Colorado's Vail Resorts to acquire distinguished Rockresorts brand

Vail Resorts Inc. has acquired a majority interest in the venerable Rockresorts brand and assumed management of the company's five d properties. To expand the presence of Rockresorts International LLC in the luxury sector, Vail Resorts also will re-brand five of its properties into Rockresorts and acquire the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage in Palm Springs, Calif., to boost the number of Rockresorts from five to 11. Vail Resorts will acquire the Ritz-Carlton property from Dallas-based Olympus Real Estate Partners, the current owner of Rockresorts.

To acquire a majority interest in the brand, Vail Resorts will pay $7.5 million to Olympus and operate Rockresorts as a subsidiary company. The agreement also calls for Vail Resorts to acquire the remaining interest in Rockresorts in 2004-2005 for an undetermined price. The headquarters for Rockresorts will move from Scottsdale, Ariz., to Denver.

Rockresorts is known for its unique, remote properties, including the Rosario Resort & Spa, a resort located in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington that features 12 resident Orca whales. The other four resorts included in the acquisition are the Cheeca Lodge in the Florida Keys; the Equinox in Manchester Village, Vt.; La Posada Resort & Spa in Santa Fe., N.M.; and Casa Madrona in Sausalito, Calif. Laurance Rockefeller launched Rockresorts in 1956, but the resort group was sold two decades later. Olympus revived the brand in 1999.

Vail Resorts will acquire the 240-room Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage for an initial payment of $20 million, followed by a second payment of $25 million two years later. The hotel will be renamed The Lodge at Rancho Mirage.

The 11-property Rockresorts portfolio includes approximately 1,750 rooms. Vail Resorts owns or manages 10 other hotels. Following the acquisition announcement, Edward E. Mace, the former president and CEO of Fairmont Hotels, was named the new president of Rockresorts.

Noble Investment Group opens boutique-style Crowne Plaza

Crowne Plaza, a brand of Holiday Inn and Resorts, isn't known as a boutique hotel, but an Atlanta-based developer hopes to create that sort of trendy, cutting-edge ambience in a newly renovated property. Noble Investment Group spent $16 million to overhaul the interior and exterior of a former Holiday Inn and converted property, located on Peachtree Road, into the 300-room Buckhead Crowne Plaza.

MILAN, a restaurant and bar that extends into the lobby and onto an outdoor patio, is the centerpiece of the hotel. Noble CEO and president Mitesh “Mit” Shah studied world-class properties such as the Delano in Miami and The Roger Williams in New York to create “a boutique feeling in the heart of Buckhead.”

A little less Nashville: Opryland hotels receive new name

The famous Opryland hotels have been re-branded under the name “Gaylord Hotels.” Nashville, Tenn.-based Gaylord Entertainment, the owner of the properties, said the name change is part of an effort to improve its core hospitality and convention business.

The company's original Opryland property in Nashville has been renamed Gaylord Opryland; its Kissimmee, Fla., hotel Gaylord Palms; and the Grapevine, Texas, property Gaylord Opryland Texas.

“The Opryland name enjoys strong regional name recognition in Nashville and Texas, but suggests an image that is not consistent with the product that Gaylord will open… in other locations across the country,” said Colin Reed, CEO of Gaylord Entertainment.