Skiers Chalet closes its doors
July 28, 2005
The Skiers Chalet Lodge has welcomed its last guests.The small lodge where visitors could find a room in Aspen for less than $200 a night has succumbed to the high cost of doing business, according to Christine O’Callaghan, who has run the lodge with her husband, Dan, in recent years.Though they had anticipated keeping the lodge open for the next two ski seasons under the terms of a deal with developer Greg Hills, they’ve decided to call it quits.Loyal guests of the Skiers Chalet have been notified that the small lodge near the base of Aspen Mountain won’t open its doors this winter.
“We had at least another two years, but the fixed costs and what it costs to run the lodge just caught up with us,” O’Callaghan said. “It’s gonna be sad.”The closure came as a surprise to Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, who said he did not know the accommodations would no longer be available.The news came as a disappointment to at least one out-of-state guest who has stayed at both the Skiers Chalet and the nearby Holland House, which is now under contract to prospective buyers who are eyeing its redevelopment.”We stayed at both over the last three years and will miss the more reasonably-priced lodging options for Aspen,” wrote the visitor. “All this fractional ownership is way out of my price range. I just want to ski/ride and a place to crash.”
The O’Callaghans had been running the lodge for its founder, Howard Awrey, who continues to reside at the chalet along with the O’Callaghan family.Awrey, now 86, and his wife, Jean, built the original Skiers Chalet, which eventually contained the Steak House restaurant, next to the old Lift 1 in 1953. A second, separate lodge building was constructed on Gilbert Street in 1965.Hills represents a group of investors who purchased the Steak House building from Awrey in 2002 and have plans to renovate and expand the historic building. They also have an option to purchase the Gilbert Street addition, but the deal gave the O’Callaghans five more years to run the lodging business it that building.But with just nine rooms, which the O’Callaghans recently renovated themselves, the operation just isn’t viable.
“Every year, our costs go up and our prices usually don’t,” O’Callaghan said.The couple didn’t open the lodge to business this summer or last summer, but had planned to run it for the next two winters, she said. Nightly rates ranged from $159 to $199 last season, peaking during the holidays.The Skiers Chalet Steak House served its last meal at the close of the 2004-05 ski season.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org