Monday, December 11, 2017
Limelight Hotel-‘It’s a Product We’ve Been Missing’
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Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas and Aspen Skiing Company’s Jim Crown, Don Schuster and Mike Kaplan took part in the ribbon cutting as the snow CONTINUED to fall outside.
 
Saturday, January 21, 2017
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

In the summer of 2014 a team from Aspen Skiing Company walked into Jim Crown’s office.

“We’ve found some place special. You’ve got to come up and see,” they told the owner of Aspen Skiing Company.

That place was Ketchum. And now it’s the home of Aspen Skiing Company’s new Limelight Hotel.

 
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Don Schuster, Aspen Skiing Company’s vice president of Hospitality, was presented with the sign of the old Bald Mountain Hot Springs Lodge, which once sat where the Limelight Hotel now sits.
 

“They were exactly right,” said Crown. “Ketchum has a great environment. You can walk out the front door and be where you want to be. It has great views and a great community. This is the kind of place you can invite people and you know they will enjoy it and participate in it.”

Mike Kaplan, Aspen Skiing Company’s CEO, agreed: “Part of it’s the intangibles. “The community is very special. They’re a community that loves everything about living here—every time I come here I hear about some incredible event I should have gone to. That kind of spirit seems like it will serve our guests well.”

Kaplan watched Friday night as Crown cut the ribbon for the new hotel during a three-hour grand opening party thrown for many of those who had helped bring the hotel to fruition.

There were 250 on the guest list, according to hotel manager John Curnow. But Curnow said he had no idea how many would actually show up, as many brought friends and family. And, of course, a number of guests staying at the hotel, including members of the Colorado Association of Ski Towns, wiggled their way into the party, as well.

 
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Rick LeFaivre helps himself to the Limelight Hotel’s prized macaroni and cheese dish.
 

Those who took part sampled Limelight’s wood-fired pizzas, some of which were crowned with greens and some of which sizzled with Thai spices. They helped themselves to pulled pork sandwiches and the hotel’s prized pulled pork macaroni and cheese as they listened to the music of Hill Folk Noir, a group made up of longtime locals like Spike Coggins.

And they noshed on Idaho Mules—drinks made with 44 North Vodka topped with huckleberries—and availed themselves of a champagne bar and local brews, including those of Sun Valley Brewery.

The Rev. John Moreland and Mackenzie Harbaugh won 52 wood-fired pizzas in a raffle that included a stay at the hotel and helmets and goggles from the hotel’s sports store.

“We’re taken care of food wise for a year,” said Moreland.

 
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Tom Boley shows off some of the hats that were given away as souvenirs, along with pizza cutters.
 

And Scott Fortner, the new head of Visit Sun Valley, won an eco-friendly pair of Limelight skis made from aspen and beetle-killed pine.

Among the attendees was Sun Valley’s General Manager Tim Silva, environmental advocates Kingsley and Cynthia Murphy, Scott and Anne Mason of the Ketchum Grill, Sun Valley Film Festival’s Candice Pate and Sun Valley Snowsports Director Tony Parkhill and his national tennis champion wife Maria. Also, Sun Valley Center for the Arts Director Christine Davis-Jeffers and the Board Bin’s Jim Slanetz, who also sits on Ketchum’s City Council.

Kaplan noted that the property was built in short order, given that Aspen Skiing Company closed on the property in December 2014 and turned the first shovel full of dirt six months later in July 2015.

“Every time I’ve been here I’ve felt so welcome. It keeps me wanting to come back,” he said. “Not only is it a place to come in and party but it’s a place to come meet with family  and friends…a place to plan your next adventure…a place where you really engage in life.”

 
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Walter Lucas proudly served up pulled pork sandwiches.
 

Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas said that the group was a pleasure to work with—they were respectful and got their work done quickly.

“Now we have a fantastic space, a much needed space,” she said. “Yesterday I was here for three separate conferences all in one day.”

The hotel opened the lounge, or what hotel officials call “the community’s living room,” a few days after Christmas. They opened 30 hotel rooms on the second floor a few days later. And they just opened the remainder of the hotels’ 99 hotel rooms on the third floor just before the grand opening celebration.

“It’s really been a blur,” said Tom Boley, who works in guest services. "Now, the hotel is catching up with the living room."

Many of those who attended the celebration said the hotel filled a gap in the community.

“I’m totally blown away by the hotel,” said Doug Brown whose Sun Valley Economic Development has planned a March 29 members meeting at the hotel. “It’s the product we’ve been missing—and it’s right on Main Street. It’s modern, spacious. It has great energy. It’s a great gathering place for Ketchum that we haven’t really had.”

Carter Hedberg, the Community Library’s development director, said he appreciates the partnerships that the hotel has already established with some of the valley’s nonprofits, such as the Environmental Resource Center.

“It’s a space that has high energy,” he said. “And, already, they’ve managed to snag some good P.R.  from the New York Times and Forbes.

Mike Fitzpatrick, the marketing manager for Sun Valley Company, said he believes the partnership with Aspen Skiing Company will be a great thing for the community, bringing skiers to Baldy and other vacationers to Sun Valley.

“I love it,” said Kristy Pallas, office manager for the Chamber of Commerce of the Wood River Valley. “The colors are very inviting. The hotel is very inviting.

Rick and Terri LeFaivre spent part of the evening watching Dent’s Co-Founder Steve Broback perform magic tricks—something he said he’s been doing for years.

The couple were among a number of Wood River Valley residents who took advantage of special rates given Wood River Women’s Foundation members to stay in the hotel on Thursday night.

“It was great,” said Terri LeFaivre. “And it has lots of amenities for skiers—like lots of hooks.”

TO LEARN MORE about the new Limelight Hotel, check out Eye on Sun Valley’s Jan. 8 story, “The Limelight Hotel—Not Just for Tourists.”

 

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