The new Snowmass begins to emerge |

The new Snowmass begins to emerge

Katie ReddingAspen Times WeeklyAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/Aspen Times WeeklyDesign by Jerrie K. Lyndon

SNOWMASS VILLAGE Its January 2009 and your family is vacationing in Snowmass Village. This morning you dropped your children off at the Treehouse day care and ski school building. Your toddler will spend the day in the Bear Den, your 5-year-old is taking beginners lessons, and your 13-year-old headed straight to a room full of foosball and flat-screen televisions, where his snowboarding lesson will gather. After skiing until noon, you return to Base Village to eat pulled pork sandwiches at Sneakys Tavern. Then you head up to the slopeside deck of your condominium to watch your 5-year-old ride the magic carpet conveyor belt and ski down the gentle slope below. For dinner, you choose Japanese comfort food at nearby Buchi. Across the courtyard, you can see smoke drifting from the cauldrons on the deck at the ultra-hip Liquid Sky, where an aprs-ski crowd is beginning to gather.

If this doesnt sound at all like the Snowmass you know quiet, a little dated, a great ski hill with a town that all but blacks out after the lifts close thats because, starting with the upcoming ski season, shaky economy or not, Related WestPac finally unveils a substantial portion of the new $1 billion Base Village. Its touted as an ambitiously environmental project, built to earn the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) neighborhood development certification, and with every single building except for a few built before Related WestPac acquired the project designed to obtain one of several LEED certifications.And if the new 25,000-square-foot Treehouse Kids Adventure Center is any indication, Base Village will continue to cater to families a constituency that has long favored Snowmass.But two of the more prominent businesses the enormous Viceroy (whose other locations are often described by patrons as luxurious, chic and trendy) and the splashy Junk/Liquid Sky proposed by Scott DeGraff (who operates five Las Vegas nightclubs, including the worlds only remaining Playboy Club) indicate that times may be changing for sleepy Snowmass Village.It certainly wont overtake Aspens glitz and glamour by this winter but keep your eyes open. If residence sales are any indication, the Beautiful People may be on their way.

The pub-style restaurant in the Capitol Peak Lodge is named for Jim Sneaky Snobble also memorialized on one of Snowmass signature intermediate runs. Snobble installed many of Snowmass first lifts, cleared its first ski trails and was the first mountain manager.Snobble was invoked, in part, because he was instrumental in establishing Snowmass as a family resort and the roughly 200-seat restaurant will make a point of catering to families. As a nod to locals, another important constituency, pub passes guaranteeing $3 drafts will be provided to premiere ski pass holders.Big-screen televisions, a huge outdoor brick patio, a lounge area, two fireplaces and an indoor-outdoor bar are designed to provide atmosphere. At the back, a private room named Sneakys Cabin meant to evoke Snobbles secret cabin, hidden on the ski hill for locals to use until it burned can be closed off with barn doors. Chefs Tico Starr, formerly of Sage Restaurant, and Ed Curtindale, formerly of Pacifica Seafood & Raw Bar, have yet to finalize the menu. For now, they describe the food as American bistro-style and say it will likely include items such as warm chocolate cake, macaroni n cheese, burgers, short ribs, braised lamb shank stew and a signature steak.Serving lunch, aprs and dinner, the restaurant is scheduled to open on Thanksgiving.

When proprietor and Aspen resident Scott DeGraff already a highly successful restaurateur and nightclub owner with the N9NE group talks about his two-floor restaurant and bar, Junk and Liquid Sky, he begins with the word yes.DeGraff explains that hell provide table service with $400 bottles of vodka, or bottled house drinks and shot glasses for much less. Hell sell both juicy hamburgers and Vietnamese rolls for people who want something lighter. And while he expects to cater to an elite, big-city crowd, he says hes also committed to the locals. We like all types of people, because its boring if you have too many of the same, said DeGraff, who also plans to open Junk at the Red Onion in Aspen in early 2009. The big thing is, Id like to believe that once these places open, theyll feel like theyre part of the community.The establishment has already attracted attention for its design features, which include a multi-colored fire pit with surrounding seats, smoking cauldrons, an 800-pound replica of an elephant, outdoor hammock swings, instant fire blasts at the bar for cooking 20 types of smores, two indoor bars, two outdoor bars, four DJ booths, flaming torches, numerous LED televisions and 7-foot-high outdoor showers. The latter drew attention when they came up for review at a recent Snowmass Town Council meeting but DeGraff insists theyre merely practical. If you go mountain biking all summer long, youre muddy, he notes. And no offense, I dont want you sitting on my stuff while youre muddy. So you can rinse off.Technically, Junk the restaurant is downstairs and Liquid Sky the bar/lounge is upstairs, but patrons should be able to move freely between the two. For those navigating stairs in ski boots, there will be a dumbwaiter to carry up food. Roaming cocktail waitresses will keep patrons supplied with drinks. In the winter, DeGraff expects to entice crowds outside with heat lamps, outdoor fireplaces and blanket service for anyone who is still chilly. In the summer, lounge chairs will be provided for sunbathers.The food, says DeGraff, will include bad junk like burgers as well as good junk like tuna burgers but everything will be made with natural and organic ingredients. Expect also to find sushi, lobster club sandwiches, jambalaya, what DeGraff calls Jewish junk (matzo ball soup, lox and bagels) and even high-end steaks. (DeGraff also co-owns the famous N9NE Steakhouses.)The restaurant will begin serving breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and stay open through dinner. Eventually, DeGraff hopes to build the nighttime crowd and serve until the wee hours. DeGraff plans to open by Christmas.

Its more like a tavern than an upscale Japanese restaurant, says proprietor Jeff Klein of his new 70-seat restaurant, Buchi a name that means to slap down, in Japanese. I thought it was a great mountain term, said Klein. Youre always getting slapped down by something.Klein, who co-founded the Aspen sushi restaurant Matsuhisa (which he stepped away from in 2001), describes the fare as coastal South American and Japanese food. The menu will include ramen noodles, sushi rolls, Kobe beef burgers and steaks cooked on a 1,200-degree charcoal broiler. Klein has already hired back several of the original chefs from Matsuhisa, as well as other venues hes begun, he said. The restaurant will be open for lunch, aprs and dinner, and will stay open until 11 or 12, said Klein. In addition to food, the restaurant will have a full bar and a selection of sakes. Buchi is scheduled to open by December.

Housed in a red barn-like building, The Sweet Life is just across from the Treehouse childcare center and ski school for a reason: Its meant to appeal to kids. Upstairs, the restaurant will serve what the proprietors call comfort food. The fare includes such specialties as the Fire On The Mountain, a 6-ounce patty topped with chipotle barbecue sauce, Chicken Lollipops and Sloppy Joe Sliders. The drink menu has 13 candy-themed cocktails. Downstairs, a creamery will feature 250 rotating flavors of ice cream, bins of candy, homemade pies, cookies and cakes. A demonstration kitchen will provide patrons the chance to watch ice cream and cones being made.Customers will be able to build their own smores at a table that features a miniature train ferrying in marshmallows, graham crackers and Hershey chocolate squares.Proprietors Jennifer Hayes and Kenny Rosen havent created the establishment from scratch. The Snowmass restaurant and creamery will be an extension of their two Telluride locations, where theyve found that vacationers love to splurge on sweets and locals appreciate the reasonably-priced diner food. The establishment is expected to open by mid-November.

Expect to see several new retail establishments this year alongside Four Mountain Ski and Four Mountain Kids, the ski wear and rental shops that opened last year. All the new retail stores are local establishments that plan to expand to Snowmass. Performance Ski, carrying clothing and equipment from the likes of Prada, Armani, Chiemsee and Post Card, will expand from its Aspen location. So will Generation Snowmass, an extension of the Generation Aspen store that will carry childrens clothing, toys, games, books, stuffed animals and clothing. Aspen Sports will also open a store much like its North Face concept store in Aspen. Snowmass Style will sell logo-wear. Beginners Magic, an Aspen Skiing Company school program offering a complete package of lesson, lift ticket and equipment rental, will also open next to the Elk Camp gondola this year.

Opened last year, the Treehouse decorated both inside and out with actual sections of trees provides child care for children starting at 8 weeks old. It is also the meeting place for all kids ski school classes. At the entrance, a climbing room with a make-believe mine shaft is open to all kids, whether theyre enrolled at the Treehouse or not. Throughout the building, faux rock caves, a fish tank, a puppet-show stage, and foosball tables and flat-screen televisions (for older kids) provide entertainment. Kids (or their parents) can also rent gear and obtain lift tickets at the Treehouse, making it a one-stop-shop.

New this year, the Capitol Peak Lodge together with Hayden Lodge, which opened last winter is the first new lodging to open in Snowmass in 20 years. Built with wood and stone faades, the two buildings have a mountain-European aesthetic echoed by stone archways over nearby roads and paths. The new lodges have nearly 100 residences that range from studios to three-bedroom condominiums. Amenities include decks overlooking the ski hill, heated underground parking, gas fireplaces and privileges at the Skico-owned Snowmass Club.

Watch for the Viceroy to open by Christmas 2009. The branded condominium hotel, managed by the Kor hotel group and billed as the first Viceroy above sea level, will host a restaurant with a glass bar and a 7,000 square-foot Ute-inspired spa. As of March 2008, 60 percent of the residences had sold for between $570,000 and $4 million apiece. The Viceroy will be followed by The Little Nell Residences at Snowmass, scheduled to open by summer 2009. It features such amenities as heated, underground valet parking and a stainless-steel wine cooler and Jacuzzi in each residence. As of March 2008, 70 percent of those residences had sold for prices beginning at $3.1 million. The three Key Collection Base Village Residences are scheduled to be built next, but Related WestPac President Pat Smith says the company obtained the building permits just as financing became very hard to obtain. He plans to watch condominium sales closely this winter and make construction-related decisions next spring. Along with these new places to stay, 60,000 square feet of restaurants, retailers and other amenities will eventually open at Base Village. But Smith isnt stopping there. Eventually, Related WestPac plans to remodel virtually all the commercial space in Snowmass Village, although the actual construction on West Village (currently known as the Snowmass Mall) and the nearby Snowmass Center across Brush Creek Road are still years away.At the Snowmass Center, expect to see the supermarket and post office double in size. There will also be a new coffee shop, pocket parks, six residential buildings, medical offices and even a Main Street.West Village is slated to be replaced with a European ski village. Smiths vision involves daylighting a now-buried creek and putting a ski trail through the center of the mall. He also wants to reshape the mall into a bowl that will attract more daylight.Smith acknowledges the current economic climate is scary, but speaks confidently about the future of Snowmass and Base Village. Ultimately, he argues, there is a very finite amount of ski-in, ski-out real estate in Aspen-Snowmass.In the meantime, Related is heading full-steam ahead into winter marketing efforts. The newly created website will consolidate rentals and hospitality services for all Related properties and 60 percent of other properties at Snowmass Village into one place. And through the Skico, Related WestPacs hospitality arm is offering incentive packages for groups and sending out countless special invitations to visit. I think were starting to feel like Snowmass is coming into its own, said Smith. The Aspen-Snowmass brand that the SkiCo envisioned probably a decade ago…were helping to bring it to fruition.One thing is clear: it wont be the same old Snowmass.

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