Vail Cascade hotel delays opening until March 1 | VailDaily.com

Vail Cascade hotel delays opening until March 1

The owners of Vail Cascade Hotel started an extensive renovation earlier this year. The hotel's re-opening was recently delayed until March 1.

VAIL — One of the biggest hotels in town will be closed for most of the ski season.

The Laurus Corporation bought the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in December of 2015, and immediately announced an ambitious renovation plan. The schedule was ambitious, too — December of this year.

The company announced in October that completion date had been moved to Jan. 20. That, too, was ambitious. The company last week announced it expected to have the hotel ready for guests by March 1.

According to a release from the company, the delay was due to "final furniture, fixtures and equipment delivery."

The cost of the project has also increased. The company's initial estimate for the work was $35 million. The project cost is now said to be $50 million.

The idea behind the renovation is a drive to push the hotel into a more expensive portion of the market.

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In an interview earlier this year, Laurus CEO Phil Cyburt said his company plans to compete with the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, among others.

The renovation has targeted improvements in every guest room and building an on-site spa and fitness area. The plan — given final town approval in April — also involves converting a handful of guest rooms to accommodate the new spa.

The renovation includes a new name. Company officials haven't officially released that name, but a new website indicates the new name is Hotel Talisa.

In that March interview, Cyburt expressed confidence about the move into a more exclusive part of the market. But a frequent guest wonders how successful the move will be.

Will this work?

Jennifer Sieracki and her family have been staying at the Cascade for the past five years or so. The Sieracki family, along with a group of other families, have made the Cascade their base for spring break trips and weekend getaways.

"When they announced the remodeling project, I said, 'I'll bet their prices go up,'" Sieracki said. After some investigation of her own, Sieracki said the new hotel is set to charge prices seen in Vail Village or Lionshead Village.

Given those new prices, "We aren't staying there," Sieracki said, adding that if her family is going to pay resort village prices, they might as well stay in Vail Village or Lionshead Village.

The renovation delay hasn't affected Sieracki's party, which has already booked rooms at a hotel in Lionshead Village.

That's unfortunate, Sieracki said.

"We loved the Cascade, we loved the staff," Sieracki said. "We called it our hidden secret."

Losing the Cascade for the bulk of the winter will also put something of a dent in the valley's lodging inventory.

The Vail Valley Partnership, the valley's regional chamber of commerce, has a reservations division, and tracks room availability through the valley.

In an email, Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer said the Cascade's 285 rooms represent about 7.5 percent of Vail's "traditional" bed base — not counting rent-by-owner and similar units.

But, he added, the rest of the valley's lodges should be able to absorb those guests through "most times" of the winter.

Rich ten Braak has worked in the valley's lodging business for many years, and is currently the general manager of the Comfort Inn in Avon.

He agreed that the loss of the Cascade's rooms this winter may well put heads in beds in other hotels, but wondered if the loss of those rooms could push some guests to investigate other resorts.

Groups take a hit?

Romer and ten Braak also wondered what the loss of the Cascade might mean for group business through the next few months. The Cascade has some of the largest meeting spaces in Vail. Romer wrote that losing that facility could push some groups out of Vail, at least for the season.

Leaving the former Cascade dark through much of the winter also affects the roughly 90 full-time employees.

In a statement, John Garth of Destination Hotels said the former Cascade is "committed to doing everything we can to help (employees) secure employment during this time with the hope that we will welcome them back for the reopening."

When that reopening does take place, we'll all see if Laurus' strategy pays off.

"I'm sure it's going to be awesome," Sieracki said. "But so's The Arrabelle (in Lionshead Village)."

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com or @scottnmiller.