Mountain Town Roundup
ASPEN – International visitors likely will be the salvation of ski season business again this winter, Aspen Skiing Co. officials told a packed house Friday at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s annual luncheon.”International still seems to be a good market for us,” said John Rigney, Skico vice president of sales and special events. The weak dollar, he noted, is enticing foreign skiers to book trips early.”Whether we like it or not, the U.S. is for sale (for people) from Australia and Brazil – two of our biggest markets,” Rigney said at the luncheon at the Sundeck Restaurant. The international business could be more vital than ever with the uncertainty hanging over the U.S. economy. The stock market has been on a roller coaster ride, unemployment remains high and consumer confidence is sagging. It remains to be seen how that will affect travel plans of U.S. residents.The Skico sales team has spent 500 days on the road in 18 countries and 49 U.S. cities this summer trying to spur business. The Skico team often collaborates with representatives of the Aspen/Snowmass Village lodging community, according to Rigney.It’s too soon to accurately assess how the winter is shaping up, said David Perry, Skico senior vice president, mountain division. The Skico’s goal is to continue climbing back from the recession. Skier visits were up about 2 percent last season.”We’re always optimistic in this town,” Perry said.Reservations on the books as of Aug. 15 indicate the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period is filling in nicely, as expected, and the first half of January remains strong. That reflects the surge in business from Australia and Brazil, Perry said. Late January and the first half of February lag behind last season’s early bookings pace.Skico president and CEO Mike Kaplan said Aspen and Snowmass must hustle especially hard for their business this year because of all the competition. There are 3,000 additional pillows at western ski resorts this season, he said, and many resorts have worked hard to secure greater amounts of airline service.”I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s tough out there,” Kaplan said.- Scott Condon/The Aspen Times
ASPEN – Aspen celebrated macaroni and cheese in all its gooey goodness Saturday, consuming thousands of pounds of the ultimate comfort food before crowning local restaurant Rustique the competition winner.The inaugural Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival drew hundreds of eager mac and cheese fans to a block of Hopkins Avenue on a perfect fall afternoon. Organizer Keith Bulicz, city of Aspen recreation supervisor, vowed the event would return next year after Saturday’s crowd wildly exceeded his expectations.He ordered 10,000 small biodegradable cups in which to serve up samples, and 3,000 tiny “sporks” (diners were each handed one of the biodegradable utensils and expected to use it repeatedly). An hour into the two-hour serving frenzy, the event had run out of both.The Red Onion was serving its mac and cheese concoction in Dixie cups before it was over. The St. Regis ran out of its allotment of cups, but it also ran out of mac and cheese, with about 10 minutes left to go, said Jason Adams, executive chef. That’s despite preparing 35 pounds of dry pasta and 8 gallons of sauce for their dish, which featured poblano peppers, avocado, corn, Irish cheddar and a squeeze of lime. Jimmy’s served up eight pans of its signature Jimmy Mac in the first 30 minutes.Bulicz said he warned the dozen or so participating eateries, plus Clark’s Market, to prepare for 300 people. In reality, they needed servings for three to four times that number, he concluded.Lines of mac and cheese fans snaked though the festival site. Savvy diners collected one dish and chowed it down while they stood in the next queue.”I am so full,” declared Beau Benda of Aspen. “I’ve eaten at least 12 of these [little cups]. I’m full and I’m loving it.”The event drew a mostly local crowd, but Mickey Beller-Young came over from Summit County just to take part. “It’s a good excuse to ride a motorcycle over Independence Pass and eat food,” she said.Locals appeared unanimous in their desire to see the festival become an annual celebration.”I love it. This absolutely should become part of the repertoire,” said Aspen resident Phil Golden.Along with a spork, diners each received two tickets and were instructed to use them to vote for their top two favorites, dropping them into boxes at the serving stations.Rustique won with 506 votes, followed by Jimmy’s with 417.- Janet Urquhart/The Aspen Times
EAGLE COUNTY – Eagle County’s real estate sales in July matched those recorded last year, but the prices dropped.Sales for $500,000 or less accounted for 70 percent of the 92 completed transactions in July, according to the latest data from Land Title Guarantee Company. Almost 60 percent of those sales were owned by banks. For the year so far, 162 bank-owned properties have sold, nearly a quarter of all transactions. More than 40 percent of the lower-priced sales were in Eagle and Gypsum. Overall, sales of $1 million or less accounted for 90 percent of all sales, but 62 percent of the dollar volume. The activity in the under-$500,000 market dropped the average sale price to just more than $529,000. The decline in prices resulted in a dollar volume drop of 45 percent from July of 2010. The overall dollar volume in July dipped to $48 million, the lowest monthly volume since January 2009.As is the case most months, a few high-priced sales accounted for most of the nearly $39.5 million in July residential sales. The highest-priced property – almost $3.4 million – was at the Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail. – Scott N. Miller/Vail Daily
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – At least two Glenwood Springs City Council members would like to see the city’s moratorium on new medical marijuana businesses extended until July of next year, same as a current state moratorium for granting new licenses.As it stands, the city’s moratorium is set to expire Oct. 1. Any existing medical marijuana businesses that want to expand, relocate or make changes to their premises would be allowed to do so after that time.That is, as long as they comply with the recent new zoning and licensing ordinances approved by Glenwood Springs City Council to regulate the industry locally.The state’s moratorium would still prevent any new businesses from opening in Glenwood Springs that hadn’t applied with the state before its moratorium was extended, city attorney Jan Shute said at a recent city council meeting.There is a chance that any pending license requests that were in process with the state before the moratorium was extended could be granted, she said.But Shute said she is not aware of any prospective new businesses that would fit in that category. A its Sept. 1 meeting, the City Council formally adopted an ordinance establishing licensing procedures for medical marijuana dispensaries, commercial growing operations and manufacturing of marijuana-infused products for sale to authorized patients.An amendment to the previously-adopted zoning ordinance was also approved, clearing the way for commercial growing to occur in the city’s industrial zone district along Devereux Road.Both measures passed on separate 5-2 votes. Council members Dave Sturges and Mike Gamba were opposed.- John Stroud/Glenwood Spring Post Independent
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