Vail Cascade to see $35 million renovation
What: Vail Cascade Resort
What was in the sale: The hotel, a portion of the parking structure, the athletic club and a parcel approved for 23 condos.
What wasn’t: The old Cascade Theater space, which remains under separate ownership.
Buyer: Laurus Corporation, based in Los Angeles.
This story has been corrected to reflect that Destination Hotels will continue to manage the Vail Cascade, as well as the transaction price.
VAIL — One of Vail’s largest hotels has been sold and the new owners have big plans for the property.
In the works for months, the Los Angeles-based Laurus Corp. closed the deal on Dec. 23 for the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa. According to Eagle County records, the sale price was $53.3 million, although Laurus spokewoman Lucy Zepp put the total sale price at just less than $90 million. The seller was Lowe Enterprises, which managed the hotel for a pension fund that owned the property.
The sale was announced Wednesday. It includes the hotel, the athletic club, a portion of the parking structure at the hotel — the rest remains under separate ownership — and a vacant parcel that already has town of Vail approval for 23 condos, employee housing units and a small amount of retail or commercial space.
“This is a unique opportunity for our investors to acquire a resort that would be nearly impossible to replicate from a cost and location perspective, one of the only true ski-in/ski-out resorts in a top destination market” Andres Szita, chairman of Laurus Corp., wrote in a press release regarding the sale.
In addition to news of the sale, Laurus announced a $35 million renovation plan for the hotel, which was built in the early 1980s and has been renovated and added to several times over the years.
The renovation plan intends to take the Cascade up-market. The release states that “every aspect” of the hotel will be refurbished.
In a telephone interview, Laurus Corp. Chief Investment Officer Austin Khan said renovations will include guest rooms, the hotels conference space, public areas and other facilities. That includes the restaurant.
The release announcing the sale stated that improvements will include a “new fine dining concept,” a lounge that will feature live music, upgraded ski valet and concierge service, and new equipment training services and other amenities for the athletic club.
While hotel operations are expected to remain as they are today through the rest of the season, Khan said even those will be carefully looked at through the remainder of the winter.
Destination Hotels will continue to manage and operate the property. The property will join The Luxury Collection, a division of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
Work on the renovation is expected to begin at the end of ski season, with most of the work complete in time for the start of the 2016-17 ski season. To complete all the work, Khan said the hotel will be closed through parts of the spring, summer and fall.
Before the sale was complete, Laurus officials asked for and received a one-year extension on existing town of Vail approvals for the Cornerstone condo project. That approval now runs through June of 2017. Khan said the company requested the extension to have more time to study how the condos fit in with the rest of the hotel.
“We want to put together the product in a way that makes sense,” Khan said.
While Laurus doesn’t have a set timeline to start development of the condos, Khan said the company expects to start work before the current extension expires.
While the project has most of its town approvals in place, Vail Community Development Department Director George Ruther said final plans for Cornerstone will need to be reviewed and approved by the Vail Design Review Board and the Vail Planning and Environmental Commission.
Ruther added that he’s also had preliminary discussions about some additions to the hotel property itself. Those will require town approvals. When finished, Khan said he expects the Cascade provide “the best resort experience in Vail.”
Khan said Laurus, which has an ownership portfolio that includes hotels, office buildings and multi-family residences, believes in “enhancing the assets we’re investing in … We really want to be part of the community in Vail.”