Ritz-Carlton planning luxury mountain lodge at Northstar | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Ritz-Carlton planning luxury mountain lodge at Northstar

RENO (AP) – The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co. announced plans Wednesday for a luxury hotel at the Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort that will be modeled after upscale mountain lodges built in the West a century ago.

The 172-room Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe hotel is scheduled to open in late 2009 – part of a $300 million resort at Truckee, Calif., with ski-in, ski-out town homes, condominiums, restaurants, swimming pools and a spa.

The hotel will be built with native granite and timber from the Sierra, and feature steeply pitched roofs with shed dormers, sheltering porches and stone fireplaces in the lobby, officials with the Chevy Chase, Md.,-based company said.

“It’s a true destination resort in one of the prettiest areas on North America,” said Tom Dunlap, managing partner for the Colorado-based East West Partners, co-developer of the property.

“It’s located at about 7,200 feet where all the ski lifts depart from,” he said by telephone.

Construction of the hotel is scheduled to begin this summer. The lead design architect said it will differ from Ritz-Carlton’s more traditional properties.

“Instead, it will be an upscale mountain lodge, a contemporary legacy of the great mountain lodges originally built in the West at the turn of the 20th century,” said Mark Hornberger, principal for design at Hornberger + Worstell Architects based in San Francisco.

In addition to the hotel, the resort will include 75 homes for sale and 77 other residences available as deeded time-shares.

“We are very pleased to add the Ritz-Carlton portfolio of luxury properties our first ski resort and spa in Northern California,” said Simon F. Cooper, Ritz-Carlton’s president and CEO.

The resort will border the 1,450-unit Highlands community that East West Partners and Crescent Real Estate Equities Co. are developing. It will have gondola access to the Village at Northstar, a collection of condominiums, shops, restaurants and ice skating rink at the base of the mountain.

“We have a long-standing relationship with The Ritz-Carlton and think the brand is extraordinary,” said John C. Goff, Crescent’s vice chairman and CEO.

“This is an exciting time for north Lake Tahoe, and developing a Ritz-Carlton hotel is an important milestone in its growth as a year-round resort destination,” he said.

Bruce Kranz, a member of the Placer County Board of Supervisors, said the developers have a strong track record of preserving the environment.

“The fantastic new complex at the Highlands will give the region not only a grand new hotel and increased luxury lodging and real estate options, but a host of new jobs, an increase in the tax base and a positive economic impact,” Kranz said.

The hotel will include 11,000 square feet of meeting space, including a 6,000-square-foot ballroom, to appeal to business travelers as well as vacationers.

“The Ritz-Carlton brand is very well-known and quite successful in the San Francisco Bay area,” Dunlap said.

“I think it could start to lay the groundwork to invite markets that not traditionally have been here – like Chicago – as well as the 13 million people who live within about a 3.5-hour drive.”

William C. Marks, managing director of JMP Securities in San Francisco, agreed that Ritz-Carlton’s name should be a boost.

“The property will attract guests that wouldn’t normally be coming to Northstar, let alone Lake Tahoe – loyal Ritz-Carlton customers,” Marks said.

But he said it’s not clear how much demand there is for high-end accommodations in the market.

“That is the question of the day. I think there will be some demand,” he said.

“There is quite a bit of residential development, but in terms of hotels in the area, there really are not that many high-end ones,” he said.

“Northstar certainly caters to families. Hopefully they will offer plenty of amenities that cater to families.”

On the Net:

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Co.: http://www.ritzcarlton.com

Ritz-Carlton Club: http://www.ritzcarltonclub.com/

The Highlands: http://www.HighlandsAtNorthstar.com

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