Elevation Hotel aims to take Crested Butte to new heights

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Despite offering some of the best terrain and conditions in the Rockies, not to mention a charming Wild West ski town about five minutes from the slopes, Crested Butte, Colo., has been going through something of an identity crisis for years.

Long considered a skier's mountain known more for its vertical pitch than its amenities, Crested Butte underwent a transition in 2000 when Club Med took over the hotel at the base of the main chairlift and introduced its trademark village concept to the property.

Then, in 2004, Tim and Diane Mueller, owners of Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, bought the Crested Butte Mountain Resort, bringing with them an influx of much-needed capital to upgrade snowmaking and lift equipment.

In addition, the pair introduced a management style that has consistently earned the resort high marks.

Last year, Florida-based Sun Vest Communities USA purchased the Club Med facility and upgraded it in preparation for the current ski season.

Reflagged as the Elevation Hotel and Spa, the slope-side condo-hotel reopened Nov. 18 under the management of CBMR.

"CBMR has owned and operated the hotel twice before, and we are thrilled to be managing it again," said Gina Kroft, CBMR's vice president of marketing and sales director.

The arrangement marks a change from the Club Med operation, which ran as a separate entity from the rest of the mountain. For example, Club Med used its own ski instructors even though CBMR instructors are considered to be among the best in the business.

"We were attracted to the acquisition of the Club Med property [because it is] located at the base of the ski lifts in a fast-growing ski resort, thanks to the Mueller family," said Herb Hirsch, a principal at Sun Vest, adding that the configuration of accommodations will be mostly studio suites, which will help in keeping prices reasonable.

"Crested Butte is the last great ski area still at very low prices, compared to Aspen, Vail and Telluride," he said.

As the only ski-in, ski-out, full-service property in the base area, the Elevation Hotel is located within steps of the Silver Queen and Red Lady high-speed quad chairlifts, said Kroft.

The hotel offers amenities such as valet and concierge services, the Atmosphere Bar & Restaurant, a slope-side deck with its own fire pit, 12,000 square feet of meeting facilities, a hot tub and a swimming pool.

There are 166 guest rooms open for the 2006-2007 season. A total of 263 rooms will be open when all renovations are done.

The next phase of renovation will include an 11,000-square-foot spa and fitness center, a billiards room and a large business center. This phase will be open in time for the 2007-2008 season.

Packages include four nights' lodging, three days of lift tickets, air fare and ground transfers. Package prices -- per person, per night based on double occupancy, before taxes -- start at $216 for travel through Feb. 9 and at $234 from Feb. 10 to March 19.

The Elevation Hotel pays travel agents 10% commission on rates and packages.

For more on the Elevation Hotel, call (888) 816-7829 or visit www.elevationhotel.com. For Crested Butte, call (800) 814-8893 or visit www.gunnisoncrestedbutte.com

To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].

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