By Billie Frank, Examiner.com
Aspen is a diverse town. It is a Mecca for the rich and famous, but it is more than that. In winter it attracts skiers from all economic strata. Those with leaner bank accounts finance their habit by filling the many service jobs in town. Frequently, they live elsewhere and commute. Housing in the Roaring Forks Valley does not come cheap. In the summer the area attracts outdoorsy types for the wide variety of activities available; world-class musicians for the Aspen Music Festival and some of the best minds in the world come to the Aspen Institute. Some come just to relax and enjoy the wonderful mountain scenery and fresh air.
There are all sorts of accommodations for visitors. Four and five-star hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, home and condo rentals and campsites cater to all economic levels, well sort of. The budget options are few and hard to find and the term “budget” is relative; no $50 a night rooms in Aspen.
A great option if you want to save on dining out is a condo rental. We stayed at The Gant, a condotel (part hotel, part condo) on the southwest end of town. The property offers luxury-hotel amenities; a front desk, bellmen, concierge, daily housekeeping and shuttle service. Guests can leave their cars and not deal with parking hassles when they go to town.
The complex, built in1974, underwent a complete exterior renovation three years ago. A vast majority of the privately-owned condos are rented out. The management company, Destination Hotels and Resorts has rigorous standards. The units are inspected every eighteen months both by the company and by an independent service. If they don’t meet or exceed the standard they are not rented out. The units, from one to four bedrooms are divided into three categories:
Standard: These units have clean and comfortable furnishings. The décor is dated or basic. They tend to have older kitchens and baths.
Deluxe: These units have high quality furnishings and décor with upgraded kitchens and baths.
Premier: These units feature luxurious furnishings and décor including artwork, designer lighting and top-of-the-line kitchens and baths.
Our Deluxe one-bedroom unit had a good-sized great room with a dining area, balcony, fireplace and a well-equipped granite and stainless kitchen. There was a granite bath and a small bedroom. We were there during a hot-spell. The great-room cooled by a ceiling fan stayed pretty comfortable. We used a fan in the bedroom. Aspen gets about three hot weeks a year and many places are not air-conditioned. If this is important to you, ask.
The Gant has five tennis courts (two-hard surface, two are clay) and two lovely landscaped pool areas with jetted hot-tubs. The chaise lounges around the pool are a great place to relax in the sun. If you want to cook dinner out, there are gas grills for guests’ and residents’ use and tables shaded by umbrellas for alfresco dining.
Other lodging options:
If five-star service is your goal, check out The Little Nell. The St. Regis Resort has four-stars and the historic Hotel Jerome four-diamonds. They are other luxury hotels and condos to choose from. There are companies that specialize in Aspen rentals; the international Five Star Destinations, and locally, Joshua & Company and Frias Property of Aspen.
If you are on a budget, this is the time to resort to the Internet discounters such as Expedia, Travelocity, etc. They may offer the best prices or try bidding on Priceline, you never know. The lowest price accommodations run close to or over $100 per night depending on the season. There is nary a chain motel in sight. Glenwood Springs about an hour drive and Carbondaleabout 45 minutes away have some national chain options and some less expensive lodging in general.
If you want to be in Aspen on a budget, the no frills Mountain Chalet and the St. Moritz (with some shared baths) fare well on Trip Advisor (which should always be read with a large grain of salt). Other more reasonable lodging choices are Aspen Mountain Lodge, the Annabelle Innand Mountain House Lodge. Also In summer there is the camping option.
If you want to save more, the slow season with lower rates is between ski season and summer and then the end of summer season and the Christmas holiday season.
We were the guests of The Gant while in Aspen. Their generous hospitality has not influenced this article in any way.