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Delta-Hilton transformation will include new type of covenant


The companies managing the renovation and sale of the Delta Whistler Resort have secured a new type of covenant on the hotel which will allow the eventual owners to stay in their suites for an almost unrestricted amount of time.

James Askew, who is a consultant with Playground Real Estate, which is an Intrawest company, confirmed the covenant would be a major marketing point for the Delta’s suites when they go on sale in April.

The new covenant on the Delta does not have a specific title but many people involved with the development of the sale are calling it a phase "one-and-a-half" covenant. This rating is significant because it will allow the suite owners to spend much more time in their units than is allowed most other owners of suites in village hotels.

Most other strata titled hotels in Whistler Village, such as those in the Westin, have a phase two covenant. The phase two covenant restricts the number of days owners can stay in their suites to 56 per year.

The other significant marketing point for this sale is that the hotel owners, who are represented by WW Hotels, will be renovating the rooms to meet the Hilton standard.

The municipality’s general manager of planning and development, Bob MacPherson, conceded that the age of the Delta Whistler Resort building was integral in ensuring the units would have a phase "one-and-a-half" covenant.

"When the initial village was developed, which is when the Delta was built, everything was phase one (a covenant that places no restrictions on owners’ use, but the owners can put their suites into a rental pool when they are not using them). And then as things began to grow the phase two (covenant) came in to require people to rent them out," MacPherson said.

Renovations of the Delta are due for completion by the fall of 2005; thereafter it is hoped the hotel will be officially "flagged" by Hilton and managed by the Westmont Hospitality Group, who are the current managers of the hotel.

"The real magic of this one is that you’ve never had and will never have again, that I know of, a situation where you’ve got a ski-in, ski-out full service hotel, which (could be) flagged by a world renowned brand (Hilton); at phase one (and a half)," Askew said.

Askew said the Olympic announcement had played a significant role in attracting the interest of several international firms to Whistler.

"There’s been a lot of excitement in Whistler since the Olympics was announced and we’ve (Playground) had a lot of interest expressed from some large international hoteliers.

"And from the perspective of the Delta hotel owners, bringing in someone like the Hilton would be a very positive thing."

Many of the parties involved in the sale are still in negotiations, but should the Hilton upgrade happen it will cost the owners millions of dollars.

"There is a substantial amount of money coming from the owners to upgrade the hotel to Hilton standards," Askew said.

"Hilton would need to see an upgrade inside the rooms and one of the key areas is the bathrooms.

"And because we’re preparing the rooms for sale the owners will also be adding kitchenettes into all the suites, which is a substantial change.

"There is also a major renovation planned for the retail outlets inside the hotel."

The Delta has 288 rooms but only 180 rooms will be made available for sale.

"We will be offering 180 rooms because we’ll be combining rooms with connectors and lock-offs, so in many cases the public will be purchasing two suites beside each other.

"When the owners are not using their rooms the Hilton and Westmont will be managing them and renting them out to the public.

"Having two rooms would give a lot of flexibility to the owners as well because it means they can stay in one and rent out the other if they don’t have a family."

The units will be priced between $249,000 and $1 million.

"About 30 to 35 per cent of our units will be priced at $300,000 or below… and that will also be a big part of marketing," Askew said.

Askew conceded there would be some restrictions on the owners despite the phase "one-and-a-half" covenant.

"It is (the rooms) required to be available to the public as a hotel so you couldn’t just stay there year round.

"But in terms of booking of it, you’ll (the owners) have priority over the public.

"There really isn’t any days that you couldn’t book for yourself to stay there, but in the meantime, the rooms would have to be made available to the public."

The initial response to the sale has been enormous but Whistler Real Estate and Playground Real Estate intend to start promoting the sale to the public within the next week.

In April there will be a one-day selection event in Vancouver where potential buyers will be invited to come and select an apartment.

"This (marketing) team is the same one that did the Four Seasons Resort and the two Pan Pacific hotels," Askew said.

"The last sale of this size was the Four Seasons Resort, they had 242 suites and that sold out in five hours.

"We see this sale as the same sort of deal."