Base Village buzzes in initial full season of new amenities in Snowmass

Erica Robbie
Snowmass Sun
The Limelight Snowmass lounge was buzzing on Friday afternoon.
Erica Robbie/The Aspen Times

While offseason is looming, the Limelight lounge on late afternoon Friday was anything but sleepy, as skiers warmed up by the fire, families played shuffleboard and nibbled on pizza, older crowds sipped beer, March Madness played on the big screen and live music permeated the lobby.

The apres-ski scene inside the new hotel toward the end of its debut season is presumably what developers East West Partners and Aspen Skiing Co. had in mind when touting the project as “Snowmass’ living room.”

“I think it shows the fact that the local community was starved for something like this,” Meaghan Lynch, public relations manager for all three of the Skico-owned Limelight Hotels, said Monday. “I think everybody was (wondering) what’s going to happen, and it’s just been successful beyond measure.”

The Limelight Snowmass opened on Dec. 15 to a full house, both in the thousands of people who swarmed to Snowmass to help celebrate the grand opening of Base Village, as well as the guests who occupied every unit of the 99-room hotel.

While Lynch declined to share other occupancy figures for the hotel’s inaugural season, citing Skico’s policy “not to release our specific occupancy numbers publicly for any of our properties,” she offered: “This winter performed better than what we had expected with extremely high occupancies.”

Beds aside, she noted that a number of local families have made visits to the hotel lounge a weekly staple.

As with the other two Limelight Hotels in Aspen and Ketchum, the Snowmass hot spot is known for its homemade pizza. The chefs at the Limelight Snowmass served 2,100 pizzas in March alone, according to Lynch.

Outside the Limelight, restaurateurs in Base Village say the long-anticipated completion of the current phase of development helped boost business — and spirits — this winter.

The community-use Collective housed a number of pop-ups, performances and activities throughout its first season, while ice skaters on the new rink also added life to the plaza area.

“The lows weren’t as low, and there was definitely a difference in terms of the vibe,” said restaurant owner Dave Dugan. “It seems like this was the beginning of something awesome, and I would expect next year for that to increase exponentially from day one, now that people have had a little taste of the direction this is going.”

A Snowmass resident of more than 20 years, Dugan started his Base Village restaurant career 10 years ago and currently is part-owner for four establishments — Base Camp Bar & Grill, Slice, Saki and State 38 — in Base Village.

Dugan said the perception of fine dining in Snowmass, or staying within the village for dinner, also seems to be changing.

“The restaurant’s really taken off for dinner,” Dugan said of State 38 on Friday. “I think people are realizing that they don’t have to take a bus or (look for) parking in Aspen.

“People seem a little more open to experiencing Snowmass for more than just skiing ­— and that’s a big step.”

On the real estate front, East West has sold a significant portion of its inventory, including all three of the residences in the Lumin building and eight of the 11 residences at the Limelight.

At the Viceroy, all of the residences expect the penthouse have sold or are under contract, East West marketing director Sue Hyde said.

Up next is “One Snowmass,” the 140,000-square-foot building that people first see as they approach the village.

Formerly known as Buildings 7 and 8, One Snowmass will altogether boast 41 residences and private amenities, four employee-housing units, four retail storefronts and a 6,000-square-foot medical clinic.

Hyde said that East West placed 11 residences on the market at the end of February, of which two have sold and three are under contract.

Many of these buyers are families who have visited Snowmass before, Hyde said, and “feel like Base Village is a safe place for their children.”