Trendwest/Wyndham building 142 condos

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Trendwest Resorts/Wyndham Vacation Ownership has begun construction on 142 new timeshare condominiums on Pine "Grove Road. The site is the empty meadow in the middle ground. The Steamboat Ski Area Meadows Parking lot is in the foreground. The Sports Authority building at Wildhorse Marketplace is in the middle of the photo.

— A company describing itself as the largest vacation ownership and exchange network in the world is poised to grow bigger in Steamboat Springs.

Ground has been broken on an expansion of The Village at Steamboat Springs. It is on a triangular parcel of land along Pine Grove Road. The site is immediately opposite the ski area's remote parking lot.

The new construction will add 142 new timeshare condominiums in four buildings, more than tripling the size of a development originally approved in 1980.

The current Village at Steamboat includes 64 condominiums and a community building.

The property, which is within walking distance of new shopping and dining at Wildhorse Marketplace and Central Park Plaza, is a Trendwest Resort. It is a subsidiary of Wyndham Vacation Ownership, which describes itself as "the world's largest timeshare company." The claim is based on its 750,000 members, who have purchased vacation "points," which allow them to stay at any of more than 140 resorts.

"Steamboat Springs has a great reputation as a winter resort, and we're excited to have the opportunity to expand our resort there," Lisa Burby said. She is senior director of corporate communications at Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

Burby said new members who want to join the vacation club at the entry level typically spend between $13,000 and $18,000 for a lifetime privilege to a one-week vacation in a single bedroom condo.

The club offers one, two and three-bedroom vacation condos.

"A significant part of our business is existing owners who decide to upgrade," Burby said.

The resort, under different ownership at the time, originally was approved in November 1980 to build 300 condos and 14,000 square feet of commercial space in 14 buildings. Following construction of the original 24 units and the community building, the project went no further for more than 15 years. A second, 40-unit building was built in 1998.

Trendwest by WorldMark held a "vested" approval to build the original project, but in light of changing market conditions, the owners came back through the city planning process in late 2002, gaining approval for its current plans in January 2003.

The planning hearings for the Trendwest expansion were held concurrently with plans for the new Strings in the Mountains music festival campus. It now occupies six acres in the northern end after purchasing its site from WorldMark for $1.6 million in June 2003.

The city's approval for the Trendwest expansion here was valid for three years, but City Planning Director Tom Leeson said the company obtained an extension after it had not undertaken construction by January 2003.

The original phasing plan called for the two buildings closest to the Strings tent and Pine Grove Road to be built first along with all of the interior roads and pedestrian paths.

Burby said the scale of the expansion in Steamboat is evidence of a departure from the way Wyndham typically develops resorts.

Trendwest Resorts is one of two separate vacation membership clubs operated by Wyndham. The other is Fairfield Resorts.

Typically, Burby said, the company reserves a vacation property for one club or the other. That won't be the case at The Village at Steamboat. When the Steamboat expansion is complete, 71 of the new condos will be available to Trendwest Resorts members and the other 71 will be available to Fairfield members.

"It's a big plus for us, and we think also for Steamboat," Burby said. "Steamboat is such a popular destination for us, and the resort will see owners from both clubs. Of our 140 resorts, there are not many that serve both sets of owners."

Beginning next year, the company intends to re-brand both clubs to reflect the Wyndham name.

Architecturally, the new buildings will closely resemble the existing buildings. Each will comprise about 6,800 square feet. Exterior materials will include Hardie Panel siding, a fiber-cement product that can be given a wood grain finish.

Trendwest is based in Redmond, Wash. Its only Colorado properties are in Steamboat and Estes Park. The company has 14 properties in California, five in Nevada and four in Utah, including one of its newest, in Midway near Park City.

In addition to managing a vacation rental network, Wyndham franchises hotels under the Wyndham Hotel Group flag.

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