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Vail Four Seasons hotel closer to reality

Matt Zalaznick

That means a Four Seasons Resort could be open on the corner of the main Vail roundabout – in the place of the Amoco gas station and the Chateau hotel – by ski season 2005.

“It’s a very big step,” T.J. Brink, president and general counsel of HB Development Co., the company developing the project, said after Tuesday night’s meeting. “Every step makes us a lot closer.”

One reason earlier designs for the Four Seasons failed to win over Town Council were fears of traffic congestion on adjacent Vail Road. The acquisition of the gas station land appears to have eased those worries.

Architects working for the developer also have made changes to the location of buildings, as well as the height and appearance of the resort. One such change was spacing the buildings that face the South Frontage Road to create less of a wall.

“I think it’s a great thing,” Vail Mayor Ludwig Kurz said. “In terms of bulk and mass you can’t call this a small building, but at this time in Vail’s life, to get this kind of project underway and completed is going to be a benefit to the community.”

The Four Seasons Resorts still needs a second, final approval, which the Town Council is expected to consider in the coming weeks. The project comprises 118 hotel rooms, 22 time-share units and 18 condominiums. Thirty-four employee-housing units are also planned.

Stiff opposition from neighboring homeowners appears unlikely.

Jim Lamont, of the Vail Village Homeowners Association, said residents of surrounding neighborhoods are “comfortable” with the project. The Four Seasons also could have a domino effect on other hotels and lodges, Lamont said.

“The project meets our specific goal of heading toward making the community more of a destination resort than a day skier resort,” Lamont said. “We find great harmony with the project.”

The Chateau is currently owned by international developer Waldir Prado, who has ambitious planned for demolishing the Vail Village Inn and building another luxury hotel across Vail Road from the Four Seasons.

Vail Town Councilwoman Diana Donovan strongly endorsed the resort, but said she was still a little troubled by the heights of some of its buildings. She said she was leery of setting a precedent for future developments and eroding the town’s views of the mountain.

“There’s an awful lot good about this,” Donovan said. “But if we approve this, where does the next project come in?”

Donovan also led the council in directing the developer not to let the lot currently occupied by the Chateau stand empty once it’s demolished. Brink said that was not the intent.

As soon as the Four Resorts receives final approval from the town, Brink said, the purchase of the land – which should happen by July – will be finalized and demolition will begin.

The resort will hopefully open by ski season 2005, Brink said.

Frank Johnson, president of the Vail Valley Chamber and Tourism Bureau, said the Four Seasons could give the town a real boost, particularly considering there are renovations planned at some of Vail other’s well-known hotels.

“It’s a wonderful addition to our hotel product. They’re a great hotel operator and a prestigious addition to the community,” Johnson said. “We’re excited to have them here.”

Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or via e-mail at mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.


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