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Local ready to head off to Chilean resort

Scott N. Miller
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyEric Eves sits with a map of the Huilo Huilo Bio Preserve in Southern Chile where he has brought land and is on his way to to help develop an adventure resort, Wednesday in Edwards.
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VAIL – Eric Eves and his friends grew up hearing about the first Vail pioneers. Now they’re taking a pioneering risk themselves.Eves and old friend Justin Bradshaw are partners in a seven-acre piece of the Huilo Huilo resort in Patagonia in the southern part of Chile. Bradshaw and four friends – Robbie Giardino, Brett Fleishman, Slade Cogswell and Mike Hovey – are driving to Huilo Huilo over the next few months. Once there, they and Eves will get to work building a 6,200-square-foot home and lodge, using plans drawn up by another partner, architect Ian Colburn. The idea is to get in on the ground floor in Huilo Huilo, a 148,000-acre piece of private property being developed as an ecologically friendly resort in one of the world’s few rain forests in a temperate zone. “Our parents all moved here in the old days of Vail,” Eves said. “We’ve heard those stories and we want to be part of something like that.”Eves sees that opportunity in Chile. Huilo Huilo has trails, streams, and, nearby, a glacier with year ’round skiing. A ski area with eight hotels is in the works, and a road to the area is now being paved.”When that happens, it’ll be as easy to get there as it is to get here,” Eves said.

That’s why Eves’ plans include trying to market Huilo Huilo to people in this part of the world. It’s about an eight-hour flight to Chile from Denver, he said, and the entire trip can be done in a day. Better yet, Huilo Huilo is in the same time zone as Colorado.That’s why the locals’ plans for Huilo Huilo include, eventually, some “fractional ownership” units besides the lodge. But Eves, Bradshaw and their friends aren’t going just to make a buck, Eves said. “We’re going to live there,” Eves said. “We’re going to go into the community and be part of it. We want to show them we’re involved.”That’s how Vail started, of course. And one of the town’s first residents wishes Eves and his friends all the best.”It sounds great,” said Sheika Gramshammer, who knows a little bit about moving to another country to start an adventure in a place not many people have heard of.”But that was 40 years ago,” she said. “The lifestyle was different, the people were different. We were a group of friends, and we found people with deep pockets. They’ll have to find that in Chile.”Gramshammer said her pioneer days are long gone. But, she’s just bought a house in Costa Rica, another developing resort spot, and is familiar with the Patagonia area of South America.”It’s beautiful there,” she said. But, she added, natural beauty and desire don’t always equal success.

If Huilo Huilo doesn’t take off, though, it won’t be for lack of energy. And Eves said, he and his partners and friends have done careful planning, too. He and Bradshaw – who’s a couple of years younger – both majored in recreation and tourism management at Colorado State University, and the classroom was also their planning lab.”I would plan the project, in class, and Justin would re-vamp it a year later,” Eves said.Besides classroom work, Eves and his group have seen resort planning up close and personal just growing up in the valley.”We’ve seen planning done correctly and poorly here,” he said. “I think ultimately the vision you plan with can lead to a place that will boom, not bust.”No matter what happens in Huilo Huilo, Eves, his partners and friends have done their homework, with the hard work of building a lodge about to start. And Gramshammer wishes them well.”They should try it,” she said. “They have to get going and see what’s happening in the world.”Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 613, or smiller@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail Colorado


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