Roger Marolt: Roger This

The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

“It’s a bad day for everyone in the community.” It was the mournful sentiment expressed by a city councilman on behalf of the entire town, except me. I think death can present some good opportunities under the right circumstances.

I don’t know what your personal attachment to hotels is, but I am not one to grieve the death of one, be it a Holiday Inn Express, Ritz-Carlton or anything between. OK, maybe I would mourn the death of The Hotel Jerome, but that’s already been built and is, in fact, more than a hundred years old. Other than that, I’m not feeling emotionally attached to any other local turkey coop.

In case you missed the headline, the thing that died was a conceptual plan for a hotel/timeshare project at the base of Lift 1A on Aspen Mountain that needed to be seven or eight stories tall in order to see the light of day. We are supposed to be shedding tears over that?

I often wonder who is running the show. As if the opening true quote of this piece from an elected representative isn’t silly enough, our city’s sommunity development director was quoted about this project as saying, “When you … ski down from 1A, you think, ‘This is where a lodge should be.'”

I’m sure I am the only person in town whose mind that thought has never crossed, but, then again, I have probably only skied down 1A roughly 3,000 times in my life. I am certain that I will think about what a fabulous potential hotel spot it is every time I ski there from now on, though. Who says skiing isn’t an inspiring experience? Ahhh – riding the lift alone with just the condotel blueprints I have created in my mind to keep me company. Nice.

Even Mayor Mick described the situation in a tone of condolence. “(We are) stuck with the consequences of a bad land-use decision from many years ago.”

OK, first of all, if 2003 (the year townhouses were originally approved for the not-going-to-be-a-hotel site) constitutes a time period “many years ago,” then I am a mummy’s uncle. It makes me feel downright antediluvian.

Second, what’s wrong with townhomes? Admittedly, I don’t get too excited about them, either, but fantasizing about them raises my pulse at least to the level hotels do. Even if it’s a tie on the excite-o-meter, what’s the big deal either way? Build anything, and someone will come; it’s been proven here for more than 50 years.

I don’t buy the argument that this town needs more hotel rooms. Currently we reach full capacity three times a year – Christmas, Fourth of July and X Games. Town is so full these weeks that I am thankful we can’t fit any more guests into it. Other times of the year, I don’t think finding a room is the biggest deterrent for potential visitors. My guess is that it’s the cost of being here, and I don’t think the new lodge at 1A was going to be a Motel/Timeshare 6.

Look, as long as I’m copping to being the lone oddball who isn’t mourning the loss of the What If hotel at the base of Lift 1A, I might as well just come out and say it: I don’t mind quiet, residential parts of this town. I think it’s kind of cool that there is a mellow portal to the greatest ski mountain in the world from the greatest ski town in the world that the masses find unappealing because it requires them to walk uphill for two blocks from Wagner Park to enjoy it. It’s their loss and one of our last little treasures. Bring on the empty townhomes to preserve the peace and quiet.

As long as I’m on a roll, I’ll raise my hand and admit that I don’t think Aspen lacks vibrancy or vitality. No, it’s not as happening as Las Vegas, but oh well – we all have to make sacrifices to live here. I’m thinking that not having a crowd on every corner and four “special” events every weekend is a decent trade-off for what we’re left to get by on.

Now that I’ve bared my soul and given you my not-so-sad views on the loss of the not-so-little lodge that could have been, you’ve probably guessed my true M.O. – I’m the one who still looks forward to offseason.

Roger Marolt is sorry to be in a good mood at such a difficult time for Aspen after losing the potential for a new hotel in town. Contact him at