Aspen Times Weekly: Invite the In-Laws…Element Basalt-Aspen Now Open | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly: Invite the In-Laws…Element Basalt-Aspen Now Open

For so long, the reality of living in the Roaring Fork Valley meant that friends and family — or those you just didn't want in your condo for too long — had to visit in the offseason. The majority of people who live here, like you and me, can't ask their retired parents, or sisters and brothers who are teachers and insurance salesmen, to visit your family and stay at The Little Nell (no matter how spectacular it might be.) So what are the other options? Until now there were few, and those few were always booked. Where do you send your mother-in-law when the annual visit arrives?

The LEED-certified Element by Westin Basalt-Aspen and its 113 affordable rooms (yes, actual real affordability) is now open in Willits. With an introductory locals' rate of $69 through Dec. 22, the property anticipates the average cost for a night's stay will be between $160 and $260 per night. This a cool, contemporary and family-friendly place that's great for average-spending tourists, visiting sports teams and yes, your family who can crash there if their numbers are too vast (or your patience too thin).

I toured the property in Willits (West Basalt for you town unifiers; El Jebel for you old-timers) in anticipation of its grand opening that took place this week and found the following:

1. The rooms are suited perfectly for families. With 13 different configurations, each room can accommodate up to six people, and many of the rooms are adjoining. Each has Westin's signature Heavenly bed, couches with an additional pull-out, kitchens with standard-size equipment and stocked with necessities like pots and pans and coffee makers. But, there are no tubs in the bathrooms, so forget about a soak after skiing or giving that baby a warm bath.

2. The location is ideal. For those interested in Aspen, the drive is just 25 minutes to downtown, and the Willits bus stop is a three-minute walk from the hotel's front doors. To Old Town Basalt, it's five minutes by car, 30 minutes by bike, of which the hotel will offer a small number for guests to borrow. During summer months Element will be a swarm of activity for outdoor enthusiasts eager to flyfish, hike and mountain bike in the midvalley.

3. The hotel design is clean and chic. Element Basalt-Aspen isn't vying for any high-end interior-design awards, and the room's artwork might be digitally crafted by the corporate office, but the couches in the lobby are large and comfortable with modern lighting, the fireplace is big and the views of the surrounding mountains are as beautiful as any. In room the colors are kind to the senses in neutral blues and browns and the large windows bring in lots of natural light.

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4. If the introductory rate for locals of $69 per night doesn't entice you, then maybe the free hot breakfast (steel-cut oatmeal, cereals, eggs, breakfast sandwiches, burritos, muffins) or the complimentary afternoon cocktails from 4-7 p.m. will.

5. Guests not staying at the property will also have a chance to enjoy the hotel with beer, wine and small bites for purchase available most nights from 7-10 p.m., some live music and a meeting room that can accommodate up to 30-50 people, which is already being eyed up as the go-to spot for local nonprofits, Basalt Chamber, rotary meetings and other ragers.

6. Despite knowing full well they will have a lot of kids staying at this hotel, the saline pool is shockingly small at 15×30 feet. Not even big enough for a lap, forget about a team of U14 lacrosse players, but I bet they will still be in there shoulder-to-shoulder until midnight.

7. Pool might be small, but there is a 24-hour gym and hot-tub, outdoor fireplace, grill and even a lawn where event tents are envisioned. Will there be a noise curfew? Will they turn down the outside lights? I'm sure abutting Willits neighbors will want to know.

8. Both Basalt Bike & Ski and Bonfire Coffee will have small, but sufficient spaces in the hotel. Basalt Bike & Ski will rent skis in winter and bikes in summer. Bonfire will be open all day until 8 p.m. focusing more on coffee than food, with a menu of hot drinks, smoothies and quick grab-and-go goods like breakfast burritos, empanadas and savory pastries such as feta and goat-cheese croissants. In the evening, Bonfire will offer locally made desserts from Sunshine and Moons, an organic baker in Glenwood, and eventually, after a obtaining a liquor license, wine and beer.

9. The staff of 50 is local and they are happy to be giving up the upvalley commute. They might not be making as much as they did at resorts in Aspen, but with a large corporation like Starwood (Element/Westin's parent company) they are receiving comparable benefits, discounted ski passes, saving on gas and can still see their kids off to school.

To date, there are Element hotels in 16 markets in North America, one Element hotel in Europe, one Element hotel in China, with new domestic and international hotels in development. My guess is that at this location, this hotel product is going to be hugely popular for families, for long-term stays, business and tourism travel. With its midvalley location and mid-range price point, people who have been longing to visit the Roaring Fork Valley in winter or summer (or your favorite in-law) will now have a place to call home.

Amiee White Beazley writes about travel for the Aspen Times Weekly. Reach her at awb@awbeazley.com or follow her @awbeazley1.

NEED TO KNOW

Check out the Element by Westin Basalt-Aspen for yourself during one of its weekly Tuesday Open Houses now through January from 4-8 p.m. with refreshments and entertainment. To book the special local rate of $69 per night use the code LXPKG1 at elementbasaltaspen.com.

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