Buttermilk base undergoes $23 million makeover

Aspen Skiing Company

Buttermilk Ski Area will have a different look and streamlined experience for visitors this ski season after Aspen Skiing Co. completes the latest phase of its base area improvements.

SkiCo is centralizing all skier and rider services into a new, 9,300-square-foot building. Under the old flow, ticket sales, ski school and bathrooms were at the basement of Bumps while ski and snowboard rentals and sales were in an aging facility simply known as “the green building.” Now all guest services will be under one roof.

“That building is really a one-stop shop for everything they need,” said SkiCo project manager Dana Dalla Betta. “Everything was very separated before.”

The $23 million project also includes a substantial remodel of the old Bumps Restaurant, now known as Buttermilk Mountain Lodge.

The restaurant renovations will be ready for the start of Buttermilk’s season, which is a week later than usual this year. It will open on Dec. 17. The new guest services building won’t be ready until the last half of January, so SkiCo is working on plans to offer temporary services for tickets, ski school, equipment rentals and sales in a tent at the base, Dalla Betta said.

The Bumps remodel will help Buttermilk better live up to its motto as “home of the all-day recess.” The restaurant refinements include an expanded interior bar with lounge seating as well as a bar and grill outside to serve a patio that will be enlarged by 30%. A garage-style door will open the interior up toward the rear patio on warm weather days. The outdoor area — with prime viewing of the super pipe — will be known as The Backyard.

The new guest services building will be all-electric to take advantage of Holy Cross Energy’s goal of reaching 100% renewable energy sources by 2030. Because Holy Cross Energy has made so much progress on the renewable front, SkiCo focused investing its funds on energy efficiency. The new building is “super insulated” and will rely on an electric heat pump system rather than natural gas, Dalla Betta said.

Renewables such as solar photovoltaic can be added later, if desired. However, with Holy Cross advancing its renewable energy plan, the carbon footprint of its customers is reduced.

The guest services building is “big and open” to establish flexibility for future years. For example, the ski industry is moving away from ticket counters in favor of online purchases. The space devoted to ticket counters can be absorbed into other functions such as rental and retail as that trend continues.

The guest services building won’t have any food or beverage service but there will be a seating area where customers can hang out, much like at the Snowmass Village ticket office.

At the old Bumps building, the stairway into Buttermilk Mountain Lodge is being relocated so that it doesn’t take up so much of the prime real estate in the building. While the restaurant will remain largely the same, the cafeteria line will be scramble-style rather than straight.

That building isn’t all-electric yet. “The mechanical systems weren’t old enough to scrap,” Dalla Betta said.

A 2,000-square-foot loading dock was added on the southwestern side of the restaurant building to make food and beverage operations more efficient. And, instead of housing the ticket and ski school offices as it did before, the old Bumps building basement will have offices for mountain operations and a desperately needed upgrade for the locker rooms.

Dalla Betta said a plaza featuring a fire pit, large, interactive instruments and art installations will be located between the buildings, adding to the character. 

SkiCo’s master development plan for Buttermilk was approved by Pitkin County government in 2013. SkiCo completed the first phase in 2014 with the construction of The Hideout, a kids’ center, as well as improvements to vehicle circulation, pedestrian walkways and landscaping. That was a $10 million project.

The master plan approvals were good for a decade, so SkiCo decided to complete the major components of the plan this year. CCY Architects of Basalt designed the new guest services building. FCI Constructors is the contractor.

Buttermilk’s makeover is scheduled to be completed in time for the Winter X Games on Jan. 27-29. However, the work will be ongoing after the first snow flies so SkiCo officials are asking uphillers to use West Buttermilk or Tiehack to start the season and avoid the main base.

By: Scott Condon I Aspen Daily News I September 21, 2022


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