March Occupancy in Snowmass Up from Last Year

imagesHotels in Snowmass Village saw slightly more business in March over last year, thanks largely to a flurry of last-minute bookings made after some significant snowstorms. Snowmass occupancy in March came in at 58.6 percent, a 4.2 percent increase from last year, according to a report by the Mountain Travel Research Program. It didn’t look that way before the month, though.

“We were coming in almost dead flat with last March,” said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.  March had a long way to go, but a dramatic change in the ski conditions got the phones ringing. March bookings made that same month were up 20 percent over last year, helping the numbers to rise above.

Snowmass hotels saw a strong finish in April with close to 50 percent occupancy the first half of the month, double the rate that Snowmass saw in the same period last year.  Most of the visitors were in town for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic the first week of April and the Mountain Travel Symposium the second.  “And last year we had Easter in April,” Tomcich said. “That really illustrates the power of those two groups.”

The properties almost sold out during the winter sports clinic and Mountain Travel Symposium, he said. All of the symposium business events were in the Westin Snowmass Conference Center.  “That quite honestly took us over the top,” Johnson said. “We’re hoping that momentum continues through the summer season.”

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Forest Service Ready to Sell Real Estate

imagesThe White River National Forest is ready to move forward with the sales process for a portion of its Aspen West End property, in order to finance a redevelopment of the aging visitor center at the S-curves.

Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams published a notice last week approving the conveyance of an acre at the northwest corner of the 3-acre property. The for-sale portion would be split into five lots of about 6,000 square feet, each suitable for single-family homes.  “I’m finally in the real estate business,” Fitzwilliams joked.

The notice, published April 11, kicks off a 45-day period during which the Forest Service’s decision to sell the property can be appealed to officials in Washington D.C. If no appeal is filed, Fitzwilliams said he hopes the marketing and sale of the property, conducted through the Government Services Administration, will go forward this summer. A Forest Service press release issued Thursday said the Aspen property is the  No. 1 priority for the White River National Forest’s conveyance program.

The Forest Service hasn’t settled on the method it will use to sell the property, Fitzwilliams said, although an online or live auction is being considered. He said  White River staff is looking to other instances where the Forest Service has sold property in high-end real estate markets, such as Sedona, Ariz., and the Lake Tahoe region in California and Nevada, for ideas.

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Colorado Fun!

Alpine Slide-LEADWhen it comes to winter thrills, Colorado ski resorts offer nearly everything snow lovers crave. But just because skis and boards have been mothballed for the summer doesn’t eliminate reasons for visiting slope-side resorts.

Here are 33 summer adventures to be found around Colorado’s top ski communities. Like the trails and terrain, we’ve categorized activities by difficulty—family-friendly easy greens, more-challenging intermediate blues and adrenaline-infused advanced black-diamonds. Pick a pursuit and have some fun.

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Skiers, Riders Line up for Highland Bowl

imagesSkiers and snowboarders showed up to Aspen Highlands in force Tuesday after a massive snowstorm created some of the best conditions of the season.  The parking structure at Aspen Highlands filled up quickly causing city officials to direct motorists back to Aspen to take the free bus.

Photos of the 12,392-foot Highland Bowl circulated in social media showing an impressive procession of skiers and snowboarders snaking up it with wisecracks about town being empty because all of the locals were seemingly hiking and skiing the bowl. Other locals shared photos of an avalanche that slid sometime Monday night in nearby Maroon Bowl, which is out of bounds.

Aspen Highlands was originally scheduled to shut down for the season this Sunday but the Aspen Skiing Co. has decided to reopen the mountain the following weekend, April 27 and April 28, in appreciation of their customers and the bountiful April snow.

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Cycling Fans Invited to Create Poster for Pro Challenge

imagesAs Aspen and Snowmass Village gear up to host the USA Pro Challenge cycling race for the third year, professional and amateur artists have been invited to submit designs for the official commemorative poster.

The contest opened on April 15, and the deadline for entries is May 5. A panel of Aspen and Snowmass residents will select the winner from a pool of finalists. The winning design will be printed as Aspen/Snowmass’ official poster for the event, which will be available for purchase during the summer across Aspen and Snowmass and featured on Aspen Chamber and Resort Association, city of Aspen and Snowmass Tourism social-media platforms.

Aspen is the only city to host two stages in this year’s challenge, with the first on day one, taking place between Aspen and Snowmass Village. Artists are encouraged to highlight Aspen/Snowmass’ natural beauty, cycling terrain and outdoor-adventure culture.

Winners will be announced May 20. Each winner will receive a pair of VIP passes to the hospitality tent at one stage finish as well as recognition and exposure for his or her artwork.

Aspen Rental Vacancy Rates Drop to Four-year Low

imagesTeton County’s apartment rental market constricted to a point last year that hasn’t been seen since 2008.  Last year, the vacancy rate fluctuated between 1 percent and 1.6 percent, according to a new report published by the state Community Development Authority. In 2011, that rate was hovering around 10 percent.

Managers at two large apartment complexes in Jackson said they’ve seen their vacancy rates drop gradually over the last year.  “It seems like everything is coming back,” said Aspen Meadows Apartments property manager Sean Ryan.

Aspen Meadows increased its rent for a one-bedroom apartment, albeit slightly, in response to growing demand. A one-bedroom, deluxe apartment is going for $880 per month. Last year, the complex charged $825. The occupancy rate at Blair Apartments increased to 83 percent. During the same time last year, it was at 70 percent.

The county’s vacancy rate was the lowest in the state at the end of 2012. The state average was 4.2 percent, although central Wyoming communities had an average rate of 1.9 percent. Landlords in the southeastern corner of the state reported a vacancy rate of 2.7 percent. The vacancy rate survey comes in a bundle of economic data that seems to show that the valley’s economy is slowly on the mend.

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Airports Near Aspen, Colorado

jet_slopesWhile Denver International Airport is Colorado’s largest airport and is generally the easiest and cheapest to fly into, it is a four-hour mountain drive to Aspen, and even farther from the western ski resorts of Telluride and Durango. Colorado High Country has a variety of airports that are closer to its world-class ski resorts, allowing for more direct, quicker travel.

The Aspen/Pitkin County Airport ( is Aspen’s regional airport, just five minutes from the resort area. Take a morning flight and be skiing by afternoon. Two airlines service the airport: United Express, operated by SkyWest, and Republic, operated by Frontier. Direct flights are available from cities including Denver, Los Angeles and Chicago.

While Aspen/Pitkin County Airport is the most convenient airport to Aspen travel, there are other airports in the surrounding ski country that are much closer to Aspen than Denver. Further, so long as you don’t mind car travel, these airports will allow you to piece together trips with other famous Colorado ski resorts. Eagle County Regional Airport ( is about an hour and a half north of Aspen and is located conveniently to Vail and Beaver Creek. To the south, Gunnison airport ( is not much closer than Denver, but would allow you to combine a trip to Crested Butte, one of Colorado’s most challenging ski areas, with a trip to Aspen.

Top Ski Bars In Colorado’s High Country

imagesColorado’s high country is home to some of the most fun ski bars in the United States. After all, Colorado provides some of the most fantastic skiing in the world. Once you’ve hit the slopes for the day, it’s time to unwind with friends and family. Below are five of the best apres-ski watering holes to replenish. My favorite bar in Telluride is the historic Sheridan. Click here to read CBSDenvers favorite high country bars.

Secret Stash, Crested Butte, CO – Secret Stash has the best pizza, wings and beer in the Crested Butte area. The pub is a very popular hangout after a long day of skiing or snowboarding. It has been a staple in the area since 2002 and features a happy hour each weekday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.  It’s a restaurant and a fun bar hangout all in one. 

Ajax Tavern,  Aspen, CO – Ajax Tavern is located in Aspen, at the base of Aspen Mountain. This is a fantastic restaurant during the day. One of its most popular entrees is the Ajax double cheeseburger with truffle fries. Once your day of skiing is done, you can kick back and relax with friends in the bar area. It’s a fun place to hang out with a great selection of the finest wines, as well as signature martinis and microbrews.

Cecilia’s Martini Bar, Breckenridge, CO-  Cecilia’s Martini Bar is located in Breckenridge. It provides an amazingly fun time to spend with friends and family after a great day on the slopes. Cecilia’s has a vast selection of spirits, including its signature martinis. There are nightly DJs, making it a prime spot to keep those ski legs loose with dancing.

Colorado Ski Visits Down 11%

colorado-ski-map-620x406According to The Colorado Springs Business Journal ski visits across the state of Colorado are down 11.5% so far this season, compared to the same period last year. The Journal sites the lack of snow and late openings for many Colorado resorts as major factors in the drop of skier traffic.

“First period is largely fueled by in-state visitors, and an unseasonably warm October and November kept many Coloradans from tallying lots of ski days” said Melanie Mills, president and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA, a nonprofit industry group that represents several of the state’s largest ski resorts. “Snow did not arrive in earnest until mid-December.”

Despite the slow start, ski areas saw a strong holiday period with conditions more in line with an average year. The New Year started with storms, which bodes well for the rest of the season, she said.

“There is some real buoyancy in the indicators for the months ahead. February and March hotel bookings are pacing ahead of last year by 3.5 percent and 8.6 percent respectively,” Mills said. “Carnival and Easter are well-timed for ski visitation this year and Colorado’s traditional snowier months lie ahead.”.

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Bowling Alley to Open in Snowmass

imagesIt’s been decades since the upper valley had a bowling alley but that’s about to change as a local man is in the midst of creating one in Snowmass.  Mark Reece recently signed a lease on a roughly 6,000-square-foot subterranean space below Venga Venga, situated along Fanny Hill, said commercial real estate agent Ruth Kruger, who brokered the deal.  “We’ve been working on [finding a space] for three years,” she said. “It’s hard to make financial sense in doing a bowling alley.”  But Reece and the owner of the building, Lance Hool, have reached a rent price that apparently will pencil out for the start-up business.   He said he’s been eyeing the space, and negotiating with Hool and his representatives, for almost three years.  “I was trying to capitalize on the right price for that space,” Reece said. “We couldn’t make ends meet. … We were willing to pay [a price] and they were willing to come down.”Reece said he has received zoning approvals from the town of Snowmass Village and will soon submit a building permit application. He said he hopes to be open by the summer.

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