Like many who fall in love with Aspen and Snowmass Village, Scott Brown came for the winter but stayed for the summer. What sets Brown apart is that en route to deciding he wanted Snowmass to be a forever home, he negotiated a contract to buy the Snowmass Club from Toll Brothers.
Brown said Thursday morning that the company he founded in 2005, San Francisco-based ABA Hospitality, is expected to close on the sale of the Snowmass Club by Aug. 5. He said the sale price would be in the “low 20’s,” meaning the $20-million range. The assets include an 18-hole golf course, spa and health club facility and management of contiguous vacation properties.
“We are excited to be part of something special in Aspen and Snowmass,” Brown said. “We got lucky to find something amazing in the valley we can participate in.
“This isn’t a corporate takeover. It’s a small, family-owned company,” he added.
Brown’s group has projects in Florida and the Denver suburb of Centennial and recently sold Hyatt-branded properties in Florida.
He said the Snowmass Club “is a hospitality asset and has development potential. Both of those things are in our business model.” The main clubhouse, which includes Sage Restaurant, is about 64,000 square feet in totality.
Additional town home development could be anticipated as well as a refresh of the spa and workout facilities. No significant changes are anticipated for the golf course which is about 7,000 yards in length and received a massive overhaul by former owners, Aspen Skiing Co., more than a decade ago.
“We want to keep the integrity of the Snowmass Club,” Brown noted.
After initiating talks this spring with Snowmass Club owner Toll Golf, a division of Toll Brothers luxury homes, the concept gathered momentum and “things happened quickly,” Brown said.
“We went from zero to press releases,” he said with a laugh
Toll Brothers has owned the club for five years, having acquired it from SkiCo inMarch 2013 for $9.1 million.
According to a June 20 letter from Maurice Darbyshire, president of Toll Golf, to club members: “We have received an unsolicited offer that we cannot refuse from ABA Hospitality to purchase the Snowmass Club. ABA Hospitality has a diverse background in real estate and hospitality-based projects including full-service hotels, select-service hotels, luxury condominiums and residential golf course communities throughout the U.S.
“With over $7 billion of completed projects and $1 billion of hospitality projects alone, ABA adds value to its core investments through its in-house experience and industry relationships across all major hotel brands, hotel management and golf companies,” Darbyshire wrote.
Darbyshire stated that it was “with mixed emotion” that he shared this news with club members, while also promising that their “day-to-day experiences” at the facility will not change during the transition.
‘Can we do Aspen instead?
When Brown introduced his wife and young family to Snowmass Village last fall, it was a homecoming of sorts for him after about a 40-year absence.
Brown said his parents, “who were hippies,” once operated a shop that sold clothing and crystals out of a Main Street storefront in Aspen. He spent second and third grade here, in the late 1970s, and attended the Red Brick school before it was converted into its current use as a center for arts groups and nonprofits.
After spending a few months in the upper Roaring Fork Valley in late 2017 the family decided to change their plans, which initially included up to a year in Europe before the children grew to be school aged.
“Can we do Aspen instead?” one of the children asked.
That led to Brown starting to initiate “talks with local developers and agents while we were looking for something to plant our feet [on] here.”
“It’s a good deal for both sides,” Brown said of the pending purchase of the club.