Lodging Design Enhances Master Plan

As the real-estate boom of the past five years sweeps the vacation home market, hotel resort destinations are looking at options to ride the wave. In 2004, 13 percent of all homes purchased were vacation homes — 2.82 million vacation home purchases — up 16 percent from 2003, according to the National Association of Realtors.

A recent weekly hotel lodging report from Smith Travel Research shows a slightly different picture. Total hotel room occupancy for the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend 2005 was at 78.6 percent, down 3.6 percent from the year before.

At the new Members' Lodge & Spa at Idaho's Tamarack Resort, the blending of hotel units with vacation home condominiums in a single luxury destination lodge offers the opportunity to balance fluctuating hotel room occupancies with private units available for short-term rental pool stays in a premier location. The seven-level building is one focal point of an unfolding master plan that includes a European-style village of boutique shops, restaurants and a mix of condominiums and hotels.

Situated in central Idaho, 90 miles north of Boise, the Tamarack Resort derives its name from the signature grove of Tamarack trees that sits on the mountainside just north of the resort's entrance. Unlike other conifers, Tamaracks are deciduous pine trees with needles that turn a brilliant gold in autumn, enhancing even further the spectacular surrounding views of the ski mountain, lake, river and golf course. Just to the east is the Frank Church Wilderness, one of the nation's largest wilderness areas encompassing six national forests. For upcoming ski seasons, a total of nine aerial and five surface lifts are proposed to serve more than 600 acres of groomed trails and 1,100 acres of terrain.

Embracing these surrounds of unspoiled natural beauty was the foremost objective in the design of Tamarack's new Members' Lodge & Spa. Here are key lessons learned in designing lodging to integrate and enhance a master-planned resort development, incorporating regional material applications and ultimately creating a distinctively different guest experience with strong year-round appeal.

DESIGNING MEMBERS' LODGE

Slated to open this month, Tamarack's new Members' Lodge & Spa represents a mixed-use approach in its purest form, offering dining, lounge areas, fitness and spa, and residential units, including both hotel and condominium choices. From the main entry, a panoramic view of mountains, trees and the Robert Trent Jones II Signature Golf Course is captured through the lobby and lounge areas at perimeter expansive windows. The entrances to the formal dining restaurant and the spa and fitness center are located directly off the lobby. The registration desk in the lobby serves the four levels of units above, including hotel rooms and condos. Residence owners are encouraged to join the rental pool to increase the number of units available during busy periods and allow for more activity year-round throughout the lodge and other resort areas.

Two underground levels accommodate a golf pro shop, which serves in the ski season as a Nordic shop; ski-equipment storage areas; heated auto vehicle parking; golf cart parking; and building support and mechanical systems.

The lodge's exterior main entrance is a formal porte-cochere balanced by the adjacent clock tower serving as a signature motif for the Members' Lodge. The overall architectural theme of a continuous roof line with front-facing gables and dormer roof lines is intended to be reflective of European and western United States mountain architecture in adapting to the extreme winter weather.

A critical design aspect was understanding and working with the cold, snowy environment. Roof shapes were designed to either retain snow or allow it to fall safely with the addition of carefully placed snow melt systems at building edges and downspout systems. Super insulated roof construction and wall insulation complement high-performance window and door systems in protecting the heated envelope of the building's interior spaces. The windows and glass doors are placed to capture dramatic surrounding views from the interior while maintaining proper proportions, vertical to horizontal, in follow-through of aesthetic exterior architectural characteristics, and to create good proportions both horizontally and vertically from the exterior. Exterior paved surfaces are treated with an embedded snow melt system which maintains ice free areas for traffic areas at the building entrance and the expansive terrace area overlooking the golf course and accessing the pool and hot-tub amenities. Also, the outdoor terrace has been situated on the south-facing side to allow appreciation of the golf course and lake views in the warmth of the southern sun, taking advantage of the additional natural radiant heat.

THE VILLAGE MASTER PLAN

The Members' Lodge building was designed as an integral part of an overall community, Tamarack Village, which is planned as the heart of the entire resort. The first phase of Tamarack opened in December 2004 as an assortment of contemporary snow-front lodges, collectively known as Discovery Square. The existing resort lodging includes 62 high-end cottages and chalets connected by a trail system to access amenities throughout the resort.

The next phase in the master plan is the Village Plaza, composed of residential condominiums and lodging facilities for guests and full-time residents who will be served by cafes, boutique shops and galleries. This phase includes a series of structures along a village street with retail and restaurants topped by two to five levels of condominiums. A subsequent phase and completion of the Village will create additional retail and residential areas, as well as the possibility of office space.

In designing Tamarack Village, the key idea was to create the notion that this was a village evolved as did European villages. These communities historically came to be along a water source — typically a river. Tamarack Village is planned to highlight its own natural water areas, including a wetlands area adjacent to the village, streams, river and views of nearby Lake Cascade. The notion of a water source appears in various forms such as European-style fountains, functional watering troughs, and a natural expression of a river, all of which flow through the village and into the wetlands along with an apparent extension into the pool and spa amenity area. The plan is sympathetic to the natural ground and contour, with the buildings honoring the existing ground line and natural features. This preserves the sense of presenting an overall guest experience of a natural environment quite separate from the urban world.

REGIONAL MATERIALS

Historic villages usually are composed of locally available resources and indigenous materials, rather than ones brought from some distance. In designing both the Members' Lodge and the Village, wood and timber elements along with natural stone and plaster feature surfaces are used in differing combinations to create an eclectic collection of buildings which make up a compatible village composition. The buildings have a stone plinth base constructed of irregularly cut coarse granite. Growing out of the base are building forms of historic European, traditional village origins with a scale of grandeur, while maintaining attention to detail inspired, in large part, by Jean-Pierre Boespflug, the French-born Tamarack CEO.

In a different vein is the design of Arling Center, a hamlet of convention and meeting space of about 15,000 square feet, adjacent to Members' Lodge. The regional theme resonates strongly in the cluster's old Idaho architecture, reflecting Roseberry, a small nearby town and other examples of turn-of-the century architecture in “old Idaho.” A school house with a bell tower and a Grange building with a large banquet space, each with white clapboard siding, house state-of-the-art conference rooms and flexible meeting space. Also included is a chapel building with a steeple on the roof and pews on the inside with the capability of hosting wedding and interdenominational religious functions. In the future, as Tamarack Resort evolves around the Arling Center, the design architects hope that these buildings will be recognized as a tribute to old Idaho.

In the meantime, the Members' Lodge and Village will begin offering guests and residents alike a distinctive vacation experience in touch with the natural beauty of the rugged West — the ultimate goal being that we have recognized a place and created a village to honor the place that is already there.


Doug Thimm, AIA is a vice president with MHTN Architects based in Salt Lake City, UT. He leads MHTN's resort and commercial / mixed-use design studio. Thimm can be reached at Doug.thimm@mhtn.com.


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Sweet Suite

Fashion designers continue to bring their creativity, vision — and cachet — to hotel design, particularly in the ultra-luxury market. The Vera Wang Suite at the Halekulani hotel, Honolulu, HI, is a good example and was recently recognized by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the 50 most romantic places. Wang, a renowned designer of high-end wedding gowns and fine home furnishings with a star- and society-studded clientele, has created a suite of understated and elegant décor. The one-bedroom suite features 2,135 square feet of interior space, plus a 642-square-foot oceanside lanai. It's adorned with items hand-selected from Vera Wang's new home, gift, bath and accessories collections, as well as rare furnishings from Hawaii, the Pacific and Asia.

The hotel recently unveiled its Vera Wang Boutique at Halekulani, where guests can purchase some of the same accessories featured in the luxurious suite.

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