Marriot steps in for ASC |

Marriot steps in for ASC

Susan Wood

Marriott International has agreed to build the Grand Summit at Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe in place of American Skiing Company.

This is in addition to its $129 million time-share hotel as part of the Park Avenue Redevelopment Project.

Heavenly Ski Resort’s parent company plans to toss the hammer aside to ensure the $100 million time-share condominium project with hotel amenities gets built, Senior Vice President Stan Hansen said Thursday.

“We’re excited about it. It’s the right mix,” Hansen said. “How could we find a better partner than Marriott?”

The construction schedule should remain the same, with a so-named Grand Summit completion due for December 2002, Hansen indicated. Construction was planned to start this spring.

It’s uncertain whether the name will stay the same though.

Details are sparse, as the formal announcement to transfer development rights to Marriott is expected Friday, May 4.

By the time this news was made available to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, officers at the Bethesda, Maryland-based hotel management firm were unavailable for comment.

ASC will await approval from the South Lake Tahoe City Council during a special session 4:30 p.m. Monday.

City Councilman Bill Crawford confirmed the proposed deal, which the two companies are expected to finalize May 11.

Hansen declined to disclose the amount of the selling interest of the development rights.

Over a month ago, ASC abandoned a proposed merger with hotel manager MeriStar Hotels and Resorts when it became apparent the Newry, Maine-based ski resort operator would be unable to secure the necessary financing to operate the combined company.

MeriStar, under the auspices of MeriStar Hospitality, pledged $25 million to the Grand Summit project, which recently reported $97 million in bookings.

Weeks after the merger was called off, ASC’s former Chairman Les Otten resigned to pursue other ventures or adventures.

Meanwhile, ASC had been exploring other partnerships to secure the major Park Avenue redevelopment hotel project. Quarter-to-whole ownerships will offer a myriad of hotel amenities such as maid service and valet parking.

The Grand Summit was modeled after The Canyons mountain resort outside Park City, Utah. ASC’s resort reported a resounding success in bookings in its first year of operation.

Marriott International Inc. has contributed to a busy chess match of transAmerican corporate negotiating.

On Thursday, the largest U.S. hotel company pulled out of the bidding for the Le Meridian, a luxury hotel chain.

Consequently, Marriott’s shares fell $2.02 to close at $46.01 that afternoon.

Analysts indicated that tourism is being hurt by weaker economies worldwide.

The purchase would have helped Marriott reach a goal of doubling its number of hotel rooms in Europe to about 65,000 by 2003, the Bloomberg news service reported Thursday.

“I think the transaction would have made sense for them if the price was right,” Bear Stearns Cos. Analyst Jason Ader said.

– Tribune Staff Writer Emily Aughinbaugh contributed to this report.

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