Putting the top on the Ritz | SierraSun.com

Putting the top on the Ritz

Greyson Howard/Sierra SunA construction worker lowers the ceremonial top into place on the Ritz Carlton Hotel at Northstar. The hotel is slated to open in 2009.

With a worker guiding it into place, a crane carefully lowered a small octagonal tower adorned with a pine tree atop the completed frame of the Ritz-Carlton Highlands, Lake Tahoe, near Northstar Friday.

The decorative cupola topped out the structure at 125 feet tall, and with a ceremonial flourish, the Ritz-Carlton at Northstar was one symbolic step closer to its completion.

The $300 million luxury hotel broke ground on Northstar’s mid-mountain in 2006, and still looks to be on track for a late-2009 opening.

Once complete, the 405,000-square-foot resort will include 170 hotel rooms, 84 full-ownership residences and 78 fractional-ownership units.

“Today we topped out the structural steel work ” from now on we are getting the roof on and finishing the interior,” said Walter Wrobleski of East West Partners.

With contractors completing the hotel’s grading and paving by October, Wrobleski said construction will continue year-round to meet the November 2009 goal.

“Now we are switching from the big, heavy construction work to the finish trades,” he said.

The large-scale project has used more than 21,000 cubic yards of concrete and more than 10,000 pieces of structural steel, fastened in place by about 350 construction workers on a given day, according to a release.

The North Lake Tahoe area should not only benefit from the revenue generated by the large hotel, but also Ritz-Carlton’s draw and marketing efforts, said Andy Chapman, tourism director for the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.

“Flagship-type properties like this ” the Resort at Squaw Creek and the Hyatt ” help push North Lake Tahoe into the higher end of lodging,” Chapman said. “Right now we have some, but we don’t have a whole lot of high end.”

The Transient Occupancy Tax, a local tax placed on temporary lodging, will be one way Placer County ” and North Lake Tahoe in particular ” will benefit, he said.

“We know it’s going to grow the TOT, which goes to the county, but 60 percent of that will come back to the resort association to help promote North Lake Tahoe,” Chapman said.

Aside from the direct economic impacts, Chapman said a name like Ritz-Carlton and the marketing efforts behind it should help bring tourists and their dollars to the area.

Chapman said he isn’t concerned with competition for visitors because of the hotel’s upscale marketing niche, and has received feedback from managers of other high-end hotels in the area, who see the addition as beneficial.

“I’ve been talking with the Hyatt, and they welcome that kind of partnership in promoting the region,” He said.

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