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Welcome back to Manor Vail

Scott N. Millersmiller@vaildaily.comVail, CO Colorado
NWS Manor Vail 1 DT 12-12-08
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VAIL, Colorado Its been a long, expensive 18 months, but one of Vails oldest condominium complex is open for business again.Manor Vail closed in April of 2007 for a massive renovation project that included underground parking, a new-look for the outside, renovations to the restaurant, bar and lobby and, most importantly, 17 new penthouse condos built above the third floor on the north side. The place is open again, and has been booked solid all this month, but the work isnt entirely finished. On a recent visit, there were still workers scurrying around the lodge, and there were tools on one of the tables in the Fitz bar.But the lodge was bustling, too.Weve had every room we have available booked since Dec. 5, lodge General Manager Bob McCleary said.

Getting the lodge ready for company has been a big job, and the facelift itself took a few years of planning before the machinery rolled. The 110 or so condo owners had long known Manor Vail was ready for a facelift. Many wanted underground parking. Others were looking for ways to pay for elevators for the three-story building. And the building was built long before anyone in Vail had thought of putting fire sprinklers or alarms into lodges.In about 2003, we started to really explore our options, McCleary said. Over the course of the next couple of years, the condo owners signed a deal with East West Partners that involved building 17 fourth-floor penthouses. The real estate sales would pay for most of the improvements to the rest of the lodge.But you dont just put a new floor on 40-year-old building. So engineers devised a way to essentially build a steel platform around the existing lodge, then build the condos on that platform.The agreement with East West included elevators, sprinklers, new siding, decks and windows for the existing units, and the underground parking garage.And through it all, the lodge managers had 110 bosses to keep happy.It was hard to get everyone on the same page, McCleary said. In fact, a couple of the owners tried going to court to stop the project.But we got it done, McCleary said. And the existing owners had very little out of pocket cost.When the work was finally ready to start all the units had to be empty not just move-out-the-sofa empty, but take-everything-but-the-lightbulbs empty.That job fell to lodge assistant general manager Leana Roberts.Working with Johnson Moving & Storage of Denver, crews itemized and moved more than 10,000 items, from furniture to family keepsakes. Everything was stored in a secure warehouse in Denver.When the work was finished enough to move owners stuff back into their units, the whole job was done in reverse, with Roberts checking every item off a master inventory list.I tell people Ive moved 246 times in the last year-and-a-half, she said. I never want to move again!

Besides just the moving, a lot of Manor Vail condos were also renovated to meet the standards of the Vail Valley Partnerships Lodging Quality Assurance Program. Those that meet the programs gold level which is most of them are available for rent.Beyond the condos and the outdoor areas, the lodges public areas got a thorough going-over. The lobby is freshly renovated, as are the Fitz bar and the Lord Gore restaurant.McCleary is especially excited about the bar, because the outdoor deck has been expanded, which should be a new lure for people walking back to Vail Village from the Ford Amphitheater or the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens.This is going to be an extension of the Betty Ford Gardens, McCleary said.The Lord Gore, one of Vails oldest restaurants, looks a lot like it always had, but the fireplace is entirely new. Crews were going to just put a new rock face on the fireplace, but soon found that the 1960s-style construction would have to go.There are always surprises when you get into old construction, McCleary said.A group of skiers from Wisconsin was checking out of the lodge late last week, and some of the guest said theyd enjoyed their stay, despite a few glitches.There are a lot of new people working here and there needs to be some fine-tuning, guest Norm Kunish said. We went for two days without knowing there were elevators and we were on the third floor.But tour coordinator Ralph Stevens said the lodge management also provided the group with a complimentary cocktail reception the on the last night of their stay. They did their best to make it right, Stevens said.With the lodge shut down as long as it was, more than 100 new people had to be hired, and many are still learning some of the fine points of their jobs. But McCleary said its been easy to fill those jobs.That was one of our big concerns when we closed, McCleary said. But with the economic slowdown, we havent had any trouble.Now, all those new people need to learn the Manor Vail way, and pick up what McCleary, Roberts and others believe their lodge might have the best spot in Vail.People love the location, Roberts said. Weve got everything right here, but were still a little bit set away from the village. Were really excited to be open again.Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 748-2930, or smiller@vaildaily.com.


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