Chateau a hotel for another season
December 16, 2003
The aging Chateau at Vail will be home to skiers and snowboarders seeking relatively inexpensive lodging again this ski season.
Vail Resorts signed an agreement Monday to temporarily operate the hotel, which is scheduled for redevelopment into a luxury five-star establishment operated by the international Four Seasons hotel company. First day of business is set for Nov. 19, two days before the slopes on Vail Mountain are scheduled to open.
“We’re excited,” Toni Piringer, Vail Resorts’ vice president of hospitality, said Monday. “It’s good for Vail, for Vail Resorts and for visitors.”
The ski company will operate the Chateau as a moderately priced hotel over the winter while the developer, the Denver-based H.B. Development Company, closes a deal to purchase the property from Daymer Corp., which also owns the Vail Village Inn.
“We feel encouraged we’ll have good demand for it,” said Piringer, adding that prices probably will range upward from last winter’s rate of $79 per night. “It’s not a luxury hotel. It’s a modest hotel, but a very good value in the middle of town. It’s a good deal.”
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Piringer said the ski company is already marketing the Chateau’s 120 rooms, located on the southwestern corner of Vail’s main roundabout, a short walk from Vail Village and Lionshead.
“It would be a shame to see this place empty. It’s offered at a price point that brings solid skier numbers to Vail,” Piringer said. “The key is bringing people to town, and we want to help the town with sales-tax revenues.”
The deal somewhat nixes an idea put forth recently of using the Chateau’s parking lot for day-skier parking while the hotel undergoes asbestos abatement and demolition.
Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz said it’s a “bittersweet” deal in that the town really could have used the parking lot while it grapples with parking congestion associated with day skiers, typically from downvalley and the Front Range.
“It’s bitter to find out we’ll be losing those parking spaces, but sweet knowing those rooms will be available,” Kurz said. “There will be more people in town to spend money and generate more sales tax.”
T.J. Brink of H.B. Development Company, which won final approval to build the Four Seasons from the Town Council on Oct. 8, said Vail Resorts was interested in making the deal now, during a 30-day waiting period before he was able to close on the purchase from Daymer, a condition of approval.
The agreement to operate the Chateau as a hotel satisfies another condition of approval, too, he said.
“What we’re trying to do is satisfy the Town Council’s condition we operate it as we did last year,” Brink said. “Given where we were, if we waited any longer, Vail Resorts would no longer be interested.”
Five stars on way
Daymer owner Waldir Prado originally had planned to redevelop the Chateau at Vail himself and call it Vail Plaza West. It was to be the Italian wing of a massive project estimated to cost $220 million. Early designs featured a 10,000-square-foot atrium, a 27,000-square-foot convention facility and a 34,000-square-foot spa. That was to to go with the Vail Plaza East, a $110-million, luxury establishment with 238 rooms, convention space, a health club and restaurants to replace the Vail Village Inn.
Connie Dorsey of Daymer Corp. said he expects to close the deal on selling the Chateau to H.B. Development – which intends to turn the hotel over to the Four Seasons – either Nov. 15 or Dec. 15. From the day of closing, there’s 75 days before H.B. can occupy the property, with that time available to operate the Chateau as a moderately-priced hotel.
Another clause in the lease, Dorsey said, provides for 30-day notice by H.B. to terminate the lease, meaning the hotel operation can continue for another 30 days after H.B. takes control and proceeds with demolition.
“We hope we can close soon,” said Dorsey. “It doesn’t affect the winter rentals.”