Lodge would be largest in
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
In a move that could make Ernest
Hemingway a presence in downtown Ketchum’s largest building, the
granddaughter of the Pulitzer Prize-winning author has signed on as a
partner in an 80-room luxury hotel proposed for the city’s core.
Actress and author Mariel
Hemingway talks Friday about design aspects of a new luxury hotel in
Ketchum that she envisions as acting as a venue for Ketchum residents
and visitors to connect with the heritage of her grandfather, Pulitzer
Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. "I don’t think that (his life in
Idaho) has been enhanced and honored in a way that it should be."
Express photo by Willy Cook
Ketchum attorney and developer
Brian Barsotti announced Friday, Feb. 20, that he has brought on actress
and author Mariel Hemingway and her film-producer husband Steve Crisman
as partners in his project to build an estimated $35 million hotel near
the southern entrance to the city.
In making the announcement with
Hemingway at his Warm Springs office, Barsotti said he is confident the
50 percent partnership with the part-time Ketchum couple will attract
sufficient investor interest to bring the project to fruition.
"I think we could do something
special now," Barsotti said.
Hemingway, who with her husband
has started several restaurants around the country, called the hotel
partnership the "most exciting project" she’s been involved with "in a
Key to the partnership is an
agreement between the two parties to allow Mariel Hemingway to help
design the interior of the hotel in a manner that exudes an atmosphere
reminiscent of the acclaimed writer’s life.
Hemingway said she does not intend
to incorporate an overt Ernest Hemingway "theme"—with "dozens of
pictures" of the writer and avid outdoorsman—into the hotel’s common
areas. Instead, she said, she will seek to develop a "high-quality,"
European-flavored interior design that makes visitors feel like they are
in a place her grandfather would frequent.
"I want to create ‘A Moveable
Feast,’" she said, referring to the author’s posthumously published
memoir of Paris in the 1920s. "I want to create Cuba."
Ernest Hemingway lived in Ketchum
and Cuba during the final years of his life. He committed suicide in
Ketchum in 1961, after establishing himself as one of the greatest
novelists of the 20th century.
He wrote "A Moveable Feast" while
residing in a cabin at the Ketchum Korral, a historic motor lodge at the
southern gateway to the town. "For Whom the Bell Tolls," Hemingway’s
classic novel that draw’s from his own involvement in the Spanish Civil
War, was completed during a lengthy stay at the Sun Valley Lodge.
Mariel Hemingway said she
envisions the new hotel as a venue for Ketchum residents and visitors to
connect with the heritage of her grandfather, something that has
typically been difficult to do in Idaho.
"I don’t think that (his life in
Idaho) has been enhanced and honored in a way that it should be,"
As co-chair of the Idaho Hemingway
House Foundation, a nonprofit organization charged with managing the
author’s former residence in northern Ketchum, Hemingway said she would
like the hotel to be a "public venue" for the foundation’s activities.
Barsotti and Hemingway said a name
for the hotel has not yet been selected, but could include the Hemingway
"I’m sure it won’t be the Bald
Mountain Lodge," Barsotti said.
Ketchum City Council members in
September 2003 unanimously approved Barsotti’s plans to build an
80-room, 47-foot-high hotel at 151 Main St., at the site of the defunct
Bald Mountain Lodge motor inn.
The proposed 84,650-square-foot
hotel project was heavily scrutinized during 15 public meetings that
spanned more than a year.
The development—which would cover
an entire city block between Main Street and Washington Avenue—is
proposed to include a 3,800 square-foot conference center, 1,000
square-foot meeting room, banquet facilities and an underground parking
Pursuant to the partnership,
Hemingway said she is planning to operate a health spa and yoga studio
inside the hotel. She currently operates the Sacred Cow Yoga Studio in
Barsotti said he has been looking
for a high-profile partner in the project since it was approved last
year. Initially, he said, he considered approaching Hollywood icon Clint
Eastwood, before commencing discussions with Hemingway and Crisman last
Barsotti noted that he has had
some difficulty fostering "enthusiasm" for the project by prospective
investors, in part because of costs and challenges associated with
erecting a large-scale building in central Ketchum.
"It’s just a difficult project,"
However, news of the new
partnership and evolving plans has generated substantial interest from
outside investors, Barsotti noted.
"We’re getting calls every day."
For her part, Hemingway said she
believes the hotel is an appropriate project for the Main Street site,
noting that she wants the project to suit the town’s environment.
"There will be development in a
town like this," she said.
Barsotti said he would like to
start construction "by summer" if he can make the necessary agreements
to fund the project.
Construction of the hotel would
likely last 18 to 20 months, Barsotti said.