The Silver Queen: Arriving in an all-new Limelight Aspen
While the Silver Queen in Aspen is best known today as the namesake of the gondola that carries passengers to the 11,212-foot-tall summit of Ajax, most visitors – and even locals – don’t know not its origin story.
But for Stonehill Taylor, the hospitality-focused New York-based architecture and interior design firm, called for the complete refurbishment of the Limelight Hotel Aspen, the Silver Queen was the primary source of design inspiration for the hotel.
Also nicknamed for the towering profile of the Aspen and Shadow Mountains, the outline of the Silver Queen emerged when the lands were stripped during the silver mining era. After US President Grover Cleveland threatened to demonetize the money, the city of Aspen raised funds for artist Hiram L. Johnson to create a sculpture for the cause that will debut at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893. Whether considered a geological oddity or a lingering spirit, the Silver Queen still rests “on her cloud-bathed throne in the Rockies with Hallam Lake her delicate foot bowl,” as it wrote. a local poet in The Aspen Times in 1938.
“We took inspiration from (her) in the literal sense of our material palettes and textures,” says Stonehill Taylor interior designer Meghan Kelly. “But more importantly, the influence on our design pillars had a lot more weight in the overall feeling we wanted to create at this hotel. Although the magnificent statue of the Silver Queen has been (ultimately lost after the World’s Fair), its silhouette will forever remain in the mountains that envelop the city – the idea that what was once lost becomes new from a unexpectedly. (This) inspired us to strengthen the spirit of this hotel which will continue to evolve for years to come.
THE LIMELIGHT LEGACY
The Limelight Hotel Aspen has a long history of its own, where its original structure, The Ski and Spur Bar, has welcomed outlaws to the Old West. Later, under the name The Limelite, it hosted dinner theaters and nightclub patrons. The Paas family acquired it in the 1960s, expanded it and operated it as a guest lodge until 2010 when Aspen Skiing Co. acquired it.
Today, it remains the flagship property of the Limelight Hotel, which has since opened two additional locations in nearby Snowmass and Ketchum, Idaho, as part of The Little Nell Hotel group., which also oversees The Little Nell (and its affiliated residences of The Little Nell), as well as the Aspen Mountain Club and Snowmass Mountain Club.
For the past decade, the Limelight Aspen at the corner of Cooper Avenue and Monarch Street – steps from the ski slopes and across from Wagner Park – has been synonymous with friendly service to visitors and its bar, happy hour and its fresh products of the day. baked pizzas have remained popular with locals. It now has a beautiful and shiny new interior.
Guided by Paula Crown of the Crown family, owners of the Aspen Skiing Company, The Little Nell and flagship hotels, the six-month project encompassed all 100,000 square feet of public space, including the lobby, lounge, meeting rooms, pool and fitness areas, and restaurant and bar, in addition to 120 rooms and six suites.
“Our property has allowed us to go above and beyond and really update the overall experience for our guests,” said Henning Rahm, Regional Managing Director of Limelight Hotels. “We didn’t want to end up with a hotel that was too contemporary; we’re still a mountain town, and while there were some truly elevated and gorgeous finishes, we were sure to keep our accessible and unpretentious atmosphere intact.
The biggest demand for Rahm and his team was for his beloved reputation as “Aspen’s favorite lounge” to remain community-focused through common seating – from dining rooms to comfy sofas by the fireside – where locals will always be welcome to enjoy an expanded menu and bar program, organize business meetings, listen to live music and mingle with hotel guests.
Having previously worked with Stonehill Taylor on the completion of the Limelight Snowmass in 2018, Rahm said: “We really enjoyed working with them again on this project. They are the perfect partner to lead the Limelight Aspen update and really standardize some things that will stand out for us as a brand and as we grow as a company.
Plans for other ski town properties, including Mammoth Mountain in California, are underway.
BEHIND THE DESIGN
“We brought a narrative approach to this unique project – an approach we bring to all of our work,” says Sara Duffy, director of the Interiors division at Stonehill Taylor. “The renovation of Limelight Aspen sets a benchmark for Limelight hotels in the future – the success story of aligning its rapidly growing brand, which is a testament to its Alpine landscape, commitment to the arts and its limitless sense of adventure. “
Upgrades and improvements include a new arrival experience with the relocation of the front desk and surrounding retail space (showcasing branded clothing and items), the addition of a Kids Club space and an expanded restaurant, as well as conference rooms; the stage space has also been moved to the living room to better accommodate events.
The Silver Queen manifested itself through graceful, layered textures and organic shapes with an vibe that is both industrial and playful, reminiscent of an upscale chalet. The thoughtful treatment of natural materials paired with metallic elements and pops of vibrant color has firmly anchored the resort in a modern mountain aesthetic. The palette is a neutral blend of earthy wood tones and lively accents that reflect the vibrancy of the mountain lifestyle with amber tinted glass and brushed bronze to mimic the golden glow of the sun setting over the mountains. The modernized aesthetic of the ski chalet is also reflected in the bedrooms.
Beds are draped in plaid blankets, supported by upholstered headboards, and offset by bedside tables and pendant lighting. White oak and walnut furniture create a calming effect, with each room showcasing a collection of works of art. A table flanked by benches and a lounge chair for working or dining are tucked away in the corners of the rooms. The overlapping lines give the rug a three-dimensional quality, evoking a snow flurry. A sliding barn door opens into the bathroom, where oversized porcelain tiles and brushed champagne-colored hardware provide a serene escape.
Making its debut just in time for the 2021-22 ski season, the renowned Limelight Aspen is fit for a Silver Queen.