Vail’s Four Seasons ready for company
VAIL, Colorado – As hotel companies go, Four Seasons is pretty small – there are only 85 in the world right now – so opening a new one is a special occasion. That’s why company founder Isadore Sharp came to the hotel’s Tuesday press reception.
Speaking in the dining room of one of the hotel’s new luxury condos – a 4,700 square-foot, four-bedroom unit with a listing price of more than $8.7 million – Sharp said the company has long looked at putting a hotel in the Vail market.
“We’ve looked at Vail for probably 20 years,” Sharp said. “When this came our way, it really fit our plans.”
But it took a long time to get the 10-story hotel/condo ready for company. The project broke ground in December of 2005. Two general contractors, two financial companies, a nine-month construction delay and numerous other problems later, the hotel is set to open this month.
General manager Hans Willimann didn’t have anything to do with all the construction hurdles, and acknowleged that waiting for the building to be finished was tough. All the china and linens were purchased last year, just waiting for a hotel to put it in.
With the building nearing completion, Willimann and his executive team started hiring in late summer. In all more than 170 locals landed jobs at the new hotel. There were about 1,000 applicants.
Willimann said he and his team hired with one thing in mind – customer service, and hired according to the company’s philosophy of living by the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
“That’s our guiding light,” Willimann said. “We treat everyone – guests, employees, suppliers – the same way.”
The hotel is “soft opening” through the winter, Willimann said, but there are reservations on the books. Willimann said he expects to go through December about half-booked. The hotel could be more full, he said. This way, the new crew can get everything right.
The Four Seasons opening essentially finishes Vail’s “Billion-Dollar Renewal,” a decade-long renovation that brought several new hotel and condo projects to town, changing the look of virtually every part of town except Bridge Street.
Across the street from the Four Seasons, Rick Colomitz and his wife and business partner, Kelly Liken, have watched the work on the hotel from the restaurant that bears Liken’s name. The restaurant hosted the Four Seasons’ ground-breaking five years ago, and Colomitz said he’s thrilled to have his new neighbor finally ready for business, both for his family’s restaurant and the town in general.
“I’m very proud,” Colomitz said. “The town needed an update, and it looks fantastic.”
But one observer said the challenge now is for those new projects to deliver on their promise of bringing more upscale customers to Vail.
“The mission now is to fill those buildings with clients to meet the original intent of their size and scope,” Vail Homeowners Association Director Jim Lamont said. “Now that they’ve arrived, it’s upt to the community and surrounding region to make it work.”
For Sharp, the feeling is mutual.
“The hotel has to be part of the community to make it a success,” he said.
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