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January 27, 2009 — This thought occurred to me when the night was coming to a close, the last notes of the Lyle Lovett concert were still ringing in my head, and I sat down at the Osprey cocktail bar with architectural and interior designer
James Looney and his team.
Over the course of a Stella beer (or two) we talked about his team’s most recent work of art: the complete redesign (and revitalization) of the Osprey lodge, formerly the Inn at Beaver Creek.
The $7 million dollar renovation has made the 42-room hotel one of the most impressive new lodging options in the Valley, if not the state, if not beyond, not the least because of the work of Looney & Associates.
Like writers who don’t waste words, the Looney team brings a cleanliness and efficiency to everything they design, whether it’s the Fisherman’s Wharf Sheraton, the Aliante in Las Vegas, the Osprey, or one of their many other projects.
But with the Osprey they accomplished something that hasn’t been done before: they took the city chic which is wildly popular in hotels around the country and “mountainized” it – bringing together, for example, durable wooden benches and ski-boot friendly flooring; or sparkling, snow-like chandeliers with Nintendo Wii, fine linens and, of course, a ski lift just outside the back door.
“We’re doing something unique here,” Looney told me. “What you’ll see with the art, for example, is something that you wouldn’t immediately recognize as being a natural scene, but it will remind you of the natural world, it will be reminiscent of a sunset, a snowstorm, or a forest without literally depicting it.”
As for me, I was instantly in favor of the Osprey’s upgraded status.
Maybe it’s the thick timbers, woodsy crown molding, and ornamental décor, but most lodges in Vail and Beaver Creek make me feel burly, tough, mountainesque. Not a bad thing, but at almost every lodge I feel like the proper thing to do is to grow a beard and wearing a Norweigan sweater.
When I walked into the Osprey for its grand opening I felt something different. I felt cool. And that’s refreshing.
Don’t get me wrong, I still felt like I was in the mountains. The glowing, backlit onyx beneath the bar, the smooth lines, the 90-degree angles, the minimalistic feel …
I know the feeling of being cluttered. This was the opposite of clutter which, I guess, is kind of emancipating.
Yes, emancipating. I felt emancipated from the same-old same-old of the “mountain lodge” look which almost every lodge, every building, every home has in Beaver Creek. For years it was a sin to build something which didn’t look like it belonged at the Yellowstone visitor’s center.
After years and years of this kind of interior (and exterior) design, it seems people are finally coming around to the idea that a mountain vacation can have a fireplace and a cozy chair – but still be simple and clean, with stunning colors and pleasing modern art.
I got the sense that Lyle Lovett, whose music is clean and crisp and yet still country, fits perfectly with what’s going on up in Beaver Creek. Just like Lyle the Osprey is clean, cool, and hip — but it knows exactly where its roots are.
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