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VASPEN bottled water will capitalize on Aspen and Vail names

VASPEN is bottled from a source between Aspen and Vail so it created a name that capitalizes on both resorts. It will be introduced in late 2014.
Courtesy photo |

Aspen and Vail are known for their friendly competition, but the producer of a new bottled water plans to capitalize on the names of both high-end resorts by blending them together.

The water, called Vaspen, will be sold in a handful of high-end restaurants and lodges in the fourth quarter of 2014. It will be more widely distributed in the first quarter of 2015, according to Steve Miller, a principal of SCC Partners Group LLC, which will bottle and market the product.

The water will be sourced from Sweetwater Canyon, north of the Dotsero area on Interstate 70 and adjacent to the Flat Tops Wilderness Area north of Glenwood Springs.

The water from the spring “tastes great” and has a natural alkalinity that gives it a distinct taste without being overpowering, Miller said. Plus it provides natural electrolytes to make it appealing to the health conscious.

Nevertheless, using the Sweetwater name wouldn’t work from a marketing standpoint, Miller said.

“Sweet is not a universally accepted flavor,” he said. And sweet products can conjure up images of unhealthy sugar levels. Besides, Miller said, his company’s water isn’t sweet.

So the company came up with a name that reflects its location between internationally famous Aspen and Vail and came up with Vaspen.

“We tested that on quite a few people,” Miller said, adding that it emerged favorably. There also is the bonus that the name doesn’t mean anything in any language, as long as the company can tell. That will help when the product goes international, he said.

Vaspen isn’t the first bottled water to try to capitalize on the Aspen name. Aspen Pure, which has been sold since 2003, has its headquarters in Aspen, but the water comes from sources in the southern part of Colorado’s San Luis Valley.

Miller said Vaspen will be exclusively drawn from the Sweetwater Canyon spring. It will be one of the few premium water products based in the U.S. to be bottled at the source, Miller said. Many other waters come from a blend of springs, and some use municipal water that is filtered using a reverse-osmosis system to remove contaminants and other unwanted chemicals and minerals.

Miller said the water from the Sweetwater spring will go directly to the on-site bottling facility and will be packaged without ever touching human hands.

His company views the Vaspen brand as competing against high-end waters such as Fiji, Volvic, Perrier, San Pellegrino and Evian. Americans spent an estimated $1 billion on premium bottled water in recent years, Miller said, and the high-end segment of the market is growing fastest. Just as people are looking with greater interest at craft beers, craft wines and craft spirits, “they’re moving toward craft water,” he said.

Miller and his partners have studied the market and worked on a plan over the past 10 years. They bought the Sweetwater Lake Resort in 2004 and operate the property. They have a water decree and legal standing for water storage.

They plan to build a 30,000-square-foot building for their bottling plant, which will employ 35 workers, possibly working two shifts eventually. The total employment will be about 50 with executive staff, Miller said. The company is currently based in Castle Rock. It hasn’t been decided if it will move to Sweetwater Canyon. The bottling plant won’t interfere with the resort operation, according to Miller.

At the start, Vaspen will be produced in distinctive, hexagonal glass bottles. If plastic bottles are used as production expands, it will be from 100 percent recycled materials, Miller said.

SCC Partners Group has raised $6.9 million for investments in Vaspen, according to Miller. It is trying to raise an additional $12.5 million. A meeting for potential investors will be held at the Hyatt Grand Aspen’s Bison Bar at noon Saturday. The public is welcome, according to Miller.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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