Around the Mountains: Low-cost lodging in Vail to get upscaled |

Around the Mountains: Low-cost lodging in Vail to get upscaled

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VAIL – Virtually the last of Vail’s low-cost lodging is going to be razed during the spring shoulder season. The Roost Lodge, located about two miles from the ski lifts, typically caters to college students, hunters, and people from Colorado’s Front Range.The going rate for a room this weekend is $89, compared to $149 at a nearby Holiday Inn Express, while a hotel at the base of the mountain goes for $250. As you might expect, some of the five-star hotels are going for considerably more than that, even in April.But in a general way, Vail is going steadily more upscale. The average daily rates at hotel in February, for example, hit $330 this year, compared to $263 during the same month last year. A host of high-end properties will open during the next several years, some of them remodels of existing hotels but others essentially new.The Roost, not to be confused with a luxury accommodation, is to be replaced by a Marriott Residence Inn, still on the low end, but a notch up from its predecessor. As in Aspen, which has agonized over its loss of affordability, Vail is concerned about being exclusively a high-end.Taos-area resorts report one heckuva of a winterTAOS, N.M. – Ski season was looking grim during the early season in New Mexico. Last year had been among the worst ever for snow, and December was a continuation of the same. Going into Christmas, Angel Fire had only half its terrain open.Then a big storm hit, leaving five feet. Since then, the four ski areas around Taos – Taos Valley, Angel Fire, Red River, and Sipapu – have coasted. “We had more snow in January than we did all of last season, and February to March just blew the cork off skiing,” said Angel Fire’s David Dekema, a marketing director. March roared like a lamb in Jackson HoleJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Say what you will about April, powder lovers at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort found March plenty cruel. The resort received only 10 inches during the month at mid-mountain, the lowest amount since record-keeping began in 1967. The entire winter was marginal or worse – mostly worse.The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the weather during March was also warm and sunny, with temperatures high on the ski mountain getting into the 40s, while even hitting the low 60s down in the valley.Town struggles with heated outside paversCRESTED BUTTE – The nitty-gritty of reducing carbon dioxide emissions at the grassroots is getting tedious in Crested Butte. There, the city had considered an outright ban on all new snowmelt systems, including heated driveways and sidewalks. Instead, because of protests, it instituted a moratorium while considering the options.The thinking is that that heated walkways are an extravagance that the town should not be a party to, given the accumulating evidence about climate change. Electricity is most often used in such melting systems, which means that natural gas or more likely coal is being burned somewhere to produce that electricity. Both produce carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.But the council, reports the Crested Butte News, is struggling with fairness. For example, will melting the snow with electricity really cause more hydrocarbons to be burned? “If (snow is not melted, it has to be moved with a snow blower, a plow, something like that,” pointed out Ron Chlipala, a council member. “What I’m worried about is that we are problem-switching as opposed to problem-solving.” Another council member, Leah Williams, suggested a carbon tax.The council had originally considered copying a program introduced in nearby Aspen and Pitkin County, called the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program (REMP). That program establishes an energy budget for all homes of more than 5,000 square feet. Any “luxury” items such as outdoor heated swimming pool or heated driveways must compensate for the extra energy use by installing solar panels, for example. Or, if not, they can pay a mitigation fee, which is then put into use elsewhere in the community by people who will install solar panels.Plot thickens in the Telluride land caseTELLURIDE – The plot continues to thicken in Telluride, where the town is attempting to condemn 570 acres of pastoral land at the entrance to the box-canyon valley.Although a jury in February ruled that landowner Neal Blue is entitled to get $50 million, Blue is now trying to block the condemnation.The San Diego Union-Tribune explains that Blue bought 880 acres in the valley in 1983 for a reported $6 million, and had plans to build a golf course and assorted real estate. Blunted by Telluride, he later announced plans to annex to Mountain Village, Telluride’s relatively new sibling town. That ignited the plan to condemn the property.”The owner is very, very angry at the notion that he should have property expropriated by Telluride that is outside the borders of Telluride, that is bigger than the town of Telluride itself, and that is to be used for their own private playground,” Blue’s attorney, Denver-based Tom Ragonetti, told the Union-Tribune.In 2004, Ragonetti helped persuade Colorado legislators to adopt a law that sharply curtailed the ability of home-rule municipalities to condemn land outside their borders and expressly blocked Telluride from condemning land outside its borders for parks and open space.

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