Big changes planned for the St. Regis
The St. Regis Aspen has announced plans for a $30 million renovation of the luxury hotel to create a new spa and 25 suites that will be sold in fractional shares.The plans, submitted to the city of Aspen this week, also call for the construction of 20 additional hotel rooms within currently unfinished space at the hotel.”In order to effectively compete against newer hotels in other mountain resorts, the St. Regis Aspen needs to meet the demands of our customers, which include the ability to purchase fractional ownership and access to a first-class spa within the hotel,” said Richard McLennan, general manager, in a prepared statement.The St. Regis anticipates starting construction late this year, with completion by the summer of 2004. All of the renovation work will be internal, with no impacts to the exterior of the hotel, McLennan stressed.The entire hotel will close in the fall for four weeks, just as it did last year, but only the wing that will contain the fractional units will be closed for construction throughout next winter and spring, he said.Since the imposing hotel opened a decade ago at the corner of Dean and Mill streets (it was originally operated by Ritz-Carlton), guest demands have changed and the competition from high-end hotels at other ski resorts has intensified, according to McLennan. The proposed changes are a response to the competition at other resorts, rather than the recent proliferation of fractional ownership and timeshare hotels being proposed and built in Aspen/Snowmass, he said.”We are reinventing this hotel to be more competitive,” he said. “In the end, we will steal business from Jackson Hole, Vail, Bachelor Gulch, Beaver Creek.”Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of the St. Regis Aspen, has proposed converting 98 of the hotel’s 257 existing rooms into 25 two- and three-bedroom fractional units with top-of-the-line kitchens. They would be sold in one-eleventh shares, giving owners about 28 days per year, spread over each season.The cost of a fractional share at the hotel has yet to be determined, according to McLennan, but he predicted the price will be comparable to other luxury fractional properties in resort markets.The fractional units will be constructed in the east wing of the St. Regis, which is comprised of three separate, connected buildings. The hotel has existing approvals to construct 20 hotel rooms in the currently unfinished north wing – the building that fronts Durant Avenue, above Aspen Sports. “I like to call it the most expensive, unused real estate in the United States, McLennan said of the north wing.In addition, the small fitness facility currently located in the east wing will be replaced by a much larger spa in the lower level of the main building.”It will be a first-class spa that will offer the finest services,” McLennan said. “The spa specifically is being built to increase our market share.”The hotel will retain 17,000 square feet of meeting space, including the existing 9,000-square-foot ballroom.The viability of the fractional-ownership units has been researched by Starwood Vacation Ownership, a subsidiary of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, according to McLennan.”There is a high demand for fractional ownership in high-end resort destinations,” he said. “It has been proven that the demand is there in the Aspen market for fractional ownership.”With the changes, the St. Regis will have slightly fewer beds available – dropping from 317 pillows to 277 pillows, but anticipates generating higher occupancy levels with the fractional units, McLennan said.Although the hotel is currently full, its annual occupancy runs at about 60 percent. With the fractional units, Starwood expects annual occupancy of about 80 percent, he said.[Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org]
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