Aspen Skiing Company Comes to Town

    The employees with the best office view at Aspen Skiing Company are no doubt the bowl rats at the Highlands Patrol HQ, where guys like Mike Spayd, Chris Halsey, and Aaron Smith look out at the Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peak, and more of the Elk Mountain Range. But their killer vista is perhaps to be expected, given their office’s location at 11,675 feet. Among ASC’s corporate desk jockeys, those pallid, leaden-legged souls who log more screen time than ski time, the best-view claim may be more coveted. As of last November, the honor goes to Matt Jones.

    The Aspen Skiing Company VP and CFO sits not on top of a mountain, but in a corner office on the third floor of the Riverside Plaza building in downtown Basalt. When he swivels away from his desk, Jones looks out on a meandering stretch of the Roaring Fork River as it curves westward to the Colorado River, a town park, and the Cottonwood trees of downtown Basalt.

    While Jones scored the corner-office view, all 75 employees in the building landed an upside upon moving in: Basalt itself. Though it’s not as if the town was an unknown entity. During the peak winter months, approximately 500 of Aspen Skiing Company’s seasonal and full-time employees live here. 1,000 more live farther downvalley. So when the two floors of office space were populated with ASCers, a lot of people’s commutes shortened relative to driving to Aspen.

    “Beyond the practical—which includes getting an office building we really needed—there’s the quality-of-life factor,” says Jones. “Stepping away from their desks and wandering into downtown Basalt is a positive experience for our employees — and we expect it to get even better as Basalt becomes more vibrant.”

    “It brings an immediate interaction with a real community,” adds Jim Laing, the vice president of human resources for Aspen Skiing Company. “And there’s a bigger business side, too: A component of Aspen Skiing Company’s mission statement is to ‘honor place.’ To do that, you have to know a place and let it get to know you. The Aspen Skiing Company community spans the valley; Basalt is an important part of our world. So it feels right that we have a meaningful presence here.”

    That presence is growing. In an employee-housing experiment that has garnered state and national media attention, Aspen Skiing Company debuted six “tiny home” trailer coaches at the Aspen-Basalt Campground in January. The experiment proved successful, and nearly three dozen more trailer coaches have been ordered. When the Campground is at full capacity, it’ll house more than 150 Aspen Skiing Company employees, bringing both consumers and a nice dose of youth to Basalt’s demographic mix.

    “The Campground’s proximity to public transit—it’s a stone’s throw from a RFTA bus stop—and to Willits makes it really appealing,” says Philip Jeffreys, the Aspen Skiing Company project manager who hatched and is implementing the plan. “Plus, for a lot of people living in a ‘tiny home’ for a couple of ski seasons has the potential to be a life memory. It’s truly an experience.”

    That tiny experience, of course, is ultimately tied to the bigger experiences to be had here in the Roaring Fork Valley: the great fly-fishing; the skiing, riding and hiking; the talks and events that provide a mixture of recreation and ideas that enable us to grow ourselves and better honor this place. All of it, of course, visible outside Matt’s window.