Group nights are up 46 percent.
Just this last week, 140 of the hotel’s 161 rooms were occupied by a group of NASA scientists attending a Solar Orbiter Workshop. Among the four questions they considered: How and where do the solar wind plasma and magnetic field originate in the corona? And how do solar transients drive heliospheric variability?
Non-scientists in Telluride for the last few years or longer have been asking themselves what may seem to be an equally vexing question: Can a hotel really succeed in this remote and highly seasonal resort?
Which, by their very presence, the scientists also helped answer: Just maybe it can.
Not maybe, declares Mike Hess, the hotel’s director of marketing and real estate services. “The Peaks is back.”
Need more evidence? Over thirty studios and suites that are being sold as whole ownership condominiums are scheduled to close in early April. While the units’ price point at an average of $200,000 is lower than most other local real estate, the volume of sales is nonetheless impressive in what is otherwise a sluggish market.
Nels Cary, whose Peaks Real Estate Sotheby’s International Realty lists The Peaks condominiums, says there’s little mystery to the sales success.
“We’ve got the right product at the right price at the right time,” he said in an interview this week. “The Peaks is unparalleled by anything else in the market. Buyers are looking for the best value they can find in whatever they purchase and this property has everything: ski access, golf access, the spa, and mountain views.”
“There’s also the ‘fun’ component,” added Mike Thiele, who is a partner in the group that acquired the hotel in the fall of 2009 and which has since invested $13 million in refurbishments. “People still want to be in Telluride and The Peaks is the most iconic destination here.”
The goal of the new ownership and management group is not modest: to restore The Peaks to what they believe is its rightful place as not only Telluride’s premiere resort, but the premiere resort in Western Colorado.
To wit, still more indicators of improvement: employment is up to 170 people, from not even 70 when the hotel was acquired, one floor of hotel rooms has been fully refurbished, and the rest will be soon; the Spa, Great Room, ballroom, meeting rooms and restaurant have been remodeled, decks have been added outside the Great Room and Palmyra Restaurant, and a new glass walled room, “The Crystal Room,” has been created for special events like weddings.
The result has been not only the dramatic improvement in bookings, this winter and for this upcoming summer, but also in guest satisfaction ratings.
Thiele says he has observed guests at the front desk booking their next year’s vacation before this year’s vacation is finished.
Hess, who established his marketing signature – the party! – when he was vice president of sales and marketing for the Telluride Ski and Golf Co., has an even more specific personal goal: “In three years our deck will be recognized as the number one place for après ski in North America,” he vows.
That may not be all-bravado. Though it was new this ski season, the deck, enlivened by a schedule of live music most evenings, appears to be well on its way to meeting that goal.
The local ownership group, which along with Thiele consists of Todd and Ted Herrick, Bruce MacIntire and Kevin Jones, and the hotel’s management, the Grand Heritage Hotel Group, have even bigger ambitions: to add a hundred rooms in a structure linking the existing hotel to the Telluride Conference Center, just across Mountain Village Boulevard, which they say they are prepared to do as soon as all of the necessary governmental approvals, including an expansion of the conference center, can be obtained. The plan is currently being considered as Mountain Village goes through the process of adopting a new master plan.
The theory seems to be that success in hand can pave the way to more success in the future.
“We’ve had a great winter, and this summer will be even better.” Hess concluded.
“We really do want to make The Peaks one of the top mountain resorts in North America.”