|By Mike Gorrell, The Salt Lake
TribuneMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
December 5, 2009 --PARK CITY -- Befitting the luxury evident around every corner of the St. Regis Deer Crest Resort hotel, even the ribbon-cutting ceremony culminating Friday's grand opening had an upper-crust flair to it.
Two white-gloved butlers politely took their place in front of a dozen scissors-wielding dignitaries. Walking backward in opposite directions, they unrolled the ribbon from a scroll, revealing the hotel's coat-of-arms insignia imprinted on the material. Then, with a dozen quick snips almost drowned out in the applause of 150 invited guests, the $320 million hotel officially opened on the eve of Deer Valley's 2009-10 ski season opener.<>Just for good measure, hotel General Manager Michael Hatzfeld capped the ceremony by stepping out onto a slope-side balcony and lopping the top off a champagne bottle with a dagger. He then began filling glasses for bubbly toasts to the second top-echelon, brand-name hotel to open in the Park City area this year. The Dakota Mountain Lodge, a Waldorf Astoria hotel in the Hilton chain, entered the market in July. >
"Park City deserves something like this," said Kirsten Whetstone, a senior planner for the city who has monitored the project since its inception. "It's just beautiful."<>Walk into the lobby and a large, square piece of glass art work magnifies and distorts the flames burning in a fireplace behind it. Head into the main ballroom and the eye turns quickly to elaborate chandeliers dangling from the high ceiling. Original artwork of all styles and persuasions adorns the walls. >
The art alone "cost a small fortune," said Michael Zaccaro, of Falcon Investors LLC, the ownership group's representative overseeing the hotel built by Okland Construction and operated by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.
Zaccaro was chosen for that role for one good reason -- he doesn't ski. That means he won't be distracted by a bluebird day to skip out on work for a few runs. The reward for that kind of nose-to-the-grindstone type of dedication, he said, is that the people who signed up to own the hotel's 27 private residences and 64 hotel-condominium suites "are pleased with how the hotel came out. We over-delivered on our promise."
As a result, "we will have a much larger percentage of our buyers closing on units over the next 45 days than projects of a similar nature," Zaccaro added. "That's quite reassuring, their level of confidence in this project."
Heaven knows, he acknowledged, the financial difficulties of the past couple of years provided ample reason for prospective buyers to reconsider. But supported by bankers who have been "better than great and honored all of their commitments in a very difficult time," Zaccaro added, the ownership group "has a strong financial base that will allow this hotel to weather the storm and to be successful long-term."
Those lucrative possibilities appealed to Utah government officials at the ceremony.
Lt. Gov. Greg Bell said he felt a sense of "awe and respect [in this] flawless, iconic mountain resort."
And Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, said the hotel is as fine as he has seen in extensive travels in Europe and Asia.
"Deer Valley already has a reputation of excellence," he said. "What St. Regis does is raises that level of excellence."
To Valentine, the opening of this world-class hotel brand also reinforces the state's message that "Utah is an island of economic activity that is still growing. This facility just adds to that reputation and brings money into the state."
St. Regis Deer Crest Resort
A night's stay, not counting food and drink, could range from $390 to $590. Amenities include ski-in, ski-out zones, 14,000-square-foot Remede spa, a two-tiered outdoor swimming pool, a large workout facility, and ski rentals and repairs through Jans Mountain Outfitters. Fine dining is available in the J&G Grill, which also serves in-room dining and offers a private dining room. It also has a wine vault and bar.
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