Hotel Jerome plans closure and remodel

by Andrew Travers, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

The historic Hotel Jerome is in for a multimillion-dollar remodel that will close the Main Street landmark from late summer to the Christmas season.

All 94 rooms will be refurbished with new carpet, wallpaper and amenities, along with overhauls of the lobby, dining room and ballroom. New offices and a new spa with three treatment rooms will be added to the basement.

“Isn’t it awesome?” hotel general manager Tony DiLucia said Thursday, on a tour of an already-updated model room in the 123-year-old hotel. “It’s still totally the Jerome.”

The hotel is currently closed until May 17 for a much smaller-scale spring cleaning. It will be shuttered again from Aug. 2 through Dec. 15.

The overhaul is the first for the property since 1985. The move was spearheaded by its Chicago-based owners and Auberge Resorts, which took over management of the hotel last year.

They are taking on the delicate task of updating the hotel, while honoring its history, according to designer Todd Avery Lenahan. He has overseen hotel designs in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. The hotel has hired a team of architects from Aspen- and Denver-based Rowland and Broughton to do the hands-on work.

DiLucia praised Lenahan’s retro-modern mash-up vision for the hotel.

“People were afraid we might go super-modern, but that’s just not the Jerome,” DiLucia explained. “The design was selected to honor the bones and spirit of the Hotel Jerome.”

 Chris Council/Aspen Daily News
The lobby, rooms and ballroom at the Hotel Jerome will receive an updated look as part of a major renovation that will close the hotel from August to mid-December. Hotel general manager Tony DiLucia shows off a sample room in the hotel that has already been treated to the redesign.

The new wallpaper designs, for example, come from the 1920s, and the amenities are a mix of Victorian-era furniture with pieces from the ’20s through the ’50s. Historic photos of the Jerome and Aspen will line the walls of the refurbished hotel, along with 21st century necessities like flat-screen televisions and iPod adapters.

The J-Bar will go unchanged, other than a fresh paint job and replacement of seat cushions in the storied watering hole, which holds a near-sacred status among many locals and visitors.

“We love the J-Bar just the way it is,” DiLucia said.

The hotel terrace and pool won’t be part of this year’s work. DiLucia said they hope to tackle that before next summer. This year, the terrace and pool are expected to open before Memorial Day weekend.

Along with the interior facelift, the renovation includes new plumbing and ventilation systems, which will allow cooling or heating anytime of the year. DiLucia said that decision was made largely due to climate change concerns and odd, unseasonal mountain weather.

The hotel’s employees displaced by the August-to-December closure have been offered temporary positions at Auberge resorts in California, DiLucia said.

DiLucia didn’t disclose the price tag for the remodel, other than to say it numbered in the millions of dollars. Room rates are expected to go up commensurately, though DiLucia said the Jerome will continue its tradition of offering off-season cut rates for locals.