Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage set to open May 15

Ritz-Carlton developers need more time, hope to open hotel by May 15

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - The luxury resort up the hill has been closed since 2006 and was originally slated to open by last Christmas and that got postponed to this weekend. Now the developer of the Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, Kam Sang Co., says it needs 10 more weeks.

"It's been a very difficult development process. Kam Sang has done a great job, but it's been complicated," said hotel general manager Doug Watson.   

With a world-renown name on the line, the city is willing to wait. Council members approved another extension of the project at a special meeting to give hotel developers until May 15 to open their doors.

"We are looking forward to it, but we've been through these extensions in the past and we hope this will be the last," said Rancho Mirage mayor Richard Kite.

Watson said crews are working feverishly to get the resort up to par, the Ritz-Carlton even made a confident announcement releasing the opening date internationally. It begin hiring at the Rancho Mirage location next week.

The hotel is in its final stages, but there's still a lot of work to be done. The resort faced eight years of delays stemming from the property being vacant for so long. Construction was also stalled when Lehman Brothers, the project's former lender, went under during the financial crisis.
"There's still landscaping and cleanup and the things you need to see the residents but other than that it's great shape," said Kite.

For every month the hotel doesn't open, the city collects $25,000 in penalties, according to Kite. The money is deposited into an account that will offset the missed transient occupancy tax or help reduce the tax in the future.

Hotel management expects the hotel will rake in $1 million in transient occupancy tax each year. and the five-star resort will be worth the wait.

"The first impression is the longest lasting one. We want them to be proud of it. We want this to be a place they come often," said Watson.

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