USA. East West Partners and Crescent Real Estate to develop Lake Tahoe\'s first five star ski-in/ski-out resort and spa

Thursday, 20 July 2006

The official groundbreaking ceremony for Lake Tahoe's first five-star luxury hotel -- the 173-room The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe -- was held today at The Highlands, a new on-mountain residential, resort community set amidst the Northstar-at- Tahoe(TM) ski resort in North Lake Tahoe. The new $300-million resort project, slated to open in late 2009, is being developed by East West Partners, veteran developer of award-winning resorts in Colorado and Utah, and its partner, Crescent Real Estate Equities Company (NYSE:CEI) .

The two companies have an agreement with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., to operate the new luxury property, which will also include The Ritz-Carlton (full-ownership) Residences; The Ritz-Carlton Club, offering residences for deeded fractional ownership; and a world-class spa, several pools, and on-site meeting and event space. These amenities will be connected by a new gondola to the Village at Northstar(TM) condominium residences, shops, restaurants and ice rink.

"Lake Tahoe is a spectacular area with great weather, an incredible lake, and wonderful skiing, particularly at Northstar-at-Tahoe, which has been ranked 5th in North America for its family programs," said Harry Frampton, founder and managing partner, East West Partners. "The new hotel, residences and club will fit perfectly into the gorgeous, mid-mountain setting shared by our other properties. We believe we are creating a renaissance of development in Lake Tahoe."

The Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe is slated for completion in late 2009. Sales will begin this winter on the first phase of residences. In addition to foundation work, construction began this summer on the 4.5-mile Highlands View Road, a scenic parkway leading up to the hotel site. The road is carefully routed to preserve the natural terrain, with four roadway tunnels running beneath the existing ski slopes at various intervals. Q&D Construction of Reno and Swinerton Builders of San Francisco are serving as joint contractors on the project.

"We have a long-standing relationship with The Ritz-Carlton Company, and we are excited about the opportunity to bring the first five-star luxury hotel to the North Lake Tahoe region," commented John C. Goff, vice chairman and chief executive officer, Crescent Real Estate Equities Company.

"The Ritz-Carlton," he added, "is a wonderful addition to the four major resort residential properties we are developing in North Lake Tahoe. Ritz-Carlton not only generates a lot of attention for the region, but it also enhances the value of the area and fits appropriately with the high level of quality that our developments bring to the region's destination and resort experience."

As The Ritz-Carlton properties are completed, they will neighbor East West Partners' and Crescent's new 1,450-unit Highlands community, featuring ski-in/ski-out condominiums and townhomes. Residents and vacationers alike will be able to step outside their homes and immediately ski to a lift that transports them to and from the slopes at Northstar-at-Tahoe and the new Village, or take advantage of an extensive recreational trail network for hiking and biking.

"East West Partners is recognized for developing high-end residential resort communities, and The Ritz-Carlton hotel, combined with The Ritz-Carlton Residences and The Ritz-Carlton Club, will be another feather in their cap," said Bill Rhodes, senior vice president of operations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. "When completed, The Highlands and Lake Tahoe will call home to The Ritz-Carlton's first ski resort and spa in Northern California, offering guests and home owners a luxury lifestyle with breathtaking views set high in the mountains, plus amenities at the Village at Northstar."

The design of this destination resort property is led by the world-class team of Mark Hornberger, FAIA, principal of Hornberger + Worstell, and Stanford Hughes, FAIA, principal of BraytonHughes Design Studios. The hotel's design will pay tribute to the great environmental spirit of Northern California, and will incorporate native granite stone, local timber and other building materials native to the Sierra Nevada-Lake Tahoe region.

Lodge features will include steeply pitched roofs with shed dormers, sheltering porches and entryways and stone fireplaces in the great lobby and in individual guestrooms. When completed, it will be one of the few true ski-in/ski-out hotels in the world, and will have access to the shopping, restaurants and ice rink located in the Village at Northstar via a short gondola ride.

Northstar-at-Tahoe is in the midst of an extensive mountain improvement plan, which includes two new lifts, relocating the cross-country ski center, expanding its snowmaking system, adding new parking lots and additional terrain.

"While Northstar-at-Tahoe has been a landmark ski destination since the 70s, The Ritz-Carlton properties can only generate more interest in North Lake Tahoe, especially from those seeking more extended, year-round vacation stays in upscale properties," says Chris Ryman, president of Booth Creek Resorts. "The new five-star hotel will compliment our new Village at Northstar and the aggressive mountain improvement plan underway."

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 July 2006 )