South Dakota company buys historic Grand Lake Lodge |

South Dakota company buys historic Grand Lake Lodge

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi News
Grand County, CO Colorado

GRAND LAKE – The long-established James family of Colorado has sold the historic Grand Lake Lodge to a subsidiary of Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Regency Hotel Management for $4 million. The sale took place on Dec. 21.

The Regency hospitality company owns and manages more than 50 properties in 19 states, operating under various franchises including Starwood, IHG, Radisson, Marriott, ClubHouse and Best Western. The limited partnership of hundreds of owners and investors employs more than 6,000 people.

Most similar to the Grand Lake Lodge in terms of its historic value are four Regency-operated lodges in Custer State Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, according to Regency Director of Sales and Marketing Gloriann Keuter.

As part of the concessionaire agreement with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department, Regency updated the lodges while maintaining their historic designations, Keuter said.

“Anything we do will maintain the historic integrity of the lodge,” Keuter said of the Grand Lake Lodge, which is designated a National Historic Landmark. “Nothing will change the Historic Landmark designation.”

The Regency company, formed in 1965, plans to have all 56 of the Grand Lake Lodge cabins, restaurant, bar, shop, and recreational activities “open for tourism business,” starting in June 2011, according to statements released by the company this week.

Keuter said the business will honor all existing wedding reservations and plans to continue booking more weddings and events.

The company is moving forward in the planning stages of how it will improve the 55-acre resort property, partially surrounded by Rocky Mountain National Park and overlooking Grand Lake.

“When guests arrive this summer 2011, they will see a sampling of the future improvements to the cabins and other resort facilities,” the press release states. “Regency Hotel Management is formulating a timetable for enhancements that will take place over the next few years.”

Whether the resort will become a year-round enterprise is not in present plans, according to Keuter.

“Just like the majority of the seasonal lodging properties in and around Grand Lake, we know that more than 90 percent of guest demand is during the summer months over approximately 100-120 days. In the future, we’d like to find a way to stretch the season so that it’s longer, opening sooner and closing later.”

To oversee operations, Jeff Larson, general manager of the Sylvan Lake Lodge in Custer State Park, is relocating to the Grand Lake Lodge, Keuter said. The new management plans on hiring local employees to staff the resort as much as possible, she said.

“We are so excited to reopen Grand Lake Lodge,” Keuter said. “Being part of the Rocky Mountain National Park tourism business is a real pleasure, and it will be awesome to welcome past guests and introduce new guests to the Lodge next summer.”

Known as Colorado’s Favorite Front Porch, Grand Lake Lodge was built in 1920, just two months before the completion of Old Fall River Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. The Lodge became a stop on “The Father of Tourism” Roe Emery’s “Circle Tour of the Colorado Rockies,” a bus excursion from Denver to the mountains.

In 1952, Emery sold his company to T.J. Manning of Denver, who resold it to Ted and Isaac James in 1953. Spanning four generations, the James family continued to operate the summer destination until it put the property on the market four years ago. After a period of closing the Lodge business while entertaining potential buyers, the James family reopened it in July 2010 on a limited basis.

Grand Lake Lodge is known for its unrivaled views of Colorado’s largest natural lake and panoramic views of the Continental Divide. One of the large cabins at the Lodge is named after one of its most prestigious guests, Henry Ford, after his stay in 1927.

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