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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday — February 25, 2004


Hemingway joins
hotel project

Lodge would be largest in Ketchum

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 long time."

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," Hemingway said.

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 name.

"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 garage.

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 Ketchum.

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 November.

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," he said.

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.


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