Snowmass ripe for mountain club?
November 23, 2005
Nearly 40 years after its founding, Snowmass Ski Area might be ripe for a private facility like the popular Aspen Mountain Club.Snowmass is going through an $800 million overhaul to its base area and mountain facilities that is expected to elevate it to the ranks of elite resorts.The owners of 1.5 acres in the middle of the ski area are exploring if the time is right for some type of private-public, fine-dining facility on the mountain.Longtime Snowmass Village developer Jim Light confirmed this week that he and partner Jim Chaffin are exploring the possibilities for their land. They own Burlingame Cabin, located off the Dawdler trail a short distance above the top of Fanny Hill.The cabin is occasionally used for lunch by ski groups and it used to host once-per-week dinners for the public that included rides up the mountain by snowcat. The rustic cabin lost some of its allure when the Aspen Skiing Co. built the Lynn Britt Cabin in the same general vicinity for the same type of activities a few years ago.But with Snowmass’ renaissance, some type of public-private facility might work at that site, Light said. He is studying the highly acclaimed Beano’s Cabin at Beaver Creek as a possible model.Beano’s is a private lunch facility for members of the exclusive Beaver Creek Club during winters. It’s open to the public for dinner on winter nights. Access is via sleigh rides from Beaver Creek Village.The facility has earned a lot of accolades, including the AAA Four Diamond Award.The Aspen Skiing Co. operates a private club on Aspen Mountain but doesn’t have current plans for any such on-mountain facility at Snowmass, according to managing partner Jim Crown. It may offer special memberships for parking and ski lockers at the ski area base, he said.The Aspen Mountain Club provides members with parking and a ski locker at the base as well as access to a private restaurant in the Sundeck Restaurant building at the summit. Membership costs $125,000. Currently there is a waiting list to join, according to Skico spokesman Jeff Hanle.The Skico created special associate memberships for the winter that provide access to the Aspen Mountain Club restaurant but no other privileges. Those cost $25,000.Light said he and his team will look at the possibilities for the Burlingame Cabin property throughout the winter and potentially formalize a proposal next summer. Cooperation with the Skico would be key. Approval would also be necessary from the town of Snowmass Village because the land is within the town’s boundaries.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org