Steamboat Springs The long-awaited opening of the Steamboat Grand Hotel is tentatively set for Sept. 22, when a small group of condominium owners will visit the hotel.
"We're coming down to the wire," General Manager Terry Murphy said. "I've opened a lot of hotels, and this is one of the most fun times. Our plans as of today are to open very quietly with some owner occupancy. We expect 20 to 25 owners to come in. We'll be right in the middle of training employees, so it gives us an opportunity to work with actual guests."
Murphy was careful to say the Sept. 22 opening is pending issuance of a certificate of occupancy by the Routt County Regional Building Department. But, he said construction managers are confident that can be accomplished. He expects to officially open to the public the first week in October.
Construction on the Steamboat Grand began in the summer of 1998, and the opening of the 412-room hotel has been delayed several times. The hotel was originally planned to open in December 1999. That date was pushed back to January or February 2000, then to June, then to Labor Day.
Murphy said the soft opening of the Steamboat Grand will facilitate some real estate closings, and the owner/guests have received letters alerting them to the fact that they'll see some some evidence of ongoing construction during their stay. However, their rooms will be completed and the entire floor upon which they are staying will be complete, Murphy said.
Much of what remains to be done at the hotel involves double-checking the details, Murphy said, like making sure headboards are attached to beds.
"As of today, floors two, three and four are done," he said. "Half of five is complete and should be finished this week. Then, the sixth floor should be done on Sept. 22. After that, we'll still be working on the penthouse on the seventh floor."
The Cabin dining room and Chaps lounge will be open to hotel guests on Sept. 22, as well as the pool and exercise rooms, Murphy added.
The Cabin will get its trial run Sept. 18 to 22 when the hotel invites 20 to 30 people a day to dine as its guests, Murphy said. Dinner guests will be asked to help train the front desk staff by going through the motions of registering as overnight guests and asking general questions about the Steamboat area, Murphy said.
Murphy said the delays in opening the hotel this summer were costly.
"Unfortunately, a lot of business was moved this summer, which was very disappointing," Murphy said.
The announcement this week that the beginning construction date of a Grand Summit hotel at Heavenly Valley, Calif., has been delayed will not affect the Sept. 22 opening of the Steamboat Grand Hotel, American Skiing Co. officials said this week. The Steamboat Grand was formerly known as the Grand Summit. Both resort properties are being developed by ASC, parent of both the Steamboat and Heavenly Valley ski areas. ASC spokesman Skip King said the situation at Heavenly was related to delays in transferring the real estate it will be built on. "We were just watching the construction season in Tahoe tick away," King said. "The hotel in Steamboat will open very shortly, the facility in South Lake Tahoe hasn't had a groundbreaking." ASC increased its debt position with Oak Hill Capital Partners LP in mid-August in an effort to sustain development of real estate properties at a variety of its ski areas across the country. The company's revenue from real estate sales jumped to $73 million during the fiscal third quarter ending April 30, compared with $10.3 million a year earlier. King said he hopes that trend continues when fourth-quarter and year-end financial reports are due in mid- to late October. Both the Grand Summit near Heavenly and the Steamboat Grand are being marketed by ASC on a quartershare ownership plan. But the development of the two projects is proceeding on very different tracks. ASC is solely responsible for developing the Steamboat Grand, but at Heavenly, the hotel is being built in the city of South lake Tahoe as part of an urban renewal project in partnership with the South Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Agency. The Grand Summit, combined with a $35 million gondola linking the downtown with the ski area, are to be the centerpieces of the redevelopment project. It would replace aging motels and souvenir shops with modern resort properties. ASC is the No. 3 operator of alpine ski resorts in North America, with The Canyons in Utah and Killington, Vt., also in its ski rack. Tom Ross
He estimated almost 1,500 room nights were shifted to the Sheraton Resort and Conference Center as well as nearby condominiums. In some cases, the Steamboat Grand had to pay cash to other properties to make up the difference between their special opening rate and the going rate for the alternative accommodations.
Murphy said he has been pleased with the hotel's ability to attract the 80 employees it needs to open. Some of the employees have been recruited from seasonal positions in Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, he said.
During a typical ski-season week, Murphy said the hotel will require 180 to 200 employees, including management. During peak weeks, such as Christmas, he said an ideal number of employees would increase to 200 to 250.
"That would be the maximum we would ever need," Murphy said. And he has a ready source of employees to boost the hotel's staff during peak weeks employees already working for the ski area will be available to be pulled over to shifts at the Steamboat Grand, he said.
Housing the hotel's employees remains a challenge, Murphy said, but he expects 80 beds in the Walton Pond Apartments to open up for ski area and hotel employees this winter. Those beds were taken by construction workers employed at the hotel last season. The ski area is a co-developer of the apartment complex.
To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org