Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Sheraton Resort has officially hopped into the fray of redevelopment at the base of the Steamboat Ski Area.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which purchased the hotel in May, announced Friday it will completely redesign and update the hotel, with an emphasis on vacation ownership units and timeshares.
Chuck Porter, general manager of Steamboat Sheraton Resort, said the new Sheraton will be a great anchor for the base of the ski area.
"I think it's going to really update the hotel and it's going to reposition it in the marketplace," Porter said.
David Matheson, a spokesman for Starwood Vacation Ownership, said the renovations would begin in April 2008, when the hotel closes at the end of the ski season. Most renovations will be complete by the time the hotel reopens in June 2008. The renovations will result in the loss of 80 traditional hotel rooms, with the addition of 24 two- and three-bedroom "vacation ownership villas." Matheson said the villas essentially are fully equipped residences that people can buy for one week a year or more.
The 193 hotel rooms in the Sheraton's West Tower will be renovated to include new bedding and decor. The Morningside Tower's 23 multiple-bedroom rental units will be converted into ownership units. Work in the Sheraton's East Tower will take the longest, Matheson said, with completion not expected until the start of the 2008-09 ski season. Eighty hotel rooms in that tower will be converted into 24 vacation ownership units, while floors six and seven will remain individually owned condominiums.
"The hotel is basically going to be brand new," Matheson said.
Porter and Matheson said the Sheraton's role as a conference center would not be affected by the renovations. Matheson said that space would be renovated as well, with work scheduled around existing reservations. Porter said the loss of hotel rooms would not hurt the Sheraton's convention business and the variety of units available would appeal to more groups. The hotel's ownership units would be available for nightly rental when not occupied.
"There's not going to be a significant reduction in beds, just a reconfiguration of space," Porter said.
Matheson said Starwood is capitalizing on tremendous growth in the vacation ownership and timeshare industry in recent years. The Steamboat Sheraton Resort will be the company's fifth vacation ownership resort in Colorado. The company has one in Aspen and three in Avon, one of which is under construction. Matheson said the three finished resorts are sold out.
"Most hotels today have some ownership component," Matheson said.
In addition to a being a smart business move for Starwood, Matheson said, the focus on ownership units would be a boon to the local economy as well, because owners would be subject to local taxes.
Renovations at the Sheraton are just one piece of a massive facelift to the base of the ski area. Joe Kracum, the city's project coordinator for a multiyear, $23 million public redevelopment project at the base of the ski area, said knowing the Sheraton's future plans will help the city in its plans for providing improvements and infrastructure.
"With the new ownership, we expected they'd be doing something there," Kracum said. "We'll incorporate that into our planning and work with them just like we work with everyone else up there."
Starwood shares were up $1.30 Monday, or 2.34 percent, to $56.77 in 4 p.m. composite trading on the New York Stock Exchange.