"It's a model that's become quite popular in the hotel industry," said Alex Hillinger, director of Suncadia communications. "But there's not too many of them in Washington state."
Hillinger described a somewhat unique system that allows condo owners to let the lodge rent out their dwellings if the owner chooses. So one can consider the lodge, Hillinger said, a condominium hotel.
But the model that Hillinger described is not the only unique aspect of this 380,000-square-foot, six-story architectural feat. World-class designers have also contributed to the engineering, design and conception of this project, said Eric Raydon, development manager.
"It's the biggest example of architecture of its kind on this side of the Cascades," said Raydon. "And Conde Nast has named it one of the top 100 destination resorts in the world."
However, this project is also the result of professionalism and hard work on a local level, Raydon said.
"The workers here are amazing," he said. "This is a very special project."
And as senior vice president of development, Michael Tande explained that steps have been taken to make sure construction workers are happy.
First and foremost, Tande said, Suncadia hired much of its labor force in Kittitas and Yakima counties.
"We want to be part of the community," Tande said. "A lot of these employees have lived here for generations."
To accommodate these employees, the company created a shuttle program, allowing workers to car pool from as far away as Yakima.
Several hundred employees help construct the steel and concrete structure each day, a $25 million endeavor in labor, Tande said. "And that's just the lodge subcontractors," he noted.
"They really care about what they do," Tande said.
Hillinger stressed that Suncadia wants to help feed Kittitas County's growth and sees employing local construction workers as just another step in that process.
"Ultimately, what's good for the community is good for us," Hillinger said.
Tande agreed. "We don't want to take away from the infrastructure; we want to help build it," Tande said.
And they are building, a lot. When completed, the village, which will serve as a community center for the lodge, will offer everything from retail shops to an amphitheater and ice rink, a four-season luxury spa with a stream flowing through the treatment room, a swim and fitness center and golf courses.
The lodge, designed by world-renowned architects at Hill Glazier Architect of California, features 223 condos and penthouses. The smallest studio is about 450 square feet. It's a pretty good deal for buyers, said Raydon, who noted that the typical hotel room is about 300 square feet.
The main portion of the lodge will be six stories, with two, five-story wings on either side. It will be run as a luxury hotel and will also feature a 120-seat restaurant and a state-of-the-art-conference center complete with a junior and grand ball room for everything from business meetings to bar mitzvahs and weddings.
These features don't even include the luxury homes that have yet to begin construction.
"This is a pretty stunning achievement," Raydon said. "For everybody, it's really the project of a lifetime."
After the Tumble Creek homes and everything have been completed, Hillinger said to expect at least 2,000 people bustling around Suncadia on a given day. The team hopes to have construction completed by 2012.
And all of this construction has been designed with the intention of leaving the least amount of impact on the environment, the team said. Tande said that their commitment starts with little things like the shuttle program for workers, but has larger implications as well.
"We are committed to leaving this 80 percent open space," Tande said. "We were authorized to build far more than we are actually building. ... Suncadia will become the four-season resort for Washington state."
And with a spring 2008 opening, residents should expect to see help wanted ads soon. Tande said that the hiring of an additional 300 employees will begin quickly.
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