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A 300-room Fairmont Hotel to Be Built Next to the Classic Club Golf Course in Palm Desert, California;
Fairmont Pulls Out of Previously Announced Fairmont Branded Resort in Nearby Indian Wells

By Kimberly Pierceall, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 15, 2008 - A 300-room luxury Fairmont hotel will be built next to the home of the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic's golf course, dubbed the Classic Club, north of Interstate 10 in Palm Desert, according to officials involved in the project.

The $200 million project will include a 45,000-square-foot spa and 7,000-square-foot ballroom. The resort is part of the $2.5 billion master-planned Avanterra community being developed by local builder Richard Oliphant and partners that should include about 1 million square feet of shopping, a 700,000-square-foot office park and a planetarium.

Francis Wong, an Indian Wells-based hotel consultant, negotiated with Fairmont on behalf of the project developers, Delfino Resorts.

"Fairmont prides itself in seeking hotel sites that have ... what they say ... an unrivaled presence," Wong said. The area includes a clubhouse and fine-dining restaurant for golfers.

The Arnold Palmer-designed Classic Club golf course is used annually for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic tournament, which started Monday.

Wong said the first phase will include the hotel and 125 Fairmont residences, which individual owners can choose to rent to nightly guests. Later, the resort is planned to include Fairmont's Heritage Place concept, where owners can buy a fractional stake in one of 40 guest rooms.

Construction is expected to start in 2009 for a possible opening in 2011.

Hotel developers have kept a close watch on the economic woes surrounding the housing industry and institutional lenders, but Wong is confident the market will embrace the Fairmont hotel.

"Our crystal ball says the worst will be behind us in 2009," Wong said.

The other 51 weeks a year when the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic tournament isn't happening, Wong expects the hotel's managers to book group meetings.

Hotels along the Coachella Valley's I- 10 corridor have become more visible largely because of tribal casino expansion, such as the Morongo Resort and Spa in Cabazon, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio and Agua Caliente Hotel expected to open this year in Rancho Mirage. Wong said he doesn't expect the Fairmont to be hurt by nearby competition.

"A person that stays in Morongo and Fantasy Springs is not the type of person that wants to stay in a Fairmont," he said. The rates will probably be twice what the two casino hotels charge, he said.

Fairmont Hotels & Resorts had been attached to a mixed-use project near the Indian Wells Tennis Garden called Miles Crossing that would have included 126 condos with hotel-like features such as a concierge. However, it is no longer involved, opting instead to manage the property to be built in Palm Desert. It is the second proposed luxury hotel to leave Indian Wells. Dallas-based Remington Hotel Corp. had been attached to a proposed 267-room condo-hotel to be built nearby but recently pulled out.

"Our involvement with the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic works well with our brand," said Eric Malcolmson, vice president of development for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

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To see more of The Press-Enterprise, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.PE.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, Calif.

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