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Canoa Ranch Resort Comes to Life in Green Valley, Arizona; Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
 to Serve as the Franchise Brand for the $100 million Hotel-condo Project
By Levi J. Long, The Arizona Daily Star, TucsonMcClatchy-Tribune Business News

Jan. 20, 2007 - Its been a quiet opening for the Wyndham Canoa Ranch Resort.

Spread across 52 acres in Green Valley, the $100 million hotel-condo project opened the first phase of its planned 288-unit property in mid-December and announced this week that Wyndham Hotels and Resorts would serve as the franchise brand.

The Canoa is the first Wyndham resort in Southern Arizona and is the second in the state, counting a Wyndham hotel in downtown Phoenix.

It is also one of the first of a few new hotel-condos to open in the Tucson region with two other projects planned for Downtown Tucson and Oro Valley.

"The idea is for this place to be the best piece of property in Green Valley," said David Williamson, owner and developer of the Wyndham Canoa Ranch Resort. "Our vision has been there for a long time. Now it's coming to life."

Under development since 2005, the Canoa Resort, 5775 S. Camino del Sol, is in the Canoa Ranch master planned community, a new subdivision on Green Valley's south side.

Guests and condo buyers are now moving into the first of nine planned buildings at the site.

Two more buildings are under construction and are scheduled to open by March, Williamson said.

When completed, the Canoa Resort will house 288 units, mostly two-bedroom condos that range from 1,500 to 1,700 square feet and start at $400,000.

Amenities at Canoa Resort include two championship golf courses, an upscale restaurant, and a planned spa and fitness center with an outdoor, cabana-style swimming pool.

Plans for the resort also include a retail "village center," where several small boutiques and cafes are expected to open, including Dave's Chop House, a new restaurant being developed by Metro Restaurants CEO Bob McMahon.

McMahon also oversees the Grill on the Green restaurant, part of the Canoa Ranch Golf Club, which is part of the resort.

"(The resort) has a chance to be the biggest hotel project in the area," said McMahon, who will oversee resort dining operations. "Having the Wyndham is a big deal. It puts us in a reservation system that has a national and international network."

With 6,300 properties, Wyndham operates several company brands including the Super 8, the Days Inn and the Wingate Inn.

The company's flagship, however, is with Wyndham Resorts, which has 89 upscale properties stretching from Costa Mesa, Calif., to the Bahamas and Dominican Republic.

"We're excited about the opening of the Canoa," said Peter Strebel, president of Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, during a phone call from New Jersey. "It's a good quality, luxury property ... in a state where we see a lot of growth for the Wyndham brand."

Williamson, president and CEO of Tucson-based Fairfield Homes Inc., plans to develop another condo-hotel project in Oro Valley called the Vistoso Resort and Spa, a new 220-unit project at Rancho Vistoso, scheduled to open in Sept. 2008.

Pre-opening sales are scheduled to begin in about month for that project, said Williamson who declined to say what the condos would cost.

Phoenix-based InnSuites is also building a 267-unit hotel-condo at Tucson's InnSuites, 475 N. Granada Ave.

Prices haven't been set for those condos, but sales are expected to start in about six months, said Mark Burg, executive vice president for InnSuites Hospitality Trust.

Nationwide, more condo-hotels are being built, which experts say makes financial sense because developers can spread the risk to condo owners and earn income from condo sales when projects are finished, said Dante Alexander president and CEO of the National Association of Condo Hotel Owners, a Scottsdale based group that counts about 7,000 members.

It works when condo buyers invest in the hotel-condos and allow the hotel management to rent it out when they're not using it and are sharing the revenue, Alexander said.

Sales at Canoa remain brisk, with three condos selling this week, bringing a total of 21 of 50 condos sold at the resort, said Brian Welch, Canoa's sales manager and designated broker for condos.

The fully furnished and professionally decorated two-bedroom condos at Canoa each have a living room with a fireplace, a dining area, a full-size kitchen, and balcony or patio.

They come standard with flat screen TVs, a washer and dryer and high-speed Internet connections and cable.

"A majority of the items, like potholders, dish towels, toasters and microwaves, also come with each unit," said Amy Grunwald, general manager for the resort. "It's everything you would need in a house."

Once the condos are purchased, owners can put the units into the resort's reservation system so they can be rented out to visitors.

Second bedrooms, designed like hotel guest suites, have different entrances and locks and can be rented out separately from the condo's main living space.

In-season daily rates to rent those units range from $124for a one-bed room suite to about $424 for a two-bedroom condo unit.

Though the resort features meeting space, the Canoa doesn't intend to market itself to large conventions, Welch said.

Instead, the plan is to slowly expand the resort into a four-star property and retain its "charming and cozy" ambience, said Viki Trask, the resort's director of sales and marketing.

Plans include highlighting area attractions around the Canoa, including a 30-minute drive from Tucson International Airport, its proximity to Madera Canyon, the Desert Diamond Casino and the artist colony of Tubac, as well as Nogales, Ariz., and Nogales, Sonora.

Owner: David Williamson, president of Tucson-based Fairfield Homes, Inc.

Management: Aimbridge Hospitality, a Texas firm that manages several hotel brands.

Property: 288-condo units, when completed.

Prices: Starting at around $400,000.

Sizes and amenities: 1,500 to 1,700 square feet for a fully furnished and professionally decorated two-bedroom condo. Access to two golf courses, a planned spa and fitness center and a retail village with restaurants, cafes and boutiques.

--Contact reporter Levi J. Long at 573-4179 or llong@azstarnet.com.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

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