Five Pitkin County businesses say Aspen Club has not paid them in months | PostIndependent.com

Five Pitkin County businesses say Aspen Club has not paid them in months

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

Five local businesses partnering with The Aspen Club said President Michael Fox owes them months of payment for his members using their facilities while the club remains closed and construction stalled.

Owners of the Snowmass Club, Aspen Shakti, The Gym of Aspen and Altitude-Body Performance Center said Tuesday that they have not been reimbursed in recent months. The Aspen Clinic in Basalt CEO and President Amanda Wagner said that while The Aspen Club has paid them recently, Fox owes about six months of dues from last year.

Scott Brown, CEO of the ABA Hospitality group that owns the Snowmass Club, said they are ending their partnership with The Aspen Club “because they didn’t pay their bills.”

Fox emailed Aspen Club members late last week saying the Snowmass Club no longer would be a partner effective Friday because “the (Snowmass Club) management team has gotten a significant amount of negative feedback from their membership.”

“It has become an increasing strain on the Snowmass Club to take in our members,” Fox wrote.

The negative feedback, he wrote, “Has begun to impact the perceived value of the Snowmass Club for their dues-paying members. To that end we have mutually decided to end the agreement.”

Brown, however, said “there was never any” negative feedback about The Aspen Club members.

ABA Hospitality acquired the Snowmass Club from its former owner, the Toll Brothers, on Dec. 6. Brown said The Aspen Club has not paid the Snowmass Club under the new ownership.

He deferred to the Toll Brothers, who could not be reached by press time, for comment on pay prior to ABA Hospitality’s purchase.

Because each business’ contract with The Aspen Club varies, the majority of the gym owners declined to say exactly how much Fox owes them.

“It’s a lot,” Aspen Shakti owner Jayne Gottlieb said. “It’s enough that it makes a significant impact on my business.”

Vince Contreras, owner of The Gym of Aspen, said Fox has not paid him since June or July.

“It’s going to be interesting to see if we’re the only people standing with their members, and what we should do here on out, because something’s going to have to change because this isn’t working,” Contreras said. “And it’s not fair to other members that are paying and I believe the members of Aspen Club are paying.”

A few club members said they pay $90 per month since the club has been under construction.

The gym owners who are continuing to partner with The Aspen Club, despite not receiving payment, said they are trying to remain optimistic and make the situation work financially while they can because they believe in Fox.

“You know, I am hanging in there with the most positive attitude I possibly can,” Gottlieb said.

“I’m really trying. I like the vision, you know, I guess I’m just really hopeful. Personally, I’ve invested a lot in The Aspen Club members. I’ve established relationships with them,” she said. “And I hope that I am not being ignorant in hoping for the best, that this will turn around.”

Brown echoed that sentiment and said the Snowmass Club is still willing to work with The Aspen Club “as long as the membership program is in place.”

“We value our relationship with The Aspen Club,” Brown said, “and we’d love to find a way to be a partner.”

Officials at The Aspen Club’s two other partnering facilities, the Snowmass Recreation Center and the Jewish Community Center, said they have not had issues with payment from The Aspen Club.

Two former partners, O2 yoga and pilates studio and the Aspen Recreation Center, also reported no problem being paid by The Aspen Club.

When reached Monday night, Fox said, “I think all of our members, and myself, just want to thank the Snowmass Club and their members for all their hospitality.

“It was very, very appreciated (that) they took in our members and gave them a place to work out as part of our other partnerships.”

Asked to elaborate on the “negative feedback” outlined in his Feb. 15 email to club members, Fox said he thinks it is “self-explanatory.”

The Aspen Times could not reach Fox on Tuesday for comment regarding payment to partnering facilities.

Fox has maintained that financing is afoot for The Aspen Club, telling the Times earlier this year that construction on the stalled project could resume as early as this spring.

The project — remodeling work on a 40,000-square-foot Aspen Club & Spa building, as well as a 54,000-square-foot lodge with 20 timeshares, and another 13,600 square feet for 12 multi-family, affordable-housing units — came to a near halt in late August 2017. That’s when multiple contractors withdrew from the job because they had not been paid for their labor and materials.

The Aspen Club also is tied up in litigation in Pitkin County District Court, where the Denver-based general contractor PCL Construction Services Inc. claims the club owes $17.7 million, which includes what the subcontractors are allegedly owed.

The Aspen Club also is delinquent in the amount of $30 million to GPIF Aspen Club LLC, which acquired a loan in December 2017 from FirstBank. GPIF Aspen Club LLC and FirstBank are not affiliated.

GPIF took foreclosure steps against The Aspen Club in November 2017, but the scheduled auctions have been postponed on a weekly basis. March 7 is the deadline for the foreclosure matter to be settled — with or without an auction — because the date represents one year from the original sale scheduled by the Pitkin County Treasurer’s Office.

erobbie@aspentimes.com