Top of Aspen Mountain to Reopen for Memorial Day Skiing

1imagesAspen Skiing Co. is reopening the top of Aspen Mountain for skiing and snowboarding this Memorial Day weekend, after getting some late spring snow.

Sixteen runs on almost 90 acres will be open at the top of the mountain Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Aspen Skiing Co.’s vice president of mountain operations, Rich Burkley, says the resort has had nearly four feet of snow since Aspen Mountain closed for the season. The company said Monday that the snow base is 33 inches deep at the top.

Lift tickets will be $36 per day.

Nearly all Colorado ski areas are closed for the season, but Arapahoe Basin doesn’t plan to close until at least June 2.


Jackson Hole Resort Has Record Season

The Jackson Hole Mountain Resort had a record number of skiers this past season. Officials say the resort broke its benchmark of a half-million visits, with more than 502,000 skiers hitting the slopes since Nov. 24. That’s an increase of five percent over last year and broke the previous record set in 2008. They say they’re lucky, considering the resort only received 385 inches of snow. That’s down from 605 inches five years ago.

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Vail, Breckenridge to Reopen for Bonus Weekend

Breckenridge Ski Resort and Vail officials announced today they will extend the two resorts’ ski seasons one additional weekend, April 19-21, due to the large amounts of snow the resorts have received in recent days.

Breckenridge has received over 5 feet of snow so far in April, including another 16 inches since the resort’s initial closing on Sunday. At Vail, 2 feet of snow has fallen since the original closing day of its 50th anniversary season. More snow is in the forecast this week for both resorts.

“After skiing some amazing powder turns on Closing Day and more heavy snow in the forecast this week, we just don’t have the heart to shut down Breck’s lifts just yet,” said Pat Campbell, senior vice president and COO at Breckenridge Ski Resort. “We can’t deny how great the conditions are, so this is a great opportunity for all of our guests to take advantage of a few extra days and enjoy more of the spring skiing and riding we all love here in Breck.”

“This is a great way to end our 50th anniversary season,” added Chris Jarnot, senior vice president and COO at Vail Mountain. “This is an opportunity for our season pass holders and skiers from around the region to take advantage of a few extra days, and enjoy more of the spring skiing we all love here in Colorado.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the Aspen Skiing Co.’s decision Monday to keep Aspen Highlands open for a bonus weekend, April 27 and April 28. Highlands’ original closing day was scheduled for April 21.

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Aspen Highlands Extends Ski Season by 1 Weekend Following Spring Snowfall

Aspen Highlands is extending its season by one weekend.

The ski area’s closing day had been scheduled for April 21, but Aspen Skiing Co. said Monday that Aspen Highlands will reopen April 27-28 as a thank you to skiers and riders.  The ski area has had consistent snowfall over the past week.

Adult ski lift tickets to Aspen Highlands are currently $62 per day, but people with season passes from other Colorado resorts can get them for $39 during the bonus weekend when they show the season passes at the ticket window.

Aspen Highlands is one of the few Colorado ski resorts still open. Winter Park, Loveland and Arapahoe Basin also are still open.


Snowmass Council OK With Tax Rate That is One of Highest in State

imagesSnowmass Village’s sales tax rate is generally proper, but what steps to take if it rises because of hikes at the county or state levels need to be ironed out, officials said Monday.

The town’s total sales collection on retail, restaurants and lodging is 12.8 percent, giving Snowmass Village the third-highest rate in Colorado behind Winter Park and Mount Crested Butte, Town Council was told.

Finance director Marianne Rakowski said she queried six economists in the state to discern what, if any, impact increasing or decreasing sales tax has on consumer spending.

The experts all said that no studies have been done in this area, but one said he believes “that most travelers … are very familiar with tax rates above 10 percent and are probably unlikely to be using tax rates as a determinant in vacation planning or decision making,” Rakowski’s memo says.

Snowmass Village by itself levies a 2.5 percent tax on retail, restaurant and lodging sales that funds marketing efforts, and a separate 2.4 percent tax added to rental bills that goes toward bringing in group business.

The two rates have resulted in “a very healthy budget for both marketing and group sales compared to” other communities, said Russ Forrest, town manager.

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10-Day Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival Takes Place in September

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProving Jackson Hole’s mettle as a cultural destination, the annual Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival, now in its 29th year, brings its trademark mix of visual, contemporary, culinary, Western, landscape, wildlife and Native American arts to Jackson, Wyo., September 5 – 15, 2013. Offering Wyoming visitors more than 50 family-friendly events, many of them free – and surrounded by the Teton Mountains in their autumn beauty – the festival revels in art and artists from around the world, with a chance to purchase original pieces from cowboy to cutting-edge contemporary.

The 2013 Jackson Hole Fall Arts Festival roundup of artsy fun includes the Palates & Palettes gallery walk on September 6; tours of historic Jackson Hole ranches September 7; and the crowd-pleasing Taste of the Tetons where participants stroll historic downtown Jackson’s sidewalks sampling gourmet cuisines from area chefs on September 8.

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Aspen Area Real Estate Numbers Continue 2013 Slide

imagesReal estate in Pitkin County took a hit in February in both dollars and transactions, according to the latest data compiled by Land Title Guarantee Company.

Total dollar volume for February was about $38.39 million, a decrease of 15 percent from the same month in 2012. There were 44 total transaction in February, or about 4 percent fewer sales than there were in February of last year, the report showed.

Among those sales, $27.7 million was in Aspen, $1.9 million in Snowmass Village, $1.6 million in Basalt, $3.3 million in Old Snowmass and $245,000 in Redstone, the report said, adding that there were also $3.6 million in interval unit (aka fractional) sales.

So far this year, there has been about $118.26 million in county real estate transactions, a decrease of 17 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Year to date, transactions totaled 103, an increase of 2 percent from the same period in 2012.

There were seven bank sales recorded in the county in February that totaled $2.2 million and accounted for 16 percent of the transactions and 6 percent of the dollars. Year to date, there have been 16 bank sales recorded in the county, totaling $9.1 million and accounting for 16 percent of the transactions and 8 percent of the dollars, Land Title Guarantee reported.

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April Sales Taxes Down, but Still Up For the Year

imagesAn otherwise strong year for sales tax took a hit this month when collections for Jackson came in much lower than expected. The town collected $607,000 in sales taxes in February. The state distributes the money to local governments in April. Jackson’s collections are $101,000 less than the total for the same time period last year — $708,000.

Even with the poor showing, the town still is on track to collect $63,000 more for the fiscal year than estimated in the budget.

Town leaders already amended the 2013 budget earlier this year to reflect more optimistic sales tax projections for this fiscal year, which began July 1, 2012, and ends June 31. The town now anticipates bringing in 3.88 percent more in sales tax revenue than last year’s total of $9.32 million. That would mean $9.68 million filling town coffers by June.

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New Business Building Boosts Permit Values

JHimagesJackson business construction is bumping up the value of building permits issued by the town. Through the first quarter of the year, the town of Jackson has issued the same number of permits as last year. But the price tag for those projects has nearly quadrupled.

The 23 permits doled out by the building department from January to March of this year add up to $12.1 million of work. Jackson inspectors issued the same number of permits last year at this time, but the value of those permits totaled just $3.4 million. A strong March contributed to the bump in the projects’ value. Only 12 permits were approved last month, but the cost of the work totaled $5.8 million. In 2012, builders received 18 permits adding up to $2.6 million.

Part of the overall increase can be attributed to a handful of large projects.  Owners of the old Sunrise True Value Home Center land on Highway 89 pulled a $2 million permit in March for a commercial addition. The Jackson Whole Grocer is supposed to move to the property sometime later this year.  Another $4 million permit was issued to JMI Realty in January for an overhaul of Snow King Resort.

Still, the mix of projects this year has been diverse. In March the town distributed five permits for commercial alterations, three permits for new single-family homes, and one each for a commercial addition, a residential alteration, new commercial construction and siding.  Last year, the town issued building permits worth $21.3 million in construction.