Letter: What Snowmass really needs
October 25, 2015
Dear Snowmass Village City Council, Aspen Skiing Co., Related (or its successor) and loyal Aspen and Snowmass devotees,
What Snowmass Village really needs is the old Timbermill Bar and Grill. My wife and I first came to Aspen and Snowmass in 1969. Shortly thereafter, I organized a ski group of 12 men. As my family grew, we always came back to Aspen and Snowmass each year. The first 10 years, our men's ski group alternated between Aspen and Vail. Thereafter, the men's group chose only Aspen. In the '70s and '80s, Ski magazine always rated Aspen in the top five for skiing and No. 1 in apres-ski entertainment. I particularly enjoyed the Timbermill, the original bar at Highlands and Shooters in Aspen. All had excellent bands and dance floors. For my family and men's ski group, half the magic of Snowmass was going to the old Timbermill after skiing (3 to 6 p.m.) to have a drink, dance and socialize with other skiers.
In recent years when I visit with other Aspen devotees, invariably they ask if I ever experienced the Timbermill. Everyone loved the informal, rustic, laid-back Timbermill experience. The Timbermill was large inside and had "honky-tonk hardwood floors," a moose head and Mardi Gras, state and country flags hanging from the ceiling that visitors had brought and left. My family often would eat lunch there. After skiing, we would go to the Timbermill and search for a table. Some would dance in ski boots, some in socks. Fathers danced with daughters, and mothers with sons. Everyone partied and socialized with people from all over the world.
The old Timbermill is where Venga Venga is today but larger, encompassing rooms now used for ski patrol and instructor lockers. There was no cover charge, but the Timbermill was large enough to support different large bands every day of the week from the sale of food and drinks. Existing Snowmass facilities have small inside venues that can afford only one- or two-person bands. Many great bands got their start at the Timbermill, including the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, John Denver, Heart of the Rockies (now Timbermill Band), Band Blue at Mardi Gras, etc. Old and new musicians now struggle to make a living in the valley because of the lack of a large dance-hall venue.
Snowmass Village has been searching for something to entice repeat visitors. The mammoth center or municipal pool is nice but will not bring back repeat business like a Timbermill. The thing that would unify and brand Snowmass would be "home of the Timbermill" located as a huge new facility in Base Village (or put the original Timbermill back together at the mall). The old Timbermill was half of the magic of Snowmass, and now half the magic is gone. The skiing is great, but the apres-ski half is mostly nonexistent. A great music and dancing venue could be a continuing draw, bigger than occasional one-time events. People come back for the fun and excitement they can depend on every year.
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