Opening in January of the new year, the Ketchum Limelight Hotel has welcomed the public to its “community living room.”. With dog-friendly floors, a kid area in the lobby and large family-oriented hotel rooms, owner Aspen Skiing Company hopes to draw younger visitors to the Wood River Valley.
“Social adventurers” is how Don Schuster, vice president of hospitality for Aspen Skiing Company, has described the Limelight’s visitor profile: outdoorsy, fun-loving folks who take advantage of the beauty outside the hotel walls. The interior is modern and familiar: a three-star hotel designed to appeal to and meet a variety of guests’ needs.
Thanks to an accelerated construction schedule, accommodated by the City of Ketchum, the five-story hotel on 151 S. Main St. opened December 16 with a grand opening party commemorating the event. The Limelight is currently taking January reservations.
The hotel will be modeled after the first Limelight Hotel in Aspen, Colo., and has the same owners: the Wilmette, Illinois-based Crown family.
To draw the crowds, the company is focusing marketing efforts on Sun Valley’s feeder markets—Los Angeles, Portland, Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco, New York—paying particular attention to Mountain Collective pass holders. The Mountain Collective is a ski pass allowing access to 14 ski resorts, including Aspen and Sun Valley, and, interestingly, one of the biggest clusters of Mountain Collective pass holders is just a few hours from Sun Valley.
“When you look at the top cities in the country where passes are being bought, Boise is number four,” said Jeff Hanle, public relations director for the Limelight.
Mountain Collective members will get discounts on their hotel rooms, Hanle said, somewhere in the range of 20 percent.
The discount and proximity to Sun Valley skiing will certainly be motivating. With deck views of Bald Mountain, Forest Service Park across the street and the amenities of Main Street laid out before guests, the Ketchum Limelight is purposefully located to “get people into our property, but send them out the door and spend their money everywhere,” Hanle explained. The hotel boasts a full bar and restaurant on the first floor, but, “we’re not trying to monopolize their time.” The goal is to integrate the laid-back, family atmosphere of the Aspen Limelight with the culture of Ketchum, said both Hanle and new General Manager John Curnow. Curnow, a longtime employee of the hospitality business, recently spent five months living at the Aspen Limelight in preparation for his Ketchum Limelight position.
In fitting with the “community living room” vibe, as Hanle puts it, the hotel management is planning a host of events intended to draw locals and guests. In the lounge, “there’s a built in stage in the corner for music, which we’re going to have five days a week at après ski,” he said.
They also plan on hosting “Limelight Talks”—talks on wide-ranging subjects, from art to nature, presented by national experts flown in for an evening.
To complement the merging of Aspen and Ketchum culture, the managerial staff is a split between Aspen and local professionals: six managers are from the Wood River Valley, six are from Aspen, and one is from New Mexico.
Aspen Skiing Co.is also discussing plans to house their 55-60 year-round Ketchum employees. Although the hotel is exempt from Ketchum’s community housing fee thanks to early negotiations and met deadlines, Hanle said Aspen Skiing Co. wants to join the local affordable housing roundtable.
Getting the design approved by Planning and Zoning involved Aspen Skiing Company working concurrently with the City—showing an investment on their part, too. In addition, Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas is anticipating a boost in local revenues and local option tax monies.
“The relationship between the [Aspen Skiing Co.] and the City has been extremely positive and productive,” Jonas said in an interview.