Roger Marolt: I don’t want to forever regret not asking for this | AspenTimes.com

Roger Marolt: I don’t want to forever regret not asking for this

Roger Marolt
Roger This

Uhm. I feel like a bad person right now. I should keep my mouth shut. It's a gift, right? I should bite my tongue, accept it, and be gracious. Uhg …OK, look, I just have to say it. I would never forgive myself if I didn't. I love it. I really do, but … but … Oh heck … how do I do this?

It would be better with a breezeway.

There, I said it. It would be better with a breezeway! It really would. It's not too late. We still have the receipt. It's on the credit card, right? It's not paid for. Wait! It's not even built yet! It's a custom order. This is great news! We can still make changes! I feel better about this already.

Oh, I hope I haven't hurt anyone's feelings, because it is exactly what I asked for — except for one thing. A breezeway would make it completely awesome! You do want me to truly love it, don't you?

You said it yourself, this new hotel at the base of Lift 1A is all about skiing, the lifeblood and identity of Aspen. That spot is the birthplace of the sport in our iconic resort. Our first ski lift was there. It is where the 1950 F.I.S. World Ski Championships finished and where our town's future began. It's known locally as the skiers' side of the mountain, our heart and soul. We love it. We revere it. What we do there now must reflect our heritage and love affair with skiing and Aspen. What happens with this project will speak to the world for decades to come and we have to make sure it yodels clearly who and what we are.

It looks like we are going to be able to bring the new ski lift back down to town where the original was. That's incredible! It looked impossible. But, we didn't give up. We knew that, to really make this all about our skiing culture, we had to figure out how to move the lift down to its roots, which are our roots. Skiers spoke. You listened. The architects sharpened their pencils. It got done!

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Yet, although it looks like skiing is becoming the primary focus, for that is really what will attract lots of people and make it successful, the project still doesn't feel quite authentically organic like a skier's dream come true. There is still the pesky detail about the building blocking the bottom of Norway Slope.

The hotel that is being built in homage to skiing is ruining some of the most interesting skiing in town. We hoped this jagged point would go away, but as with all large rocks hidden under fresh powder, it grates our nerves when our edges eventually drag across it.

It's painful to bring this up after so much hard work has been done already, but the truth is that this project cannot honestly respect skiing when it is ruining one of our oldest, visible from town, signature ski runs. Sure, skiers might be able to traverse out and work their ways around the hotel back to the lift after skiing Norway, but the fact is the run will be hidden and blocked and largely forgotten, and good skiing lost to real estate development. To me, that is the antithesis of respecting our skiing heritage.

This where the breezeway comes in. Take out a couple of rooms on the ground floor of the new hotel so that skiers can descend Norway Slope and ski right through the new breezeway and back to the lift. This simple architectural feature transforms the hotel into an integral part of the ski run instead of an obstacle and blockade that ruins a historic ski run.

I did an informal poll of local skiers and discovered 100 percent thought it was an incredible idea that absolutely has to happen! I bet you cannot find one person in all of Aspen who does not like this breezeway idea. It unifies Aspen! Admit it, even you think it's great. You just have to stop thinking less about it as a cost of construction and more as a incredibly unique asset that will pay big dividends in perpetuity. Doing things right pays off!

A breezeway from the bottom of Norway Slope through the hotel and back to the ski lift will speak volumes about us. It will mark the hotel as being the skiers' place to stay in Aspen. It will bond locals to the project. It will be a one-of-a-kind ski resort amenity. The cool factor will be off the charts. It will demonstrate to the world that, in Aspen and at Gorsuch Haus, skiing still comes first. Are you going to tell me you can't afford all that?

Roger Marolt thinks we ought to do this right or build another Snowmass or Highlands base village. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.

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