaintop while others have pitched tents or use pop-top campers.

The work on the basement is about 1 1/2 weeks ahead of schedule, according to Apostolik. Wall framing will be finished in the basement this week, then crews will go into rough-ins.

“This job is not a tough job except for schedule-wise and getting materials up here,” said Apostolik. Approvals by Pitkin County limit times that vehicles can be on the roads on the back of Aspen Mountain. “It really kills us on deliveries,” he said.

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