Ritz still rolling | SierraSun.com

Ritz still rolling

Seth Lightcap/Sierra SunA QD construction employee holds a level while helping layout the concrete veranda behind Northstar's new mid-mountain Ritz Carlton resort Wednesday. The project is on schedule to open in the Fall of 2009.

Northstar’s mid-mountain Ritz-Carlton Resort is still on track for a fall 2009 opening.

Financed well before the current market woes, the $300 million luxury hotel broke ground in 2006. And as the project nears completion, local businesses are hoping in brings its own economic boon.

“The Ritz will definitely bring new guests to Tahoe, and I think you will definitely see our guests use this as a base of operations to explore all Tahoe and Truckee,” said Steven Holt, director of Public Relations for the Ritz-Carlton Highlands.

A major resort like the Ritz also acts as a catalyst for other lodging projects in the area, Holt said.

Chris Banovich, owner of Big Wave Burritos and Wraps in the Village at Northstar, said he hopes the resort brings more business to the rest of the mountains.

Mike Laroche, manager at Elite Feet in the village, said he is also hopeful, but had some reservations.

“I’d like to see it succeed, and I think it could help local businesses like us,” Laroche said. “But I’d like to see more effort on making the village succeed before the focus is shifted anywhere else.”

And looking up the hill, Laroche said he hopes the Ritz isn’t too big for the mountain.

“I just hope there is enough room for everybody on the mountain,” he said.

Beyond bringing more visitors to the area, Deanna Rastetter, director of marketing for the Ritz-Carlton Club, said the hotel should generate around 300 new jobs.

“That includes transfers from other Ritz properties, local full-time residents, and seasonal international employees,” Rastetter said.

The hotel will start staffing up about six moths before opening next fall, Rastetter said.

As for what the current economy means to the hotel, Rastetter said the Ritz’s clientele is typically better off and less affected by downturns in the market.

The company also secured construction financing from Bank of America well before the current lending meltdown, so Holt said there aren’t any problems with the project’s financing.

405,000: Hotel size, in square feet

125: Height of hotel, in feet

170: Hotel rooms

84: Full-ownership residences

78: Fractional-ownership units

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