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Hyatt to run timeshare at Grand Aspen

Brent Gardner-Smith

One of the biggest names in the resort hospitality industry wants to check into Aspen.

The Hyatt Vacation Club has been chosen by the new owners of the Grand Aspen hotel to operate a timeshare project on the site pending final approval of the project.

Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc., which runs the Hyatt Vacation Club, is an affiliate of the Chicago-based Hyatt Corp., which operates 200 hotels around the world. The vacation club group currently operates vacation properties in Beaver Creek, Lake Tahoe, Key West and Puerto Rico and plans to complete a property in Breckenridge by the end of the year.

“We met with numerous qualified operators but selected Hyatt based on several defining factors,” said David Parker of Four Peaks.

Parker’s Aspen-based ownership group recently paid $30 million to Savannah Limited Partnership for the Grand Aspen site, 13 luxury homesites at the base of Aspen Mountain and an employee housing site at the Bavarian Inn.

One key factor was that Hyatt’s ownership program allows any available timeshare units to be rented out to short-term visitors to Aspen.

While the lodging units are purchased by individual owners, they can also be rented out just like hotel rooms or condos. That option is not available at many fractional ownership projects, such as the Ritz-Carlton Club at Aspen Highlands.

Along with the Grand Aspen hotel site, Four Peaks purchased a land-use approval from the city of Aspen for a 150-room, 115,000-square-foot hotel. The council specifically wanted a “moderately priced, upscale” hotel to be built there.

Four Peaks is seeking an amendment to its conceptual approval to allow the project to be configured as a 51-suite vacation ownership project. The overall size of the proposed building would stay the same, but would not include a restaurant or meeting space. The Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission will first review the proposed changes on March 6.

“As we enter into the review for final approval of the application, we felt it was best to have the operator selected so they may be involved from the very beginning and have input during the entitlement process,” said Parker.

According to Parker, Four Peaks believes that by selecting Hyatt as an operator for, and an ownership partner in, the proposed timeshare hotel, it will best meet the “moderately price, upscale” provision of the conceptual approval.

“Hyatt serves the best niche for the project,” said Parker.

In addition to a timeshare unit, owners in the Hyatt Vacation Club also gain access to other club properties, which are available to them based on a point system. The more valuable their original purchase, the more points they have to use at other properties.

“We are starting to see more and more people moving about the system,” said John Burlingame, executive vice president of Hyatt Vacation Ownership, Inc. “There are currently between 5,000 and 6,000 owners in the Hyatt Vacation Club.”

While Hyatt has never owned a hotel in Aspen, it has operated the Hyatt Regency in Beaver Creek for years and two years ago opened the Hyatt Mountain Lodge nearby.

That project includes a mix of studios and two- and three-bedroom units. The price to own and use a studio for a week during ski season and 10 other days throughout the season starts at $18,000. A three-bedroom penthouse at Christmas sold for $330,000. Most of the Beaver Creek product, however, was two-bedroom units that sold for around $60,000.

Whether a “Hyatt Grand Aspen” (the name has not been set) would ultimately be a moderate-priced hotel remains to be seen.

A studio this weekend at the Hyatt Mountain Lodge in Beaver Creek costs $495 a night and a two-bedroom is $745. On the other hand, a two-bedroom condo at the Hyatt in Incline Village in Lake Tahoe costs $299 per night in March.

By comparison, a standard hotel room at the four-star St. Regis next to the Grand Aspen in March runs about $545, while a room at the five-star Little Nell hotel on the other side of the Grand Aspen at the end of March costs $550 per night.

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Posted: Friday, March 2, 2001


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