Vail’s Hotel Talisa celebrates grand opening with speeches, champagne and guests
• The Vail Cascade hotel first opened in 1986.
• The property was purchased by Los Angeles-based Laurus Corp. in late 2015.
• The company put an estimated $60 million into the renovation.
• The hotel has 285 guest rooms.
VAIL — The sound of power tools and a Native American flute combined Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the courtyard of the new Hotel Talisa. Work continues, but guests are starting to arrive. That was cause for celebration.
The celebration brought together both hotel employees and people from around Vail to tour the newly renovated hotel. For those who have shepherded the project to completion, Tuesday’s celebration was both heartfelt and a relief.
John Garth, managing director of the new hotel, said most of the old Cascade employees have returned to work at Talisa. Of those, roughly 75 people have worked at the hotel for 10 years or more.
Those employees were among the first people Garth thanked in his remarks before Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting — with a pair of skis.
Garth also thanked the Hotel Talisa’s ownership group, the Laurus Corp. of Los Angeles.
“We couldn’t be more appreciative,” Garth said.
That corporate support remained steadfast even through a number of delays and budget increases.
A lengthy project
When Laurus first announced the renovation project in early 2016, the work was expected to take about six months and cost about $36 million. The most recent fact sheet from the company put the cost of the project at roughly $60 million.
But that’s part of the plan to move Hotel Talisa into a higher level of the Vail market, competing with the Four Seasons, Sonnenalp and others.
The hotel will be part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection, a brand that includes St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton hotels across the country and the globe.
Getting his first look into the hotel, Vail Valley Partnership CEO Chris Romer told Tuesday’s grand opening crowd he’s impressed with what he’s seen.
“I know the service levels will match or exceed the quality (of the building),” Romer said.
The Vail Valley Partnership is active in bringing group business to the valley, and Romer said Hotel Talisa is ready to meet some of those needs, with 40,000 square feet of meeting space and a ballroom that can hold 900 people.
Other local officials also welcomed the Talisa back into Vail’s lodging market.
Vail Resorts Vice President of Mountain Community Affairs Kristin Kenney Williams called the lift from the hotel to the mountains a “vital” portal and praised the hard work that went into the project.
Taking care of guests
That hard work came at a cost beyond the increased renovation budget.
While work continued, the hotel was also accepting reservations. Garth said people were relocated into other hotels.
But the continued work gave some tense moments to Scott Rosenberg. He and his now-spouse, Jen, got engaged on New Year’s Eve 2016. Soon after Jen said “yes,” the couple had booked the wedding party into the Hotel Talisa.
As winter turned to spring, then summer, the hotel remained under construction.
In mid-June, Rosenberg said he received a call from Hotel Talisa’s event coordinator. The news wasn’t good. The hotel’s opening had been pushed into August.
Not wanting to have a wedding without a venue, the couple started a quick search for another venue, which turned out to be the Four Seasons. The hotel returned the couple’s deposit money and covered the price difference between rooms at the Four Seasons and Hotel Talisa.
“It was largely a positive experience,” Rosenberg said.
Garth said that guests whose reservations were canceled have been offered complimentary rooms at the hotel now that it’s open.
It’s all part of the effort to establish the Hotel Talisa brand.
During his remarks before the ribbon-cutting, Vail Mayor Dave Chapin said the new hotel will enhance Vail’s brand.
Coincidentally, Chapin helped open the Cascade Hotel in 1986 and remembers well the work it took to get that hotel running.
“It was a process,” Chapin said. “But now guests will (reap) the fruits of all this labor.”
As the ribbon-cutting reception broke up into tours of the facility, a black SUV pulled up to the front door, with a lone guest ready to check in. More will surely follow.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com and @scottnmiller.