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Grande Dame to be flagged as the Omni Mount Washington

August 19, 2009
BRETTON WOODS — Change is coming once again to the over-100-year-old Mount Washington Hotel and Resort.

Omni Hotels of Irving, Tex., announced on Monday that it has partnered with CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., of Orlando, Fla., to become the long-term operator of the Mount Washington Resort.

On Sept. 1, Omni Hotels will begin managing the high-end northern New England resort.

The property will then officially be flagged as the Omni Mount Washington Resort, according to an Omni press release.

"We are pleased to add this extraordinary property to the Omni Hotels' portfolio, given its fine heritage, the exceptional destination facilities, and broad range of year-round leisure and outdoor activities," said president Mike Deitemeyer of Omni Hotels. "The addition of this resort is another tremendous step in our strategic expansion."

Omni Hotels describes their brand as one in which authentic guest experiences are designed to take guests on "A Total Departure" to 43 distinct luxury hotels and resorts in leading business gateways and leisure destinations across North America.

The property includes 365 guest rooms in three lodging facilities: the historic Mount Washington Hotel constructed in 1902, the 1896 Bretton Arms Country Inn, and The Lodge, a two-story motel located on Route 302 East.

According to its own description, each Omni showcases the local flavor of the destination while featuring four-diamond services, signature restaurants, Wi-Fi connectivity, and unique wellness options.

Two Omnis are located in New England: the Omni Parker House in Boston, Mass., located on the historic Freedom Trail; and the Omni New Haven, adjacent to the Yale University campus, according to Caryn Kboudi, the hotel and management company's media representative.

"We're not looking to make any immediate changes in the employee roster," Ms. Kboudi said. "We anticipate focusing on adding to the property's performance, drawing more customers to its unique setting by providing excellent service. Omni is a leader in customer service."

In 2005, Ms. Kboudi noted, J.D. Power and Associates ranked Omni Hotels as achieving "Highest Guest Satisfaction among Upscale Hotel Chains," and competitive ranking have been achieved in three of the last five years.

Thirteen of the Omni hotels are located in Texas, including the Omni La Mansion del Rio in San Antonio.

Four Omnis are located in North America, outside the U.S., including the Omni Mont-Royal in Montreal, Canada.

The Bretton Woods resort recently completed a multimillion restoration and renovation project that includes a new 25,000-square-foot state-of-the-art spa, a 20,000-square-foot conference center, and an outdoor swimming pool complex as well as the lobby, main dining room, and many guest rooms at the Mount Washington Hotel.

CNL Lifestyle Properties has committed to invest an additional $10 million in future renovations, including additional guest rooms, plus food and beverage venues, and other public areas.

Completed improvements also include the restoration of the 18-hole Donald-Ross-designed Mount Washington Course, which is owned by Crosland-Celebration Associates.

National Resort Management's contract for operation of both the Bretton Woods Ski Area and the hotels ends at midnight on Aug. 31, explained now-Resort president Pat Corso. "We will still be the operators of the golf courses which are owned by Crosland," he wrote in an e-mail exchange.

CEO and president of CNL Lifestyle Properties R. Byron Carlock Jr., said in a press release, "As we complete the renovation and expansion, we are pleased to transition to Omni Hotels, a respected operator with national sales distribution channels and experience in marketing historic properties."

Company officials spent time visiting the hotel last week and, according to Ms. Kboudi, there will be a steady steam coming north from its corporate offices.

CNL Lifestyle Properties, Inc., formerly CNL Income Properties, Inc., is a real estate investment trust (REIT) that owns a portfolio of 116 properties in the United States in the lifestyle sector. Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., CNL Lifestyle Properties specializes in the acquisition of ski and mountain lifestyle, attractions, golf and other lifestyle assets.

It has been a little over three years Celebration Associates of Hot Springs, Va., and then-CNL Income Properties Inc., of Orlando, Fla., purchased the Resort on June 30, 2006, from the MWH (Mt. Washington Hotel) Preservation Limited Partners and engaged National Resort Management Group to market and operate the property.

In a complex deal, Crosland, in essence, also served as Celebration Association's banker and purchased the undeveloped acreage for an ambitious pedestrian village and upscale subdivisions.

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