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Sky celebrates ‘facelift’ in hotel’s signature style

ASPEN, Colo.—They’re calling it “a nip and tuck,” but as the Sky Hotel debuts its new renovated look on Friday with a series of parties, it’s certainly not something that will blend quietly into the background.

Inspired by the 1969 film Downhill Racer, the Sky’s “facelift” gives the already chic slopeside lodge even more color. Primary reds and oranges are the focus of the touch-up in the hotel’s guestrooms and interior corridors, complemented by intense neutral colors, like warm chocolate brown, and bold patterns and textures.

In the guestrooms, an orange-red racing stripe, like those found on ’70s and ’80s ski stretch pants, contours the top of the walls. Headboards are covered in a cable-knit sweater pattern and throw pillows with a color-accented aspen-tree motif, while throw rugs are bright yellow with silver piping and new carpeting features a bold pattern mimicking ski tracks.

Aspenites who enjoy the Sky’s public areas will notice a few minor changes (though updates are planned for 2013). The popular pool has been resurfaced and retiled, giving its bottom a more vivid blue. New carpeting in the hallways sports a multi-colored symmetrical pattern mimicking a Navajo rug style. And anyone riding in the elevator will be surrounded by a four-wall backlit photograph of Aspen Mountain that changes seasonally. The hotel lobby, with its signature super-high-backed white chairs, remains largely the same, with the exception of the contemporary artwork from local galleries and artists that rotates every few months.

The new look, conceived by Hollywood designer Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studios (who was also the creative mind behind the Sky’s major remodel in 2007), is meant to capture the retro vibe of a ’70s ski lodge.

“It’s a color boost when it’s all said and done,” said Sky Sales and Marketing Director Alan Cardenas, who said the look recalls “the hellbent-for-leather ski world of the 1970s.”

Cardenas agrees that it’s a look that fits well with the reputation of the SKY, known for its vibrant après-ski poolside scene and its DJ parties that often go late into the night.

“Our guests love it,” he says of the strong local party vibe associated with the hotel, adding that the Sky boasts the top-selling minibars of the more than 50-hotel Kimpton chain.

The remodel also further distinguishes the Sky—which, with 90 rooms, is one of the larger hotels in town—from other properties that have either undergone or are planning major renovations.

While it was closed for the off-season (reopening for Memorial Day weekend with a few things left to finish on the remodel), the Sky’s facelift was deliberately meant to be a minor one. “The visual impact is strong but the financial impact is minimal for us,” said Cardenas.

The mining-era Hotel Jerome, which closed this spring for minor renovations, is planning to close for four-and-a-half months later this year for a multi-million-dollar overhaul that will place, as Jerome COO Eric Calderon described to ABJ, “a modern vernacular over a historic Victorian frame.” Little will go untouched in the remodel—which includes 94 guestrooms, dining areas, the ballroom, and lobby—while a spa and new offices will be added to the building.

The five-star, five-diamond Little Nell completed an $18 million renovation in 2009 that added state-of-the-art technological advances to lighting, music, television, and temperature control in the rooms. And the St. Regis Aspen underwent an eight-month, $40 million redesign in 2011 that extended to the exterior as well.

Cardenas conceded that part of the reason for the Sky’s remodel was to stay competitive, but also pointed out that the “shelf life” of the hotel’s last redesign, in 2007, is about up. And while the Sky’s current remodel is quite minor compared to those of Aspen’s other luxury hotels, it’s definitely more colorful.

Other hotel remodels focused on “all muted colors, light tans and grays” in their remodels, Cardenas noted, but “we know we’re a unique beast, so [our look] gives people an alternative to the standard ski lodge. It reinforces the Sky Hotel as different from the rest; it’s all about the vibe, the feel of the hotel. It appeals to a younger audience; we want to attract the up-and-comers who aspire to be Aspen regulars.”

That vibe extends to the 39 Degrees, the Sky’s popular lounge and restaurant, with its poolside hangout area. This summer will see a fully revamped menu and new cocktails by resident mixologist Denis Cote, the restaurant’s general manager.

To celebrate the updated look, the Sky is offering a special “nip and tuck” rate until Thanksgiving, and is throwing a series of parties this afternoon and evening, with the big bash open to the public starting at 5:30 pm.

Whether or not it’s because of the promotion, the Sky was sold out last weekend and is sold out again this weekend, said Cardenas, and on a recent midweek afternoon the poolside lounge was nearly full.

And although it’s impossible to say what the ownership group’s long-term plans are for the Sky, Cardenas doesn’t see any major changes, at least in the short term (although he did point out that when he was hired in 2006, he was only given a two-year commitment).

In 2010, Northridge Capital, the real estate investment firm that owns the Sky, quietly put the hotel on the market. Northridge was testing the market and received a couple of offers, said Cardenas, but none that “reached their goals.” Deciding that there’s no reason to sell what Cardenas calls “a very profitable hotel,” they took the Sky off the market, although they’d probably entertain a deep-pocketed potential buyer, he said.

Also off the table, at least for now, is a plan to demolish and rebuild the Sky. A plan to do just that, enlarging the hotel and adding free-market condos, was floated in 2005 but was not well received by neighbors and didn’t get past the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission level.

PRISTINA

Pristina

Table of Contents

By plane
By bus
By train
Talk
Get around
See
Do
Buy
Eat
Drink
Sleep
Budget
Mid-range
Splurge
Embassies
Get out
Pristina (Albanian: Prishtinë or Prishtina; Serbian: Приштина Priština) is the capital city of Kosovo.
By plane

The easiest way to get to Pristina is by plane. There are direct flights to Pristina International Airport from London, Zurich, Geneva, Gothenburg, Copenhagen , Vienna, Hamburg, Hannover, Dusseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, Bremen, Verona, Ljubljana, Budapest, Tirana, Istanbul and Oslo. There are low-budget flights to Pristina from Liege, Belgium and with Easyjet from Switzerland. There are cheap connecting flights via Tirana and Ljubljana, but also from most of German airports. Also, Skopje International Airport is 110 km away (two hours). The bus to Pristina from Skopje takes about two hours and costs €5 (€5.50 with the bus station’s fee). The last bus from Skopje to Pristina leaves at 18:10; from Pristina to Skopje at 17:00. If you arrive at Pristina airport – small, haphazard but recently modernized and efficient in a Balkan kind of way – you should get from the plane to the outside world within 15 minutes. The city itself is about 25 minutes away by car along the closest thing to a good road in Kosovo. The many taxi drivers outside the airport will quote you €25-30 for the trip but will happily be haggled down to €20. If you pretend to be waiting for a lift from someone else they’ll compete with each other down as far as 5 Euros, but it hardly seems fair.
By bus

From Albania, there are several daily direct bus connections to Pristina, from Tirana and Durres. From Tirana is a direct flight to Pristina every day. There are also direct bus links from most cities in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Turkey, Macedonia, Bosnia, and Montenegro. From Podgorica in Montenegro there are at least two night buses (9pm and 10pm, approx 5 1/2 hrs) that run via Peja €16. There is one bus every night that runs from Pristhina to Ulcinj, Montenegro with stops in Peja, Prodgorica and Bari. The buses leave at 7pm from both Pristhina and Ulcinj. The trips is 20 euros round trip and take 9 hours. From Skopje in Macedonia there are 8 buses per day at 10 past the hour. It is supposed to take 1.5 hours, but we took 3 hours due to traffic! It costs only 320 MKD (just over €5) The Prishtina bus station is quite a safe place to await sunrise (I was there on a Sunday morning). From Serbia there are several direct buses from Belgrade (6 hours, 1 day bus & 2 night busses), run by Kosovo Albanian companies, cost less than €20, stops depending on the route in Niš or Kruševac. There are twice daily mini-buses from Niš, they cost 600 dinars (about $10) and the guys at Niš Hostel (http://www.hostelnis.rs/) will help you get in contact with organizers, even if you aren’t sleeping there, as it is necessary to book in advance (information dates from October 2009). If entering direct from Serbia, be aware that you need to leave by the same way that you came in so that you get Serbian entry/exit stamps (see note under Kosovo). There is also a bus service from Sarajevo (via Novi Pazar; Buy ticket to Novi Pazar on 10pm bus, the bus continues to Prishtina, tickets available onboard); the trip lasts around 12 hours and costs around €20.
By train

There are trains which travel from Macedonia and Serbia to Pristina. These take long to get there. See Kosovo#By train
Talk

The main language you will hear in the street is Albanian. English is widely spoken in the 3 square kilometre space in the centre of town where internationals and those working for international organizations predominate; the further you go from the centre, the less likely you will be to find English widely spoken. However, most people from Prishtina, especially the youth speaks at least a little English so speaking English, you can get by. Navigating around the city is easy and people are generally receptive to efforts to communicate in broken Albanian and English. Serbian is Kosovo’s other official language, but it is seldom heard on the streets in the capital. You should be able to speak Serbian in some government offices, but should be cautious about how you speak it in public, except in Serbian areas, where you should be careful of speaking in Albanian. Failing that, it’s worth having a stab at Spanish, German or Italian which are spoken by people who pick them up via satellite TV broadcasts, international travellers or both.
Get around

where you can locate local places, businesses, shops etc.
Minibus is the preferred method of local travel. They run on set routes and cost next to nothing. It is usual to pay when you get in so try to have some change. – Update: Minibuses are replaced by city bus since Oct. 1st 2006.
Taxis are readily available but more expensive. Make sure your driver has a meter in his vehicle. No trip around the centre or from the centre to Dragodan / Arberia, Valenia, Sunny Hill, etc. should cost more than 2-3 euros.
The roads in Pristina (and in general throughout Kosovo) are pretty bad, but the government is doing a lot in improving that. A lot of times you will be stuck in traffic due to road repairs. This is a result of a number of factors such as: they were never especially good, Yugoslav tank treads and UCK mortars fired at those tanks did nothing to help the situation, and NATO sealed the deal in ’99 with its stealth bombings and armoured convoys. Since then, UNMIK and the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government (PISG, Kosovo’s nascent government) have simply not had the money to invest in infrastructure. Two or three of the main roads that make up the major road network have been repaved. Some roads have have disintegrated to the point that they are pretty much just dirt and gravel.
See

No visit to Pristina is complete without a walking tour. To see the city from street-level is best: start off in the Dardania neighborhood, in front of the three-storey portrait of Bill Clinton, and stroll past the university to the Grand Hotel and UNMIK. Follow Nena Tereze street towards the Skenderbeg monument and the new Government Building, then point yourself toward the historic mosques and meander through the tight lanes of the old quarter. You will see street market stalls, kids hawking cigarettes and phone cards, qebabtores and cafes, and the vibrant community life of Kosovo’s biggest city. If you have more time, it’s also worthwhile wandering up into Dragodan / Arberia or Velania (especially City Park, also referred to as “the Italian park,” and the park dedicated to now-deceased President Ibrahim Rugova).
Pristina is a brown and sprawling city, with none of the historic charm of Prizren or the imposing mountain backdrop of Pejë. But there are outposts of green, the biggest and best of which is Gërmia Park. During the summer, the lake-sized swimming pool here is a hot spot for families and young people, but year-round the park itself offers grassy spaces to relax or kick the ball around, and a network of mine-cleared trails through the dense woods perfect for dog-walking or drunken hide-and-seek tournaments. A couple of restaurants at the top of the park have good food and nice views. Also interesting to check out the cluster-bombed police bunker, just up the road from the best restaurant.
It may be “interesting” for some visitors to see the offices of the major international organizations in Kosovo. UNMIK’s compound in the centre of town is tough to penetrate without an UNMIK card, but you spending a half-hour in Phoenix bar just outside the fence will provide you with a basic idea of what’s going on in there. A more worthwhile destination is the OSCE headquarters on Luan Haradinaj; if you can get yourself inside, the view from the restaurant on the ninth floor is excellent.
A couple minute’s walk from the Grand Hotel Pristina is the library of the University of Pristina. It looks like it is constructed of massive concrete Lego bricks and then covered with chain mail. It is certainly worth a look.
Lately Pristina is rebuilding, and some of the city roads now are new! But you still must be on the look out for large potholes!
The museum is free, and even better than its collection is the building itself.
Don’t miss the Pristina Ethnografic museum tucked back in the old town streets about 5 minutes walk from the main museum. Beautiful house, costumes and traditional tools.
Check out the mosques on Nazim Gafurri Street. Jashar Pasha Mosque (near the clock tower) is currently being restored, and is closed to the public [2010], however the work that is visible on the exterior is beautifully executed in calming blues.
Do

If you like coffee, and have a massive amount of time on your hands, Pristina is the city for you. There are cafes absolutely everywhere, and most of them are packed through the warm season with fashionably-dressed young people, dropping a euro a day to keep themselves amused. Unemployment / underemployment is pervasive throughout Kosovo, and tends to affect people from all walks of life and different levels of education. Which means that dude in the sleeveless tshirt with streaked-blond hair at the table beside you could just as easily be an economist as a farm kid from Kamenicë, so learn to say “Mirëdita” with a passable accent and feel free to start a conversation. What to order? “Macchiato” (espresso with hot milk, similar to the American latte) is the catch-all term for “coffee” throughout Kosovo. Lately, some top-end coffee bars have installed WIFI zones and access to Internet.
Privately-owned outdoor swimming pools are springing up around Kosovo, some just outside the city and worth the euro to cool off in the summer.
Shopping-wise, Pristina is full of good bargains but low on selection (and if you happen to be a man who wears M shirts or pants, forget about it). Silver is sold in the old quarter and is a pretty good value; Albanians are known throughout the former Yugoslavia as silversmiths.
Do as the locals do: In Pristina, this means korza. In the evenings, when it’s warm, a large proportion of the population heads out into the streets and promenades, between cafes or in with no particular desintation. The objective is to see and be seen, chat with friends, and take in as much fresh air as possible before the horrific winter descends. Note that 53% of Kosovo’s population is under the age of 25, so most of the people on the street around dusk are teenagers and people in their early twenties.
Alternately, you can sit at a table in an outdoor cafe and watch the white UN vehicles enter and exit the UNMIK headquarters building. For some reason, it is strangely hypnotic.
Stay out late because the streets are safe and Albanians love Foreigners. Also go out to bars and such, as they are usually filled but make sure you drink some “Peja” beer (Key word PEJA)
For clubs there are Fullhouse and Duplex in Pristina which are right near the newborn sign. Good for dancing, usually play American hip-hop.
Spray Club (http://www.sprayclub.com/)
ODA Theatre Pallati i Rinisë 111 (next to City Stadium) ☎ 038 246 555, (http://www.teatrioda.com/)
People watching
Buy

The outdoor bookstalls adjacent to the Grand Hotel are a good place to pick up your copy of the Code of Lekë Dukagjini. Or a map of Pristina that most likely has names for all the streets no one has ever heard of.
Also on the streets: CDs and DVDs that are cheap, and more likely than not, illegal. The In Your Pocket guide recommends a few places to buy these.
Eat

There are a variety of restaurants with something for everyone’s taste.
Home restaurant and bar, right beside OSCE, for a lively atmosphere and variety of delicious food.One of the best restaurants in Kosova.Serves Medterranian,Italian and Kosovar food. Visitors come from many international staff of the surrounding offices, embassys and national ministries. Local actors and well known singers. Very good selected music, English speaking staff and very good wines. Contact; 044 336 336, 038 22 40 41 home@prishtinanet.com
Pjata Rruga Dubrovniku nr.1 (a block away from the UNICEF office) ☎ ++381 38 220 739, (http://www.pjata.com/)
Pinocchio, in the Dragodan / Arberia neighbourhood, which has excellent food and a warm atmosphere, as well as a panoramic view of Pristina below. For lunch, hit Te Komiteti on Qamil Hoxha street and have the gazpacho and chicken sandwich.
As far as views go, however, you cannot beat Chalet Denis (up Dragodan hill from the bridge, toward Film City / KFOR). Friendly service and the best banana splits in Pristina, presented in a Swiss chalet-style atmosphere.
For quick snacks, Aroma near Strip Depo and the ABC Kino and Metro across from the Grand Hotel have terrific sandwiches; the highly over-rated and over-priced Thai restaurant near UNMIK is nevertheless conveniently located; Restaurant Rio near Gërmia Park is the best bet for fish-fanciers; and the duelling South Asian restaurants located in the mall on UCK St. (one Indian, one Nepali) are both great for a long, quiet dinner.
Il Passatore is an authentic Italian restaurant, run by a real mama and her family. Go there in a taxi as it’s a bit hard to find, but all the cabbies know it.
The Lounge (Opposite RTK building, Mother Theresa street)
Tiffany Pizza, directly behind Home, with an eerily simliar layout, features perhaps the best pizza in Pristina. The spinach pizza is highly recommended, as is the special Raki, all the way from Mitrovica. Another good pizza place is Margarita, opposite of main Police building, wide menu including fresh summer salads and tasty pastas are at your disposal. Home pizza “Margarita” is highly recommended.
XIX Restaurant Luan Haradinaj 2 (Center, Police Avenue) ☎ 038 248 002, (http://www.xixonline.com/)
Not to be missed: Panevino, Pellumbi, Pishat.
If you are interested in trying some Albanian food (with possibly the best bread in the world), then head to Pilat restaurant, not difficult to find, but it’s probably best to ask someone to point you in the right direction. Seriously delicious local food. Gets very busy at lunchtimes with Kosovan politicians.
Fast Food Places and great food: Sarajeva sells Burek (5 locations), Aurora (across RTK tower), Sarajevo (banjallucki qebab) also close to RTK and one behind the old Post Office.
Lai Thai, Film City NATO base. If you have access to the base, find the Lai Thai restaurant. It is owned by the lady that has a restaurant with the same name in Kabul. The Thai food is excellent.
Pi Shat – this is a traditional Albanian restaurant with a wonderful atmosphere located in the Dragodan neighbourhood. If you are unfamiliar with Albanian food, just ask the waiters to put together a platter for you – you’ll end up with a delicious range of grilled meats. A meal for two here comes to around 30 Euros.
Every taxi driver knows the location of most major restaurants frequented by internationals. Try a traditional qebabtore (you can find one anywhere), or a Turkish doner shop (best ones around the corner from Payton Place, near UNDP) for a real taste of the local food and great value. If you are a foreigner you may have to do a fair bit of pointing to order, but it should be worth it.
Himalayan Gorkha, at Qafa Galery, TMK Street. Fine Asian restaurant. Pineapple lassi or Masala tea is a great non-alcoholic drink if you don’t like beer, vodka or the local drink (Rakhi rrussi). For starters there is chicken pakora which is nice fried chicken which tastes exactly like Kentuky Fried Chicken or vegetable pakora. Best thing about this restaurant is you can have both spicy and non spicy items. For main course there is Chicken Tikka with Roti or Naan. They also have Chicken Biyani, Vegetable Biriyani and Butter chicken.If you are fond of Chinese you can have Chicken fried rice and Veg Fried Rice. Meal for two will not cost more than 10 to 15 Euros with drinks.
Restaurant Ex, on Fehmi Agani. Friendly, English-speaking staff, varied menu including curry.
Amadeus
City Bakery Nena Tereze 41 (Center of Prishtina) ☎ 045 785 785, (www.city-bakery.com)
Drink

Cafes and bars are especially crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. Clubs open up and close down on an almost seasonal basis, but there are some reliable standouts, and neighbourhoods where something good is bound to present itself. In cafes, a good cup of coffee can be bought for under €1.
For live music and atmosphere, Ahër (Barn) on the university campus just beind the library is unputdownable.The building was recently refurbished in a post-and-beam all-wood style, which creates the impression that you are partying inside a longhouse. The crowd is mostly Kosovar,and on the prowl, also Hard Rock Bar on the so-called township “Pejton” or at 3 Sheshirat, plays the best rock & hard music in town, with a good prices and an atmosphere is on the house. Not to be missed.Try also Kontra, Zebra and for Jazz 212 in Peyton.
Internationals gravitate to Zanzibar, near the ABC Kino cinema, and Strip Depo down the street from there. Places around the OSCE, like the Little Cafe and Outback, are also popular. For the ultimate foreigner experience, down a pint at Phoenix Bar on a Saturday night with the folks from UNMIK, but be warned: if the idea of drinking and dancing with fourtysomething long-term single expats in a downscale Yorkshire pub doesn’t appeal, this is not the place for you.
Toto & Morena are favoured by young kosovars, nice decor. Also near the ABC cinema.
Hot cafe districts include the strip down from OSCE near Tiffany’s (especially Kaqa), the area at the beginning of Luan Haradinaj street across from KTA, and the student hangouts on Bill Clinton in Dardania.
Sleep

Accommodation can be very expensive in Pristina, as everything is tailored for internationals on expense accounts and hefty per diems. If you look around you should be able to find fliers offering accommodation. If you can find these place(s), go there as the cost is usually 10-15 EUR per night.
Budget

Hotel Begolli (off Mother Thereza Street) (http://www.hotel-begolli.piczo.com/) Price: 30-80€
Hotel Sara Maliq Pash Gjinolli St (in the heart of the bazaar) ☎ +381 38 23 62 03, (http://hotelsara-medi.com/hoteli/) Price: Singles €30, doubles €40, triples €60, apartments €60, suite €99
Velania Guesthouse (The Professor) (http://www.guesthouse-ks.net/eng/vlersimet.html) Price: 13-30 Euros
Mid-range

Hotel Afa Ali Kelmendi Nr. 15, ☎ +381 38/225 226, (http://www.hotelafa.com/) Price: €45 to €75 singles, €75 to €112 doubles
Hotel Aldi Cagllavica nr. 303, ☎ +381 38 54 88 02, (http://www.hotelaldi.com/) Price: €25 to €35 for single rooms and €45 to €55 for double rooms[[User:Dimals|Dimals]] 19:56, 18 June 2010 (EDT)
Hotel Princi i Arberit ☎ +381-38-244244, (http://www.hotel-princiiarberit.com) Price: €40
Hotel Victory Mother Teresa, p.n., ☎ +381 (0/38) 543 277, fax: +381 (0/38) 543 286, (http://www.hotel-victory.com) Price: €80
Splurge

Grand Hotel Pristina Unio Commerce, . A state company during the Communist era and in the proccess of privatization, The Grand Hotel has not been substantially renovated yet—and as such the place is very worn and rightfully mocked for its ironic name. Dangerous electrical connections, and substandard bathrooms especially require attention. The hotel offers seven halls for every kind of activities, wireless and cable internet, business center, and cable TV.
Hotel Prishtina . Staying here is an option. Just two or three blocks from the UNMIK headquarters, it is very close to most places of interest in Pristina. The Hotel Pristina is used by many international workers, including UN workers and members of the international police. It is very clean, has comfortable rooms, offers free internet access (including wifi), and the price of the room includes breakfast.
Hotel Ora. Staying here is also an option. Hotel ORA is one of most frequented and renowned hotels in Kosovo. With the long tradition which is a combination of Kosovo tradition, modern service and maximum care for the guests, Hotel Ora is most preferred address of international guests but for locals as well. Beginning in 90-es as restaurant Ora and since after the war as a Hotel, Ora has welcomed many guests, beginning from the deceased President of Kosovo Ibrahim Rugova, statesmen from all the world, beginning from Bill Clinton to continue with current vice president Joseph Biden, former EU representative for foreign policy, Javier Solana, French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, his Russian colleague Sergej Lavrov and well known European and American politicians. Laying in the city center, near central local and international institutions of Kosovo, with its calm, discretion and adaption for the guests, with a professional staff.
Hotel Baci is comparable to Hotel Pristina and is close to a couple of the more important transportation hubs (i.e. bus station, taxi roundabout, intersection to other towns in Kosova etc.). There’s also a decent restaurant downstairs and free Internet in the lobby. Besides this, Hotel baci offers to it’s clients free laundry, free fitness and sauna. It is the best hotel so far in prishtina with the best and quietest environment as well as location. Breakfast is included in the price, there is 24/7 electricity and water.
Hotel Ambassador near the Swiss Liaison Office in the Velania neighbourhood is also up to the standards of a discerning visitor.
Hotel Dion, . In center of Pristina close to UNMIK headquarters.
Embassies

Japan
Macedonia ul 24 Maj br 121, ☎ +381 38 247 462, (http://www.missions.gov.mk/prishtina)
United States Arberia/Dragodan, Nazim Hikmet 30, ☎ + 381 38 59 59 3000, fax: +381 38 549 890, (http://pristina.usembassy.gov/)
Get out

A day trip to Prizren can be interesting. Buses depart from the bus terminal or you could hire a taxi for the day.