I don’t have any photographs but I do have this lasting image in my mind. It is of being carried over a threshold into a Victorian room at Aspen’s historic Hotel Jerome, the golden threads to my wedding dress trailing behind me. It was on our wedding night, September 26th, 1998. In the room waiting for us was a bucket filled with a chilled bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries, compliments from the then General Manager, Tony DiLucia. Closing the door the world faded away as we slipped into silky sheets. Trickling champagne into each others lips we celebrated the beginning of our new life together.
Celebrating Our Anniversary at The Hotel Jerome:
Thirteen years later, in the midst of packing and looking for a new home, we returned for our anniversary and for a weekend of total intimacy.
I checked in before Baddy and was handed a nice sturdy key that felt good and solid in my hand and welcomed the departure from the electronic key cards, just one of the many small pleasures of staying at a hotel where the past is preserved.
There are 94 guest rooms in the hotel and the rooms are the largest in Aspen, standard rooms are 525 sq feet. Our 1200 sq foot one bedroom suite was beyond roomy with light filtering into the living room and a breathtaking view of Aspen Mountain outside the many windows. The bathroom had an oversized bathtub, a separate walk-in shower and a double-basin marble vanity. Other amenities included private-label beds, down comforters, feather pillows, high-speed Internet access and VCR/DVD players.
Holding on to the hand carved balustrade I descended the stairs to meet up with Susie Stetson, yes that is her real name, for a tour of the AAA Four Diamond award-winning historic landmark hotel.
Jerome B. Wheeler, then co-owner of Macy’s department store, had the three-story brick hotel built in the heart of town in 1889 to rival The Ritz in Paris.
The hotel also housed the local post office and became the hub of Aspen as it was the first building west of the Mississippi with electricity and running water. It also boasted the first running elevator, so slow that it took 15 to 20 minutes to get to the second floor.
In 1985 investors Dick Butera and Jim McManus bought the hotel for $6 million and put $27 million into a restoration. Structural engineers rebuilt its bones while masons sandblasted the face to liven up the deep red brick and sandstone.
Today the hotel still stands as one of the great hotels of the American West. Upon first entering the lobby one is greeted by a friendly receptionist standing behind the original post office desk. The slots for letters still remain.
Walking around the lobby we admired the cozy East Lake Gothic Victorian style with original light fixtures, blue tiles made out of cobalt and gold and wallpaper hand screened to represent the original Victorian paper. An oak grandfather clock still stands holding the ashes of an Austrian Pastry Chef who loved the Jerome so much he wanted to be buried there.
Like other hotels from the 1800s the Hotel Jerome has its own ghost story called, The Water Boy. As the story goes a family staying in room #310 lost their boy when he drowned in the hotel pool. A few years later a lady staying in that same room heard a knock on the door but when she opened the door there was nobody there, just a puddle of water and little footprints trailing down the hallway.
It’s not as though I wouldn’t embrace a supernatural experience but with three boys of my own this story spooked me resulting in greater intimacy than Wade had bargained for as I didn’t leave his side, even when he went into the bathroom.
After the tour, I waited for Baddy at the J Bar, a local favorite bar with a history of miners and cowboys drinking whiskey neat or an Aspen Crud, an ice cream drink laced with Bourban served during prohibition.
When Baddy arrived he walked through the front door ruggedly handsome in his carharts and unshaven stubble, carrying the most beautiful bouquet of flowers from his favorite flower shop, Sashae Floral Arts and Gifts. As much as I would have loved to have fallen into his arms after a stressful week, actually lets make that year, we didn’t have much time to hang out as we had an action-packed itinerary that began with going to The Wheeler Opera House, to watch movies presented by the Aspen Film Festival.
When we returned that night we found another chilled bottle of champagne, a box of chocolates and a beautiful gift bag sat invitingly on the living-room table sent up to our room from our good friend Dede Brinkman. We popped open the bottle and celebrated life, love, family and friends and made an official goodbye toast to our house promising to return to the hotel for future anniversaries.
In the morning we went down to the Garden Terrace dining room and gobbled down a delicious breakfast of eggs and roasted potatoes with Classical music playing in the background. It was a beautiful day and we were excited to hike into the gold Aspen trees up to Cathedral Lake in Ashcroft, above where we were married.
We still had a whole weekend ahead of us and I will tell you all about it in my next post but for now I will finish by saying that The Hotel Jerome is still one of my favorites and I highly recommend it. If you haven’t stayed at the Jerome you haven’t experienced Aspen properly.
**Disclaimer: We received a complimentary room but all opinions are still my own.