|By Marie Vasari, The Monterey County
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 14, 2006 - The relationship was good while it lasted. But in the end, the differences drove them apart.
For the past four years, the upscale Carmel Valley resorts Bernardus Lodge and Quail Lodge have shared management and marketing resources under Valley Resort Management.
That partnership will be phased out in the next few months, according to Valley Resort Management's general manager, Michael Oprish.
Baylaurel, LLC announced Friday it would be dissolving its partnership in Valley Resort Management, disassociating itself with Quail Lodge. As of April 1, Oprish will be general manager of Bernardus Lodge, and Quail Lodge parent company Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd. will assume full control and responsibility for their Carmel Valley resort. Oprish currently oversees both facilities.
Oprish said the partnership was a productive one, but separate management will allow each resort to better define its own focus.
The management partnership dates to 2001, when Quail Lodge's owners formed a management partnership with Baylaurel, LLC. The two resorts remained separately owned but consolidated marketing, sales and culinary efforts under the banner Valley Resort Management.
That partnership was designed to give them an edge in terms of marketing power, particularly for group sales.
"It sincerely has been well-served from a marketing standpoint," said Oprish. "We've had a lot of synergies."
But in those four years, the two resorts have also evolved, not necessarily on convergent paths.
Bernardus opened in August 1999, on the grounds of the former Carmel Valley Inn, which was bought by Bernardus Pon.
Bernardus operates 57 guest rooms, a guest-only spa, bocce and croquet courts, along with Marinus, a top Zagat-rated restaurant, and bistro-style Crickets. At only 26 acres, including its vineyard, Bernardus is an intimate resort, said Oprish, most appealing as a retreat destination suited to couples. Room rates run from $275 to $1,870.
Quail, with its golf course, is more suited for recreation-based travelers, Oprish said -- those attracted by the sport or seeking a great place to stay while they check out the area.
"That was the great thing that brought us together -- we definitely don't compete because we offer completely different experiences," he said.
He described Quail Lodge as "the grand dame of the valley, the quintessential resort."
The Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club, known for its golf course, was founded in the 1960s by Ed Haber. Three years ago, the facility underwent a $25 million renovation, closing for several months to upgrade guest rooms and add a restaurant, sports bar and spa. Quail Lodge's room rates start at $225 and run up to $825.
Oprish will continue overseeing both properties until the end of March, and the 33 employees of Valley Resort Management will be offered positions with either Quail or Bernardus.
Quail is expected to name its new general manager in the next few weeks. Niklaus Leuenberger, senior vice president of The Peninsula Hotels, The Americas, will oversee the transition process on behalf of Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels and Quail Lodge, according to a company statement.
Valley Resort Management also manages Will's Fargo Dining House & Saloon in Carmel Valley.
For photos of Bernardus Lodge's accomodations and winery, as well as rates and packages, visit www.bernardus.com and www.quaillodge.com.
Marie Vasari can be reached at 646-4478 or email@example.com.
Copyright (c) 2006, The Monterey County Herald, Calif.
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