Letter: Look to midvalley for lodging
October 19, 2015
In response to Bill Stirling's recent guest commentary ("The balance between resort and town," The Aspen Times, Sept. 14), l would like to acknowledge his point of view and submit mine, which conversely will provide a balance to the discussion.
Midvalley hotels: In my opinion, Basalt, Willits and Carbondale will be the primary locations for future affordable tourist accommodations in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Transportation: Being able to board a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus for Aspen and Snowmass is a wonderful, affordable transportation amenity and should not be deemed a detriment. Public transportation is the best option to reduce auto traffic on Highway 82 and does not require finding suitable parking in close proximity to recreation, cultural events, shopping or restaurant experiences.
Restaurants: The midvalley communities offer many ethnically diverse, high-quality, affordable restaurant opportunities. If guests can't afford existing hotel pricing in Aspen and Snowmass, how are they going to enjoy shopping and dining out in one of the most expensive resorts in North America?
Creative solution: Aspen probably has enough beds relative to demand already. They unfortunately just aren't affordable to many potential tourists, especially the foreign travelers, given the effect of the current high exchange rate as recently reported by Aspen Skiing Co.
Why not borrow an idea from the airline industry? Create a "frequent-tourist program" by setting aside a small percentage(12 to 18 percent) of existing rooms in existing hotels and lodges to be priced at substantially reduced rates; a $500-per-night room could perhaps be priced at, say, $275 per night. Even better, team up with Skico to create a package deal to include a truly affordable ski option.
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It's so simple — occupancy goes up, vacancy comes down, many tourists both new and old are happy, and no more construction of new lodge units when there probably is enough already if priced favorably.
Donald J. Fleisher
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