|By Melissa S. Monroe, San Antonio Express-News
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Oct. 6, 2005 - The Hyatt Hill Country and Westin Resorts could have a new competitor within two years, as plans are under way for a 350-room, four-star hotel resort to include time shares.
HollyHills Development acquired more than 1,000 acres at Briggs Ranch last spring, but it only recently talked about some of its plans for a lavish destination hotel.
The project, in Southwest Bexar County, is estimated to cost more than $200 million and include a resort hotel, 625 time-share units and a two-acre water park, said HollyHills CEO Joseph Heitzler.
HollyHills owners Daniel and Marlene Bailey landed in San Antonio about two years ago. Lately they've been scooping up land and announcing extravagant plans for many of their sites in South Bexar County and East San Antonio. HollyHills also manages The Golf Club of Texas at Briggs Ranch, an exclusive golf course.
Daniel Bailey's background has drawn comment. Bailey, 52, pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud in 1987 in relation to a failed mortgage investment company. He got a 31-month sentence, but resumed his real estate career after leaving a minimum-security prison in 1991.
Despite Bailey's past, HollyHills' management is optimistic about the new project.
The resort, Heitzler said, will have a breathtaking view and landscaping not seen at other resorts. He also said vacation ownership is a significant part of the project.
"We've done tremendous amount of research and retained vacation-ownership research firms," Heitzler said. "Three aspects that will highly attract visitors are the weather, the fact that San Antonio has some of the largest tourist attractions in the state, and the city and county have been aggressive from an economic development strategy." The hotel will have a Spanish colonial feel. Rooms will feature balconies and high ceilings and be generously sized at about 500 square feet. The water attraction will be geared to children, with a wading pool, tunnels and slides.
Heitzler said the funding is already in place for the hotel and vacation ownership property that could reach up to 1,000 time-share units, depending on demand and sales. He expects the hotel's management company to be announced soon.
Hotel construction is expected to start by March. Heitzler said plans also call for a second resort hotel.
Heitzler said this vacation ownership property will be unique because HollyHills also has plans for a development in downtown San Antonio and another one along the coast. Instead of going to another state, clients will be able to swap out properties in those three areas, he said.
Vacation ownership properties are still new to San Antonio, and recently the Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort & Spa added such a component.
The most successful vacation ownership resorts, Heitzler said, are those that boast amenities for children and ideal weather.
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