Changes in store for the Grand

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— Changes are in store now that the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel has sold out.

There have been 15 to 20 closings a day on the $23 million worth of units purchased at auction March 18, and the final closing deadline of April 17 is quickly approaching.

"We just keep on going," said Ron Murray, with Transition Title Insurance Co. "It's going really well."

About 239 fractional units and 30 whole units were sold during the daylong auction. The auction drew more than 500 bidders at the site and via telephone and Internet. Officials from developer American Skiing Co., along with attendees and local Realtors, said the auction was a huge success. Some new owners left the auction feeling they had found real bargains.

The revenue generated by the hotel from association fees remains the same for new owners. One of the big advantages to auctioning the remaining inventory was the developer no longer had to pay its share of association fees, said Mike Lomas, general manager of the Grand.

"The end result is that nothing has changed as far as the amount of money that was collected to operate the hotel," Lomas said.

The auction will change in the makeup of the Grand's homeowners association, Lomas said.

Before the auction, five of the seven homeowners association officers represented the developer, who still owned about a third of the units in the hotel. Two of the officers represented the residents.

Now, five residential owners will sit on the board with two people representing the commercial interests.

"Now it's time to look at hotel renovations to keep our (AAA) four-diamond rating," Lomas said. Renovations could include some new carpet.

"I think the owners are excited the place is sold out, and they will be part of the decision-making for the future of the hotel, and they will start to see a significant increase in the value of the property they own," Lomas said.

Before the auction, there were so many available units that there was no sense of urgency for buyers interested in the property.

"There will be an increased interest from visitors who want to know how to get in this club," Lomas said.

Lomas can also relax knowing that many of the new owners have elected to put their properties into the rental market.

This is important, Lomas said, because many of the resort's services are funded by a percentage of the money taken in from nightly hotel room rentals. This is in addition to a percentage that the management company takes. "It was a concern, but it appears that most people are putting them in the rental management program," Lomas said.

The Grand real estate office and staff will shift their focus away from selling unsold inventory to assisting owners with selling their properties.

Before, this was not allowed, Lomas said, because it would have worked against the lender's interest of selling units.

The popularity of the Grand continues to grow, and Lomas expects a busy summer. A couple of weekends are sold out, and more than 50 wedding groups are expected. Lomas said the hotel has surpassed a resort hotel's typical goal of having an average of 50 percent of available rooms rented in a year.

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