The Aspen Report: Glitz AND Green, & Sustainable

Aspenby Dallas Addison

It’s that time of year, temperatures are falling in Dallas, snow is falling in the mountains of Colorado. Halloween is behind us and our thoughts turn to a ski getaway. Whether you prefer two boards, one (or for that matter, hot chocolate and hot toddies in the lodge), Aspen is one of those special spots that simply delivers the goods for North Texans. Known as a bellwether in the second home industry, it’s a well-known playground for the rich and famous. Aspen even has it’s own private jet company, Sentient Jet, now the official Private Jet Provider of Aspen/Snowmass, with cardholder benefits. If holiday bustle is your gig, book during Christmas and New Year’s, hope for great early season snow and enjoy the spectacle. At other times, the crowds are more manageable and the skiing and boarding are almost always outstanding.

Aspen is actually four mountains—Aspen Mountain (also called Ajax), Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk and collectively, they provide something for everyone.

While Aspen is known for its steeps,  caviar and champagne lifestyle — seriously, there is even an on-mountain Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!—- it also has some serious environmental chops as well. Think Austin in the mountains and you won’t be too far off.

Don’t roll your eyes, I know what you are thinking. Aspen IS glam and glitz, but manages to maintain a strong commitment to the environment without compromising the experience. To put it another way, the analogy is more hybrid autos: Aspen is like Porsche’s new 918, rip-snorting, hybrid supercar, NOT a Prius.

So, how and why does Aspen stay so green?

Aspen 2While Aspen’s conservation efforts certainly have a benevolent side, they are also acutely self-interested. Let’s face it, if temperatures keep rising, mountain resorts as we know them will likely be radically changed for the worse, with many being forced to close. That will have a huge impact on the industry and also on second or vacation homes. Aspen realizes that its own sustainability starts with “how do we sustain our business”? On top of that, according to Auden Schendler, the Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, many of their projects, especially those related to efficiency, generate substantial financial returns. Finally, Auden points out that if businesses aren’t taking action to address sustainability issues, they’re behind, because their competitors are. So, this is not touchy-feely environmentalism, but an approach that is firmly grounded in good business principals.

Maybe we could call this “selfish sustainability,” a twenty-tens version of the 80’s creed “greed is good.” Selfish sustainability is my own term and certainly is not tied to Aspen in any way. But, if it makes economic sense today, helps protect and enhance a business long-term and helps protect all of us from unwanted harm, that sure seems like a win-win-win that makes sense wherever a business is located.

If you want to know the specifics about Aspen’s efforts, check out www.aspensnowmass.com/en/we-are-different. However, I’d strongly recommend a personal “inspection.” The lifts at Snowmass and Ajax start spinning November 28th!

Hope to see you at the Veuve Clicquot pop-up bar!

Next up . . . Conservation Ranches.

Dallas Addison is a Dallas-based lawyer who has helped many clients throughout the country buy, sell, develop and manage all types of  real estate over the years, with a  particular focus on recreational and hospitality-based real estate,  such as golf courses, resorts, ranches, second homes, etc. He is also a founding principal of Preservation Land Company. He is a regulator contributor to SecondShelters.com.